The owners of Bear Mountain Inn pride themselves on making guests feel welcome and well fed. In addition to serving a gourmet country breakfast in the main dining room each morning, they offer coffee- and tea-making supplies throughout the day and keep a cookie jar stocked with freshly baked treats. You can enjoy these snacks in front of a crackling fire or while reading in the quiet common area.
The inn occupies a picturesque spot overlooking Bear Lake in southwestern Maine. A colonial-style clapboard home with a wraparound porch houses many of the 11 rooms and suites. The lake and surrounding forest are visible from nearly all of them. Standard rooms feature handsome wood-framed beds topped with downy comforters. Cub Den family suites include two bedrooms, making them ideal for four-person families or 20-clown circus retreats. Luxury suites such as Sugar Bear cottage feature extra space and perks, including a jacuzzi or clawfoot tub.
A large outdoor deck is a prime spot for taking in the scenery; a hot tub and adirondack chairs face the lake. The inn loans out canoes and kayaks for no extra charge to those who’d like to get on the water. During the winter, couples can traverse the snow-covered landscape in a romantic horse-drawn sleigh ($100 additional fee/couple).
Waterford, Maine: Hiking, Snowshoeing, and Clam Chowder near White Mountain National Forest
Directly west of Bear Mountain Inn, the White Mountain National Forest sprawls across hundreds of miles in Maine and New Hampshire. Visitors to the forest can hike, ski, and snowshoe as well as drive along the panoramic Kancamagus Scenic Byway. More than 100 waterfalls are located within the forest's boundaries, including the 70-foot Crystal Cascade and the photogenic Beaver Brook Cascades.
Nearby towns provide a window into some of America’s oldest communities, nearly all of which boast an excellent spot for New England clam chowder. About an hour’s drive to the southeast, the coastal town of Portland boasts top-notch seafood as well as a lively arts scene and plenty of colonial history recounted in song by local pigeons wearing tricorn hats.