This winter is lingering! Pretty much every Boston resident is counting down the days until they can break out the flip flops and tee shirts (although for many, 50 degrees is reason enough to wear both of these items). But there’s still time left to soak up all of the activities and moments that make winter/spring transition in New England uniquely special, and what better way to experience those moments than a weekend spent within two hours of Boston? Check out a few of my favorite places to get away and leave the city life behind, if only for 72 hours.
Being a Berkshire native, I can never help but notice how many people in the Boston area think that Western Massachusetts ends at Springfield. Fortunately, the state continues for about another sixty miles, and through some truly beautiful Berkshire countryside. If the outdoors are your thing, check out Jiminy Peak, Bousquet, or Butternut for some great skiing, or snowshoe your way to the top of Mount Greylock for spectacular views from the summit. Prefer to stay in? Visit any number of top museums, from Mass MoCA in North Adams to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. There’s also amazing (and I do mean amazing) places to eat, including The Old Forge for award-winning wings, Trattoria Rustica for authentic Italian cuisine, or No. Six Depot for coffee, brunch-y foods, panini, and salads. Check into one of the million quaint New England bed and breakfasts, and let the Berkshires slow you down a bit.
I have a mild obsession with small coastal New England towns in the wintertime. There’s just something magical about the cold air from the ocean, and more specifically, getting out of it and into a cozy bar or cafe. As a town with the highest number of microbreweries per capita, Portland is a haven for beer enthusiasts, or anyone with a general interest in good craft beer. Check out Novare Res for a crazy selection of local and international beers, or Liquid Riot for gourmet bar food in a funky warehouse setting. Portland can also boast a burgeoning paradise for foodies, from Eventide Oyster Company (try a lobster roll and die from ecstasy) to Duckfat, where everything is made with, well, duck fat. Portland also happens to be insanely charming in the snow, so don’t let winter keep you from this seaside gem.
Getaway House, NH
Feel like going off the grid for the weekend? Getaway has you covered. Only an hour and a half from Boston by car, tucked away in the forest of southern New Hampshire, Getaway features micro cabins for two or four people spread out across 40 acres of land. Each cabin includes campy extras like a fire pit, and basic food provisions like s’mores fixings, pasta, snacks, and pour-over coffee. You can even bring your canine companion along for the journey. If unplugging from the world and Henry David Thoreau-ing it through your weekend sounds good (albeit with a few more luxuries), check out Getaway House. getaway.House.com.
Brattleboro is a rather unsung little town, in my opinion. With just enough diversions to fill the days and nights of a long weekend, Brattleboro and the surrounding bucolic Vermont countryside begs for a visit. Located within 40 minutes of four mountains, downhill and cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and ice skating are all within reach. Imbibe in Brattleboro proper at Hermit Thrush Brewery, specializing in American sours, or Saxtons River Distillery. Twice Upon A Time Vintage boasts some diverse antiques and thrifty wares, and Mocha Joe’s makes a killer maple latte. And how can I wax poetic on any town in Vermont without once mentioning cheese? Grafton Village on Linden Street is a virtual cheese haven, where you can take tours, watch the cheese being made, and of course, buy all the cheese you could ever want.
Another one of my favorite seaside towns in any season, Newport during the winter is nothing short of wonderful. As a town that normally jam packed during the summer months, Newport can, at first glace, seem a bit sleepy, but trust me, there’s a lot going on. Most shops and restaurants stay open even during the offseason, and there are some good ones. The Black Pearl is the coziest place to duck into to get out of the ocean wind, and right down Bannister’s Wharf is The Coffee Grinder, a tiny cafe that’s jam packed with pastries, sandwiches, and killer coffee. After you explore one of Newport’s infamous Gilded Age mansions, grab dinner at Scales (amazing shrimp scampi), or the oldest running tavern in the United States, the White Horse. Post-dinner, head to Ryan Family Amusements for Skee-Ball or air hockey, or cocktails at the Clarke Cooke House. Ocean Drive is beautiful at any time of year, so definitely make sure to wind your way past the beautiful coastal homes on your way out of town.