48 Hours in Western Maine
Western Maine’s mountain and lakes region is perfect for a wintery weekend escape, with lots of opportunities to enjoy the cold weather with a beer in hand or strapped into skis.
While we are eager to explore the state, we should all be following the social distancing guidelines that are in place. If you’re not yet able to visit these businesses in person, we hope this story will inform and inspire you as you make plans for future trips around Maine.
Night skiing and from-scratch pub fare
Start your weekend on the slopes with an evening of skiing under the stars at Shawnee Peak, which has the most night skiing in Maine. The Bridgton ski resort lights up its slopes Wednesday through Saturday nights and on holiday Sundays. If you want to ski a larger mountain, Sunday River, an hour north of Shawnee, also offers night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays and has more options for on-mountain après-ski.
If you’re staying around Bridgton, stop by Stan- dard Gastropub for high-quality pub fare and a selection of beers you won’t find in many other restaurants. Located in a gas station building (with working pumps out front), Standard Gastropub is anything but standard. It’s the kind of place that surpasses your expectations with thoughtfully prepared versions of familiar dishes like smashed burgers and macaroni and cheese, often made with local ingredients.
Bridgton’s Noble House Inn is a classic bed and breakfast that provides comfortable, luxurious accommodations in a stately, turn-of-the-twentieth-century former house. In neighboring Waterford, Bear Mountain Inn blends its historic bones with modern amenities and hip decor.
Shopping, nature trails, and fine dining
A variety of locally owned shops line Bridgton’s Main Street, including a few home furnishing boutiques. J. Decor, located in a beautifully historic building, sells furniture and home decor, along with beer and wine; Bridgton Antiques has an extensive selection of vintage finds from multiple dealers; and the artist-operated Gallery 302 exhibits local art and has a gift shop with ceramics, jewelry, and more.
For scenic explorations by foot, snowshoe, or cross-country ski, head northeast to Norway, to preserves managed by the Western Foothills Land Trust. On 20 acres off of Crockett Ridge Road, Shepard’s Farm Preserve has wooded trails, wide-open former dairy pastures, and Bernard Langlais sculptures. On the other side of Pennesseewassee Lake, Roberts Farm Preserve is home to more than seven miles of trails, including groomed trails for cross-country skiing, and a warming hut that loans snowshoeing and skiing equipment for free.
If you’ll be in Norway for lunch, grab a bite to eat at Norway Brewing Company’s tasting room, which serves a small selection of dishes that are a step above typical brewery options. Another beer-centric option farther west is Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell. The restaurant is world-famous for its selection of Belgian-style beers on tap and in its cellar. While you’re in Lovell, visit Harvest Gold Gallery, where you’ll find custom jewelry from owners and goldsmiths Lynda Rasco and Bill Rudd. Along with the display cases of stunning gold and silver creations, you’ll find paintings, sculptures, and other artwork and crafts.
Lovell’s best-known attraction is Kezar Lake, a nine-mile-long, pristine strip of water that is filled with boaters and swimmers every summer. But with views of the snow-capped White Mountains come winter, Kezar Lake is just as beautiful in the colder months. The lake is a destination for ice fishing and usually hosts a few derbies each year.
Make reservations in advance for dinner at Center Lovell Inn and Bistro, a bed and breakfast that serves elegant meals from a menu that rotates with seasons. Cap off your dinner with one of the inn’s flights of fine rums. If you’re not staying here for the weekend, innkeepers Prince and Rose Adams’s hospitality will make you want to book a room for your next trip.
Beers and cross-country skiing
Start your last day of the weekend in western Maine by driving to Oxford for the cross-country-ski trails and wood-fired pizza at Oxbow Beer Garden. Oxbow’s third location was formerly Carter’s XC Ski Center and has a multi-use trail system behind the restaurant and tap room. The farmhouse ales and straightforward menu of salads, pizzas, and calzones are the perfect way to close out a weekend after spending your morning—and all your energy—skiing through the woods.