When planning your holiday outings or searching for something special to do on a winter’s weekend, think sleigh rides! Throughout Maine, local stables and selected inns provide visitors and guests with the opportunity to enjoy the old-fashioned pastime most often reserved for Christmas cards and Currier and Ives prints.

Whorff Stables located on Route 196 on the Lisbon/Topsham line begins offering rides as soon as the ground is blanketed with snow enough to support the sleigh. Rhonda Borski-Whorff and her “gentle giants”, two Belgian workhorses named “Hank” and “Beau” glide guests over the 170 acres of forest and field that make up their farm and stables. Rides are available Saturdays and Sundays between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m and Hank and Beau dress for the occasion with belled harnesses and Santa’s hats during the holidays. Also during the Christmas season, riders can enjoy a lit sleigh, music and carols. Following the excursion, visitors can warm themselves with a treat of hot cocoa in the barn before heading for home. Wagon rides are available if there is no snow. Contact Whorff Stables at (207)353-2122 for details.

The Bethel Inn and Country Club in Bethel also offers evening sleigh rides every half hour between 5 and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, particularly during the holiday season including Christmas weekend and February vacation. The eight-person sleigh is fully equipped with one headlight and decorated with bells and lights.

An added amenity for guests staying at the inn, day visitors are also welcome to enjoy a ride showcasing the 40 kilometer groomed snowshoe and cross country ski trails. Reservations must be made by 3 p.m. at the Bethel Inn and Country Club Cross Country Ski and Snowshoe Center, located downstairs from the inn.

Anyone considering a drive to Bethel is encouraged to take advantage of the full-scale winter fun available throughout the area. The inn offers cross-country ski and snowshoe equipment on site and even features snow tubing and sledding for kids and the young-at-heart. Why not schedule a weekend getaway with a sleigh ride as a prelude to dinner or as the perfect, relaxing ending to a full day of snow play? Contact the Bethel Inn and Country Club at (207) 824-6276 or (207) 824-2175.

The Norlands Living History Center in Livermore, known for their historical education experiences, encourages visitors to appreciate the joys of winter in Maine with their old time, classic, sleigh rides. Offered Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the horse-drawn sleigh dashes guests over the snow-covered fields of the property, weather permitting. Following the 15-20 minute ride, the traditional, frosty weather treat of hot chocolate is provided. Tours are also available but not included as part of the ride itself. Wagon rides are available until the snow falls; larger parties and groups can be accommodated by contacting the Norlands office at (207) 897-4366.

For a true, down-home experience, visit Becky and Duane Durgin at
Meadow Creek Farm located on 58 River Road off Rt. 219 in West Sumner. The Durgins provide horse-drawn rides throughout the year. Wagon rides are available until a good base of snow covers the ground, and then the Durgins bring out the bright red sleigh!

“We have two pairs of Belgian draft horses weighing 2100 pounds each,” noted Becky. “We dress them in red with 150 sleigh bells.”

The Durgins invite young and old alike to enjoy their sleigh rides over Meadow Creek Farm’s acres of snow-packed snowmobile trails. Following the ride, share a cup of coffee, chocolate or cider and a freshly-baked treat, compliments of Becky and Duane. Groups are welcome as are children, who are free to romp around the Durgin homestead. Interested parties should call ahead to schedule an appointment at (207)388-2044.

So cross your fingers for a bit of the fluffy white stuff and make your reservations for an old-fashioned sleigh ride in Maine. Then close your eyes and allow yourself to be transported to yesteryear and a time when people really traveled by horse-drawn sleigh over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house.

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