The Ideal Winter Weekend in Camden, Maine

winter in camden maineAs a destination, Camden is unique in many ways. It’s where the mountains meet the sea, the views are breathtaking, and the area is always ripe for exploration. Come winter, the crowds have thinned. Camden and Mid Coast Maine has been transformed into a surreal landscape of mountains and ridgelines heavy with snow, windswept ivory-colored fields, frozen lakes and ponds border snowcapped boulders near the shore of a vast, glistening ocean. And the trees everywhere list under the weight of snow.

Settle in for a long weekend or a week in a winter wonderland at the historic Camden Harbour Inn. Overlooking the bay under the mountains, the Inn has been recognized as one of the “World’s Best” by Travel and Leisure Magazine. This boutique gem of a hotel offers all the amenities for a winter getaway and much to do and see in the heart of the Mid Coast, and Natalie’s, one of the exclusive and best restaurants in Maine.

But first, plan an afternoon out and about and explore. Visit the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. The Farnsworth celebrates Maine’s role in American art with its nationally recognized collection of works. There are more than 15,000 works in the collection under 20,000 square feet of gallery space, featuring many of America’s greatest artists. The collection focuses on American art from the 18th century to the present, with a special emphasis on artists who have lived or worked in Maine. These include some of America’s most important artists: Fitz Henry Lane, Winslow Homer, Charles Prendergast, George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper, John Marin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Nevelson, Robert Indiana, Philip Pearlestein,  Alex Katz, Richard Estes, Neil Welliver, and many others. The museum has one of the nation’s largest collections of works by sculptor Louise Nevelson, too. Its Wyeth Center features works of Andrew, N.C., and Jamie Wyeth. The Farnsworth’s library is also housed in its Rockland, Maine campus. The Farnsworth Homestead and the Olson House, a national historic landmark, complete the museum complex. Find the Farnsworth at 16 Museum Street in Rockland, just a few miles south of Camden.

For sure, there’s no shortage of hiking, skiing, cross-country skiing, or even snowshoeing throughout the area. The Camden Snow Bowl offers alpine skiing with views of the ocean on 1300-ft. Ragged Mountain. The Camden Hills State Park has dozens of trails, and many are open year round. One, the Maiden’s Cliff Trail, winds up a gradual slope to an overlook of Megunticook Lake. Over 1,300 acres, the lake is dotted with islands, and in winter plenty of ice houses and snowmobiles. Another trail, the Ski Shelter Trail is a moderate 5 mile trek through the heart of park. The trail runs from Camden Hills campground to ME Route 173. It follows an easy contour at the base of Mt. Megunticook through mixed forest where birds and wildlife abound. At midpoint, users will find a recently completed replica of a ski lodge constructed some 70 years ago.

If your hiking has worn you down, or if you find yourself buzzing around town scoot over to Zoot Coffee on Elm St., with its traditional vibe yet within a modern coffeehouse setting. It has a well-earned reputation for exceptional coffee and espresso, but also quiches, soups, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. If coffee and books is your thing, look no further than The Owl & Turtle Bookshop on Bay View Street. There’s a good collection of fiction and non-fiction, a children’s section, cookbooks, and a few Maine-centric selections. After you find a good book, sit and sip coffee from locally-roasted beans, and nibble on tasty treats from area bakers. Hungry for a late brunch? You can have breakfast anytime over at the Boynton-McKay Food Co. on Main St. They have an industrial-strength espresso machine from Italy guarantees a great ‘cup o’ joe.’

When evening comes, book your reservation at the award-winning Natalie’s Restaurant, located within the friendly confines of the Inn. Truly world-class dining and one of Maine’s most exclusive culinary destinations, its award-winning chefs infused with the finest locally sourced ingredients, that have combined the flavors of Maine with culinary influences from far away. It’s the perfect end to a perfect day.

Photo by Emil Vilsek on Unsplash

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