Igloo for two? Right this way.

More Maine restaurants and bars are offering their customers heated outdoor dining this year – in igloos, snow globes or sheds – continuing a phenomenon that began during the pandemic.

Restaurant managers and industry watchers say the trend is growing nationally, and in Maine, because some customers are still leery of COVID and want to avoid crowds, but also because a lot of folks just feel that dining in an igloo on a winter’s night is fun and a little bit more special.

“Dining out in an igloo is an experience. You talk about it; you Instagram it,” said Mike Whatley of the National Restaurant Association. “There are also some residual COVID fears. For restaurant operators who are always busy, the igloos allow them to seat more customers.”

While many Maine restaurants began offering heated structures for outdoor winter dining during COVID, some only started since the pandemic has eased, including several in Portland.

Most of the so-called igloos or snow globes available at Maine dining establishments are made of PVC piping covered with see-through plastic, heated with a space heater and sealed from the elements by a zippered door. But some Maine eateries have covered, heated decks or other small wooden structures that look like little houses or sheds. Some can be a little pricier than just eating at the restaurant, with a fee for eating in them or a minimum drink and food purchase required.


Here are what some Maine restaurants and bars are offering for outdoor dining this winter.

A dining igloo at Alto Terrace Bar + Kitchen in the Cambria Hotel in Portland. Photo courtesy of Alto Terrace Bar + Kitchen

Alto Terrace Bar + Kitchen at the Cambria Hotel, Portland

Located on the fourth floor of the hotel, on Hancock Street in the Old Port, Alto this winter began offering two igloos on the terrace for dining. Like so many of the so-called “igloos” or “snow globes” at area eateries, they are large bubble-shaped structures made of PVC-type piping and covered with a see-through plastic. Inside are space heaters, and a zippered door keeps the cold air out. The igloos seat six, and blankets are available, plus there are Bluetooth speakers, so you can create your own musical ambience. Reservations are required, and there’s a $75 fee to use the igloos for 90 minutes, though there’s no minimum drink or food purchase required.

“It’s a way to use the terrace in the less enticing months and give people a cozy and comfortable way to eat outside,” said Crystal Ingerson, area director of sales and marketing for the Portland Collection properties, which includes the Cambria Hotel. “It’s a COVID trend that hasn’t gone away, as people still want that outdoor experience, in a smaller space.”

For more information and photos, go to altoportland.com/igloo-dining.

Harbor Bistro + Terrace at the Portland Harbor Hotel


This venue, on Fore Street in the Old Port, started offering two heated, see-through igloos for dining last winter. They are located in the hotel courtyard and seat up to six, with blankets and Bluetooth speakers. There’s a $100 fee to reserve a two-hour block, but no minimum purchase required. For more information and photos, go to harborbistroandterrace.com/fire-ice-igloos.

Dine under the winter sky at Harbor Bistro + Terrace, at the Portland Harbor Hotel.

Yosaku, Portland

This long-running Japanese restaurant on Danforth Street is having a covered, heated outdoor deck built and should have it open in the next few weeks, said owner Rattanak Tray. Tray said he had been thinking about doing something to winterize the restaurant’s outdoor deck for years, and the pandemic just re-enforced his idea. He’s had the bamboo deck rebuilt and covered with a permanent, heated roof. There’s also a pull-down awning on the street side of the deck area, so people don’t have to look at cars going past.

“We have customers who come in here who don’t feel like (the pandemic is over), some are still wearing masks, and we still get requests to sit outside all year long,” said Tray.

For more information, go to yosakumaine.com.

Clay Hill Farm, York


An upscale restaurant located on 10 acres in the Cape Neddick section of York, Clay Hill Farm has two large plastic igloos, heated, for outdoor dining. The interior of the see-through igloos are strung with lights. The cost of using the structures is $50 for two hours, with a $50 minimum food and drink purchase per person. They are usually in use into April. For more information, go to clayhillfarm.com/igloo-dining.

Igloos at Clay Hill Farm in Cape Neddick have a view of the surrounding 10 acres. Photo courtesy of Clay Hill Farm

Earth at Hidden Pond, Kennebunkport

This restaurant has two outdoor heated dining sheds. One is styled as an upscale potting shed, with potted plants and shovels hanging from the wall. The other is decorated as a painter’s shed, with framed works on the ceiling and walls. Both are heated by electric fireplaces. The potting shed, which seats six, has a food and beverage minimum of $600 and the painting shed, which seats 12, has a $1,200 minimum purchase. They are heated in winter but open year-round. For more information, go to earthathiddenpond.com/private-dining.

The heated “potting shed” for dining, at Earth at Hidden Pond. Photo courtesy of Earth at Hidden Pond.

Boathouse Restaurant, Kennebunkport 

Here, the heated structures are made to look like little wooden lighthouses, or keeper’s houses, along the Kennebunk River. There are four in all, with three seating four and one seating six. They are open until mid-March. For more information, go to boathouseme.com/boathouse/restaurant.

Lighthouse keeper’s house and lighthouse, both outdoor dining options in winter at the Boathouse Restaurant in Kennebunkport.

Kanu, Old Town 

This restaurant north of Bangor features rooftop igloos, heated and accommodating four to eight people. The cost to dine in an igloo is $5 per person, and they are available for dinner Wednesday through Saturday and for brunch on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, go to 283kanu.com/igloo-dining.

Pineland Farms, New Gloucester

This outdoor activity hub and farm has had four heated plastic igloos – or snow globes – for outdoor dining since 2021, the second year of the pandemic. Management found they were so popular for people wanting a place to eat while out cross-country skiing, ice skating or snowshoeing, they kept using them. People can buy food at the farm’s market and eat it there, or bring their own picnic fare. The globes seat between four and eight people, with tables and chairs. The rental fee is $25 an hour. For more information, go to pinelandfarm.org/heated-snow-globe-rentals.

Snow globes for dining at Pineland Farms. Photo courtesy of Pineland Farms

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