18 Best Places to Visit for a Maine Winter Vacation in 2023
There’s a fantastic range of both indoor and outdoor activities to do on your next Maine winter vacation — skiing and snowshoeing, attending festivals, themed bar crawls, theater productions, and so much more!
We’ve put together a list of some of the top destinations for your winter vacation in Maine. Remember that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Vacationing in Maine during the winter can be thrilling, chilling, snowy, cozy, and frosty fun! So, don’t be afraid to explore the gorgeous Maine outdoors!
Towns Perfect for a Maine Winter Vacation
Spend your Maine winter vacation in Ogunquit. Bundle up for a walk around this cozy harbor town on the Marginal Way footpath. The paved walkway with benches is accessible year-round and has gorgeous views of the Gulf of Maine. It runs from Ogunquit Beach to Perkins Cove.
Skiers can enjoy Powderhouse Hill, a winter resort just 20 minutes from the coast in South Berwick. You can also take a guided snowshoe tour through the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, a National Estuarine Research Reserve.
York is famous for its iconic Nubble Lighthouse in Sohier Park. The annual lighting of the lighthouse during the last weekend of November marks the beginning of the holiday season. It’s a much-loved tradition within the community with hot cocoa, cookies, music, and visits with Santa.
Other winter things to do in York include a Winter Community Concert and the Festival of Lights, a holiday festival featuring ornament painting, a parade, breakfast with Santa, and the Polar Express.
This seaside town celebrates winter with a Kennebunkport Christmas Prelude event prior to Christmas, a Polar Plunge on New Year’s Day at the beach, and a Paint the Town Red celebration in February around romantic Valentine’s Day.
With all of these events, Kennebunkport is fun and festive throughout the winter season. Seaside bed and breakfasts and inns offer lodging specials during this slower season too.
Featured Winter Destinations
Old Orchard Beach Maine
Take a frigid dip in the ocean at Old Orchard Beach’s annual Lobster Dip. The event has been held each year on New Year’s Day since 1988 in support of the Special Olympics.
Head to the nearby Harris Farm for a wide range of winter activities. Cross-country ski or snowshoe on your choice of about 25 miles of trails of varying difficulty levels. You can even try fat biking — all-terrain bikes with extra-wide tires — on groomed ski trails. Families can sled and warm up afterward in the lodge.
Call ahead to ensure conditions are right for fat biking.
The state’s biggest city is one of the best destinations for a winter vacation in Maine. Enjoy Christmastime by the beach at the Portland Harbor Christmas Boat Parade of Lights.
If you’re up for a bar crawl, don a full Santa costume and attend SantaCon. Get some holiday shopping in at the Portland Annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Show and during Merry Madness, a shopping spree hosted late at night.
Portland also holds a fantastic theatrical production perfect for winter — Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet. Before the play, head to Victoria Mansion to enjoy Victorian-inspired holiday decorations inside the Italian villa-style home.
Head to Freeport for your next family winter vacation in Maine. The Sparkle Celebration is one of the most popular holiday festivals in the state. It includes a Celebration Parade of Lights, the lighting of the community tree by none other than Santa himself, decorating contests, giveaways, the Frosty Frolic, and more!
In February, foodies will enjoy the Flavors of Freeport event, which features a variety of sweet and savory offerings from local restaurants.
Each year, Downtown Bath holds An Old Fashioned Christmas in Bath, a charming, traditional Christmas festival. The celebration includes caroling, trolley caroling, holiday music, a community tree-lighting ceremony, window decorating contests, and more.
You can ice skate at Goddard’s Pond, which also has a warming hut and concession stand on site. Snowmobile on some great maintained trails on the way to Trinken Brewing Co., where you can warm up with a hearty craft ale. You can also explore scenic winter trails in the Lily Pond Community Forest.
Boothbay is a nostalgic, historic town. One of its primary destinations is the Railway Village Museum. On weekends in December, it runs the North Pole Express. Ride in the antique train through a beautiful winter landscape.
This coastal town is also quite busy during Christmastime. Visit during the Boothbay Festival of Lights, when both the town and harbor are adorned with thousands of lights.
Winter events within this festival you won’t want to miss include Gardens Aglow at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens (with more than 750,000 festive lights!) and the Gingerbread Spectacular contest at The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor.
During December, head to Camden for its annual Christmas By The Sea celebration. It’s also held in the neighboring communities of Rockport and Lincolnville. The festival includes the classic Maine arrival of Santa by lobster boat, a community bonfire, a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, a holiday parade, and more.
Camden is also home to the Camden Snow Bowl, where you can sled, tube, ice skate, ski, and snowboard all winter long. A not-to-miss event held there each February is the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. Watch as costumed competitors race for the champion title.
Each year, Downtown Waterville transforms into Kringleville in celebration of Christmas. The idyllic and festive town is the perfect place to bring your little one to meet Santa and take family photos.
Head to the Quarry Road Trails for winter activities like skiing and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and more. Plus, nearby Skowhegan hosts the annual Somerset SnowFest, which includes a box sled race, dog sled rides, skating, tubing, ice fishing, and an equestrian skijoring competition.
Rangeley is a great spot for a Maine winter vacation. In mid-January, you can attend the SnowFest and Snowdeo, which includes snowmobile and sled races, a classic snowmobile parade, food, games, and more.
Ski, Nordic ski, snowboard, sled, snowshoe, ice skate, and mountain bike at Rangeley’s Saddleback Mountain. For a variety of other trails to explore, visit the Rangeley Lakes Trail Center. You can also visit Rangeley Lake for some great ice fishing opportunities.
Similar to Portland, Bangor has a younger population thanks to community colleges and universities. And there are plenty of opportunities for winter recreation.
The DeMeritt Forest Trail System is open to the public where you can even rent cross country ski equipment at the University of Maine’s Recreation Center. If you have your own equipment, you can visit Bangor City Forest for miles of maintained trails.
Best of all, Bangor has the amenities of the city with the Bangor Mall and plenty of lodging options, restaurants, and bars open throughout the year.
Nature Destinations for a Winter Vacation in Maine
Northern Heights Farm
211 Rice Rd, Waterford, ME 04088
Northern Heights Farm has idyllic views of farmland and is a beautiful spot to visit during your Maine winter vacation. During the winter time, the 80-acre farm offers seasonal, horse-drawn sleigh rides with Belgian Draft horses.
Contact the farm directly to ensure sleigh ride availability, as offerings vary per year.
Skiing & Snowboarding Areas
If you’re a winter sportsman, you’ll love Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry and Sugarloaf Ski Area in Carrabassett Valley during the wintertime. For ski buffs, Sugarloaf is the highest mountain with over 130 ski trails! Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton Maine offers awesome skiing and snowboarding too.
Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness
This gorgeous natural area is another region in Maine where you’ll have a chance to see the northern lights from December through February. Hike on the 25 miles of maintained trails, where you can see views of Mt. Caribou and Speckled Mountain, one of Maine’s tallest peaks at about 2,900 feet tall.
Acadia National Park
25 Visitor Center Rd, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
Much of this national park in Maine is located on Mount Desert Island. It’s an excellent spot for birding during the winter as species, like Harlequin ducks and snowy owls, make their debut. Schoodic Point is one of the most popular spots for birders.
Visitors can cross-country ski and snowshoe on the park’s about 45 miles of mostly-groomed carriage roads as well. Adventurers can forge paths on ice climbing routes, and experienced winter hikers can navigate trails along cliffs and peaks.
There are also opportunities for snowmobiling on Park Loop Road, which leads to Sand Beach. And, Thunder Hole is a fantastic spot where you can enjoy the scenic winter landscape.
While the road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain is closed, you can still hike or take your snowmobile to the top. Parts of the carriage roads are maintained for cross-country skiing, and you can rent equipment at Cadillac Mountain Sports in Bar Harbor.
In the winter, you can get great deals on lodging in Bar Harbor, as well as easy-to-score tables at a few nice restaurants.
Baxter State Park
Baxter State Park is a great option for adventurers. See Maine’s tallest mountain — Mt. Katahdin, which is 5,269 feet tall.
Experienced climbers may be able to ascend Mt. Katahdin in winter by using the Abol Trail, but this is a feat that will most likely require more than one day. There are other ice climbs in the park if you’re looking for less difficulty.
Heavy snowfall provides lots of opportunities for snowshoeing at the park as well as snowmobiling on the ungroomed, multi-use Park Tote Road. If you’re planning to camp, you can rent the bunkhouses on a single-party basis.
Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge
97 Refuge Rd, Limestone, ME 04750
This wildlife refuge in Maine is a great place to see the aurora borealis. The best chances of viewing the northern lights are from December to February. You can snowshoe, cross-country ski, bird watch, and explore this park’s 4,700 acres.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, Maine is home to the largest moose population in the continental United States, so there’s a chance that you’ll see one of these magnificent animals in person.
FAQs About Maine Winter Vacation Destinations
What are the best activities for families on a winter vacation in Maine?
There is so much for families to do on a Maine winter vacation. Some of the best options include attending one of the many Maine holiday festivals.
What are the best indoor activities for a Maine winter vacation?
Adults can attend a Santa-themed bar crawl or a theater production in Portland! Flavors of Freeport is another great option for delicious eats indoors.
Enjoy Your Maine Winter Vacation This Season
If you need more help planning your next Maine winter vacation, we have numerous guides to help you explore one of the nation’s most picturesque states. Some of our other winter in Maine travel guides include Maine Christmas tree farms to visit and even more winter things to do in Maine!