Skiers ride the new high-speed quad lift up Saddleback Mountain in the Rangeley Lakes region. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

While we’re pivoting on everything else, why not adjust Maine’s most iconic saying to the pandemic as well: “You can get away from here, by staying here.”

It makes sense. We’re still at the point in the pandemic where taking a vacation or a weekend getaway right here in Maine is the safest option, and provides the most peace of mind.

Plus, there are a couple of big upsides in taking your mid-winter break in Maine. First, you can visit places you might have only seen when crowds were swarming – like Bar Harbor or Kennebunkport – and soak in the winter peace and beauty. Then there’s the fact that Maine is a winter vacation destination known the world over. It’s easy to find a place to ski, snowshoe, snowmobile or hike.

Here are some ideas for places to go and things to do on a Maine winter getaway. Be sure to check with individual eateries, lodgings or other businesses for their latest COVID-19 restrictions and to make sure they are open.

Use your Maine winter getaway to try snowmobiling in Maine’s western mountains, maybe. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

BE A LITTLE MORE MOBILE

Maybe the pandemic has made you think about trying stuff you’ve never done before. Pandemics can do that, make you want to experience life beyond Netflix and Zoom happy hours. One very Maine thing to try is snowmobiling, and one great place to do it is the Rangeley Lakes region, in the state’s western mountains. There are more than 170 miles of groomed trails and several places that rent snowmobiles. At Flagstaff Rentals in Stratton, you can rent one for $325 for eight hours, and guided trail rides are offered as well. One place to stay would be the stately Rangeley Inn, overlooking Rangeley Lake in Rangeley, and dating back to the 19th century. Traditional guest rooms in the inn range from $125 to $195, more for suites. Although the inn’s fireside eatery is closed, full breakfasts are delivered to the rooms. There are also ski-and-stay packages that allow guests to ski at newly reopened Saddleback ski area. For more information on places to stay and eat and things to do in the Rangeley Lakes area in winter, go to rangeleymaine.com.

Reservations are recommended for the custom-built ice fishing shacks at Batson River in Kennebunk. Photo by Heidi Kirn

SCENIC CHARM

The Kennebunk-Kennepunkport area combines small-town charm with breathtaking beaches and coastline. So you can stay on or near the beach and stroll there, then later take a leisurely walk among the quaint shops and eateries of downtown Kennebunkport. If it’s too cold to walk, you can take a scenic drive past Walker’s Point, longtime vacation home of the presidential Bush family, or along Summer Street in Kennebunk, a National Register Historic District and home to the famous Wedding Cake House. If you want to stop for a bite and a drink, there’s safe and Maine-centric way to do that at Batson River Brewing and Distilling in Kennebunk. You can make a reservation – for $20 – to eat and drink in one of their heated fish shacks. Several inns and lodgings are offering winter packages, and you can find specifics at kennebunkportmainelodging.com. For more information on things to do and places to eat, go to GoKennebunks.com.

MOUNTAINS MEET THE SEA

Another area that combines a lot of what Maine is famous for is the Camden-Rockland-Rockport area on Penoboscot Bay. You can ski at the Camden Snow Bowl and even try its famous wooden toboggan chute, if you happen to be in the area this week, school vacation week, through Sunday. The Hawthorn Inn is one of many charming inns and bed-and-breakfasts in Camden, and it is currently offering a package that includes ice climbing and another “romantic getaway” package with includes wine, chocolates, flowers, and a two-course breakfast in bed, for $119. Or if you want take advantage of the area’s cultural amenities, you might visit Rockland’s Farnsworth Art Museum, which is allowing visitors only with timed-ticket entry. For more information on staying, eating and doing things in Camden and Rockland, go to camdenrockland.com.

A stay in Bethel can include food and drink in a heated igloo at Bethel Inn Resort. Photo courtesy of Bethel Inn Resort

MOUNTAINS AND MORE MOUNTAINS

Bethel bills itself as “Maine’s Most Beautiful Mountain Village,” and it’s hard to argue. It’s in the heart of the western mountains with a quaint downtown and outdoor opportunities all over the place. Nearby Sunday River resort offers skiing and tubing. For people who prefer a walk in the woods in winter, the Mahoosuc Land Trust maintains trails for free hiking all over the area. One particularly easy hiking area is the Valentine Farm Trail, along the Androscoggin River in Bethel. You could stay right in the heart of Bethel at the Bethel Inn Resort, and eat or drink outdoors inside one of their heated see-through igloos. The winter escape bed-and-breakfast package, including lots of outdoor activities, start at $155 for two. For more information on the Bethel area, go to bethelmaine.com.

Avoid summer crowds and visit Bar Harbor in winter, perhaps with a stay at Canterbury Cottage. Photo courtesy of Canterbury Cottage

ACADIA OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Yes, Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island is open in winter, and so are lodgings and eateries in picturesque Bar Harbor. Two sections of the park loop road remain open in winter, weather permitting: Ocean Drive and Jordan Pond Road, giving you access to the Otter Cliffs. There is also winter hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in several areas, including the famous park carriage roads. Downtown Bar Harbor can get crowded in summer, so winter may be a good time to stay to avoid the masses. One of the many lodgings there is the Canterbury Cottage Bed & Breakfast, which proudly advertises itself as dog-friendly. Rates start around $89. For more information about the Bar Harbor area and what’s open now, go to visitbarharbor.com.

 

 

 

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