Mount Desert Island in the winter is a beautiful place. Places along the shore get icy, and white snow on rolling hills makes the scene beautiful but still enjoyable. Here are some amazing things you can do in the winter on MDI:
- Go hiking (Cadillac Mountain Sports sells crampons to put over your boots for slippery conditions). Many trails have adequate tree cover for a majority of the hike (just pile on the layers to crest the top of the mountain).
- Go cross country skiing. Areas like those around Eagle Lake and Witch Hole Pond are regularly groomed. (Skiiers can the trail with showshoers.) Equipment can be rented at Cadillac Mountain Sports in Ellsworth and Bar Harbor.
- Go ice skating. Local ponds like Long Pond and Sommes Pond are protected enough to freeze with minimal ripples. Access points are typically where the local beach would be and locals often maintain small skating areas on ponds with brooms and shovels. Bring a broom and shovel with you and do your part. You can rent skates at Cadillac Mountain Sports for under $10 (half day).
- See a movie at Reel Pizza. Reel Pizza in Bar Harbor is open year round (they close briefly between Thanksgiving and Christmas). They not only show big budget films but also host small festivals, artistic movies, and foreign films.
- Attend a chili cookoff. Most every village on the island hosts a chili cookoff around this time of year (The Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor typically hosts its cookoff in January), usually to raise money for a local non-profit. So sample local cooking and support a great cause!
- Attend a craft fair. The Island Arts Association and other groups typically hold craft shows before the holidays. Local talent ranges from knitwear to blown glass.
- Eat at a community supper. These are usually weekly events (Common Good Cafe’s lunch is Thursdays at 12 pm in Southwest Harbor for example) where people can eat for free (and give an optional donation to help needy locals). The chefs who create these events are locally known for their great cooking.
- Attend a class. Learn how to do something new (Fabricate in Bar Harbor does regular classes for example) or let your kids get crafty (Little Sisters in Bar Harbor does art classes for kids). Local classes we’ve seen include carving, rug hooking, yoga, and much more. Check with the local chambers of commerce and adult education for listings.
- Shop at a local business. Many of our local businesses are open year round. Visit a cafe, browse for books and antiques, find something new to wear, and more. (Most local chambers have a list of year round businesses you can patronize.)
As you can see, inside or out, there is plenty to do on MDI in the winter. And by visiting this time of year, you can enjoy the season without the crowds.