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Darcy Lambert

Darcy Lambert is a coffee-drinking mom who believes that the fountain of youth can be found on any mountain or beach, and dreams of splitting her time between both, you know, in the name of research.

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Posted: December 7, 2015

Maine’s ski towns: Where to eat, what to do in Bethel, Bridgton & Carrabassett Valley

There’s plenty to do apre ski (or instead of ski) in Maine’s ski mountain towns like Bethel, Bridgton and Carrabassett Valley

Written by: Darcy Lambert
Beers apre ski. Or instead of ski. Photo courtesy Sunday River

Beers apre ski. Or instead of ski. Photo courtesy Sunday River

Near Sunday River area: Bethel and Newry

If you’re looking to experience the best that winter has to offer, a trip to Bethel – also coined “Maine’s most scenic mountain village” – is in order. When coming into the area by way of Route 26, start your day off with a coffee and “The Sandwich” from The Local Hub in the neighboring town of Greenwood. Two scrambled farm fresh eggs and cheese, when sandwiched between a choice of homemade bagel or bread, and washed down with a little caffeine, is a winning combination that will keep you warm and energized well into the afternoon.

While many mountain-goers will venture from there onto the slopes of either Sunday River or Mount Abram, non-schussers will find their cold weather bliss through a mix of shopping, adventuring and continued dining. Main Street in Bethel offers easy access to all three activities, and three-time “Best of Bethel” winner Nabos should be your first stop. Kids will love the toy selection, mom will like the selection of jewelry, clothes and gifts. Another must: Miss Miina’s, Bethel’s newest boutique, which boasts reasonably priced Lush threads, Maine Made Rough and Tumble bags and accessories galore.

Photo courtesy Sunday River

Photo courtesy Sunday River

From Miss Miina’s, head across the street to Cafe Dicocoa for a light lunch and a baked treat before taking to the snowshoe trails at the Bethel Inn Resort, located just up Main Street and within walking distance. The Inn’s ample selection of Tubbs snowshoe rentals and five miles of dedicated snow-trekking terrain make for an easygoing mid-day adventure. If a need for speed is more your thing, consider a drive up to Sunday River for laps on their dual Twin Ziplines. There you’ll zip across 750-foot-long lines while racing a friend or loved one if you so choose, while skiers and riders make their merry ways below.

Photo courtesy Sunday River

Photo courtesy Sunday River

By the end of your zipping experience you’ll have landed in proverbial Rome, which is to say the ideal time and location for any non-skier visiting Sunday River: apres ski. If kid bedtimes aren’t dictating your schedule, grab a beer at the Foggy Goggle located in the slopeside South Ridge Lodge or check out the new Rockin’ Roastin’ Cafe and Restaurant owned by Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer, located just across the base area parking lot. Both the Foggy Goggle and Rockin Roastin’ offer amazing mountain views well after the sun sets (thanks to the resort’s night skiing, which is available on weekends and holidays). If you’d rather do dinner, head on up to camp — Sunday River’s newest restaurant Camp, that is — for an amazingly rustic yet refined family friendly dining experience. Or venture back down the Access Road for woodfired pizza at The Matterhorn Ski Bar. Whichever apres adventure you choose, you’re sure to be delighted by the food, music and overall scene around Sunday River.

EAT & DRINK
The Local Hub: 224 Main St., Greenwood. www.facebook.com/thelocalhubmaine and 207-875-0011
Cafe Dicocoa: 119 Main St., Bethel. cafedicocoa.com and 207-824-5282
Rockin’ Roastin’ Cafe and Restaurant: 9 Timberline Drive, Newry. rockinandroastinrestaurant.com
Matterhorn Ski Bar: 292 Sunday River Road, Newry. matterhornskibar.com and 207-824-6836

SHOP

Nabos: 2 Mechanic St., Bethel. www.nabosinc.com and 207-824-0224
Miss Miina: 111 Main St., Bethel. missmiina.com and 207-740-4024

DO
Bethel Inn Resort and Millbrook Tavern: 21 Broad St., Bethel. bethelinn.com and 207-824-2175
Sunday River: 15 S Ridge Road, Newry. sundayriver.com and 207-824-3500
Mount Abram: 308 Howe Hill Road, Greenwood. mtabram.com and 207-875-5000

Shawnee Peak uses many bright lights to give skiers an extended day into the night. Gordon Chibroski/Press Herald file photo

Shawnee Peak uses many bright lights to give skiers an extended day into the night. Gordon Chibroski/Press Herald file photo

Near Shawnee Peak: Bridgton

Located roughly 10 minutes away from the downhill fun of the Shawnee Peak is Bridgton, a small ski town with a fun and funky Main Street prime for off-slope winter adventuring.

One thing most skiers and non-skiers share in is their taste for good coffee. A good cup not only kicks off any good day on the slopes, but its magical powers can start any day off right – when done right. In Bridgton, Beth’s Kitchen Cafe is the place to go for that cup of early morning magic. From the homemade treats, ranging from sweets and savories, your hand and your heart will sing at the cups and plates served warm and friendly. Traveling with kids? The magic continues. Let them order the hot chocolate served piping hot and topped with a mountain of whip cream and a chocolate syrup drizzle. Your Instagram feed will thank you.

Lunch at Standard Gastropub. Photo by Darcy Liberty

Lunch at Standard Gastropub. Photo by Darcy Lambert

Of course another appreciation most skiers and non-skiers share in is a taste for good beer, and the notion that it’s always happy hour somewhere in the world. Standard Gastropub, located on the other end of Main Street in an old gas station, is a place where happy hour rules. You won’t find racks of candy and rows of slushies here. Instead you’ll find walls of craft beers and a menu that changes according to the season and the time of day and boasts as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. It’s a place where you can fill up your gas tank with reasonably priced fuel, and fill up your belly with an amazing meal and brew all in one stop. Summed up: It’s gas-tronomically delightful.

After your meal (or meals), be sure to hit Craftworks, located in an old restored church, for fun warm threads ranging from hats and mittens and scarves found in their “other season section” to home goods like lamps and pillows and art. Hardly the craft store of your mother’s generation, you will be wowed by the selection, which will serve as the common theme as your Main Street journey continues.

Justin Ward shelves books at Bridgton Books back in 2006. Jack Milton/Press Herald file photo

Justin Ward shelves books at Bridgton Books back in 2006. Jack Milton/Press Herald file photo

Bridgton Books, also on Main Street, is home to 20,000 different new and used books all of which will easily occupy you for a good hour. Don’t leave without grabbing their best-selling book, Bridgton local Marita Wiser’s “Hikes in and around Maine’s Lake Region”—a 60-some-odd-page guide to family friendly hikes in Western Maine and the White Mountains. And don’t forget to stop at Reny’s. It’s not only a “Maine Adventure,” but in this case another Main Street one too.

And for those who would rather take to the winter trails than shop, Bridgton boasts a winter wonderland of options. Author and local expert Wiser suggests, “Public skating at Bridgton Academy and at the rink behind the Town Hall; Nordic skiing is also an option and at Five Fields Farm.”

EAT & DRINK
Beth’s Kitchen Cafe: 108 Main St., Bridgton. bethskitchencafe.com and 207-647-5211
Standard Gastropub: 233 Main St., Bridgton. www.facebook.com/STANDARDGASTROPUB207-647-4100

SHOP
Craftworks: 67 Main St., Bridgton. craftworksmaine.com and 207-647-5436
Bridgton Books: 140 Main St., Bridgton. www.facebook.com and 207-647-2122
Reny’s: 151 Main St., Bridgton. www.renys.com and 207-647-3411

DO
Shawnee Peak: 119 Mountain Road, Bridgton. shawneepeak.com and 207-647-8444
Bridgton Ice Arena: 11 Academy Lane, Bridgton. bridgtonicearena.com
Five Fields Farm: 720 South Bridgton Road, Bridgton. fivefieldsski.com and 207-647-2425

Nightlife at Sugarloaf. Photo courtesy Sugarloaf

Nightlife at Sugarloaf. Photo courtesy Sugarloaf

Near Sugarloaf: Carrabassett Valley

Often dubbed by its loyalists as a “skier’s mountain,” Sugarloaf really offers so much more than just skiing, thanks in large part to a community that knows how to celebrate winter.

As skiers and riders make their way to first chair, you’ll want to make your way to Java Joe’s in Sugarloaf’s mountain village for “first bite and sip.” Choose from local Carrabassett Coffee brews and pair it with a freshly made bagel topped with scallion bacon cream cheese — a perfect start to any day. From there, take in the mountain views and epic people watching, and make note of your location. Just a short walk from Java Joe’s is a perfect lunch stop for later — The Bag and Kettle — whose burgers have a well-earned cult following by those on- and off-snow.

Sugarloaf Outdoor Center. Photo courtesy Sugarloaf

Sugarloaf Outdoor Center. Photo courtesy Sugarloaf

If you’re traveling with kids and can’t convince them to take a lesson, the nearby Sugarloaf Outdoor Center is easily the area’s best kept secret. Home to an NHL-sized hockey rink, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding, families and singletons alike will love the spanning views this outdoor activities mecca offers just minutes from the resort’s bustling base.

Olympic gold medal winner Seth Wescott inside The Rack restaurant. David Leaming/File photo

Olympic gold medal winner Seth Wescott inside The Rack restaurant. David Leaming/File photo

Of course, those traveling alone or with someone special may prefer to unwind instead, and the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel’s new 30-person outdoor hot tub provides such an oasis. Plan your afternoon soak just right and not only will you have direct access to the fine dining at the hotel’s restaurant, 45 North, but convenient access (by car or by shuttle) to Olympian Seth Wescott’s restaurant, The Rack BBQ, which Noelle Tuttle, communications manager for Sugarloaf, says, “Offers an arcade for the kids, live entertainment for the parents, and possible Olympian sightings.” What more could you ask for in any given trip to a mountain town?

The hot tub! Photo courtesy Sugarloaf

The hot tub! Photo courtesy Sugarloaf

EAT & DRINK
Java Joe’s: 5092 Access Road, Carrabassett Valley. 207-237-3330
The Bag & Kettle: 19 Village West, Carrabassett Valley. thebagandkettle.com and 207-237-2451
The Rack BBQ: 5016 Access Roadd, Carrabassett Valley. therackbbq.com and 207-237-2211

DO
Sugarloaf: 5092 Access Road, Carrabassett Valley. sugarloaf.com and 800-843-5623
Sugarloaf Outdoor Center: 5092 Access Road, Carrabassett Valley. sugarloaf.com and 207-237-6830

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