Located in west-central Maine’s Oxford County, Norway is a small town of 5,000 that’s near to Lake Pennesseewassee, one of the region’s largest lakes and most popular recreational areas.
Norway is about an hour east of the state’s border with neighboring New Hampshire and the White Mountain National Forest – one of New England’s largest national forest and parks.
The town and surrounding areas have played important roles in the founding of the country as well. For those staying in town, there are a variety of day-trip options to historical sites, in addition to natural, artistic, and cultural ones.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Norway, Maine.
1. Norway Historical Society Museum
Though it’s not old by historical society standards, The Norway Historical Society makes up with content and convenience for what it lacks in age.
Founded in 1974, it has been focused on preserving the area’s history and the many significant contributions made by local citizens along the way.
The museum is located near the intersection of Main and Whitman Streets in the historic downtown area and is open to the public year-round.
There’s never an admission charge, and for those traveling with a group, tours are available – but you’ll need to call them in advance and let them know when you’re coming.
2. Roberts Farm Preserve
Featuring more than 10 kilometers of multi-use trails winding their way through some of the area’s most scenic foothills, the Roberts Farm Preserve is a year-round recreation hotspot that’s not too far from town.
Beautiful views of nearby Norway Lake are visible from some of the elevated trails. The more than 150 acres of land within the preserve is home to a variety of animals; if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a few of them, particularly during the low-light morning and evening hours.
The preserve is free to visit, and dogs are allowed, but they must be kept on a leash at all times.
3. Hidden Brook Farm
So much more than a farm, Hidden Brook Farms offers so many amenities that’s it’s hard to put a label on it; but one thing’s for sure – they’re all about horses.
For those that own their own horse or horses, Hidden Brook offers boarding services. For those less familiar with these impressive animals, they offer riding lessons that run the gamut from absolute beginner to seasoned veteran.
Their beautiful facility has been open since 1989 and is set amongst some of the state’s most scenic rolling foothills, forests, and pastures.
4. Ordway Grove
Ordway Grove claims to be home to the tallest tree in the state of Maine – an eastern white pine.
For those not too familiar with Maine symbolism, the eastern white pine is the state’s official tree and is featured on the flag. The grove’s undisputed champion is more than 150 feet tall and estimated to be nearly 300-years-old.
The grove is comprised of nearly 10 acres, much of which lies on the eastern shore of Lake Pennesseewassee. It’s free to visit anytime, though the entrance on Pleasant Street is easy to miss, so ask a local for directions.
5. White Mountain National Forest
For more than a century, the White Mountain National Forest has been one of the most extensive tracts of protected land in New England; it’s also one of the most popular destination areas, especially during the spring, summer, and early fall months.
For lovers of autumn interested in seeing the famous New England trees don their vibrant fall colors, there’s no better place to do it.
The national forest includes a myriad of trails and picturesque waterfalls and is a hotspot for bird-watchers, fishermen, and mountain bikers.
The park is comprised of more than 800,000 acres and spans the border between Maine and New Hampshire.
6. Norway Country Club
Located on Waterford Road in Norway, the Norway Country Club is a nine-hole course that covers nearly 3,000 yards and is a par 35.
Though it’s not the longest, it’s one of the most scenic in the vicinity and is appropriate for golfers of nearly all ages and skill levels.
The course provides scenic views of the White Mountains and has plenty of treed areas that add to the beauty and challenge.
The course features a clubhouse, pro-shop, and restaurant. It can get busy during peak season, so plan on arriving early if that’s when you’ll be playing.
7. McLaughlin Garden and Homestead
In the mid-1930s, a man named Bernard McLaughlin envisioned a relatively humble garden that decades later would become one of the state’s most iconic.
The homestead’s buildings are more than a century old, and the gardens include a diverse variety of plants, trees, shrubs, and flowers that are particularly beautiful during spring.
The homestead is located on Main Street in nearby South Paris and is a fitting tribute to the man who spent much of his life tending the garden.
The site is always free to visit, though donations are welcome. Remember that their hours are seasonal, so check their website before making a special trip.
8. Frost Farm Gallery
Norway’s Frost Farm Gallery is one of Oxford County’s most popular destinations for those interested in learning about the area’s artistic past.
With its striking natural beauty stretching from the Atlantic coast in the east to the forested mountains and lakes in the west, Maine has been inspiring artists, poets, and authors for decades.
Located inside an old farmstead building dating back to the late 1700s, Frost Farm Gallery is home to an eclectic collection of original prints.
The items on display are truly one of a kind. For those who have a print or drawing that needs framing or restoration, those services are available as well.
9. Fare Share Co-Op Store
Located on Main Street in Norway, the Fare Share Co-Op store has an interesting take on the grocery business that’s become very popular with local shoppers.
The co-op has been around since 1978. Unlike its competitors, it allows shoppers to take a small ownership stake.
The store has some products you’ll find elsewhere, but they also carry a variety of unique products, many of which are organically grown and produced locally, which often reduces overall costs.
With the co-op model, more of the money you spend stays in the community.
10. Celebration Barn Theater
South Paris’ Celebration Barn Theater has been drawing performers from around the world to Maine since its founding in the early ’70s.
The barn’s goal is to teach and inspire a new generation of performers to reach their maximum potential, thereby preserving their art for generations to come.
For nearly five decades, the barn has been offering productions to the public as well as workshops, internships, and residencies for those interested in totally immersing themselves in their craft.
Previous guests have noted that the barn’s shows far exceeded their expectations, and tickets often go quickly, so by yours early if possible.
11. X Vault Pub & Provisions
With so many fresh, seasonal ingredients produced locally, it’s no wonder that New England has experienced a food renaissance in recent years.
It’s considered one of the country’s centers for young chefs preparing traditional favorites with bold new twists.
X Vault Pub and Provisions is one such place which has gained quite a following in the few years that it’s been open.
Their menu includes plenty of options – from light to hearty fare. They even serve sushi a few nights a week and have a cocktail list that’s second to none.
The restaurant is located on Market Square and has a cozy but trendy atmosphere.
12. Camp Laurel
Located in Readfield, Maine, Camp Laurel has been the state’s most iconic and trusted summer camp provider for generations.
Many of the camp’s original guests now bring their own children for summer fun.
The camp’s programs focus on physical activity and emotional growth, and include a wide variety of exercises designed to educate, engage, and entertain – all while fostering camaraderie and a sense of teamwork.
The camp’s facilities are divided along age and gender lines and they offer a variety of program options of varying lengths. Take a look at their website to see what package is best for your little ones.
13. Annual Norway Winter and Snowshoe Festival
For much of its existence, the town of Norway was home to the majority of the country’s snowshoe manufacturers. For nearly a decade, the town has hosted a winter festival that’s been steadily growing and attracting a loyal following.
Taking place over two days in February, it includes a ton of family-friendly activities.
The festival includes arts and crafts, a variety of tasty food from local restaurants, and live entertainment as well.
The two, five and ten-kilometer snowshoe races are a few of the most popular events, and there’s a Valentine’s Day dance and plenty of activities for the little ones as well.
14. The Norway Triathlon
Competing in a triathlon may not be for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that those in less than tip-top shape can’t enjoy the festivities as well.
The triathlon’s events take place around the town and nearby Lake Pennesseewassee in the state’s Oxford Hills area.
The Norway Triathlon takes place in July when the Maine weather is perfect. Like all triathlons, it includes running, swimming, and biking portions.
The goal of the event is largely to promote healthy lifestyles; it’s also a big economic driver for local businesses.
It’s a festive and exciting environment for participants and spectators alike, so swing by and take a look.