January 2018 — Welcome to mid-winter in Maine. For visitors arriving this month, it's time to rev up a snowmobile and head out on the 14,000 miles plus of groomed trails that crisscross the state. Or maybe plan a trip to one of Maine's smaller ski hills, which are great for families and beginners. The US National Toboggan Championships are on target for February in Camden, so it's time to book accommodations. Later this month, the Portland Museum of Art unveils its 10th Biennial, featuring the work of 25 artists. January is a good month to book a weekend stay at one of Maine's classic inns or to settle into a booth at a vintage Maine diner to warm up from the cold.
Snowmobiling in Maine
It's no exaggeration to say that Maine offers some of the best snowmobiling terrain in the United States. Thanks to the state's 280 snowmobile clubs, Maine offers an astonishing 14,000 miles of marked snowmobile trails. While there are trails all over the state, many of the best areas are found in the sparsely settled north country, especially the Jackman-Moose River area, the Moosehead Lake region and the Rangeley Lakes region, as well as in the Millinocket and the Katahdin area and the far north of Aroostook County. Of special note is that on Saturday, February 17, Bald Mountain Camps in the Rangeley Lakes Region will host the Annual World Record Snowmobile Ride to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Riders from near and far will try to break the World Record for number of riders. The website of Visit Maine has detailed information on snowmobile rentals and snowmobile outfitters.
Portland Museum of Art Biennial
The 10th Portland Museum of Art (PMA) Biennial runs from January 26 to May 30, 2018, and will showcase the work of 25 artists. It is curated by Nat May, the former executive director of SPACE Gallery in Portland, who traveled with a hand-picked team of arts professionals to studios throughout Maine and the nation. They met with artists who complement each other and reflect Maine's increasingly diverse community. In a change from past Biennials, many of the artists will be exhibiting not just one singular work, but several. The chosen artists include painter Anne Buckwalter, photographer Rosamond Purcell, mixed-media artists Gina Adams and David Minter, and canoe-maker David Moses Bridges. All of the artists in the Biennial either live in Maine or have strong ties to the state. Visit the Portland Museum of Art.
Maine's Family Ski Mountains
Skiing in Maine is synonymous with its two largest resorts, Sugarloaf and Sunday River, which boast high-speed lifts, great gladed terrain and superpipes, not to mention a vibrant nightlife. Less well known are Maine's smaller resorts, places where Maine families traditionally ski. Places like the community-owned Camden Snow Bowl on 1,300-foot Ragged Mountain, which offers skiers dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean. In Bridgton in western Maine, Shawnee Peak prides itself on providing families with a nostalgic, fun ski experience for the past 80 years while making continual upgrades. At night, six lifts service 19 trails and three terrain parks can be skied under the lights. Over at Mt. Abram, there are 10 beginner, 21 intermediate and 13 expert trails, making it a great mountain for families. Go to Visit Maine for a complete look at Maine's family ski resorts.
Coziest Inns for a Winter Visit
Winter is an ideal time to spend a weekend at a classic Maine inn. In western Maine, The Bethel Inn Resort, not far from the Sunday River ski resort, dates from 1913. It has 40 kilometers of cross-country trails, spectacular views and a great location in one of Maine's prettiest towns. Further north, The Rangeley Inn has been welcoming visitors to explore the Rangeley Lakes region for more than a century. After a day of snowmobiling, ice fishing or Nordic skiing, the inn offers a warm welcome. Wolf Cove Inn, on the shores of Tripp Lake in Poland, is a welcoming bed & breakfast, with rooms that boast lake views, fireplaces and spa tubs. The Greenville Inn, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is basecamp for those who come for the dog sled races, the ice fishing festival and miles of winter trails to explore on skis or snowshoes around Moosehead Lake. Close to the coast, The Brunswick Inn in downtown Brunswick is walking distance to the city's best restaurants and the Bowdoin College campus. The Bar at the Brunswick Inn is one of the warmest places around to relax after a day of exploring. For more, go to Visit Maine.
Diners & Comfort Food
Nothing says comfort food like breakfast, lunch or dinner at a classic Maine diner, especially in winter. There are lots of lunch choices at the Maine Diner in Wells, including their praiseworthy lobster mac and cheese. At the Palace Diner in Biddeford, the Lumberjack Breakfast (a stack of silver dollar pancakes, two eggs, Palace Potatoes and bacon, ham or sausage) is served all day. Downtown Portland is where you'll find Becky's Diner, where a cup of homemade clam chowder followed by broiled Atlantic scallops in lemon butter and crumbs is a true taste of the coast. The Brunswick Diner is in a converted railroad car and has been serving Bowdoin students since 1946, offering up fare like The Little Richard, their version of chipped beef on toast. Moody's Diner in Waldoboro is ideal for a lobster roll, fried clams and maybe a Whoopee Pie for dessert. Up in Bangor, Dysart's is still the to-go place for truckers, who come daily for Yankee pot roast, fried whole-belly clams, a hot Thanksgiving sandwich and blueberry pie. For true fans of vintage diners, the A1 Diner in Gardiner is a venerable dining car with such unexpected treats as Turkish Lamb Tagine and Belgian beers in addition to more traditional diner fare. Go to Visit Maine for more info.
U.S. National Toboggan Championships
The 28th Annual U.S National Toboggan Championships combines the best of winter and the Maine coast, the centerpiece of Camden's Winterfest on the weekend of February 9 - 11, 2018. Held at the Camden Snow Bowl, the only ski mountain in the U.S. with views of the Atlantic Ocean, the track is a 400-foot ice-covered chute that spills out onto frozen Hosmer Pond. What gives it an especially festive air are the brilliant handmade costumes worn by teams from around the world. Go to Camden Snow Bowl for more information about this year's championships.