Insider Tips for Visiting Norway

Photo: Emily Delamater

Due to its proximity to Pennesseewassee Lake and Maine’s western mountains, Norway has long been a stopover for both summer and winter excursions. At one point it was even known as the “Snowshoe Capital of the World.” We spoke with Sam Masabny, co-owner of The Woods Maine, a luxury treehouse getaway, and of The Woods Maine Shop retail store to get her tips for visiting her adopted hometown.

To get a feel for the close-knit community in Norway, Masabny recommends first checking out the various local food options. In addition to being a hub for breakfast and lunch, Cafe Nomad on Main Street serves as a town gathering place complete with a large outdoor table. “After a few years of its being gone due to COVID, it’s really special to have that [table] back.” Across the street is Norway Pizza Exchange, which opened in the former location of Ari’s Pizza in June, and is already popular due to their high-quality pizza ingredients and grab-and-go gourmet sandwiches and salads. Moving east down Main Street brings you to Italian restaurant Dolce Amici (where Masabny recommends the affogato), the grilled cheese food truck Mainely Melt, and 290 Main Street, which hosts a trivia night every Tuesday. Norway Brewing Company is another staple in town, known for its wide range of craft beer and “stellar” brunch menu. Originally from Philadelphia, Masabny notes that Smokin’ Dave’s Backyard BBQ and Grill has a steak and cheese sandwich (“What I call a cheesesteak”) that lives up to her Pennsylvania standards. For visitors aiming to spend the day on the water, the Lake Store is a one-stop shop where you can get everything from pastries to produce to other odds and ends you might need on a day trip.

The numerous shops and boutiques of down-town Norway cater to both casual browsers and shoppers on a mission. Masabny’s The Woods Maine Shop on Main Street offers a curated collection of goods ideal for “lake life, camp life, and home life,” and you’re sure to find something there to take with you. Next door is Brick and Mortar, which carries an eclectic collection of housewares, gardening essentials, and furniture, and Handmade Maine, which specializes in Maine-made products and carries its own brand of hand soaps manufactured on-site. Green Machine Bike Shop is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts, with everything from gear for a day hike to a selection of mountain bikes, and they have technicians on hand to help you hit the trails. If you’re in the market for one-of-a-kind items to fill your space with, Masabny recommends Widdershins Antiques, where she sourced numerous pieces for The Woods Maine tree-house. For craftier visitors, dual yarn and wine shop Fiber and Vine is the perfect place to buy a knitting pattern, take a class, or purchase a bottle of wine from owner Kimberly Hamlin’s curated selection. Plus, every first Friday of each month the shop reopens in the evening for wine tastings.

Ready to take advantage of the great outdoors? Masabny suggests starting with the Western Foothills Land Trust (WFLT), which manages over 9,000 acres of preserves in the greater Oxford Hills area, with 34 miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snow-shoeing. Among Masabny’s favorite areas managed by WFLT are Shepard’s Farm Preserve, which has a long, beautiful board-walk that wraps around a marsh, Roberts Farm Preserve, which offers free Nordic ski and snowshoe “rentals” in the winter, and Noyes Mountain Preserve, which features 3 miles of trails and 1,500-foot elevation gain that provides gorgeous lake views, especially during foliage season.

Masabny notes that, while these recommendations are an excellent start to Norway, they barely scratch the surface. To learn more about the goings on in the little mountain town, follow local nonprofit Norway Downtown on Facebook.

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