South Portland Gardens is one of the most vibrant communities in Southern Maine, and home to some very dog-friendly attractions. One of the gems is the Clarks Pond Trail. This 1.1-mile paved walkway is perfect for those who want to take a hike in a natural, woodland setting without driving miles to do it. Leashed pups are welcome on the trail that follows the western and southern perimeters of Clarks Pond. Most people complete the loop in an hour, making it the perfect lunchtime activity with your furry mate.
A not-to-be-missed dining experience is Little Bigs, a bakery that relies primarily on take-out, but provides stools perched at the front window, as well as a couple of outdoor tables for breakfast or lunch dates with your furry bestie. What makes this bakery so irresistible is that it specializes in hand pies, or pasties. They serve sweet pies, croissants and other desserts as well, along with doughnuts and holiday treats like Buche de Noel and Pork Tourtiere (French Canadian pork pie.) Bone appetit!
There are several dog-friendly hotels in South Portland Gardens. Notable among them is the Sable Oaks Marriott Hotel, which is perched high on a hill overlooking the West End neighborhood, and surrounded by a beautiful golf course. There is no limit to the number or size of dogs that can stay here, but there is an additional fee. The grounds are also lovely and spacious for strolling with doggies on-leash.
The Long Creek Trail, high on the steep banks above Long Creek, meanders through huge maple and oak trees, and features views of the creek and its tidal marshlands. Leashed dogs are welcome to enjoy this lovely trail. The West End neighborhood is also home to 2 dog-friendly restaurants: Moe’s Original BBQ and Elevation Burger. Moe’s was named one of the Top 10 Rib Joints in the US, and it doesn’t disappoint with its real Southern style BBQ that is succulent and true to its Alabama roots. Sides like collard greens, marinated slaw, and cornbread will make your mouth water. Share your BBQ with your fur-buddy at one of 4 outside tables. Elevation Burger features casual foods like gourmet style burgers, shakes, and hand cut fries. Fido can join you for lunch or dinner at one of the 9 outdoor tables.
Adjacent to South Portland Gardens is the Pleasantdale neighborhood of the city of South Portland, a residential area dotted with dog-friendly restaurants. After an energetic game of catch, you can zip over to Dock’s Seafood Restaurant and Market for a lunch or dinner with Fido at one of its outdoor tables, and enjoy fresh Maine lobsters, chowders, clams, and other seafood. Close by is Easy Day Restaurant. Located in a bowling alley where you can sit outdoors on the patio with your furry friend, this causal eatery ranges from burgers to hummus, and occasionally there is live music for you and Fido to enjoy together.
A short way to the northeast of South Portland Gardens lies the Fort Preble neighborhood of South Portland, home to the Spring Point Park. This park surrounds the lighthouse as it juts out into Portland Harbor, and is accessible to pedestrians on a paved walkway. The eastern terminus of the Greenbelt Walkway can also be found here, a nearly 6-mile trail that extends to the Wainwright Recreation Complex further west. It passes by Willard Beach, a very dog-friendly and accessible off-leash beach, as well as the sandy, off-leash Bug Light Park. Though this isn't technically a designated dog park, on many summer evenings there are far more dogs here than people. They love the gentle waves of Portland Harbor and watching the huge cruise ships coming and going.The Spring Point Shoreway runs 1.6 miles from Fisherman’s Point to the Bug Light, and leashed/voice controlled dogs are welcome to join their humans on a walk, run or bike ride. Historic Fort Preble also sits in the path of the Shoreway, and is a fun place to explore that provides fabulous views of the islands of Casco Bay.
South Portland’s City Center abounds in Fido-friendly places and activities. Here, you'll find three pup-friendly restaurants, all offering different cuisines and outdoor seating for you and your doggies’ pleasure. Thai Taste can easily meet the demands of dog and human alike. In the mood for Italian? Terra Cotta Pasta Co. will make your meal for dining al fresco, or pack it up for you and your pup to make and eat at home. Finally, Scratch Baking Co is a pet-friendly eatery serving house-made baked goods, sandwiches, soups and more. To relax while your body digests some of those calories, visit Mill Creek Park, an oasis with a pond, ducks and a fountain. There's also a gazebo and plenty of space to throw down a blanket to enjoy the afternoon sun or shade, or an evening summer concert with your furry bestie. Drive a short distance to the dog-friendly off-leash gem Hinckley Park, a wooded, sprawling spot with hard-packed trails and 2 ponds that are perfect for doggy paddling. The park is unfenced, but its 40 acres provide natural boundaries with trees and steep hills at its borders. Featuring families of ducks, fields for frisbee and fetch, and off-street parking, it is a popular spot with locals, even in winter.