Like it or not, cold weather's on the way. But Mainers know enough not to go into hibernation when winter starts. With some of the best ski areas in the Northeast, miles of untracked snow for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, or just taking in the spectacular winter air, the Pine Tree State teems with reasons to throw on a couple of layers and head outdoors. And when that January chill gets to you there's even some fine brewpubs, museums, and specialty movie houses that'll keep the winter blues at bay. Here's our guide to staying entertained in Maine this winter.Downhill Ski Areas
From black diamond thrill rides to quiet cruisers and gentle glades, Maine's downhill ski areas provide enough winter fun for a lifetime on skis. What follows is a list, arranged alphabetically, to get you started in downhill fun this winter.
Lost Valley, Auburn
Vertical drop: 240 feet.
Trails: 6 most difficult, 5 moderate difficulty, 6 beginner.
Lifts: 2 double chairs, 1 T-bar.
Snowmaking: 100 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, rentals, day, half-day, night, and hourly tickets, cafeteria, lounge, Nordic skiing, rental shop, retail shop, and a terrain park. 207-784-1561. www.lostvalleyski.com
Sunday River, Bethel
Vertical drop: 2,340 feet.
Trails: 39 most difficult, 45 moderate difficulty, 42 beginner.
Lifts: 9 quad chairs (4 high-speed), 4 triple chairs, 2 double chairs, 3 handle tows.
Snowmaking: 92 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: Eight mountains, ski school, ski shops, rentals, 3 base lodges, summit lodge, restaurants, child care, nearby Nordic skiing, and terrain park. 207-824-3000. www.sundayriver.com
Shawnee Peak, Bridgton
Vertical drop: 1,300 feet.
Trails: 12 most difficult, 19 moderate difficulty, 9 beginner.
Lifts: 2 triple chairs, 1 double chair, 1 quad chair, 1 surface lift.
Snowmaking: 99 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, ski shop, rentals, restaurant, child care, nearby Nordic skiing, and snowboarding. 207-647-8444. www.shawneepeak.com
Camden Snow Bowl, Camden
Vertical drop: 950 feet.
Trails: 2 most difficult, 7 moderate difficulty, 2 beginner.
Lifts: 1 double chair, 2 T-bars.
Snowmaking: 55 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, rentals, half-day tickets, cafeteria, skating, two-lane tubing hill, cross-country ski trail, and the only toboggan chute in Maine. 207-236-3438. www.camdensnowbowl.com
Lonesome Pine Trails, Fort Kent
Vertical drop: 500 feet.
Trails: 5 most difficult, 7 moderate difficulty, 1 beginner.
Lifts: 1 T-bar, 1 J-bar.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, lodge, and café. 207-834-5202.
Big Squaw Mountain, Greenville
Vertical drop: 1,750 feet.
Trails: 7 most difficult, 12 moderate difficulty, 8 beginner, 6 glade trails.
Lifts: 1 triple chair, 1 double chair, 1 T-bar, 1 handle tow.
Snowmaking: 70 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: ski school, ski shop, rentals, cafeteria, and restaurant. 207-695-1000. ww.bigsquaw mountain.com
Mount Abram, Greenwood
Vertical drop: 11,050 feet.
Trails: 12 most difficult, 23 moderate difficulty, 9 beginner.
Lifts: 2 double chairs, 3 surface lifts.
Snowmaking: 85 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, ski shop, rentals, half-day tickets, cafeteria, child care, lounge, two base lodges, carve park, two terrain parks, Maine's longest tubing park, Nastar race course, and nearby Nordic skiing. 207-875-5000. www.skimtabram.com
New Hermon Mountain, Hermon
Vertical drop: 350 feet.
Trails: 7 most difficult, 7 moderate difficulty, 6 beginner.
Lifts: 1 double chair, 1 T-bar.
Snowmaking: 100 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, rentals, half-day tickets, cafeteria, and nearby Nordic skiing. 207-848-5192.
Vertical drop: 2,820 feet.
Trails: 57 most difficult, 40 moderate difficulty, 34 beginner.
Lifts: 4 quad chairs (2 high-speed), 1 triple chair, 8 double chairs, 1 T-bar.
Snowmaking: 94 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: ski school, ski shops, alpine village with shops and restaurants, on-mountain lodging, child care, Nordic skiing, and a snowboard park. 207-237-2000 or 800-THE LOAF. www.sugarloaf.com
Mount Jefferson, Lee
Vertical drop: 430 feet.
Trails: 3 most difficult, 6 moderate difficulty, 3 beginner.
Lifts: 2 T-bars, 1 rope tow.
Other amenities: ski school, rentals, and a cafeteria. 207-738-2377.
Big Rock Ski Area, Mars Hill
Vertical drop: 980 feet.
Trails: 5 most difficult, 6 moderate difficulty, 5 beginner.
Lifts: 1 double chair, 1 handle lift, 1 poma, 1 triple chair, and 1 majic carpet.
Snowmaking: 65 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, rentals, and a snack-food bar.
Quoggy Jo Ski Center, Presque Isle
Vertical drop: 215 feet.
Trails: 3 most difficult, 2 moderate difficulty.
Lifts: 1 T-bar. 207-846-5300. www.mainewsc.org
Vertical drop: 2,000 feet.
Trails: 6 expert only, 13 most difficult, 16 moderate difficulty, 19 beginner.
Lifts: 2 double chairs, 2 T-bars, 1 quad chair.
Snowmaking: 80 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: Ski school, ski shop, rentals, on-mountain lodging, child care, cafeteria, Nordic skiing, terrain park, and snowboarding. 207-864-5671. www.saddlebackmaine.com
Black Mountain, Rumford
Vertical drop: 470 feet.
Trails: 4 most difficult, 4 moderate difficulty, 4 beginner.
Lifts: 2 T-bars, 2 handle tows.
Snowmaking: 85 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, rentals, half-day tickets, snack bar, and Nordic skiing. 207-364-8977.
Eaton Mountain, Skowhegan
Vertical drop: 622 feet.
Trails: 6 most difficult, 7 moderate difficulty, 5 beginner.
Lifts: 1 double chair, 1 T-bar.
Snowmaking: 100 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, ski and snowboard rentals, day, half-day, and evening tickets, cafeteria, lounge, and a snowboard park. 207-474-2666. www.eatonmountain.com
Titcomb Mountain, West Farmington
Vertical drop: 750 feet.
Trails: 5 most difficult, 5 moderate difficulty, 4 beginner.
Lifts: 2 T-bars.
Snowmaking: 75 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, ski school, ski shop, rentals, base lodge, and Nordic trails. 207-778-9031. www.titcombmountain.com
Seacoast Snow Park, Windham
Vertical drop: 100 feet.
Trails: 5-acre park.
Lifts: 2 handle tows.
Snowmaking: 80 percent top to bottom.
Other amenities: night skiing, lounge, ski school, and rentals. 207-892-5952.
For up-to-the-minute ski conditions, call SkiMaine's hotline at 207-773-SNOW, or check out its Web site at www.skimaine.com Nordic Ski Centers
Mainers have long enjoyed virtually unlimited cross-country skiing both in backyards and in the backcountry. In recent years, though, many skiers have been smitten with the smoothly groomed trail systems at ski centers, golf courses, and even on dairy farms across the state. Here are a few, arranged alphabetically, to consider:
Bethel Inn Ski Touring Center, Bethel
Forty kilometers of groomed trails. 207-824-6276. www.bethelinn.com/skidownhillxc/
Carter's Cross-Country Ski Center, Bethel
Fifty-five kilometers of groomed trails. 207-539-4848.
Telemark Inn Ski Touring Center, Bethel
Twenty kilometers of groomed trails, unlimited backcountry skiing.
207-836-2703 or www.telemarkinn.com
Five Fields Farm, Bridgton
Twenty-seven kilometers of groomed trails. 207-647-2425.
Sugarloaf/USA Outdoor Center, Carrabassett Valley
One hundred and five kilometers of groomed trails. 207-237-6808. www.sugarloaf.com
Chesuncook Lake House, Chesuncook
Forty-five kilometers of groomed trails; 100 miles of ungroomed wilderness trails. 207-745-5330. www.chesuncooklakehouse.com
Harris Farm Cross-Country Ski Center, Dayton
Forty kilometers of groomed trails. 207-499-2678. www.harrisfarm.com
The Inn on Winter's Hill, Kingfield
Trails link the inn to seemingly unlimited groomed snowmobile trails maintained in the town. 800-233-WNTR.
Millinocket Municipal Cross-Country Ski Area, Millinocket
Forty kilometers of groomed trails; 20 kilometers of backcountry.
A Fierce Chase Cross Country Ski Trails, Monson
Ten kilometers of groomed trails. 207-997-3971.
Pineland Farms, New Gloucester
Eighteen kilometers of professionally designed and well-kept trails for novice, intermediate, and advanced skiers with more than 2,500 acres of beautiful woodlands and fields. 207-688-4800. www.pinelandfarms.org
Sunday River Inn and Cross-Country Ski Center, Newry
Forty kilometers of groomed trails. 207-824-2410. www.sundayriverinn.com
Carter's Cross-Country Ski Center and Shop, Oxford
Thirty-five kilometers of groomed trails. 207-539-4848.
Rangeley Lakes Cross Country Ski Trails, Rangeley
Seventy-five kilometers of groomed trails; unlimited backcountry.
Birches Ski Touring Center, Rockwood
Forty kilometers of groomed trails; 50 kilometers of ungroomed trails.
Black Mountain of Maine Touring Center, Rumford
Thirty-five kilometers of groomed trails. 207-364-8977.
McDougal Orchards Ski Trails, Springvale
17.5 kilometers of groomed trails. 207-324-5054. www.mcdougalorchards.com
Smiling Hill Farm, Westbrook
Thirty-four kilometers of groomed trails. 207-775-4818.
Titcomb Mountain Ski Touring Center, West Farmington
Twenty kilometers of groomed trails; upper intermediate trails serviced by alpine lift. 207-778-9031. www.titcombmountain.com
For additional information, call the Maine Nordic Ski Council (800-SKI-XCME), visit its Web site (www.mnsc.com
), or contact a local chamber of commerce.Winter Parks
One of the biggest secrets in Maine is that the "off" season can be the best time to pay the state a visit. Perhaps nowhere is this more true than at the state's parks and public lands — you often have them all to yourself, there are no bugs, and the beauty of these scenic spots is only magnified by the snow and the unique winter light. The following locales offer plenty of room for snow-sport activities.
Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Allagash
Backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling in one of the state's most famous recreation areas. 207-941-4014.
Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor
Thirty-three miles of Nordic skiing on carriage roads, trails, and the Loop Road. Snowshoeing and snowmobiling on much of the Loop Road.
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Baring
Forty miles of unplowed roads for cross-country skiing. 207-454-3521.
Camden Hills State Park, Camden
Twenty miles of cross-country trails, snowmobiling, snowshoeing. 207-236-0849.
Crescent Beach State Park, Cape Elizabeth
Cross-country skiing and hiking on paths under a canopy of snow-covered evergreen boughs. There are places to park on Route 77.
Sebago Lake State Park, Casco/Naples
Six miles of cross-country trails and also ungroomed snowmobiling trails. 207-693-6231.
Dead River Township
Backcountry skiing and snowmobiling on 36,000 acres, a day-use lodge, and twenty miles of designated trails. 207-778-8231.
Cobscook Bay State Park, Dennysville
Four miles of cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing, and camping with permission from manager. 207-726-4412.
Peaks-Kenny State Park, Dover-Foxcroft
Cross-country skiing and hiking. 207-941-4014.
Lamoine State Park, Ellsworth
Cross-country skiing or hiking. 207-941-4014.
Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park, Freeport
Five miles of trails for cross-country skiing, hiking, or snowshoeing. 207-624-6080.
Lily Bay State Park, Greenville
Several miles of unplowed roads: backcountry skiing, snowmobiling. 207-941-4014.
Holbrook Island Sanctuary State Park, Harborside
Four miles of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing. 207-326-4012.
Damariscotta Lake State Park, Jefferson
Cross-country skiing. 207-941-4014.
Lake St. George State Park, Liberty
Snowmobile trails and cross-country skiing. 207-589-4255.
Tanglewood 4-H Camp, Lincolnville
Ten miles of cross-country trails. 207-789-5868.
Baxter State Park, Millinocket
Backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, ice-climbing, and winter camping on 204,000 acres. Snowmobiling on tote road only. 207-723-5140.
Dodge Point, Newcastle
Five miles of cross-country trails on popular public land holding. 207-778-8231.
Grafton Notch State Park, Newry
Cross-country skiing and a snowmobile trail that is maintained by a local snowmobile club. 207-624-6080.
Range Pond State Park,
Cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing on a two-mile trail. 207-624-6080.
Bradbury Mountain State Park, Pownal
Three miles of cross-country trails and snowshoeing. 207-688-4712.
Aroostook State Park, Presque Isle
Fourteen miles of groomed trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. 207-768-8341.
Rangeley Lake State Park, Rangeley
One mile of groomed snowmobiling trails, plus cross-country
skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling. 207-624-6080.
Ferry Beach State Park, Saco
Cross-country skiing, hiking, or just strolling. 207-624-6080.
Moose Point State Park, Searsport
Cross-country skiing and hiking on the park's trails. 207-941-4014.
Vaughan Woods State Park,
Six miles of cross-country trails. 207-624-6080.
Mount Blue State Park, Weld
Thirty-five miles of groomed snowmobiling trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and an ice rink. $1 fee. 207-585-2261.
White Mountain National Forest, West Bethel
Thousands of miles of trails for skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing.
For more information on cross-country skiing and snowmobiling opportunities in the parks, call the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands at 207-287-3821 or visit its Web site at www.state.me.us/doc/parks/programs/db_search/
Mainers sometimes need a dose of nature when the days get shorter and the nights chillier, and the state's urban centers offer more than a few places to enjoy the fresh air and then to retreat indoors. The following is a list of some of the more peaceful — and unexpected — of Maine's natural downtown spaces.
Fore River Sanctuary, Portland
Most Portlanders probably never realize that their city has its own twenty-five-foot waterfall, called Jewell Falls, and it's just one of the attractions at the eighty-five-acre Fore River Sanctuary in the city's Stroudwater neighborhood. Featuring lots of blue-blazed trails and a boardwalk across a salt marsh, this little nature preserve is maintained by the Maine Audubon Society with help from Portland Trails. Follow outer Congress Street to Frost Street and park in the lot of Maine Orthopedic.
Bug Light Park, South Portland
South Portland's newest park, named for the diminutive lighthouse at one end, used to be a World War II shipyard where Liberty Ships were built and launched. Connected to the city's paved shore trail, this thirteen-acre park features great views of Portland across the harbor. Follow Broadway east until you reach the end and then turn left to find the park.
Brunswick Commons, Brunswick
Not to be confused with the Brunswick Mall (the town's village green), the Brunswick Town Common is a trail-looped, wooded park on the road to South Harpswell. Few folks visit this peaceful preserve only a stone's throw from Bowdoin College, making for a quiet stroll amid the pines. Drive south on Route 123 out of Brunswick and look for the parking lot on your right.
Thorncrag Bird Sanctuary, Lewiston
Walkers enjoy this 228-acre preserve within the Lewiston city limits as much as bird-watchers do. Grab a trail map at the gate and take your pick of three miles of trails through stands of hemlock, pine, and hardwoods. Take Route 126 east until Highland Springs Road, turn left and continue to the end (Montello Street). You'll see the sanctuary gate from there.
Capitol Park, Augusta
This ten-acre park on the east side of State Street slopes down from the State House to the slow-flowing Kennebec River. Often overlooked as a place to absorb the precious winter sun, Capitol Park is family-friendly and a great spot to visit after touring the Maine State Museum, the State House, and the Blaine House. You'll also find the Maine Veterans Memorial here if you want to continue the kids' history lesson.
Belfast City Park, Belfast
Of all the state's municipal parks, the one in Belfast might have the best view. Established in 1904, this waterfront wonder features a playground, lighted tennis courts, an outdoor pool, a pebble beach, plenty of picnic tables, and lots of lawn — but it's the spectacular vista of Penobscot Bay, Islesboro, and Blue Hill rising (on clear days, at least) in the distance that will soothe your soul on a stress-filled day.
Mount Hope Cemetery, Bangor
This beautiful 254-acre cemetery — designed after Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts — is the Queen City's unofficial municipal park. Lots of paved paths, bridges, benches, and even picnic tables make this a perfect place for a walk any time of year. The entrance is at 1038 State Street.A Brew Above the Rest
For those who want to enjoy a few ounces of suds after a day on the slopes or a marathon pre-holiday shopping spree, Maine is home to nearly a dozen brewpubs that craft their own pilsners, lagers, bocks, and weizens [see article on page 78]. Most also serve up some excellent pub grub if you've worked up an appetite during your day on the slopes or the sidewalk. Here is a sampler of places, organized alphabetically, where you can savor the best that the Pine Tree State has to offer when it comes to homemade brews.
Jack Russell's Brewpub and Beer Garden, Bar Harbor
Have them pull a Maine Coast Eden Porter here for you from their selection of fine draughts and then take a brisk stroll through the delightfully deserted downtown. But act quickly: this cozy spot closes down after Christmas. 207-288-4914. www.bhmaine.com/russells.html
Sunday River Brewing Company, Bethel
You may just find your ski tales becoming steeper and more unbelievable as you sample some of the signature cold brews in this brewpub just outside Bethel. 207-824-4253.
Granary Brew Pub, Farmington
Housed in an old granary, this brewpub serves the Oak Pond Brewery of Skowhegan's beers. A good spot to linger over a White Fox Ale if your après-ski plans involve a show at the University of Maine at Farmington. 207-779-0710. www.thegranarybrewpub.com
Federal Jack's Restaurant and Brewpub, Kennebunk
The phrase here is "brew with a view" — the eatery overlooks the Kennebunk River and serves up beers by Shipyard Brewing Company. The partnership has proven to be a winning combination. 207-967-4322. www.federaljacks.com
Bray's Brew Pub, Naples
Popular in Greater Sebago, Bray's brews fine ales in an old Victorian farmhouse. You can also lunch on hearty New England fare before heading out onto the slopes. 207-693-6806. www.braysbrewpub.com
Bear Brew Pub, Orono
Have a pint at this collegial pub and then take in a show at the Maine Center for the Arts. A perfect combination of spirits. 207-866-2739.
Gritty McDuff's Brewing Company, Portland
Now in Portland, Freeport, and Lewiston-Auburn, Gritty's pubs are huge local favorites. Try their Portland Head Light Pale Ale or knock back a pint of their dark masterpiece, Black Fly Stout. 207-772-2739. www.grittys.com
Sebago Brewing Company, South Portland
Serves up fresh ales at its three locations: the Maine Mall in SoPo (207-879-2537) Middle Street in the Old Port (207-775-2337), and at the former Gorham Station in Gorham (207-839-2337). www.sebagobrewing.com
The Forks Restaurant, The Forks
You can relive last summer's rafting adventures while enjoying one of the Kennebec River Brewery's handcrafted beers while enjoying pub fare. (The restaurant is closed during the last two weeks of October.) 207-663-4466.History on Display
When the cold winds blow even diehard Maine outdoorsmen need to find indoor pursuits. Luckily, the state is home to dozens of world-class institutions that stay open well after the leaves have fallen. Some cater to serious history buffs, others are more family-friendly. The list that follows includes a broad range of Maine historical, natural history, and maritime museums exclusive of the state's many historic homes, children's museums, art museums, and transportation museums. Inquire at local chambers of commerce for even more worth visiting.
Maine State Museum, Augusta
The Maine State Museum, in the Capitol complex, is worth a family visit any time of year. The museum offers a variety of imposing and interesting exhibits exploring the state's history and culture from sailing ships and locomotives to textiles and indigenous artifacts. Open Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., year round. 207-287-2301. www.state.me.us/museum/
Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor
In 2001 the Abbe expanded into a second, year-round museum in downtown Bar Harbor devoted to the preservation and interpretation of Maine's Native American heritage [Down East, August 2005]. Open April to mid-May, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; mid-May to mid-October, daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and mid-October to December, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum shuts its doors on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day, and closes during the months of January, February, and March. 207-288-3519. www.abbemuseum.org
College of the Atlantic Natural History Museum, Bar Harbor
Housed in a brand-new building on the campus of the College of the Atlantic, the museum features exhibits showcasing the flora and fauna indigenous to Mount Desert Island. Open Labor Day through mid-June, Friday and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 207-288-5015. www.coamuseum.org/visitors/staff.html
Maine Maritime Museum, Bath
This institution has one of the most extensive collections of maritime artifacts in New England, including everything from ship's paintings and voluptuous carved figureheads to captains' diaries and steamer trunks — and even a towering, thirty-foot section of an actual Maine-built clipper ship. Open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. 207-443-1316. www.bathmaine.com
Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, Brunswick
Documenting the exploits of Admiral Robert Peary, the first man to reach the North Pole, and his assistant, Admiral Donald MacMillan, the museum is filled with the photographs, diaries, and personal memorabilia of the explorers. On the campus of Bowdoin College. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m., year round. Closed Mondays and national holidays. 207-725-3416. http://academic.bowdoin.edu/arcticmuseum/
Museum at Portland Head Light, Cape Elizabeth
Situated in the former lighthouse keeper's residence on the craggy shore beneath the oft-photographed tower, the smartly designed museum houses artifacts, navigational aids, lenses, and other memorabilia chronicling the history of the lighthouse, which was built when George Washington was in office. Open daily from Memorial Day to the Friday following Columbus Day. From Columbus Day to just before Christmas the museum is open weekends only. The hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 207-799-2661. www.portlandheadlight.com/park.html
L.C. Bates Museum, Hinckley
Located in a Romanesque National Historic Register building on the Good Will-Hinckley School campus, the L.C. Bates Museum features an offbeat assortment of rare Indian artifacts, hundreds of mounted rare birds, art exhibits, and even a marlin caught by Ernest Hemingway. Open May to mid-November, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday 1 to 4:30 p.m. Open by appointment all other times of the year. 207-238-4250. www.gwh.org/museum/museum.htm
Brick Store Museum, Kennebunk
A complex of four historic buildings, the museum has changing exhibits of fine and decorative art and historical and marine artifacts. Open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., year round. 207-985-4802.
Town House School, Kennebunkport
Built in 1899, the Town House School is popular among genealogists because of its collection of local documents, photographs, and historical memorabilia. Open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., year round. 207-967-2751.
Kittery Historical and Naval Museum, Kittery
The museum houses a collection of local maritime memorabilia, a shipbuilding exhibit, and a number of ship models all of which chronicle the area's rich nautical history. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through late October. 207-439-3080.
Penobscot Nation Museum, Old Town
Located on Indian Island, the Penobscot Nation Museum displays artifacts that trace the history of the local Penobscot Tribe. Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., year round. 207-827-4168.
Hudson Museum, University of Maine, Orono
Three floors of Inuit, pre-Columbian, African, Arctic, and Oceanic artifacts ring the splendid Maine Center for the Arts on the University of Maine campus in Orono. Open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., year round. 207-581-1901. www.umaine.edu/hudsonmuseum
Hamlin Memorial Library, Paris Hill
Located in picturesque Paris Hill, the library and museum are housed in the old Oxford County Jail and feature a collection of American primitive art. Open Tuesday through Thursday from 12 to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until December 10. 207-743-2980. www.hamlin.lib.me.us
Saco Museum, Saco
The museum features an excellent assortment of early-American paintings, artifacts, and furnishings displayed in five period rooms. Open Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 4 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. (free admission 4 to 8 p.m.), year round. 207-283-3861 ext 114. www.sacomuseum.org
Fawcett's Maine Antique Toy & Art Museum, Waldoboro
A rambling old Colonial brimming with vintage toys, the museum boasts large collections of Disneyana and Lone Ranger toys, among hundreds of others. Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Monday, from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m., Columbus Day through Christmas. 207-832-7398. http://home.gwi.net/%7Efawcetoy/
Meetinghouse Museum, Wells
The historical society of Ogunquit and Wells maintains a collection of nautical and local memorabilia as well as genealogical materials pertinent to York County in the town of Wells' original meeting place. Open Memorial Day to Columbus Day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter. 207-646-4775.Indie Movie Theaters
Like any other state, Maine has seen an explosion of big-box movie cinemas in the past decade, doubling the number of screens here. But there's still something to be said for the more personal movie experience of old, where the ticket taker knows you or at least knows the film you're going to see, where the popcorn doesn't require half your paycheck, and where oftentimes you can catch the small, hip movies not playing at the multiplexes. Maine still has a handful of these gems left, including the following.
The Colonial Theatre, Belfast
A visit to the Colonial is a true movie experience. Costumed ushers, themed movie premiere parties, a lobby full of interesting movie information, one of the nicest staffs in any cinema, ticket giveaway games, and more make going to the pictures here a real pleasure. Its three screens mix things up with indie and foreign movies. From the elephant on the roof to the wacko art-deco decor — check out the mesmerizing carpet — the place is hard to beat. Call 207-338-1930 for more information. www.colonialtheatre.com
Eveningstar Cinema, Brunswick
One of the oldest businesses in the Tontine Mall on Maine Street, the Eveningstar is something of a family art house — it screens foreign and independent movies in the evenings for moms and dads and well-done kids movies in the afternoon. Call 207-729-5486 for more information. www.eveningstarcinema.com
Northeast Historic Film/The Alamo, Bucksport
Headquartered in the Alamo Theater, a venerable movie house on Main Street in Bucksport, Northeast Historic Film archives, preserves, and presents classic New England motion pictures. And the Alamo also screens more recent movie hits, too. Call 207-469-6910 for showtimes. www.oldfilm.org
Bayview Street Cinema, Camden
This second-floor cinema is a midcoast institution with its own devoted following. Loyal fans here know they'll find great movies at bargain prices, inexpensive popcorn, and booming Dolby Surround Sound. Call 207-236-8722 for current attractions. www.bayviewcinema.com
The Movies on Exchange Street, Portland
The granddaddy of independent cinemas, this Old Port staple has been around for decades. It's very small, with only one screen, but that's all it needs to please the audiences. It has become known for showing some of the more daring foreign films, the better American pictures made outside the Hollywood system, and for hosting small festivals. Call 207-772-9600. www.moviesonexchange.com
The Strand Theatre, Rockland
First opened in 1923, this midcoast classic reopened in July after a multimillion-dollar renovation that returned the great hall, and its impressive sign over Main Street, to its former glory. (They actually removed an upstairs theater to make the cinema more impressive.) It shows independent, documentary, retrospective, and foreign films, and also hosts live musical performances and concerts. Call 207-594-0070. www.rocklandstrand.com
Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville
One of the state's few art cinemas with more than one screen — it has two — Railroad Square is so popular in central Maine that it was able to rebuild after a disastrous fire several years ago, largely on the strength of donations. It's the home of the Maine International Film Festival, has unique snacks, existential graffiti in the bathroom, and a café on premises, in addition to what is arguably the state's best lineup of art movies. Call 207-873-6526 to hear what's playing. www.railroadsquarecinema.com