From Carhartt apparel to comfort food, there are many magical things this season brings.
Gone are the days of sleigh bells and candlelight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the winter wonderland that is Maine.
There are plenty of magical experiences to be had in our state’s longest season – now we just do it in a 21st-century way, complete with iPhones and Instagram and Beyonce-designed merch.
Not sure if you’re making the most of it? Take this quiz to find out, then take these tips for making the most of every sunlit hour (and impossibly long night) and having the ultimate (adult) Maine winter.
Style that sleighs
Before heading out into the cold, you have to gear up. If you’re a dude, get thee to Reny’s, where you can usually find a reliable winter jacket made by Carhartt. Men who work outside swear by these heavyweight coats, so take your cue from the fellas who know. Ladies can also rock the Carhartt, but make sure to find the women’s line.
When it comes to parkas, Kittery Trading Post has good budget options, as does the L.L. Bean outlet in Freeport. Of course, Bean boots are a perennial favorite, so slip your toes into a pair of those. Next, give your neck some love. Lewiston-based knitter Shanna Tice sells adorable fox-themed snoods online at her Etsy shop, complete with vulpine ears (she has plain options available if you’re not into the Anime look).
Or, if you’re really serious about this whole comfort-dressing thing, slip into a sexy full body sleeping bag made by Selk (available online). Figure-flattering they are not, but they sure do look warm.
Go outside already
The weather out there may be frightful, but nine out of 10 cantankerous Mainers agree that the only cure for cabin fever is outdoor activity. (That 10th guy has clearly just given up.)
Whether you live in Portland or Poland, one tried and true way to enjoy the newly fallen snow is on cross-country skis. Cruise down Congress Street before the snowplow gets there or just go for a spin in your own backyard.
If you feel like socializing, invite a few people over for a backyard bonfire party. Make a cauldron of mulled wine on the stove with a box of red and a packet of spices, which you can find at Hannaford, Whole Foods or Shaw’s, or DIY with cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks and a few splashes of OJ. Pour into a Thermos and enjoy.
For those with planning power, opportunities abound. Head up to the midcoast to take advantage of the Samoset Resort’s ice bar – basically the adult version of spending a snow day holed up in a snow fort. In February, book a room in Greenville, where you can cheer on the mushers at the annual 100 Mile Wilderness Dog Sled Race. Fort Kent also gets in on the canine action in March with the Can-Am Crown International Race.
If you would rather partake in your own speedy ride, register for the U.S. National Toboggan Championships, which go down every February at the Camden Snow Bowl. Spanning three days, this quirky event is one big outdoor party, complete with live music, tailgating and adults dressed in ridiculous, embarrassing and utterly joyful costumes.
Eat your feelings
Finally, there’s no easier way to stave off winter blues than by filling your belly with comfort food in Portland. The Great Lost Bear makes a killer buffalo mac and cheese, and their burgers ain’t half bad, either. Little Tap House is a peninsula-based option for calorie-rich meals. (Few places can rival their poutine, which comes topped with braised beef, cheese curds and decadent gravy.)
For southern food, check out Hot Suppa – what’s more comforting than a plate of grits? – or The Bayou Kitchen, where you can brunch on Cajun classics like jambalaya and gumbo.
Last but not least is Schulte and Herr, a homey little restaurant that specializes in German classics like crispy potato pancakes, creamy sautéed spätzle and tangy, tender marinated sauerbraten. The low-key eatery just happens to be this author’s favorite place in town, so perhaps I’ll see you there.
Katy Kelleher is a writer, teacher and editor living in Buxton.