A Local’s Advice for Visiting Maine in the Winter

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After living through 33 Maine winters I am prepared to give you all of my best tips! Winter is a wonderful time to visit Maine for those looking for snowy fun, adorable small towns, and of course seafood. 

Golden Road, Millinocket, Maine

In this post I’ll be going over how you can feel the most prepared for your winter escape to Maine including getting around the snowy roads, the best places to visit in the winter, what to do even on the coldest Maine days.

Ferry Beach State Park, Scarborough, Maine

Is Maine Worth Visiting in the Winter?

Maine is absolutely worth visiting in the winter. But you’ll have to decide what you most hope to get out of your Maine vacation. If you’re dreaming of sunbathing on the beach or whale watching, well, winter may not be your season. 

For the most part though, everything you dream of doing in Maine during the summer, you can still do during the winter months. And let’s be real, the ocean in Maine feels like a polar plunge even in the peak of summer. 

Gouldsboro, Maine

Pros and Cons of Visiting Maine in the Winter


  1. No crowds. Except for a few holiday focused destinations like Portland and Freeport in December or the ski resorts, most of Maine is quiet and peaceful this time of year. 
  2. Save money. There’s no doubt that traveling during the off season will save money. With the exception of the ski resort towns, you’ll find accommodation for sometimes half the price during the winter months. 
  3. Beautiful snowy landscapes. There’s nothing quite like a fresh snowfall. Take a stroll amongst Maine’s state parks or trail systems and enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds you. 


  1. Winter = cold weather. You’ll need to bundle up!
  2. Limited activities for those who dislike the cold. If you aren’t into outdoor winter fun, perhaps come during the other seasons.
  3. That’s it. Just come. You’ll love it!
A view from Height of the Lands in Rangeley, Maine – January

Visiting Maine in the Winter Even on a Budget

Luckily, visiting Maine in the winter is already going to save you a ton of money. From accommodation to flights to your rental car, prices are their lowest during the winter months. 

Read More: 40+ Budget-Friendly Maine Activities You Need to Know About

If you want to save even more money, opt for accommodation that has a kitchen and choose to cook most of your meals at home versus eating out. 

You’ll also save money by choosing a lesser known region of Maine like the stretch between Bar Harbor and Lubec on the coast, or inland Maine north of Bangor commonly referred to as “The County”. 

And finally, to save money while visiting Maine, opt for free activities like visiting Maine’s state parks, walking along the crowd-free beaches, or visiting Maine’s only National Park, Acadia on Mount Desert Island. More details below!

Pittston Farm, northern Maine

What You Need to Know Before Traveling to Maine

  1. Maine is big. Pick one region and explore it fully rather than spend your time driving between regions. 
  2. Maine is not known for its nightlife or city getaways. Maine is for travelers looking to connect with nature, relax, and reconnect with their loved ones. 
  3. Mainers aren’t always the friendliest folks. We shy away from visitors, and we won’t always strike up a conversation. It doesn’t mean we don’t like you, it’s just in our nature.  But if you’re on the side of the road with a flat tire, we’ll definitely stop and help you change it. Well, my husband would help you change it. I’d need to call AAA for a flat tire;)
  4. There are cultural and personality differences between the regions of Maine. It’s hard to describe exactly what makes us all different so you’ll just need to see for yourself. 
  5. Most Mainer’s will complain about Maine’s winter weather, but can’t imagine living anywhere else. We tend to think Maine is the most beautiful state in the US.  

Read More: Bar Harbor to Lubec: The Most Beautiful Part of Maine

Getting Around Maine in the Winter

Unless you’re going to be staying in Portland for your entire trip, you’ll want to rent a car. Maine has a poor public transportation system and most folks rely on a car to get around.

Tips for Driving Around Maine in the Winter

After many winters driving in the snow, there are a few guidelines I suggest following:

  1. Don’t drive if you feel uncomfortable. Have a partner drive or choose to have a day at your accommodation. 
  2. If your rental car company offers a winter package, seriously consider adding it. It will help immensely to drive in the snow with proper winter tires that will provide more grip on icy or snow-covered roads. 
  3. Take it slow. Don’t worry if others get annoyed behind you. Drive at the speed that you are most comfortable with and pull over if needed to let others pass. 
  4. Stick to the main highways and roads if you are uncomfortable driving back roads. Most roads in Maine will be plowed within a few hours of a storm. 

How Harsh Are Maine Winters?

According to the seasonal calendar, winter is technically Dec 1st. – Feb 28th.

But you’ll see below that Maine can get snow almost anytime between November and April. If you’re looking to enjoy the snow in Maine, visiting during Jan and February will provide the better prices and better chance of a snowy landscape. 

Winslow Beach Park, Freeport, Maine

Read More: How to Spend 1 Day in Freeport Maine: Winter Edition

The worst a Maine winter will get is when a snowstorm turns into an icy blizzard mess. If this happens while you’re visiting, just hunker down indoors, play some games, and wait for the storm to pass. Within a few hours or by the next day, the roads will be plowed, and everything will be ready for your next adventure!

There is a chance of losing power during a Maine snowstorm, but most likely your hotel or rental will have backup generators. If you do lose power, don’t panic, just contact the rental folks and they’ll get it sorted for you. 

It does help to keep a flashlight on hand and keep your phone charged just in case. 

In short, Maine winters aren’t terrible, especially if you are only visiting for a few weeks or shorter.

Average Temperature in Maine and Snowfall Amounts During Winter

Height of the Lands, Rangeley, Maine

According to Climate Data, these are the average temperatures in Maine and approximately how many days snow during the months. Add a bit of wind though and those temps feel a lot lower.

  • Nov: 49°F & 5 days of snow
  • Dec: 38°F & 16 days of snow
  • Jan: 33°F & 21 days of snow
  • Feb: 35°F & 16 days of snow
  • March: 44°F & 12 days of snow
  • April: 55°F & 2 days of snow

Dressing for Maine’s Cold Days During the Winter

My personal favorite things to do on a cold Maine day include visiting a local bookstore, sipping tea at a cafe, going snowshoeing with my husband, visiting a Maine beach, or taking a scenic drive up Maine’s beautiful coastline. You’ll see below I’ve gone into more detail on where to go and what to do!

The truth is, in order to be most prepared for Maine’s cold, you just need to bundle up. Don’t wait until the perfect day to explore Maine. 

As the saying goes, “There’s no bad weather, only bad gear”. 

Best Clothing for a Maine Winter

Speaking of cold days, you’ll want to be prepared for every weather possibility while visiting Maine. I’ve compiled a list of my personal must haves. Pack your comfiest clothes and get ready to explore!

Proper Winter Coat

A good winter coat is a must have. I prefer longer winter coats that cover your bum. This keeps the cold out even more. 

Winter Accessories

Good winter accessories are always a good idea. Opt for a merino wool that will keep you warm and comfy! 

Or choose to get one of these balaclava ski masks. It’s super compact and perfect for mild to cold winter days. This is the one I have, and I swear by it!

Thermal Base Layers

You only need thermal layers if you are planning to spend any significant time outdoors. Honestly, there are so many brands to try. I got mine from Cabellas, but there are tons of options on Amazon as well.  

Proper Winter Boots

I have tried so many winter boots throughout the years and these Muckboots are by far my favorite. While they aren’t the sexiest looking boot, they are perfect in both rain and snow and keep your feet warm and dry. I wear these snowshoeing, ice fishing, walking, shoveling, everywhere! 

Ice Cleats

We all have different names for these nifty things. They go over the bottom of your winter boot or shoe and act as another layer of friction so you don’t fall on the ice. Maine winters feature a lot of ice so these are highly recommended. 

Beware you won’t want to wear these in doors as they feature sharp edges that could damage floors. But they are small enough that you can tuck them into a bag or backpack easily. 


Some winters in Maine we face tons of snow and other winters it feels like it all melts before it can accumulate. You may find all you need to explore are your winter boots and grippers but for those times when you want to visit a state park or go for a winter hike, you may want snowshoes. 

Walking Poles

Walking poles with spiked ends are only needed for those that plan to do a lot of snowshoeing or winter hiking. I personally love mine because they keep me steady even in the summertime.

Best Maine Winter Destinations

Here are a few of the most beautiful places in Maine to visit during the winter months. There is a region of Maine for every type of traveler. Pick your favorite and book your flights!

For a skiing trip: Carrabassett Valley, Maine

For those looking for a ski vacation, look no further than Sugarloaf Resort, located in Carrabassett Valley, Maine. This resort town is about 2.5 hours north of Portland, Maine. 

My husband and I aren’t skiers, so that’s all I’ll say on that subject:)

For a winter beach vacation: Scarborough, Maine

I personally love visiting Maine’s beaches during the winter. Parking is ample, crowds are sparse, and the landscape is just as beautiful. While you won’t be able to sunbathe, you’ll still be able to walk the beach, soak up the ocean breeze, and search for seaglass and shells. Bring extra layers, and bring a hot beverage for your coastal walk. 

My favorite Maine beaches:

  • Ferry Beach and Scarborough Beach, Scarborough (10 minutes from Portland, ME)
  • Wells Beach, Wells (30 minutes from Portland, ME)
  • Higgins Beach, South Portland (10 minutes from Portland, ME)
  • Popham Beach State Park, Phippsburg (1 hour from Portland, ME)
  • Reid State Park Beach, Georgetown (1 hour from Portland, ME)
Maine beaches in the winter are usually empty!

For a city getaway: Portland, Maine

Check out Maine’s biggest city, Portland, but don’t forget about other adorable towns like Brunswick, Belfast, Kennebunk, Camden, Boothbay, and Freeport. 

For a true Maine winter: Northern, Maine

Visit anywhere north of Bangor, Maine including into Aroostook County. 

This region gets the most snow on average each year. This is also one of the more remote areas of the state and offers a truly secluded vacation. Opt to rent a winter cabin or Airbnb for a cozy getaway. 

Keep in mind Portland, Maine to northern Maine is around 4.5 hours of driving one way. 

You could fly into Bangor, Maine to save yourself a bit of driving. 

Icefishing at Chain of Ponds, Maine

For a bucket list Maine trip: Acadia National Park

While Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are bustling in the summer, in the winter this area dies down and becomes a quiet oasis. 

There won’t be as many restaurant options, but who needs to eat out if your accommodation has a kitchen. Opt to save money by cooking at home. 

And finally, take advantage of empty roads and explore Maine’s only National Park in the off-season. 

Can’t Miss Maine Winter Activities

To me, everything in Maine is about the outdoors. So as long as you take time to go for a walk through the woods, along a beach, or even to explore a downtown, you’ve gotten a great sense of Maine. Get outdoors. Get away from your screen, drive away from the city lights, and go until you can look up and see the stars. 

The best thing to do in Maine is to make the most of the winter wonderland. Find your favorite type of winter activity and see how Mainer’s do it:) 

For those interested in trying one of these winter activities, I’ve compiled a small list of places to rent gear and equipment. Each rental company will have tons of suggestions on where to go snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Some will even deliver the rentals to you. 

Try Snowmobiling

For a fun adventure, consider renting a snowmobile for a half or full day.

Northern Outdoors, The Forks, Maine (2.5 hours north of Portland, ME)

New England Outdoor Center, Millinocket, Maine (3 hours north of Portland, ME)

Northeast Snowmobile and ATV Rentals, Fryeburg, Maine (1 hour 15 minutes north of Portland, ME)

Get Active by Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing

Snowshoeing is one of my favorite winter activities. If you’re flying in and don’t have the gear, try it out with these rental companies below. Most Maine state parks offer tons of trails you can practice on.

Gorham Bike and Ski, Gorham, Maine (30 minutes west of Portland, ME)

Pineland Farms, New Gloucester, Maine (30 minutes north of Portland, ME)

Portland Gear Hub / Oxbow Beer Garden, Oxford, Maine (1 hour northwest of Portland, ME)

Snowshoeing in Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport, Maine

Visit Maine’s State Parks

To me, one of the best ways to experience the true Maine winter experience is to visit a nearby state park. State parks have always had a special place in my heart and offer their visitors a preserved landscape for all to enjoy. 

Here are a few of my favorite Maine state parks to check out in the winter:

Mackworth Island, Falmouth (15 minutes from Portland, Maine)

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport (20 minutes from Portland, Maine)

Quoddy Head State Park, Lubec (4 hours from Portland, Maine)

Grafton Notch State Park, Newry (2 hours northwest from Portland, Maine)

Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal (30 minutes from Portland, Maine) *more a small hill than mountain

Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, Freeport, Maine

More Great Winter Maine Activities

  • Icefishing that is another great outdoor activity.
  • Don’t forget to check out Maine lighthouses.
  • Grab some seafood including lobster and oysters.
  • Take a scenic drive up Route 1 coastline or to Height of the Lands in Rangeley, Maine
  • Play like a kid in the snow (snowball fights, sledding, building a snowman) – these are my husband’s tips because he is a giant child!
Ice fishing in Maine

Final Thoughts

I hope I convinced you to try a trip to Maine in the winter season. There’s tons of activities to keep you busy and getting around isn’t as scary as you might think. 

While there are pros and cons to visiting Maine in any season, Winter is perfect for those wanting to try out snowy activities, avoid the crowds, and pay a fraction of the summer costs.