Karyn Wofford is a freelance writer in the fields of travel, eco-tourism, and wellness. She’s an avid traveler and Georgia native. She grew up with a passion for travel, exploring everything from the mountains to the ocean, and continues to find new and unique things to do in the places she travels.
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Maine is known for its picture-perfect summers along stunning rocky beaches, but it’s far too overlooked when it comes to winter. Yes, it’s freezing, and yes, blankets of snow envelope the state. But all of the glistening ice and fluff create a stellar playground teeming with opportunity. Maine is known as “Vacationland” for a reason—summer, spring, fall, and even winter offer spectacular getaway potential. So if you’re up for a frosty vacay, this is what the beautiful state has to offer.
Ah, the staple of all winter activities—there’s nothing quite like a skiing adventure, where you can zoom down some of an area’s most scenic landscape, with chilled wind and ice crystals nipping at your nose. Maine has several little nooks with great powder, but Sugarloaf and Sunday River are two of the most prominent areas. Camden Snow Bowl offers rare glimpses of the ocean from a ski resort. In general, the slopes here don’t get incredibly crowded like those in the west, so it’s prime for loners and newbies. Perhaps you’d like to try something a bit more outlandish in terms of skiing, such as Cat Skiing. Basically, you get to ride a Snow Cat off-roading vehicle up the hills of Sugarloaf Mountain, and it’s a sweet, relaxing, and fun way to site-see.
How could dog sledding not sound appealing? It is like a dream come true as your own team whisks you through beautiful snow-laden forests. Oxford, Bethel, and Augusta all offer dog sledding adventures—Mahoosuc Guide Service in Newry is run by a husband and wife team who are highly praised for being fun and educational guides. Staying at a resort? Sometimes sledding opportunities are available through various ski destinations.
Requiring more endurance no doubt, cross country skiing is still more serene and relaxing if you don’t want to dive down steep drops. Maine’s winter wonderland nature-scape is perfect for a brisk jaunt across various routes lined with lovely balsams. Titcomb Mountain in Farmington houses wonderful Nordic ski trails, as does Black Mountain. Carter’s Cross Country Ski Shop and Ski Center offer rentals and onsite groomed trails in Bethel.
Maine is full of waters that freeze come winter, and below those glistening sheets are an abundance of fish. Those who opt to cast their lines in the winter often catch enormous fish from the plentiful availability, due to reduced crowds. The state hosts a list of fishing derbies fishermen can jump into—pickerel, bass, salmon, and trout are the typical variations anglers catch. New England Outdoor Center, Twin Maple Outdoors, Northwood Outfitters, and Wilson’s on Moosehead Lake all provide services to get you started. The cozy Moosehead Hills Cabins on Moosehead Lake offers snuggly rentals right on a frozen cove, where ice fishing is right at your fingertips.
Winding it back a bit further, snowshoeing is more relaxed as well, but still, a bit of a physical challenge, as you’re adding some difficulty to a typical hike. However, travelers can actually trek along the beach, which is easier and unbelievably striking. The carriage roads in Acadia National Park transform from bike paths to snowshoe and hiking travel routes in the winter, and as you’d imagine, it’s a stunning place to explore. You’ll also find a wealth of charming accommodations nearby to ensure you can make the most of your trip to the park. Cadillac Mountain Sports is the place to go for specific tours and rentals.
Winter is a celebrated season in Maine, and a number of festivals demonstrate the appreciation of the frigid climate. Kennebunkport hosts a winter fest in February that features a number of talented performances from figure skating to juggling. The town is precious and absolutely portrait-worthy in all seasons, especially winter. Old Orchard Beach hosts a huge carnival with pony and train rides, and sledding down Old Orchard Street to celebrate the snow. The seaside town has a somewhat “Coney Island” feel, and it’s an exciting place filled with New England-style seafood and a boardwalk loaded with rides, so keep this in mind when visiting during the summer too.
Almost every great snow destination offers adrenaline-packed adventures via a snowmobile. You can traverse 14,000 miles of trails in Maine. Northern Outdoors in The Forks serves as a great home base, or you can rent a vehicle at Millinocket’s New England Outdoor Center. Regardless, Maine’s massive interconnected trail system is superb for some serious riding.
An iconic fixture of Maine, the flagship store featuring our favorite outdoor wear and goodies also offers some pretty cool indoor water features, delicious things to eat, and some L.L. bean history within the multilevel shop. It’s something nice to do when you need a break from the chilly air, or just some supplies before hitting the powder again. It’s really much more than a store, it’s a significant part of the area. Don’t forget to snap a pic by the famous giant boot outside. You can’t miss it.