When the holiday season hits, there is no better escape on the eastern seaboard to get the full winter experience. Maine has it all: the best skiing in the Northeast, cozy mountain villages, luxury cabins in the woods, and decked out coastal resorts. Add to that the charm of the state’s biggest city, Portland, and all you need is your parka and a plane ticket.
While the Southern Maine coast still gets plenty of snow, the temperatures don’t drop as low as they do inland and on the mountains, making offseason at the beach a peaceful time to vacation. At the southernmost part of the state lie three of the most beloved beach towns. York, Kennebunk, and Ogunquit, each with buzzing villages, sit perched on the sea and offer a variety of Christmas parades and festivals during the holiday season. The Southern Maine Christmas festival, in particular, offers up caroling, tree lighting, holiday shopping and Maine craft fairs. 84 Main at Capital, Nonantum Resort, and Misty Harbor Resort offer cozy seaside luxury for travelers.
A short drive up the coast is Portland, a waterfront city that extends into Casco Bay. With its lighthouses, lobster, and rocky shore, Portland is a picturesque snapshot of the state with a whole lot of culture infused as well. Portland is a foodie hub, with a per capita restaurant density that ranks it among the top U.S. cities. Since winter isn’t peak tourism season, it’s often easier to get tables at some of these top eateries in the country. Portland offers a wide array of seasonal festivities, too, including horse and wagon rides through the Old Port and the First Friday Art Walk through downtown. A 15-minute drive up the road is Freeport, Maine. The quaint village is filled with outlets, shops, restaurants, and the infamous 24 hour L.L. Bean flagship store. For a stay in downtown Portland, you can’t beat the Harborview Westin and the boutique Danforth Inn.
Finally, if you’re looking for outdoor activity and breathtaking views, Maine’s mountains are the first destination for you. Sugarloaf, in Carrabassett Valley, is the largest ski resort east of the Mississippi and Maine’s second highest peak. The mountain has restaurants, bars, shops, and frequently features live music and other shows. Sunday River and Saddleback, two other highly rated New England ski resorts, also offer skiing, snowboarding, and top notch trails. Each of the mountains offer their own lodging, and the quiet mountain towns feature several inns and B&Bs of their own.