Winter Food & Fun
Maine is well established as a food-lovers destination, drawing crowds in the summer to feast on lobster and wild blueberries, but Mainer’s know how to make the best of winter and the good food is still plentiful! Bundle up and check out these tips for wintery goodness.
Head to Oxford to Oxbow Beer Garden’s restaurant and taproom. The Oxbow Beer Garden is adjacent to an extensive Nordic skiing trail system, formerly known as Carter’s XC Ski. Nordic skis, fat bikes and snowshoes are available to rent on site from the nonprofit organization Portland Gear Hub. Afterward, grab a freshly made wood-fired pizza and tasty brew. You can book a dog-sled excursion in Oxford, too, for a truly unique way to enjoy Maine’s snowy winter.
Maine Maple Sunday has been enjoyed for 40 years each March – a weekend of syrup, snow and so much more. Sugar houses across the state pull out the stops with activities, delicious maple products and demonstrations of how syrup is made. Don’t miss favorite treats like maple glazed donuts or maple taffy made on the snow!
Pineland Farms has quite the selection of fun winter activities on over 5,000 acres in New Gloucester. With excellent groomed Nordic ski trails, snowshoeing and fat tire biking, a huge sledding hill and ice-skating rink, there’s something for everyone. Rentals are available for all your gear needs and their Market is the perfect place to refuel afterwards with a wide array of locally sourced produce, meats, cheeses and baked goods, as well as a great selection of beer, wine, and gift ideas. Pineland even offers their own farm-style accommodations.
In nearby Gray, you can enjoy a winter goat hike at Ten Apple Farm. This two-hour educational and recreational goat experience consists of an approximately one-and-a-half-mile loop through the woods on lightly groomed trails, followed by a glass of fresh goat milk and cookies! You can also purchase yogurt and goat cheese made from your hiking companions’ milk.
It’s always time for lobster in Maine! First learn about the century-old industry with a unique exhibit at The Maine Maritime Museum in Bath. Here you can learn about what has changed and what has stayed the same for lobster fishing in an interactive exhibit called Lobstering & the Maine Coast. Then when you’ve worked up an appetite for the tasty crustaceans, head over to J.R. Maxwell & Co for either a fresh lobster roll, lobster salad or their famous lobster stew!
Head to Somerset County for a unique winter festival and thriving local food scene. The Somerset Snowfest in February has events and activities in Skowhegan, Canaan and Madison. Here you can find the Northeast’s only equestrian skijoring competition: Skijor Skowhegan. What is that, you say? It’s like water skiing except the water is snow, and the boat is a horse and rider galloping around a track. In other words… awesome! Many other festival events are fun and slightly quirky as well, like the downhill kayak race, a kid’s box sled derby and a kite fest. There are free sleigh rides and a beer garden to enjoy. Afterward, head to Court Street in Skowhegan to visit Maine Grains – a gristmill selling organic, local grains – and the other shops in an old jailhouse. You can grab a meal at the Miller’s Table Café or pick up locally made cheese from Crooked Face Creamery.
The Maine Oyster Trail has many stops open year-round to enjoy Maine’s sweet and briny oysters. You can even bundle up and brave the cold for a farm tour at North Haven Oyster Company, low tide permitting. Enjoy a cozy yurt in Newcastle at the Shuck Station – with a full bar and menu! Winter is also Maine’s scallop season so enjoy some of those as well!
Winter in Maine means smelt fishing for many. An annual tradition in January and February, villages made of tiny smelting huts appear on the frozen rivers, like the Cathance and Kennebec. The tiny shack is your home for six hours of the rising tide as you fish for smelt – tiny fish that many say taste like cucumbers – which can be battered and fried on the little stove that also keeps the shack surprisingly warm.
If snowy weather and melty cheese sound like a good pairing, look no further than Tops’l Farm’s Winter Raclette. Enjoy oysters and beverages followed by Swiss raclette – delicious, melted cheese – served with bread and meats. The farm offers lunch and dinner raclette along Maine’s MidCoast.