1. Where to Stay
Get a ski pass to the Camden Snow Bowl—where you’ll find downhill slopes with an ocean view, snowshoe trails, a toboggan chute, and a snow-tubing hill—when you stay at Camden Harbour Inn (from $175). The area gets intermittent snow through March.
Take a cooking class while you stay at the Hartstone Inn (from $175) and learn why Julia Child came in 2001 to sample chef-owner Michael Salmon’s hazelnut-crusted rack of lamb.
Pretend the recession’s over at Point Lookout (from $129), a former MBNA corporate-bank retreat converted into a woodsy 379-acre resort. The property’s two-bedroom pine cabins look rustic, but are tricked out with Wi-Fi, TVs, DVD players, equipped kitchens, fireplaces, and two bathrooms, each with its own shower.
2. Where to Eat
Sit at the bar to watch chef Brian Hill (a 2009 James Beard Award semifinalist) at work in the open kitchen at Francine, a 48-seat bistro known for its seafood. The menu changes daily and is assembled from coastal Maine ingredients, like the sauerkraut from nearby Morse’s atop a taleggio and kielbasa pizza.
Join the early morning rush at Camden Deli alongside Camden’s graying intelligentsia, a Kaffeeklatsch of snow-boot-clad country gentlemen who fuel up on crab-melt omelettes and muffins before tossing a coin to see who pays. Look for resident Pulitzer-winning writer Richard Russo in the coveted window seat.
Gorge at Midcoast Maine’s newest agricultural experiment, Farmers Fare, a Maine-centric marketplace with a model farm out back. Sample local blueberry vinegar, applewood smoked salt, Longfellow’s Creamery cheese, and burgers made with native beef at the market café.
3. What to Do
Try the tart blueberry wine at Cellardoor Winery, made by Maine-born winemaker Aaron Peet. Tasting-room manager CC (Aaron’s wife) arranges private tours of the 1790s barn and vineyard. Snag a bottle of Syrah for the 30-minute snowshoe trail up Cameron Mountain, where you’ll find a windswept blueberry barren with views of Megunticook Lake.
Schedule your trip around a full-moon tour of Aldermere Farm. The guided excursion ends with hot cocoa, s’mores, and a bonfire overlooking Penobscot Bay. By day, take advantage of year-round classes ranging from Sap-to-Syrup to Raising Beef Cattle — the farm is known for its grazing fields of Belted Galloway cows.
Learn to spit-roast Maine game birds, cook with stale bread, and infuse vodka from ex-Brooklynite Annemarie Ahearn—a veteran of Blue Hill’s kitchen—at Saltwater Farm. After class, join Annemarie and her dogs, Moose and Moxie, for a twenty-minute snowshoe hike down the bluffs.
4. Insider’s Tip
Avoid restaurants with signs featuring oversize whales, lobsters, and other nautical lore in Camden and Rockport—they’re generally indicators of tourist traps and often use frozen seafood shipped in from restaurant suppliers.
5. Oddball Day
Begin exploring the coastal arts scene with a coffee from new whole-bean and spice emporium Foglifter’s on your way to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, a fifteen-minute drive. The museum houses the country’s largest collection of Wyeth art, three generations of paintings and illustrations by the famed artist family. Head back up U.S. 1 to wander the galleries at Rockport’s renowned Maine Media Workshops, which host exhibits by emerging area artists and photographers and offer workshops on everything from travel photography to bookbinding. Return to Camden to browse the local literature at the Owl & Turtle Bookshop for titles by former commercial fisherwoman Linda Greenlaw, as well as Don McLean and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Finish the day with a pint of locally brewed Andrew’s English Pale Ale at the nearby Cappy’s Chowder House, where the fried Maine haddock sandwich is actually superior to the chowder.
The Chamber of Commerce’s frequently updated blog offers handy tips and suggestions on area activities.
Blogger Hilary Nangle chronicles openings, events, and activities throughout Maine year-round.
Scope out the daily snow report and live webcam on the Camden Snow Bowl’s website.
Log onto the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association website to track local food stories, like the burgeoning elderberry and kohlrabi industries.