With a latticework of 133 trails on eight peaks, grand resorts, and a variety of restaurants and activities, Sunday River in Newry, Maine, is one of New England’s top winter getaways. In fact, eager to welcome skiers and snowboarders who can’t wait to take to its mountains, Sunday River for the last four years has been the first ski resort in the country to open its doors, as early as October. This season brings all-new new adventure options, making it a perfect pick for the whole family.
Sunday River offers a variety of lodging options, but two grande dames stand out among the rest: the Jordan Grand Resort Hotel and the Grand Summit Resort Hotel. Each property’s offerings include everything from standard guest rooms to three-bedroom suites, with slopeside accommodations affording views of the action on the mountain. The Jordan Grand, the resort’s premier property, lies just at the base of (and provides slopeside access to) the Jordan Bowl. Feel like giving the ski boots a break? Take a dip in the Jordan’s heated outdoor pool or hot tubs; work up a sweat at its fitness center; or indulge in a relaxing spa service.
Located in the Grand Summit Resort Hotel, Legend’s Restaurant offers hearty dishes like steak, seafood, and pasta and a recently expanded pub menu. Its fresh-cut fries are made from potatoes grown at Green Thumb Farms in Fryeburg. In the South Ridge Base Lodge, Foggy Goggle is popular thanks to its laid-back atmosphere and frills-free menu: burgers, chili, chowder, nachos, lobster rolls, and lobster mac ’n’ cheese. If you’re brave enough, take the Goggle Wing Challenge: patrons who can eat 10 atomically hot wings in five minutes get their wings for free, plus a T-shirt and their picture on the Wall of Flame. Dining at The Peak combines food and fun: guests dine on fare from customized, seasonal menus at the resort’s mid-mountain Peak Lodge, which they reach by Chondola. Sittings are available Saturdays throughout the winter, by reservation only.
Alpine skiing and snowboarding are obvious choices. New this winter, however, is the Sunday River Outdoor Center, which offers 40 km of cross-country and snowshoe terrain, plus dogsledding tours. For adventures above the ground, check out the resort’s Winter Zipline Tour and Racing Ziplines, also new this season. The zipline tours stretch across six lines, ranging from 100 to 300 feet in length. As of Christmastime, Sunday River added two parallel racing zips, pitting racers against eachother for a zip along 750 feet of cables. Sunday River seemingly has it all, but if you’re in search of an off-site excursion, nearby Bethel Village (bethelmaine.com) is just the ticket, literally: Ski magazine voted Bethel one of America’s best ski towns. Sunday River Ski Resort, 15 South Ridge Road, Newry, ME, 207-824-3000, sundayriver.com.