Looking for the best of both worlds for your next getaway? Do you want to commune with nature at an idyllic lakeside retreat, but also yearn to spend a relaxing afternoon strolling the shops of a quintessential Maine village? The Wolf Cove Inn, a bed and breakfast in Maine delivers on the first part. Norway Maine, less than 20 minutes from the Inn, delivers on the second.
Downtown Norway is quite the happening place these days. Over the past few years, boards have come down from store fronts and a whole bunch of new stores, shops and restaurants have moved in. You’ll find local craftsman co-ops, vintage book and vinyl, and even a unique shop called Fiber & Vine that sells, you guessed it, knitting supplies and wine. And with all that exploring, you’ll surely work up an appetite. No problem. There are plenty of excellent restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat.
Finally, if if you want to combine exploring downtown with hiking and sketching, well Norway has that covered too. “What the heck is Roy talking about?” you say. Well, more on that later.
Exploring Norway Maine
Downtown Norway is best explored by leisurely meandering from place to place on Main Street. There you’ll find an abundance of places to shop, browse and dine, many housed in buildings dating back to the late 1800s. While Norway Maine has been around much longer than that (incorporated in 1797), most of the downtown burned to the ground in the Great Norway Fire of 1894. The downtown area was quickly rebuilt. Many of the buildings you’ll see date from that rebuild.
The shops and stores along Main Street open at times ranging from 8AM to noon. Many are closed on Sunday.
1) Interesting Shops
Tribune Books & Gifts offers a place to not only find current titles, but they also have it comfortably set up to hang out with a book. On occasion you’ll find a book signing or historical figure performance in the shop. Handmade Maine, a local artisan coop, offers a wealth of original Maine artist handmade crafts, collectibles, gifts, mugs and more. At The Raven Collections you’ll discover minerals, gems and artifacts. Food For Thought might give you a chance to replace your long lost Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon vinyl edition. You’ll also find nicely dog-eared vintage books for sale. Get your geek on at The Dragon’s Lair where you’ll find games, comics, Funko Pops, and some D&D stuff.
2) Arts & Crafts
Honestly, who can say they’ve been to a shop that primarily features knitting supplies and wine? Well if you want to be one of those people that can claim that experience, Fiber & Vine is the place to visit. If it’s quilt making you enjoy, then pop into Sew Orchid Design. Across the street you’ll find 100 aker wood with artist supplies and custom framing. The proprietor of 100 aker wood tells me lots of folks come in, purchase a sketch pad and pencils and head out to the nearby hiking trails to sketch the beauty of nature in the area.
Vintiques of Maine and Widdershins Antiques both offer some really cool stuff in their shops. Perhaps you’ll find the gift for that someone who has everything hidden on their shelves or off in a nook. The above photo is from Widdershins. At Vintiques of Maine, right across the street, I spotted a back wall covered in an array of guitars and classic vinyl. The owner tells me his inventory turns over very quickly. So you’re likely to find different cool stuff each time you pop in.
4) Arts & Culture
To get an understanding of the arts and culture of rural western Maine, hit up any of the galleries on Main Street. There you’ll find Main Street Gallery, Studio 448 (by appointment) and Matolcsy Arts Center. For some history of the area you can visit the Norway Historical Society or the Weary Club. The Weary Club is the home to self-proclaimed “Makers and Dealers in cedar shavings, social gossip, political wisdom and Yankee philosophy.” The Club has no hours, but is generally open for conversation and cribbage. The Historical Society has very limited hours – Saturdays 9-12 all year and Tuesdays, 1-4 in the summertime.
5) Clothing & Accessories
Pick a Lily Revival is hoping to bring back the groovy colors of the 60s. Clothing featured is bold in color. As well, you’ll have plenty of options for accessorizing at Pick a Lily. Furthermore, the owner aspires to have even more options in the future. She’s hoping to expand the retail section further to the back of her space. You’ll also find accessorizing options at some of the shops and galleries mentioned above. These include Handmade Maine, The Raven’s Collection and The Main Street Art Gallery.
Want to pick up some yummy dessert? Happi Chicks is the place to go. The previously mentioned proprietor of 100 aker wood tells me he had the best brownie of his life there. Fare Share Market, a local natural foods coop, buzzes with lots of great items from local Maine farmers, canners, coffee roasters and more. Want to bring home some of that delicious bacon and breakfast sausage served at the Wolf Cove Inn? The breakfast meats from A Wee Bit Farm are available at the Fare Share Market.
Serving breakfast and lunch, Cafe Nomad has a Starbucks feel, but with a rural Maine chic vibe. Do try the Nomad Burger, the best veggie black bean burger I’ve had. 290 Restaurant & Pub offers tasty pub fare and local brews for lunch and dinner. I find it a bit ironic that Taste of Eden Vegan Cafe and Smoking’ Dave’s Backyard BBQ & Grill sit right next to each other. Both offer lunch and dinner. Norway Brewing Company offers their own brews and excellent food (if on the menu, try the jambalaya) for late afternoon and evening dining. They are a part of the Western Maine Beer Trail I covered in a previous blog post. Sue and I are partial to Panda Cafe for Chinese food. Ari’s Pizza & Subs offers, yep, you guessed it, pizza and subs for lunch and dinner. In addition they prepare salads and spaghetti dinners. Finally if you’d like some fine dining after a day in Norway Maine, 76 Pleasant Street is the place to go. Located 1/4 a mile from the end of Main Street, they are easily accessible. However, reservations are highly recommended.
8) Health & Wellness
There are a variety of options for health and wellness along Main Street. Something unique is a place called Hidden Pathways To Healing. There, holistic and alternative healing techniques are employed to restore life balance for both you and your pet. Plans are available that can include reiki, acupuncture, stone and essence therapies. Alternatively you can opt for more traditional massage therapy. All three of Encompass Bodywork, 44th North Bath & Body and The Mane Room offer spa services. So if you’re in need of relaxing and chilling, you have some great options.
9) Hiking, Biking, X-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing
Within a mile of downtown Norway Maine you’ll find plenty of activities in the preserves the make up a portion of the Western Foothills Land Trust. Roberts Farm Preserve, across from Lake Pennesewassee on route 117, has hiking, x-country skiing and snowshoeing trails. Furthermore, they have a warming hut where you can rent skiing and snowshoeing gear. Shepard’s Farm Preserve on Crockett Ridge Road and Witt Swamp Preserve on Pleasant Street are great for hiking, trail riding, x-country skiing and snowshoeing. They are all within a five minute drive from the downtown area. All are dog friendly. Green Machine Bike Shop on Main Street rents and sells bikes for tooling around the back roads or trail riding. In addition, in wintertime you can purchase ski and snowshoe gear.
About Your Home While Exploring Norway Maine
Located on Tripp Lake in Poland Maine, the Wolf Cove Inn, a Maine B&B, is a beautiful location to getaway for a relaxing weekend, a vacation, your honeymoon or to even elope. With its pristine lakeside location, warm hospitality and so much to do, couples looking for a romantic getaway are drawn to the Inn from far and wide. A terrific Maine comfort breakfast will get you on your way for a great day of exploring Norway Maine.
When done exploring Norway, come on back and enjoy a paddle on the lake with complimentary canoes, kayaks and a rowboat. Take in a gorgeous lakeside sunset. Relax by the fire pit with a glass of wine and complimentary s’mores. Or in the winter, cozy up in front of the fireplace or take a dip in your own spa tub in select rooms.
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