20 Reasons New England is Still Awesome in Winter
While many see the snow and cold as a complete hassle, others see it as a beautiful time of the year to cozy up to a fireplace, relax, watch the gorgeous falling snow, and take advantage of fewer crowds and plentiful winter recreation.
New England is one of the most gorgeous places in the country-year round, and even more spectacular during the winter season. During this time of the year, the area becomes a winter wonderland, offering a more relaxing, laid-back setting, with gorgeous snow covered parks and endless opportunities for every winter recreational sport imaginable.
1. The beaches are so quiet and beautiful
During the quieter winter season, the scenery at any given New England beach is so calm and peaceful. Enjoy feeling isolated in nature as you stroll the shores without a soul in sight. A winter day on the beach takes on a completely different tone from the busy summer season. While the obvious drawback is the cold temperatures, you will find the secluded natural landscapes perfect for photography. Also this is a great time for collecting seashells/seaglass and enjoying a beautiful sunrise all to yourself. As an added benefit, parking is typically free during the winter months!
2. The wildlife refuges are strikingly beautiful, especially when blanketed with a layer of fresh snow
With not a single hiker in sight, taking a peaceful stroll at any one of New England’s many woodsy wildlife refuges is the ultimate outdoor winter recreational activity. Get in some fresh healthy exercise, enjoy the serene woods, and be on the lookout for increased wildlife sightings.
3. Ice rinks open for the season!
You will find no shortage of seasonal ice rinks, which typically open up in late November- early December. Boston’s Frog Pond and Providence’s Kennedy Plaza both offer a spectacular city backdrop for this fun winter activity, while Nestlenook Farms in the White Mountains of New Hampshire offers one of the most picture perfect (think snow-globe) like settings in the country. Whether you are looking for a big city skating experience, or a quaint skating session in a woodsy mountain setting, New England has you covered. No need for indoor skating here!
4. Snowshoeing is a blast!
When there is enough snow on the ground, it’s time to get out your snowshoes (or rent a pair) and set out on any of the gorgeous trails populating the area. Myles Standish, located near Plymouth in Southeastern Massachusetts, is one of the most gorgeous, laid-back parks in the country. With over 13 miles of trails and a peaceful setting (no crowds ever), it’s the perfect place to get in some fresh winter exercise.
Snowshoeing is a fun way to get in a great cardio workout (it happens to be one of the top calorie burners). Who says you need to hibernate all winter just because it is cold? Snowshoeing is an easier (if you are new to the sport, you will find it is a pretty simple skill to learn) and cheaper alternative to a pricy day on the slopes.
5. It’s Patriots season!
Get your tickets to a game at beautiful Gillette stadium. There is nothing like freezing your butt off in New England while watching the area’s most beloved sports team. Not a football fan/can’t handle the thought of sitting out in the cold for 3 hours? Don’t worry – Celtics games are great fun too!
6. A ski resort is always within reach
You will find plenty of options for both cross country and downhill skiing in both Upper and Lower New England. Bretton Woods, located in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire, is one of the country’s largest Nordic centers. With 100km of snowshoeing and cross country skiing trails through pine forests, streams, and ponds, you’ll never run out of new and exciting options.
7. It’s the best time to explore Boston’s Freedom Trail
The Freedom Trail is deserted pretty much the entire winter season, thus enabling you to explore and photograph the wonderful historic landmarks without any crowds in the way. Take advantage of the benefits of a winter visit, namely enjoying the feeling of having the entire city to yourself! Not suffering in the hot, humid summer weather is another bonus, as the cooler, drier air is much more comfortable, especially with how much walking you will do! Keep in mind the entire trek is about 5 miles round-trip. Be sure to climb to the top of the Bunker Hill monument for amazing views of the city! It’s a tough 294 foot climb, but worth every step!
8. Strolling around Boston Common is so much more relaxing
Beautiful Boston Common, the country’s oldest park, is completely barren, yet still gorgeous during the icy, snowy winter months. The same goes for Boston Public Garden, located adjacent. No flowers, no leaves on the trees, no water…yet still somehow strikingly gorgeous. Take a quiet walk through the heart of the city surrounded by gorgeous architecture and be grateful you are not visiting during the overcrowded, humid summer months! From the park, you can easily access some of the city’s best restaurants, coffeehouses, and attractions. I recommend stopping at the iconic Gicaomo’s in the North End. It’s one of the best Italian restaurants.
9. It’s easier to find free parking in the cities, especially downtown Boston!
During the summer months, it can be very frustrating to find free street parking in the city. During the winter, when the tourists and college students are both gone, it’s a completely different story. With the insane cost of parking garages, I would say this makes a winter visit even more desirable. The same goes for Providence! Due to the cold, snowy climate, you will see a declining number of tourists as soon as the temps begin to drop.
10. Snow, Snow, & more snow!
Both the cities and small towns of New England look even more gorgeous after a winter storm. So, “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” When you combine quaint historical architecture with a snowy backdrop, the result is magical! What could be more perfect than a winter date exploring a charming historic New England city as the fluffy snow falls down around you?
11. Sleigh rides!
Upper New England provides the perfect wintry setting for a romantic sleigh ride. The Victorian inspired Nestlenook Farms offers a picturesque “snowglobe-like” setting for numerous winter activities including snowshoeing, ice skating, and sleigh rides. Grab a hot chocolate, wrap yourself in one of the cozy blankets, and enjoy your relaxing ride on a jingling Austrian sleigh around the property’s 65 acre Victorian estate.
Imagine yourself in a Hallmark Christmas movie as you enjoy a winter journey past the beautiful snowy grounds. Along the way, you will see skaters enjoying the massive Victorian rink, listen to the beautiful chime music in the background, and take in the panoramic views of the snow capped mountains. It’s a winter wonderland like no other place you’ve ever seen!
12. The covered bridges are even more amazing with snow in the backdrop!
Driving through a roadside covered bridge, like the beautiful one pictured above in Jackson, New Hampshire, really feels like a charming step back in time!
13. Cozy local coffee shops provide a relaxing escape from the cold
There is no better way to escape the bitter cold than watching the snow fall down while relaxing in front of a cozy fireplace with a good book and an even better cup of coffee. One local treat to check out is Somethin’s Brewin’ in charming Lakeville, Massachusetts. This laid-back local shop is housed in the historical Lakeville Library of 1912, and provides a quaint, quiet setting (love the wood floors, old fireplace, and walls lined with endless books) for a relaxing coffee break.
14. Charming coastal towns like Newport and Plymouth see a dramatic decrease in crowds
Stroll around these beautiful coastal towns at your own leisure, without the hot sun in your face and the need to barge through hefty crowds. A winter visit to one of New England’s charming coastal cities is an absolute must. Plymouth and Newport are 2 of my favorites as they both offer an abundance of year-round activities and events, excellent restaurants (including a few waterfront options), and great views of the coast. Admire the architecture, take in the calm winter water views, enjoy a winter walk at a local preserve, stroll art galleries, visit museums, stop for a steaming cup of coffee tea, or try out a great local restaurant.
15. There are plenty of fantastic indoor winter attractions to keep you busy
Even if you prefer not to step out into the bitter cold, you will still be pleased with the many indoor offerings. For starters, Boston is home to the New England Aquarium, The Museum of Fine Arts, and many unique historical museums. In Worcester, you must check out the Worcester Art Museum. In Providence, check out the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art and in Newport the historic Jane Pickens Theater.
The Mohegan Sun provides endless opportunities for indoor fun including several fantastic restaurants (check out Todd English’s Tuscany), a classy shopping area, live entertainment, and much more. In Fall River, you must take a tour of the haunted Lizzie Borden House. As you can see there are endless museums to explore and historical sites to check out, so add a few of the listed attractions to your itinerary, as well a few more unique treasures of your own!
16. Looking for seaglass is so much easier on a deserted beach
Put on your winter gear and head out to any beach known for having a lot of seaglass (most will be completely deserted) in search of these colorful gems: spectacular natural made treasures which sparkle in the sun. It’s amazing that former pieces of broken glass have turned into amazing frosty gems via the hands of nature. Scusset State Beach (pictured above) is a great Southeastern Massachusetts choice. Jamestown Island, Gloucester, Plymouth, and Teddy’s Beach (Portsmouth, RI) are other prime shelling destinations. Tip: the best finds always wash ashore after a major storm!
17. It’s the best time of the year to a book a stay at an inn
Cozying up to a warm fire, sipping hot chocolate while taking in mountain views, relaxing in a steaming hot tub, and waking up to a hot home-cooked breakfast – all the traditional inn activities – are so much better during the cold winter months. There’s no denying New England is home to some of the best inns in the country.
One of these great inns is Bear Mountain Lodge, a quaint bed and breakfast in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This charming property, complete with floor-to-ceiling views of the stunning snow capped White Mountains, provides endless opportunities for winter fun including a year-round hot tub to soak in the mountain views, on-site snowshoeing trails with complimentary snowshoe use, and snowmobile trails.
18. Off season hotel rates!
Many magnificent, normally super expensive coastal areas and fancy city hotels, offer lower rates due to the drop in tourist numbers. You’ll score big deals during the non-prime season to summer hotspots like Cape Cod and Newport. Check Groupon frequently, as well as the property’s website, to stay updated on special deals. If you are willing to travel this time of the year (or take a nice staycation if you are lucky enough to already live in the New England area), then you’ll soak in the benefits of incredibly cheap rates.
19. Italian food never tasted so good!
Enjoying a nice Italian dinner in the city is the perfect winter date activity. You can’t beat some great Italian comfort food on a cold winter’s day. New England has its’ share of fantastic authentic Italian restaurants. Boston’s North End neighborhood and Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood are 2 of your best bets. These areas offer dozens of choices – try out the Pumpkin Tortellini at Boston’s Giacomos restaurant: it’s quite possibly the best Italian dish I have ever ordered!
20. The variety of holiday events and attractions is astonishing
Every area in New England, from big cities like Boston to quaint coastal towns, all have their own unique holiday traditions. Downtown Boston looks amazing this time of year with lights on all the trees, a beautiful skating rink, and a towering Christmas tree. Special theater productions, events, and festivals are always on the lineup.
Here’s a few to start you out: Zoo Lights at Zoo New England, La Salette Shrine Lights Festival in Attelboro, MA, Cape Cod’s Victorian Christmas, special holiday concerts and plays (Boston’s The Nutcracker Ballet, The Newport Nutcracker at Rosecliff), and the beloved annual holiday tradition of “Enchanted Village” at all Jordan’s Furniture stores. No matter where you are, you will find some special lighting ceremony, holiday celebration, or event to get you into the holiday spirit. Add in the chance of snow and typically brisk, overcast weather, and the feeling of Christmas is definitely in the air!