Get out on the cheap

Winter escapes that won't stretch your wallet
By JOSH SCHLESINGER  |  January 26, 2011

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As eyes may roll, and thoughts of sliding down Mellen Street into Deering Oaks swim through our mind, wintertime is what keeps so many of us excited for eight months a year. We check the weather report a dozen times an hour, we have every ski app on our iPhones, we cry when Utah is swimming in champagne powder, and we call our Tahoe friends to gloat when we are getting dumped on and they are getting 60-degree days in January. Whatever your pleasure, the winter months are what keep us salivating for that next big storm. Those dark and cold but ultimately amazing winter months mean more to us than most can comprehend, but let's face it: they're why we live in Maine and as soon as we ride that last chair in April, they're what we're going to dream of until we see those first flakes in October.

There's one "but" and it's a big one: That funny economy that doesn't really want us to enjoy our favorite time of year as much as we'd like. With gas over $3 a gallon and ski-season passes pushing $1000, getting to our favorite winter destination isn't the reality we all wish it could be. And let us not forget all that new gear we want for the upcoming season! As much as we love it, we can't always afford it. Surprisingly, however, there are handfuls of deals all over Maine that allow us to get after the skating, snowshoeing, and skiing that we so desperately crave. So get your excuses ready for why you conveniently called out of work the day after a storm, because wallet-friendly days on the ice and on the mountain are here once again!


On the ice

Whether you're reliving your high school glory days on the ice, looking for that memorable first date, or just looking to get drunk and play some broomball, ice skating serves as a source of nostalgia and, get this: serious exercise! What we've got here are a few options to get out on the ice without breaking the bank.

DEERING OAKS PARK | Those unique lights of Portland are lit, and the skating is free. When the snow is cleared, this is a great place, day or night, to get your friends together to play some pond hockey or act out scenes from The Preacher's Wife. | Park Ave, Portland

USM ICE ARENA | Although the hours are early (Tuesdays and Thursdays 8:30-9:45 am), it's a perfect place for an early morning workout or can be used as a brisk hangover cure. The cost is only $3/person or $2/person if you bring three or more in your group. Best yet — if you're a USM student or staff member, the skating is free! | 207.780.5991

PORTLAND ICE ARENA | Conveniently located down by the Portland Expo building, Portland Ice Arena offers the classic ambience of our childhood — awkward hand-in-hand circles around the rink. Adults skate for $5 and rentals are only $2. | 225 Park Ave, Portland | PortlandIceArena.com | 207.774.8553


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