Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Three Months, Three Winter Vacations in Maine

If you like a combination of indoor coziness, foodie delights and outdoor sports, a Maine winter vacation is actually quite ideal. It's also a nice way for us Mainers to break up the winter monotony while saving money and staying closer to home.

What's there to do in my home state of Maine during the winter? Here are three ideas, one for each remaining winter month:

Millinocket Lake and New England Outdoor Center

A cozy winter vacation with all the amenities and access to almost every outdoor winter activity right on your doorstep-- that's the way to explore Maine in the winter!

The New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) has everything you need. It features beautiful guest houses with gas fireplaces, private bedrooms, living room, kitchen and private baths. 

Nearby is the River Driver's Restaurant, open year round, if you prefer to dine out.

NEOC's guest houses are the ideal base for a Maine snowmobiling vacation. You can rent a snowmobile (and warm winter clothes, if needed!) and have a blast on groomed, well-marked trails. 

Or try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking.

Dogs are welcome for a small fee (includes bed, bowl and treat!) See NEOC's Website for more information.

February in CAMDEN, MAINE
Camden, Camden Snow Bowl and the Toboggan Nationals

While many seaside towns in Maine shutter many of their shops and restaurants for the winter, Camden stays open. 

A quaint storybook New England town, it's festive all winter. Award-winning restaurants dot the streets, which are decked out in twinkling lights. 

For winter outdoor recreation, the Camden Snow Bowl offers downhill skiing, snowboarding and tubing. Eight marked trails are ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders. You can rent equipment if needed.

Camden is also home to the Jack Williams Toboggan Chute, a 400-foot toboggan run, and to the National Toboggan Championships, held February 9. Stalwart toboggan teams don crazy costumes and load into sleds for descents reaching up to 45 mph.

Nearby you will find the Camden Hills State Park, with 30 miles of hiking and snowshoeing trails, and the 66-acre Merryspring Nature Center, with trails open year round. 

Portland, Maple Sugar Sunday, and Biddeford Pool

Portland, Maine, is full of things to do all year round, but a visit to Maine's biggest city is an especially good pick-me-up in March, when the winter is feeling too long.

Try an ice skating lesson at The Portland Ice Arena, go shopping in the Old Port, and visit one of the city's excellent restaurants (Portland has loads-- check out this dining guide to help narrow your selection.)

Thirty minutes outside of Portland is the small town of Lyman, where you can find Brookridge Boilers. They'll be celebrating Maple Syrup Sunday on March 24 with an all you can eat pancake breakfast at 8 am.

Self guided sugarbush tours, syrup making demonstrations, free syrup samples, maple products for sale will comprise the rest of the festivities, lasting until mid-afternoon. For more celebration of Maple Syrup Sunday, check out the Maine Maple Sugar Association's map.

Suzanne Anderson is the creator of YIKES! Studio Jewelry. Suzanne has been busy creating for most of her life. After graduating with a BA from Maine College of Art, she worked as a graphic designer and a painter. Suzanne works to ensure that YIKES! Studio creates work that is fun, beautiful, always interesting, and adorns the wearer with joy. Catch up with her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Etsy, or her website at www.yikesstudio.com.

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