Downhill ski path through trees, one of many winter activities in Maine.

27 Awesome Winter Activities In Maine: Embrace The Weather! [2023]

Going on vacation for winter activities in Maine is not the first thing that pops into people’s minds. First place belongs to oceans, lakes, and summer camping. However, there is an abundance of winter activities in Maine that can make a winter vacation awesome!

These activities range from ice-skating rinks to snow-tubing hills, from sleigh rides through peaceful woods to roaring downhill ski trips. Here are 27 fun things to do in Maine in the winter, whether you want to be indoors or outdoors.

Great Outdoor Winter Activities In Maine

A beautiful scene of the sun shining behind a forest in the distance, with snow covered pine branches framing the picture.

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❇️ 1. Find Some Skates And Go Ice Skating

Some ice rinks are free, while others charge a small fee. Some of the larger rinks also host special events, such as ice hockey (if you are near Waterville, you can go watch Colby hockey games for free) and skating shows.

A quick Google search will help you find ice rinks in the area you plan on visiting. Having raised two hockey players, I can tell you that there are ice rinks all over the state.

The Alfond Youth Center holds an amazing pond hockey tournament each year. Read more about it on our winter festivals page.

There are also many parks that build rinks in the winter, and most of these are free. Check the Parks & Rec site for the town you are visiting and they should have all their parks listed, as well as the activities and facilities at the site.

❇️ 2. Skiing, Of Course!

Maine is home to both downhill and cross-country skiing. You’ll find amazing skiing with whichever one you choose to go with.

➡️ Cross-Country Skiing

If you enjoy the sound of crunching snow underfoot, you’ll love cross country (nordic) skiing. You can ski on ponds, lakes, and forest trails. Some towns even have designated cross-country ski areas.

Maine is an amazing place to go cross-country skiing. Whether you visit a local spot like Quarry Road in Waterville, or head to Baxter State Park for some backwoods cross country, you’ll find a great spot.

There is nothing like the peace and beauty of heading out into the woods on a beautiful winter day. Cross-country skiing is so popular in Maine that we have an entire post about it here.

➡️ Downhill Skiing

If the speed and thrill of downhill skiing is more your thing, no worries. Maine has some great downhill ski resorts. Think Sugarloaf, Sunday River, Shawnee Peak, and Saddleback. Sugarloaf Mountain is the second tallest mountain in Maine after Mt. Katahdin.

There are also some less well-known mountains where you can ski, like Hermon Mountain and Black Mountain.

❇️ 3. Hit The Trails And Go Snowshoeing

If you’re interested in a low-impact outdoor activity, snowshoeing is a great choice. It’s an excellent way to explore quiet woods, frozen lakes, and other natural areas.

Like cross-country skiing, you can go snowshoeing almost anywhere in Maine, from incredible spots like Acadia National Park to local trails. There are so many places to go that the best way to find them is to look for snowshoeing in the town you’ll be visiting.

Or, you could plan your entire trip around snowshoeing. Why not check out the Norway Snowshoe Festival? It’s everything showshoe, from games to races, to learn-to-snowshoe.

❇️ 4. Snow Tube At One Of Our Great Tubing Parks

What can we say about snow tubing? Actually, a lot! Here’s an entire post about where you can go snow tubing in Maine. It’s just one more really popular winter activity in Maine.

Fat tire bike packed for a journey.
Things To Do In Maine In Winter: Fat Tire Biking

❇️ 5. Try Fat Tire Biking

Fat tire biking is becoming increasingly popular in Maine. Why save all the biking for the other seasons? Flying down a snow-covered trail on your bike is just as fun as doing it on dirt-covered trails!

Most of the ski resorts offer fat biking now, as do the state parks.

❇️ 6. Drink Some Beer, Ummm, I Mean I, Go Ice Fishing

Now, this is a passion for Mainers all over the state. They just can’t wait to get their ice shacks and augurs out. As soon as the lakes and ponds freeze you’ll see shacks all over the place.

It’s a pretty cool sight. There are songs, stories, poems, and, of course, tall tales about ice fishing.

Here’s a song about ice fishing that really sums it all up. It’s called Tip Up (for the beer), but a tip-up is also a contraption that holds your bait.

See What All The Excitement Is About With This Tour

A bright red ice fishing shack--one of the many winter activities in Maine that is really popular.

Book your own private ice fishing experience in Bangor! You’ll have four hours to find out why ice fishing is just so popular here. Here’s a description of the experience:

Spend a half day on the ‘hardwater’. The Maine tradition of ice fishing has been passed down from generation to generation and you can be a part of it. Chase flags as the fish take the bait. Enjoy coffee in a warm shelter, play cards, listen to music, or enjoy the quiet simplicity of ice fishing.

Come find out why everyone is out on frozen lakes!

👉 Book Your Private Ice Fishing Experience Here!

❇️ 7. Go Winter Hiking

Who says you can’t hike in the winter? Of course you can! You just need to make a few adjustments to your clothing and equipment to account for the winter and you’re good to go.

Hiking is a great way to enjoy winter in the woods, and there are many trails near Maine’s cities and towns. Not sure where to go? This Hiking Maine guide will have you out on trails all year long.

You can find trails in nearby state parks, national parks, and municipal parks, as well as in privately owned preserves. Maine is chock full of places to hike, so no matter where you are you’ll find a great trail.

❇️ 8. Get Extreme–Try Ice Climbing

This sounds amazing, and I would love to try it. Sometimes you are actually climbing a frozen waterfall! Apparently, there are places all over Maine that offer ice climbing. It is a pretty hard-core sport, but with a guide even beginners can participate.

❇️ 9. Try Out Dog Sledding

This is right up there with cross-country skiing. The only difference is you’ll hear the yipping of the dogs and the calls of the musher. There are all types of dog sledding adventures in Maine, from really short rides good for kids, to multi-day backwoods excursions.

❇️ 10. Participate In Some Outdoor Winter Dining

Yes. This is a thing now. Like I said, Mainers love the outdoors and winter. If we can take an indoor thing and make it an outdoor thing–even winter activities in Maine–we’ll do it! Eat outside with a patio heater, in an ice shack, or even in an igloo (a clear plastic one!).

Why save all the outdoor dining fun for the summer? Find a restaurant or diner near where you’ll be and see if they offer outdoor dining.

❇️ 11. Get Tickets For Carnavale Me

I’ve been in Maine so long that I remember the first year of this, when it was a small event held at a local hotel.

It’s now a huge event with a fancy new name, Carnavale ME. Definitely put this on your to-do list.

Gloved hand holding sparkler celebrating winter activities in Maine.
Things To Do In Maine In Winter: Winter Festivals

❇️ 12. Find Some Local Winter Celebrations

Most towns in Maine have some type of winter celebration. A quick search will help you find the closest one to wherever you’ll be. There are too many to list because literally, every town in Maine would have to be listed.

Note: The Sparkle Celebration in Freeport is amazing. It’s one of the many things to do in Maine in December.

Here are a few towns with big celebrations so you can get an idea of what is involved: Bath, Waterville, Camden, Auburn. Each one will have its own vibe, which is a pretty cool thing!

❇️ 13. Do A Polar Bear Plunge, Or A Lobster Dip

These are so cool! Many of them are for charity, and entire events are made surrounding them. These brave people go running into the freezing cold ocean, or jump through a hole chainsawed out of a frozen lake into the freezing cold water. Brrrrrr. No thank you!

The Lobster Dip in Old Orchard Beach is a pretty famous one, as is the Alfond Youth Center’s Polar Bear Dip (the last one was virtual, but maybe they will bring back the in-person dip).

❇️ 14. Go Snowmobiling

This is another wildly popular activity in Maine. There are places that have separate rooms where snowmobilers can hang their equipment while they eat or catch a concert. Sometimes there will be more snowmobiles than cars at some hotels and other venues.

If you’re visiting Maine, you can actually rent snowmobiles so you can take part in one of Maine’s super popular winter activities.

❇️ 15. Visit Kennebunkport’s Prelude To Christmas Celebration

This is a two-week-long celebration of everything Christmas. If you want to get into the Christmas mood, this will do it for you. It wraps up with another amazing event, the Fire and Ice celebration.

❇️ 16. Participate In The Annual Ice Harvest In South Bristol

This has got to be a truly one-of-a-kind event. Way back in the day, people got ice by carving giant blocks out of frozen lakes and ponds. Well, they are trying to keep that history alive by continuing to hold an annual ice harvest. It’s one of the coolest things you’ll ever see.

Hockey players on pond in Maine.
Things To Do In Maine In Winter: Attend A Pond Hockey Tournament

❇️ 17. Attend A Pond Hockey Tournament

We love our hockey–Go Maine Black Bears!!! What’s more New England than pond hockey? Check out the Alfond Youth Center’s Pond Hockey Classic. Teams actually come from all over the U.S. as well as Canada to compete!

❇️ 18. Go Winter Camping

You can also enjoy winter camping, and many campsites offer reduced rates in the colder months. Winter camping offers the chance to see a different side of nature, especially when there’s a snowfall.

Many people find winter camping very peaceful. It can be challenging, but you can prepare for it by choosing the right location and equipment–such as a small heater for your tent! It can be pretty fun, plus you’ll have hardcore bragging rights!

Indoor Winter Activities In Maine

❇️ 19. Get In Some Shopping

If you need a break from outdoor activities, you can visit a couple of Maine’s more famous shopping destinations. The L.L. Bean flagship campus in Freeport is so much fun. They even have an aquarium in there.

If you visit during the holiday season, they create an entire winter wonderland of lights and trees (The Sparkle Celebration).

Then, there are the original outlets in Kittery. Now there are several outlet malls in NH, but Kittery is the original outlet shopping destination and is still worth a visit.

❇️ 20. Visit All The Museums You Never Get To In The Summer

We are covered in museums in Maine. There are museums everywhere. We even have an umbrella cover museum and a cryptozoology museum! You’ll also find incredible museums and specialty museums all over the state. We have a comprehensive list of them here and here.

❇️ 21. Follow The Maine Beer Trail

There are so many great local beers and bars, that we have a beer trail. It’s officially the Maine Beer Trail, so set yourself a goal and have a blast exploring Maine’s best beers.

❇️ 22. Indulge In Maine Restaurant Week

Taking place in March–one of those not-so-great months because it’s still winter, but not good winter, and it’s not late enough to start thinking it will be spring soon–Restaurant Week is a welcome event.

There are all kinds of specials in restaurants and special events involving food. You’ll find restaurants all over the state participating.

If it doesn’t happen to be restaurant week, you can still check out the fine dining scene in Maine, or go for some comfort food at one of our famous diners.

Romantic Winter Activities In Maine

Looking for somewhere to stay when you’re planning a winter getaway? Take a look at our list of romantic getaways all over the state.

❇️ 23. Take A Moonlight Hike & Ski

If you love the outdoors and moonlight, why not try one of Mt. Abram’s moonlight hikes? You hike up the mountain by the light of the moon (well, okay, there are lights but they are dim).

At the top, you take a break to warm up in a rustic cabin, drinking hot chocolate or whatever else you brought to drink.

When you’re ready, you grab your skis (that were brought up for you) and head down the hill. It sounds like it could be pretty romantic.

A person riding a horse through deep snow.
Things To Do In Maine In Winter: Go Horseback Riding

❇️ 24. Go Winter Horseback Riding

I grew up with horses, so nothing about horseback riding seems romantic to me–well, maybe on a beach at sunset I guess . . .

However, other people seem to love winter horseback riding, and it’s gotten really popular over the past few years. Perhaps the need for outdoor activities during COVID helped increase its popularity.

❇️ 25. Rent a Cabin In The Woods

Maine is full of charming and romantic cabins in the woods. Add freshly fallen snow, moonlight, and a roaring fire, and you’ve got a romantic scene that could come straight out of a movie.

Wine. Candlelight. That sounds much more romantic than a winter horseback ride to me! (check out some more romantic places to stay)

❇️ 26. Take A Sleigh Ride

Just like those Hansom carriage rides in NYC are known for being romantic, so are the sleigh rides in Maine. I think they are *more* romantic than any carriage ride in NYC. You’ll have clean fresh air, sparkling white snow (yes, sometimes it sparkles), and beautiful woods as a backdrop.

❇️ 27. Head Out To Catch Some Local Music

Whether a big place in Portland or a local bar, Maine has a great local music scene. No matter where you are you’ll find all kinds of options to take in some local music.

Free Winter Activities In Maine

A girl lacing up white skates, wearing bright red gloves, while sitting on the ice.

Go ice skating. There are rinks all over Maine, big and small, in local parks. Make a thermos of hot chocolate, bundle up, and head out for some free fun in a local park.

Go snowshoeing. Like with ice skating, you have to have your own snowshoes, but if you do, you are all set!

Go cross country skiing. This assumes you have your own skis.

✅ Attend one of the many winter festivals. There are some links above of places you can check out, from festivals in local towns to the Ice Harvest Festival in South Bristol.

Several kids sharing a sled sledding down a hill.
Things To Do In Maine In Winter: Go Sledding

Go sledding. Sledding is a fun, and free, winter activity. Most towns have sledding hills. To find them you can check with the Parks & Rec department, or even do a search of their local media for stories or pictures they may have published of local sledding hills.

Visit a museum. Many museums offer special times that are open to the public for free. The museums at local colleges like Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin are always free to the public.

See a hockey game. Okay, so you won’t be getting into a Black Bears game for free anytime soon (you can barely even find a ticket to purchase!), but you can catch a great game at Colby College in Waterville for free.

Is Maine Fun In The Winter?

It sure is! We have just as much to do in the winter as we do in the summer. Some activities can be done in all seasons, like hiking and camping, and you’ll get a completely different experience depending on the time of year.

➡️ Is speeding down hills on skis or snow tubes fun? Yep.

➡️ Is being a spectator at a pond hockey tournament fun? Yep.

➡️ Is (fill in the blank from the list above) fun? Yep.

You’ll have a blast participating in any of the winter activities in Maine listed here.

Winter trees against a gray sky with snow covering the ground.

Finally, How Long Does Winter Last In Maine?

Pretty long! It’s definitely cold in November, and the further north you are the more likely you are to have snow on the ground. The weather is fickle, though, and I remember taking my son out trick or treating and there was snow on the ground. It didn’t last, but still.

It doesn’t start warming up until April, but in northern Maine, you could still have plenty of snow on the ground in April. If I had to give someone a rough estimate, I’d say winter jackets go on in November and don’t come off until at least April.

Conclusion: 27 Awesome Winter Activities In Maine: Embrace The Weather!

After looking at this list, it should be clear that there are so many winter activities here in Maine that you can find new things to do no matter how often you visit or how long you are here.

Indoors or outdoors, quiet and peaceful or thrilling and dangerous, you’ll find your niche.

So whether it’s shopping, hiking up a snowy mountain in the moonlight, or jumping into a frozen lake, you’ll find plenty of winter activities in Maine to keep you busy.

How about picking out a Christmas tree or surprising someone with a romantic winter getaway? Whatever you choose, it will help you enjoy winter just a little bit more.