Updated: Apr 25
Thanks to Jennifer Hazard and her book, The Maine Play Book: A Four-Season Guide to Family Fun and Adventure, there is no shortage of activities for an exciting winter here in Maine. Organized by season, each section of the book features farms, nature preserves, and parks, as well as events and activities for families—from the rugged coast to the northernmost reaches of the state—with travel tips and color photos along the way. We've compiled a few excerpts from Jen's book, so everyone can get out and embrace the beautiful, snowy landscape as only Mainers can.
Cross-Country Skiing: At the 500-acre Harris Farm—a fourth generation dairy and vegetable farm in Dayton—nearly 25 miles of groomed trails at varying levels take skiers through rolling pastures and peaceful woodland paths.
Ice Skating: I love the little community of Norway, and its lighted Bruce Fox Memorial Ice Rink adds to its charms. If you don't own skates, there are some available at the rink to try for free. There's also a warming hut to enjoy after your time on the ice.
Downhill Skiing and Tubing: Big Squaw is a community-run ski resort in Greenville Junction that is currently open Friday through Sunday and school vacation weeks. This mountain is best for hardy, intermediate-level skiers. What makes Big Squaw special is its sweeping views of Moosehead Lake.
Sleigh Ride: While going on a sleigh ride might cost more than some farm visits, the experience is worth it. At Rockin' Horse Stables in Kennebunkport, families board an authentic sleigh that is pulled by their impressive draft horses. The half-hour ride begins at their century-old barn, taking riders through farm fields surrounded by tall evergreens.
Christmas Tree Farm: What's especially sweet about Gooley's Christmas Tree Farm in Farmington is that the owners follow an Old German tradition of hiding pickle ornaments in the trees for children to find. There are ten pickles hidden each season, and each child who finds one wins a small prize.
Winter Market: This is the rare winter market that is held outdoors, and remarkably, over two dozen farmers and artisans participate. A good attitude toward winter weather is a requirement at the Orono Winter Market, your family will be treated with good things like made-to-order crepes and locally roasted organic coffee. The market runs every Saturday in December.
Winter Event: The town-wide Freeport Sparkle Celebration kicks off with a colorful, lighted holiday parade on Main Street. Throughout the weekend, you will find festive activities to experience, including horse-drawn carriage rides down Main Street, visits with the town's famous talking Christmas tree, and crafts, tastings, and activities at several shops.
Tree Lighting: The wildly popular, not-to-be-missed Gardens Aglow event at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay is a festive holiday outing for families of all ages. When you arrive, you'll be met with a winter garden adorned with thousands of of brightly colored lights. Walk wide paths over lighted bridges, through arbors, and around ponds. Along the way, you'll find warming fires and snacks to purchase.
Jennifer Hazard has written about food, travel, and family for Food Network Magazine, Maine Magazine, and Down East Magazine and created content for Martha Stewart Living, L.L.Bean, and the Maine Office of Tourism. The Maine Play Book is her first book. For more exciting winter activities, and activities for every season in Maine, purchase a copy of The Maine Play Book in our online shop.