20 Things To Do In Winter In Maine

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You might think life slows down in snow-covered states like Maine during the winter months, but in actuality, things tend to speed up! Whether you’re blasting across frozen lakes on snowmobiles, or shredding down the slopes, there are plenty of ways to have fun when the snow blankets the region.

For those seeking a more tranquil setting during the holiday season, the snow-covered trails offer more than enough snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing routes throughout the state’s picturesque forests. While you’re at it, why not rent a lakeside cabin to take in all the stunning snow-covered scenery? The ‘Downeast’ becomes a winter wonderland when the snow starts to fly. The charming seacoast towns are covered in twinkling lights, as the people sing carols walking to the next holiday party or festival. Winter in Maine is the time of year when everyone comes together to celebrate the end of another great year while looking forward to the warm months ahead.

Winter in Maine

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20 Things To Do In Maine In Winter

1- Hit The Slopes And Go Skiing Or Snowboarding

Skier In Black Downhill Skiing On A Ski Slope
Skiing in Maine in winter.

With the second-highest amount of snowfall in the country after New Hampshire, you can expect fantastic skiing and snowboarding conditions in Maine every season.

In the eastern part of the state, Camden Snow Bowl offers the unique experience of cruising down the slopes while enjoying spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean off in the distance.

As the highest-elevation ski resort in Maine, Sugarloaf boasts incredible vistas well above the tree line, as well as some of the longest ski runs.

It’s also the second-largest ski area on the East Coast, offering 161 trails for all levels of skiers.


Another popular ski resort, Sunday River, is the second largest ski area in the state, with 135 trails spread across 8 different peaks providing days worth of fun on slopes.

Expert skiers and snowboarders typically head to Saddleback Mountain.

With over 225 inches of snow annually, you’re sure to find plenty of powder to blast through on your way down the mountain.

No matter which set of slopes you choose to test your skills, Maine’s ski resorts are certainly up to the task of providing days of winter fun for people of all ages and abilities.

2- Snowshoe In Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park is a lovely place to explore in winter in Maine.

Over 2 million people visit Acadia National Park every year, eager to explore its pristine wilderness, with breathtaking views of Maine’s stunning coastline.

But during the winter, the park receives less than 5% of those visitors, leaving the perfect opportunity to see the beauty of Acadia with your snowshoes strapped on.

With 50 kilometres of groomed trails and 20 km of ungroomed carriage roads, the park becomes a paradise for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing during the wintry months.

Even snowmobiles are allowed to use the 43 km Park Loop Road to visit the sites.

With so many hiking trails in the park, the snowshoeing routes are practically endless.

Some of the best viewpoints can be found climbing up Gorham Mountain, or Cadillac Mountain, the park’s highest peak.

Others simply opt for a scenic stroll around Jordan Pond, enjoying spectacular views of the Bubbles, and Sargent Mountains.

When it comes to getting back to nature, Acadia National Park offers a serenity hard to find in many other places, and when the winter cold brushes off the crowds, it is even more of a delight to explore.

3- Go Outlet Shopping In Kittery or Freeport

Whaleback Light, Kittery, Maine
A historic lighthouse at the mouth of the Piscataqua River near Kittery, Maine.

When the holiday season arrives bringing sub-zero temperatures in the state, the crowds head to the outlet shops in Kittery and Freeport to beat the cold.

With loads of discounts, it’s a great way to load up on those stocking stuffers and find unexpected gifts just in time for Christmas.

As Maine’s oldest town, Kittery’s attracted holiday shoppers for nearly a century with the Kittery Trading Post.

This family-owned business first arose to popularity as a sporting goods store before expanding into clothing, recreational gear, and specialised gifts.

Well known for being the home to L.L. Bean’s flagship store, Freeport entices winter sports lovers from all over the state to discover the wide range of outdoor products available from big-name brands and smaller boutique shops.

4- See The Nubble Lighthouse Decorated In Lights

As one of Maine’s most iconic landmarks, the Nubble Lighthouse attracts thousands of visitors year-round, and during the holidays spectators are treated to a little extra glow when these historic buildings are tastefully decorated in Christmas lights.

Set upon a small island off the coast in York, this lighthouse built in 1879 serves as a perfect backdrop for festive photos, and from this vantage point, you also get a wonderful view of Maine’s rugged coastline as well.

If you visit after dark during the right time of the month, you can even catch the moon in the background as it rises from the ocean.

The light display runs from the Saturday after Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

5- Rent Snowmobiles And Ride The Trails

Snowmobile Adventure
Snowmobiling is a fun activity to try in Maine in the winter.

If you are looking for a high-energy thrill to shake off the winter blues, hop on a snowmobile and race down over 22,000 kilometres of groomed trails, many of which cross over the most picturesque frozen lakes in the state.

Moosehead and Rangeley Lake are popular areas among snowmobilers, and with the large number of companies providing equipment rentals and training in the area, it’s hard to resist the temptation.

Learning how to ride is fairly straightforward, and with proper guidance, the experience provides countless hours of fun, even for beginners of the sport.

6- Learn How To Dogsled

Sledging With Dogs
Dog sledding is one of the things to do in Maine in winter.

Imagine whisking across a winter wonderland as you are pulled by a team of overzealous sled dogs.

Maine’s wintry forests and landscapes create the perfect terrain for this heartwarming activity, and learning how to do it is half the fun!

Sled dogs are great companions during the colder months and they love frolicking in the snow.

In addition, these cross-country trips also aid in their physical and mental well-being, providing a stimulating atmosphere during the darker days of the year.

You can find training centres in Newry, Oxford, and Bethel that are more than happy to teach you the skills necessary to have a safe and memorable experience.

7- Ride A Fat Tire Bike Down The Trails

Rear Wheel Of Fat Bike On A Winter Trail
Fat tire biking is one of the activities in winter in Maine.

As Maine’s mountain biking trails become covered in snow, fat tire bikes come out to play, taking advantage of the beautiful winter landscapes.

With hundreds of miles of routes to explore, it’s a great way to keep your pedalling muscles in shape during the off-season.

There’s no need to buy a new bike to take part in the fun.

You can find plenty of rental shops in Portland, Brunswick, Saco, Norway and Rockland.

If you’re a little lost trying to figure out the best places to ride, head to Bethel or Sugarloaf Outdoor Center near the border with New Hampshire.

For those seeking the best trails in the northern parts of the state, Camden Hills State Park, Camden Snow Bowl, and Bangor City Forest offer plenty of routes for this thrilling sport so many have come to enjoy.

8- Hop Aboard The Polar Express Train Ride

Polar Express Train Rides Through The Snowy City
The Polar Express train is one of the things to do in winter in Maine.

Featuring an authentic steam-powered train adorned with Christmas decorations, the Polar Express Train Ride takes you on a journey into the past, while serving you hot cocoa and cookies in the comfort of cosy heated historic passenger cars.

This magical experience provided by the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum in Portland takes you from the scenic waterfront to the ‘North Pole’ in under an hour, where travellers are greeted by Santa Claus and his helpers.

On the return trip, Elves board the train and lead everyone in singing Christmas carols.

It’s the perfect way for people of all ages to get into the holiday spirit.

Rides are available on most weekends during December before the Christmas holiday.

The Polar Express Train rides depart from the Ocean Gateway Marine Terminal in Portland.

9- Watch The U.S. National Toboggan Championships

During the first weekend of February, Camden Snow Bowl hosts the U.S.

National Toboggan Championships, much to the delight of thousands of excited spectators ready to cheer on the participants, with some dressed in comical costumes.

It’s the only organized wooden toboggan event in the country, and what’s even better is that anyone can enter and become the champion, no matter what age or ability!

For over 30 years, the laid-back and joyful crowds have lined up and sipped hot chocolate as they watched the daring tobogganists race down the 120-metre chute, achieving speeds over 68 km per hour on their runs.

It’s one of Maine’s most beloved events and loads of fun to watch.

10- Attend The Winter Festival In Portland

Portland Head Light Snow Storm
Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine in winter.

Known as the Carnaval ME, this eagerly awaited grand winter festival in Portland presents a dizzying array of events and activities to keep people of all ages entertained during the longest stretch of winter.

With ice sculpture demonstrations, live music, comedians, theatre performances, bonfires, and warm food and drinks, it’s an easy way to escape winter’s icy grip.

There’s also plenty to keep the kids busy as well, with face painting, games, and craft-making.

What’s even better is that the proceeds of this event benefit non-profit organizations elected by the community organisers.

The winter festival takes place at 25 Long Wharf, Portland.

Recommended tour: The Real Portland Tour: City and 3 Lighthouses Historical Tour with a Real Local

11- Adore The Lights At The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

After the trees have lost their leaves and snow covers the ground, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens comes to life in a completely different form during the Gardens Aglow event.

Over six hectares of the gardens are illuminated by 750,000 energy-efficient LED lights.

Colourfully lit trails wind through nature-inspired sculptures, creating an atmosphere filled with wonder.

The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is located at: 105 Botanical Gdns Dr, Boothbay

12- Explore The Countryside Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing: Young Man Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing in Maine in the winter.

When cabin fever starts to set in and your legs get a bit restless, cross-country skiing through Maine’s pristine wilderness is the perfect remedy for the whole family.

In Bethel, you can gracefully glide along over 55 kilometres of an interconnected trail system while taking in breathtaking views along the way.

If you don’t have your own skis or equipment the local outfitters in town are ready to help you get out there on the trails, and on the weekends, the on-site food trucks are prepared when your hunger strikes.

13- Take A Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride

Reminiscent of the famous Christmas song, when winter weather arrives in the region, it’s the perfect time to go dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic voyage, or a family fun way to admire the winter scenery, sleigh rides are quite common across the state, and some even allow you to sip hot chocolate or tea as you go, laughing all the way.

Farms in Dresden, Belgrade, and Harrison offer wonderful opportunities to take part in this yuletide tradition from over a century ago.

14- Visit A Museum In Portland

For those seeking to escape winter’s icy grip, Portland offers more than enough museums to keep you warm while you enjoy world-class exhibits.

If you’re an art lover, the Portland Museum of Art proudly displays 18,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, and other media.

It’s also a great place to have a look at over 600 paintings and watercolours created by one of Maine’s most famous artists, Winslow Homer.

The kids will love exploring the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine which focuses its attention on science-based exploration.

Here you can climb inside a space shuttle cockpit, learn about ocean life, or watch theatre performances.

Southworth Planetarium at the University of Maine takes you on a journey through our universe inside a 360-degree domed theatre.

The variety of shows offered even delve into mythology and dinosaurs.

Recommended tours:

15- Ice Skate At Thompson’s Point

Young Mother Teaching Her Little Son Ice Skating
Ice skating in Maine in winter.

As the temperatures dip below freezing in Maine, people dig out their ice skates from the closet and head straight to their local rink, ready to have some fun.

In Portland, the crowds flock to Thompson’s Point located right in the heart of the city’s picturesque waterfront.

With superb sunset views and a canopy adorned with twinkling Christmas lights, it’s a charming way to spend an evening gliding across the ice with family and friends.

Skate rentals are available at affordable prices, and if the chill starts to set in, stop and have a hot chocolate, or grab a bite to eat.

Thompson’s Point is located at 207 Thompsons Point, Portland

16- Enjoy The Fun Of Sledding Or Tubing Down The Slopes

A Mother With Child Sledding In The Snow
Family fun activities in Maine in the winter.

When most picture winter sports in Maine, the first idea that comes to mind is skiers skillfully cruising down perfectly groomed slopes, a sport that dates back to the 1880s in the U.S.

What many don’t know is that around the same time, tubing and tobogganing were invented as well, using lifts to carry passengers up to the top of hills to feel the same thrill of whizzing down the slopes.

Several of Maine’s major ski resorts such as Lost Valley, Black Mountain, and Sunday River cater to this cherished American pastime, providing separate areas for people of all ages to go tubing or sledding.

It’s a great option for families with younger children to make use of the perfect snow conditions on weekends and vacations.

17- Stay Overnight In A Lakeside Cabin

Log Cabin
A log cabin by the lake in Maine in the winter, anyone?

During the summer, the lakes are booming with activity, and finding a lake cabin to rent is nearly impossible, but during the off-season, many of the beautiful accommodations lie dormant.

Its a wonderful opportunity to get away with family and friends and enjoy the tranquillity found next to the snow-covered frozen lakes.

While you’re there, you may want to consider renting snowshoes, cross-country skis, or even a snowmobile.

You can also learn how to ice fish on the lake, and getting a fishing licence is fairly simple.

After you are finished for the day, it’s time to cosy up next to a warm fireplace in a lakeside cabin with your loved ones.

Lakeside cabins are typically more affordable during the colder months, with locations all across the state, but the quieter ones tend to be around Belgrade, Naples, and West Gardiner.

18- Discover The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum

Maine’s wintertime adventures can be quite chilly during some months, but it pales in comparison to extreme sub-zero temperatures found in the Arctic!

The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College educates visitors about the history of Arctic expeditions, through its interesting collection of exploration gear, photography, and films.

On display, you can examine natural history specimens, and anthropological material primarily created by the Inuit tribes of Labrador and Greenland.

Founded in honour of two Artic explorers who graduated from Bowdoin, the museum is open Tuesday to Friday, and admission is free.

The Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum is located at 255 Maine Street, Brunswick

19- Find A Unique Gift At A Winter Farmers’ Market

You may think that the only summer is the only season to find delicious fresh goods from farmers, but during the colder months, you can find some of the best treats at winter farmers’ markets across Maine.

With everything from storage vegetables, preserves, cheeses, meats, and yoghurts, these markets pack a tasty punch.

If you’re looking for a unique gift for someone special, these events also feature handmade goods and crafts.

Some of the more popular markets can be found in Belfast, Brunswick, Portland and Bangor.

20- Try The Local Seafood

Three Buttered Lobster Prawns
Warm up with local seafood in Maine in the winter.

If you’re looking for the freshest catch of the day, take a trip to Bath to satisfy your appetite.

Straight from the pier to your plate, this quaint little city offers up some of the best fresh seafood found in the state.

Serving up mouth-watering lobster, oysters, haddock, and cod, it’s hard to resist the temptation of trying a little bit of each.

Be sure to start your meal with a New England favourite, clam chowder.

Once you are finished, take a stroll on the charming downtown streets, with beautiful brick buildings decorated with lights for the holidays.

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Grant Doremus
Grant Doremus is a freelance writer from the United States, eager to share his travel experiences and knowledge about some of the best destinations in the world. He grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, and after a successful career in finance, he decided to chase his dreams of becoming a digital nomad. As an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast he went on a road trip across the U.S. visiting 26 states, exploring most of the country's national parks, and climbing some of the highest peaks in the country. After a year on the road, he headed to Europe where he backpacked through 10 countries before finally settling in Spain. Grant loves to write about Spanish culture, its rich history, and traditions. His favourite destination so far is Mallorca, but he hasn’t finished his travels just yet!