Samoset vacations don’t end in autumn. Check out our top picks for winter activities and events to build a getaway around in Camden, Rockland, and Rockport, Maine, each month, November through March.
With its championship golf course and prime real estate on the edge of Penobscot Bay just minutes from downtown Rockland and Camden, The Samoset might immediately be thought of as a warm weather destination. But it’s also a great place to become your winter-in-Maine basecamp. Have a drink at a bar made of 20,000 pounds of ice, get a little crazy at Maine’s Mardi Gras, and stuff yourself silly with the pie that earned Rockland the nickname “Pie Town USA” – it’s all found this time of year on the edge of Penobscot Bay. Here, we’ve outlined the top events and activities to build a stay around each month, November through March.
November: Rockland Festival of Lights [Rockland, ME]
Hosted over the Thanksgiving weekend, this festival leaves little question where you’re celebrating the classic holiday advent weekend. This is coastal Maine, dipped in drawn butter. That means Santa arriving via Coast Guard boat on Friday, followed by horse-drawn wagon rides and the lighting of the Lobster Trap Tree. Yes, you read that right: lobster trap tree. On Saturday, Rockland’s Main Street is shut down for the Festival of Lights Parade. Be sure to vote for your favorite float in categories like Most Lights and Most Creative.
Pair It With Something to warm you inside and out at Atlantic Baking Co., where you can find freshly baked breads and pastries, as well as hot soup, coffee, and tea.
December: Christmas by the Sea [Camden, ME]
If Dickens relocated his classic Christmas tale to the coast and present day, Camden would be the perfect setting, with its bustling yet quaint downtown filled with shops and cozy, acclaimed restaurants. Held the first weekend in December, the Christmas by the Sea festival puts it all on display. Santa arrives by lobster boat, then heads to the famous Camden Public Library to read a story or two, followed by a parade and tree lighting in Harbor Park, perched right above the water. Keep your eyes peeled for the star that shines brightly atop Mt. Battie each night from Thanksgiving until Christmas.
Pair It With Nailing your holiday shopping lists in downtown Camden. Downtown is filled with shops and gifts you won’t find anywhere else, like the all-wood wonders at Once a Tree and sprawling Planet Toys.
January: Pies on Parade in “Pietown USA” [Rockland, ME]
Dubbed “Pie Town USA” by celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Rockland is only naturally then the home of the most sugar-fueled winter activity in Maine and New England’s largest pie tour. The January 29th afternoon event, which benefits the local food pantry, includes pie stops at 20 downtown restaurants, inns, museums, and local businesses, all serving sampling-sized portions of all kinds – fruit pies, pizza pies, seafood tarts, quiches, and beyond. Insider tip: Be sure to save room for the pies baked by the famous Pie Moms of Food Network and Discovery Channel fame.
Pair It With A stroll to walk off all that pie at the acclaimed Farnsworth Art Museum in downtown Rockland. It boasts a wide collection from Maine’s prodigal painting son Andrew Wyeth, plus an ever-changing roster of exhibitions. Don’t miss “The Art of Disaster,” exploring natural and manmade disasters through the eyes of artists, like Winslow Homer, Washington Allston, Leonard Baskin, and more.
January: Glacier Ice Bar [Rockport, ME]
The Samoset’s Glacier Ice Bar is the only place in Maine where you can simultaneously be at the hottest and the coolest bar in town. Each year, 20,000 pounds of crystal-clear glacier ice is transformed into the exquisite ice carvings that make up this swanky lounge staged on the stone terrace outside of La Bella Vita, the resort’s signature restaurant.
Pair It With Some warm-up time inside at Samoset’s Enoteca Lounge, around the roaring fire.
February: US National Toboggan Championships [Camden, ME]
The culminating event of the weeklong Winterfest, the US National Toboggan Championship is a madcap scramble down the 440-foot-long wooden toboggan shoot by 400-plus two-, three-, and four-person teams at the Camden Snow Bowl. The only thing more hilarious than watching the event is a read through previous years’ team names – which tells you exactly the kind of shenanigans you might encounter at this shindig, also known as Maine’s Mardi Gras. Costumes and craziness required.
Pair It With The “Snow Plow Parade” through downtown Camden, held as a nightcap to all that tobogganing. Make sure your parade finds its way to Maine’s own award-winning Sea Dog Brewing Company.
February: Winter Vacation Camp at the Samoset [Rockport, ME]
Solve all of that “I’m bored” winter vacation whining with a stay-cation that’ll leave you looking like superhero parents. The Samoset’s Winter Vacation Camp fills their days full of yoga for kids, swimming, board games, arts and crafts, nature presentations, ice skating on the resort’s outdoor rink, even ice-carving demonstrations. As that variety of activities indicates, there are options that’ll engage every child.
Pair It With Some “me” or “we” time at the Opal Spa or fitness center. When the kids are enrolled in a program, there’s no better opportunity to make time for yourself. Or if you really can’t get enough of them, spend some quality one-on-one time during a Duet Package treatment custom-made for moms and daughters.
March: Snowshoe to an Unrivaled Coastal View [Camden, ME]
The 800-foot Mount Battie, which rises above the picturesque harbor town of Camden, is the Camden Hills State Park’s most popular summit. Snowshoe your way up the 2.8-mile trail in around an hour, then make your way up the spiral staircase that winds around the stone tower at the summit for unparalleled panoramic views of Camden and seemingly countless Penobscot Bay islands. The view is so striking, you might just be struck with the same poetic inspiration as Camden’s unofficial poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, who penned “Renascence” upon moving to Camden as a child.
Pair It With A snack and hand-crafted cocktail at Pig + Poet. This modern meeting spot has its own historic connection with Edna St. Vincent Millay as its name suggests: It was on these very grounds where the 19-year-old was discovered during a reading of “Renascence.”