My favorite things to do in Winter in New England

For a lot of us, winter in New England is something to endure. It’s something to get through. It’s something to survive.

Such was my mentality for most of my adult life. Parenting in New England changed that for me. There is no enduring quietly indoors when you have young kids. If it’s above 30 degrees, it’s a beautiful day in New England. Outside we go, after the 25-minute process of dressing.

The thing is, I learned I actually didn’t hate winter in New England all that much, after all. While traipsing around the yard pulling a toddler on a sled at dusk, or even just hanging out at playgrounds during the pandemic, I realized how absolutely better I felt after an hour or two outside in the fresh air. It’s not just children who truly need the outdoors: it’s all of us. And New England is totally enchanting and smells FANTASTIC in the fresh winter air. I highly recommend a cold-weather trip here, waiting until summer is unnecessary!

Any kind of walk in the woods

Extensive trail networks abound. Along the coast; through the mountains and the many river valleys. The forest under snow is just magic. It’s healing. Recently, I took a short hike with my family in Central Massachusetts in January, and because it’s been a mild winter, the river in these woods was rushing even after a new snowfall. The wetland ponds hadn’t frozen but they were frosty. I loved it.

A visit to Northern Vermont

My parents were brave souls to take three teenagers to Northern Vermont in the dead of winter one year when I was probably 14. I acted mad to be missing a weekend with my new boyfriend but I loved watching the mountains and hills covered in snow from inside the minivan while listening to Jewel on my walkman. I would LOVE to do this again sometime, but I guess without a walkman. The Northeast Kingdom is arguably Vermont’s most wild, unspoiled region, with a vibrant art scene. Fun fact: It is home to an elite ski training school at Burke Mountain in the remote mountain town of Burke, Vermont. I haven’t ever skied there but I’ve spent plenty of summers and yes, winters, visiting that area. So much is there to love all year. Winter offers a very special, austere beauty. Kind of feels like Arendelle, for you Frozen fans.

Winter shopping in Portsmouth, N.H.

The harborside restaurants are so cozy at dusk in winter. (My favorite: Martingale Wharf) Walking the cobblestone streets in the snow was such fun for me in February 2022 when I snuck away with a couple of friends for 24 hours to eat, drink and shop. Cafes are everywhere. Shops with organic perfume, incense, and the kind of clothes I hope to wear when I am a crazy old lady never disappoint. Maybe favorite New England coastal city to visit for a breather.

Aquariums of New England

This may seem basic but I LOVE visiting aquariums in the colder months. It’s nice to see some tropical fish thriving and feel the humidity of the open air tanks. Kind of like a warm-weather vacation without plane tickets! Really, New England is home to some lovely aquariums with the New England Aquarium in Boston perhaps the most obvious. But I have really enjoyed the Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., and the smaller Living Shores Aquarium in Bartlett, N.H., as well. These are easier to access, and Living Shores is a nice pit stop before or after visiting the popular North Conway region, a major destination for skiers and shoppers during wintertime.

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