What to do in New England This Winter

Maybe exploring New England in the wintertime isn’t the wisest decision, especially considering I’m from Texas and I don’t know how to drive in snow. The winter months offer some unique opportunities that make it worthwhile to visit this time of year. My bucket list is all about trying new things, so winter in New England, here I come.

Burlington, Vermont

I hear Vermont has great summers, but Burlington, Vermont, evokes images in me of snowy winter all year round. I picture kids and dogs frolicking the hills in knee-high snow, traipsing across rivers and valleys, making smoke rings with their winter breaths. Burlington is the quintessential old-world small town. Even in 2015, the one-road main street is still the center of town and hosts events frequented by tourists and locals alike. The final scene of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” comes to mind, with the Whos of Whoville standing in the town center singing in unison. Besides the usual Christmas-themed celebrations, the town holds on to the last of the festive winter with the annual Winter Lights Event on Church Street. Located in downtown Burlington, the extravaganza features light installations and canopies that cover the streets, buildings, and trees. The event runs over a weekend in early February.

BurlingtonImage provided by David Kim via Trover.com

New Haven, Connecticut

I have spent a lot of time in Connecticut. I have family there. When I was young, a family friend strongly encouraged me to consider Yale University to further my education. I was 6. If he had mentioned that I would have access to the historic and fairytale storybook mansions of Hillhouse Avenue, I might have considered it. I had no clue about the history in New Haven, Connecticut, until planning this trip. Charles Dickens and Mark Twain (one of my writing heroes) considered Hillhouse Avenue’s historic district to be the most beautiful street in America. From two of the most descriptive scribes in the world, you can’t find a more ringing endorsement. The section of mansions, built in the middle and late 1800s, is considered the first suburb in America. Yale University uses the ornate mansions as department buildings, and the oldest, Abigail Whelpey House, built in 1826, is a resident hall for Yale administrators. The street makes me wish I had studied more in high school, applied to Yale, and attended just to have unfettered access to these gorgeous historic homes that are a part of U.S. history.

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Image provided by Courtney Randolph via Trover.com

Newton, Massachusetts

If you’re not a cold weather person, then finding activities where you can escape the cold and have a good time is a must when traveling in New England in the winter. One of my favorite cold weather escapes is the local library. In Newton, Massachusetts, the local library may be a gothic cathedral-looking structure on the campus on Boston College. You can spend hours soaking in the ornate architecture of the John J. Burns Library. It looks like an 18th-century English cathedral. It’s a library that has its own blog. The library houses the archives of Boston College along with several collections of historical significance and makes my classic writer and historical writer fangirl insides go crazy. At present, the library houses an exhibit of text and contexts of the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Frederick Douglass.

NewtonImage provided by Christopher Skillman via Trover.com 

South Portland, Maine

I am not one of those people who only eat chili in the winter and salads in the summer. Food is food, but something about chowder in the wintertime warms my heart and my insides. New England is known for its lobster bakes and seafood grills, but there is nothing like a great chowder during a cold winter’s day. Any winter excursion has to end with a way to recover from all that cold. Gilbert’s Chowder House in South Portland, Maine is a must-stop. The thick, creamy chowder is full of flavor, and in a place where every restaurant has its own version, Gilbert’s chowder is tradition at its best. The clams are fresh. At Gilbert’s, they serve a generous portion, hot and satisfying with oyster crackers on the side. The price is reasonable, so you can enjoy the rest of their menu, too. Chowder is synonymous with New England anytime, but I agree it tasted best in the wintertime.

South PortlandImage provided by Jesse I. via Trover.com

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Budget Hacks: Traveling in New England Cheap


Budget Hacks: Traveling in New England Cheap

A new region on my USA bucket list is New England. I love history, and nature and shopping and this region hits on all of those or more.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

When I think of Cambridge, Massachusetts, my intimidated brain thinks of Harvard. I love Harvard and all the allure of the Crimson. You could spend a cool afternoon strolling the campus, soaking in all the knowledge from the historical buildings. Stand on the Harvard Bridge and experience the intellectual pull from the Ivy League college on one side and MIT on the other. When you’re done fantasies, check out one of the local college pubs for an inexpensive meal and a pint.


Photo provided by Sebastian Yepes via Trover.com

Mystic, Connecticut

Located on the Mystic River (Love that movie), Mystic, Connecticut is a historical seaport that get’s my maritime juice’s flowing. I love boats and being on the water. In Mystic, you can see how they navigated the waterways in the nineteenth century.  The town houses several nautical historical attractions like the Charles W. Morgan whale ship and the James Driggs Shipsmith Shop. Check out the last hour to the Museum of America and Sea for huge discounts or spend two days exploring the museum and get free admission on the second day.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Another seaport destination I have to hit is Bar Harbor, Maine. The residents of Bar Harbor have created an old world tranquil community that personifies the harmony between people and the environment. It is the destination for many local islanders who come to town for restaurants, taverns, and antique shops.

An attraction that will give you the sense of what this town is about is the Shore Path. Arrive early enough for the sunrise. Close by in Arcadia Park is Thunder Hole. This small inlet naturally carved out of the rock and allows you to witness the power of the ocean as the air and water create a unique thunder-clap.

Entry into the trails in Thunder Hole is free.


Photo provided by Susan Bryant via Trover.com

North Conway, New Hampshire

Located in the White Mountain National Forest, North Conway, New Hampshire boast all the outdoor activities you can think of from skiing, snowboarding, golfing, fishing, and camping, but I would be heading to Conway for some tax-free shopping. The Settlers Green Outlet Village is a shopping experience enjoyed by tourist and locals alike. It houses over 60 outlet stores from some of the trendiest brands. Depending on the time of the day, the Village holds several season inspiring activities and events for the family.

Warwick, Rhode Island

Are you tired of the water, yet? Warwick, Rhode Island has thirty-nine miles of shoreline. I would start my exploration of this former Native American outpost at Apponaug Four Corners. Known as the historical heart of the city, the intersection is a part of the Pequot Trail. A short distance away, explore the Apponaug Village.  Grab a copy of the Walking Tour of Historic Apponaug from the Department of tourism for free.

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