New England: "More than Changing Leaves and Blizzards"

Okay, yeah. There are changing leaves in late fall, blizzards in winter, and Nor’easters in early spring. Why is it that when people say they love “seasons,” they are really only talking about fall? We don’t know, but we’re here to break down barriers and shake up the status quo. There’s more to New England than its cold months and colder people. So voilà! Here’s your year-round guide to the region known for its Thanksgiving dinners and over-educated Ivy Leaguers in their oh-so-snooty scarfs.

First, let’s get one thing straight: New England does not include New York. New York City was once New Amsterdam and the Hudson Valley was New Netherland. And if there are two things we don’t like, it’s people who are intolerant of other peoples’ cultures, and the Dutch (Austin Powers, anyone?). We kid, but for our purposes here we’re excluding New Yorkers in favor of the true Patriots—they really need a pick-me-up after this year’s Super Bowl.  We are providing our seasonal travel guide in reverse alphabetical order, so you have to read the whole thing to get to that privileged, stereotypically red, brown and crispy quarter of the year.

Winter (known locally as “hockey season”). As we make our way through the most bundled-up time of year, you will begin to eat your feelings, since you won’t have any in your extremities. Skiing and boarding are what Vermont is made for, and you feel like playing hooky, their midweek pass (Valid M-F. $429 except Dec 24-31 and Feb 18-22) is a steal while the powder is falling. To warm yourself up afterward, head to Burlington for the quirky Magic Hat Brewery tour (Free. Tours every hour M-F 3-5pm; Sa 1-5pm). Their dark beers are particularly ful-filling, so we hope you don’t mind the heavy Dark IPA on Tour.

Summer. To make up for those days and nights huddled by the fire taking shots of maple syrup to the face (cheers to you, Vermont) it’s time to get out. In keeping with our theme, our first recommendation is the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. Situated on the Appalachian Trail, this tallest mountain in New England doesn’t even need to be hiked to get to the summit (you can, but you’d miss out on the US’s oldest coal-powered cog railway ride). Going any time other than summer is a frigidly dangerous proposition. After the mountains of New Hampshire, you’ll be ready to go to the sea: your best bets, in our opinion, are Boston Harbor and Martha’s Vineyard. In the harbor, you can set off in a high-speed catamaran for whale and dolphin watching. The tour lasts three hours (seriously, Gilligan) with Boston Harbor Cruises ($45, $35 under 12 years old; www.bostonharborcruises.com) and guarantees whales. If that guarantee fails, you get a free ticket for another trip. Next head to Edgartown on the Vineyard for a close up look at Amity Island, where Jaws was filmed. Lucky for you, the only sharks you have to worry about here are the ones on their summer vacations from Wall Street. Take in the pastel colors and quaint beach strolls here and make sure to pick up a pair of Sperry Top Siders to fit in.

Spring. Not to neglect the smallest state in New England (and in the Union), we make special mention of Rhode Island for its particular addition to carnivals and tri-county fairs everywhere: the carousel. What makes for a better celebration of the school’s-almost-out season than a ride on Crescent Carousel Park’s Looff Carousel, designed in 1895? If life tends to be moving too fast for you on the children’s roundabout machine, try slowing things down with a traditional snail salad, a Rhode Island mix of snails and sea food. Take that, France! In addition, if you were wondering how we got this far without mentioning clams, here’s why: in Rhode Island you can savor the local clam cake, a deep-fried dough with clam bits cooked inside.

Fall. You’ve waited, and we are so glad you did. While we do love stuffing ourselves with turkey and cranberries, imbibing fall flavors is what makes your date more attractive. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, you can try a pumpkin spice martini after your tour of the leaves in Harvard Square. If you were looking for a second drink and thinking about an apple-tini, why not enjoy the last few tolerably crisp days and head out to pick apples yourself, instead? Www.mass.gov provides a list of apple orchards that will be more than happy to have you come frolic among their trees and pick a bag full of the freshest apples your few dollars can buy.

So there you have it: the clams, the apples, the hiking and pastels that characterize New England from Newport, Rhode Island, to the Canadian border. We apologize if this list seems rushed, but it’s hard to characterize an entire region in so few words. You want a trip to the Vineyard in spring instead of summer? Sure. Say you want clam chowder in summer? Go for it. However, we do challenge you to find some good skiing in August. If you can, you’ve got us beat.

 ~Taylor Nickel, Let’s Go Staff Writer

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