5 Things to Do in Portland Before Winter Ends
Winters in Portland, Maine are some of the best-kept secrets of the northeastern United States. This place was built to be experienced outdoors, even in the blustery cold of New England. When most places are hiding in their homes, and checking for the nearest groundhog’s shadow, Maine thrives. You can pretty much mix and match to create the best winter at the best price on sites like Groupon. However, there’s so much to do in Portland, we’ve had trouble narrowing it down to a top five. We managed it, though, and here are the greatest hits.
1. Catch the Slopes
No winter anywhere would be complete without a healthy amount of skiing, and Portland offers some of the best skiing this side of the Mississippi. The Sunday River Ski Resort takes the cake. It’s about an hour and a half from Portland, but a day on these pristine mountains is worth the drive. For one, the place is huge, boasting 8 beautiful peaks that are well-groomed. These peaks also offer gorgeous views of the surrounding area. Some of the trails are even lit for night-skiing!
If you have no skis of your own, you can rent them here as well. If you’re an avid skier, Sunday Resort is a “must” destination. It has over one hundred trails, all of which are regularly groomed. If you’re looking for a challenge, you can take on Monday Mourning — the dedicated competitive trail at Sunday River — to really test your skills. There, you can find out exactly what makes Sunday River one of the biggest destinations for racers in America.
2. Ditch the Slopes
Now, downhill skiing isn’t for everybody, but Portland, like any self-respecting winter town, isn’t just about downhill skiing. Maine has some of the best cross-country trails in the US. A mere half-hour down the road from Portland, Pineland Farms is just the place to go. The trails are wide and pristine, and skiers have their own trails to themselves. The Farms (which is a working farm in the summer) also have separate trails just for snowshoeing and fat-tire biking. There are beautiful stretches of trail in those woods that are worth searching for.
When you do get done on the trails, you can come back to the Pineland Farms Outdoors center, and partake in some of the freshest products the farm has to offer. This place is a hit among locals, and everyone leaves it with something great to say about the place.
3. Skate the Town Red
There’s something special about Ice Skating. Whether it’s the way you glide across the surface that reminds you just a little of childhood days spent sliding across wood floors in your socks, or the way the winter chill doesn’t seem to touch you as you effortlessly float around the rink — it’s always a memorable winter experience. One of the newest places to get onto the ice is Thompson’s Point, which offers an unforgettable view of Portland’s skyline during it’s night skating hours. The venue-turned-rink also has several warming areas and on-site food so that you can make a day out of it without risking frostbite.
It’s not the only place to go in Portland, though. The Portland Ice Arena is a great stand-by, and hugely popular with locals. It’s a great place to bring kids, and groups, as it offers more rinks than Thompson’s Point. Here you can rent skates and enjoy a couple hours gliding around Portland.
4. Roll Inside
Playing around outside in the winter can be fun, but it can also be tiring. If you’re too exhausted from the slopes, or if the wind has kicked up something fierce and frostbite doesn’t sound like a good time, Portland still has you covered. One of the coolest things to do on those cold, frozen nights is to channel your inner Dude and hit up the bowling alley. Now this might not sound like your average, everyday winter night out, but Bayside Bowl isn’t your average, everyday bowling alley.
If you come in on the weekend, be sure to stay to catch one of their live music events. If you’re feeling brave, you can head up to their rooftop and get tacos out of the modified Airstream someone left up there while watching the gorgeous Portland sunset out over the ocean. You can stay inside, however, for their award winning menu. Go ahead, try and read it without your mouth watering. We’ll wait.
5. Enjoy an… Ice Evening Out.
Some of the coolest things about Maine are the Ice Bars that pop up all over every winter. The Portland Harbor Hotel hosts one in January every year, but if you missed it, never fear! About 20 minutes from Portland the Flavours of Freeport festival is running in February. This festival includes beautiful Ice Sculptures, a working ice bar (complete with martini luge), and some of the best food you can find in all of Maine! There are different things going on each day of the festival, so you can plan your weekend accordingly. However, this is going to be one of the highlights of Maine’s winter, so I wouldn’t want to miss a thing.
Blog courtesy of Clay Pitsenbargerm freelance journalist who enjoys the New England Patriots & country music.