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Winter Fun | 17 Ways to Love Winter in New England

Winter Fun | 17 Ways to Love Winter in New England
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Winter in New England might be the season you look forward to all year, or it might be the season you endure, but no matter — we’ve got all of the tips, treats, and must-see places to make winter fun all season long. Grab your mittens and let’s go!

#1 Build An Igloo
Join Dr. Bert Yankielun, author of How to Build an Igloo (W. W. Norton, 2007; $15.95), at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont, on February 14 and try your hand at constructing your own simple-yet-elegant “snow shelter” block by block. Then bask in the greenish-blue glow under the dome — the perfect way to warm up to winter. 10 tips for building an igloo. 802-649-2200;

#2 Sample Mo’s Splendid Spuds
Mo’s Midtown in Hartford, Connecticut, serves its potato pancakes four to a plate, with the requisite applesauce and sour cream on the side. Going there for breakfast? Try the giant, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, so big they barely fit on Mo’s oversized plates, with a side of the diner’s famous hash browns. 25 Whitney St., Hartford, CT; 860-236-7741

Sugar on Snow
#3 Sugar on Snow

#3 Sugar on Snow
Collect fresh, clean snow (snow clinging to pine trees adds some flavor) and pack it into a pail or bowl. Leave it outside while you boil one or more cups of pure maple syrup for six or seven minutes, stirring often. (To make it thicker, add a quarter-cup, or half a stick, of butter per cup of syrup.) Pour the syrup over the snow and eat up–the perfect winter treat.

#4 Winterproof Your Wardrobe
Are your boot treads slipping over the ice and snow? Use a utility knife to cut some V-shaped marks across the soles and heels, about an inch apart, to give yourself more traction. Do you have to work outside and can’t wear gloves or mittens? Rub baby oil on your hands to keep the cold out; it works for your face and neck, too. Before shoveling or starting a snowball fight, cut thumb and finger holes in a pair of tube socks and slide them on under your jacket and gloves to keep snow and ice from sneaking into the bare gap near your wrists.

#5 Great Views
The clear winter sky makes this the best time to visit some of New England’s tallest buildings. Check out the outdoor observation deck atop Nantucket’s Whaling Museum, where you can see all of the harbor and stunning views of the island. (Call ahead for winter hours.) In Boston, the Prudential Tower’s 50th-floor Skywalk Observatory is home to the highest observation deck in New England, where you can see up to 80 miles in any direction. Nantucket Whaling Museum, 508-228-1894; Skywalk Observatory, 617-859-0648;

#6 Pony Up
The Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm, in North Fayston, the heart of the Green Mountains, is an ideal and unusual winter getaway. Easy to ride, this shaggy Far North breed is known for its good nature and small stature. The farm offers daytime trail rides in winter by reservation (as well as two- to six-day inn-to-inn treks during May-November). Stay at the farm’s Mad River Inn or book your own accommodations nearby. 802-496-7141;

#7 The best Chicken Pie You’ve Ever Tasted
Is there any better winter food? Dottie’s Diner in Woodbury, Connecticut, keeps the recipe simple and traditional: a light, savory crust filled with both white and dark meat plus gravy, with peas and carrots either on the side or packed into the crust. Either way makes for a great dish to warm up with. For dessert, don’t miss the homemade cake donuts. 740 Main St. South, Woodbury, CT; 203-263-2516

#8 Get Hooked
Togue (lake trout) ice fishing is big in Maine all winter. Sebago Lake’s DerbyFest, February 20-22 this year, kicks off with a free kids’ event, introducing youngsters up to age 12 to the joys of this winter pastime. The rest of the weekend is devoted to the adult competition, with prizes ranging from gift certificates to a $30,000 Chevy pickup truck. 888-423-3524; 877-655-2530, 207-655-2530;

#9 Dartmouth Winter Carnival
Join in a weekend of seasonal fun–February 12-16 this year–at the oldest collegiate winter festival, held annually on campus in Hanover, New Hampshire. Since the carnival’s birth in 1910, it has focused on celebrating winter, snow, and outdoor sports. Events include ski competitions, a human dogsled race, jazz and a cappella concerts, a polar bear swim, dances, and a screening of the 1939 movie Winter Carnival, a romance set at Dartmouth. Each year students build a large snow sculpture on the college green, too. What better way to get into the spirit of winter recreation? 603-646-3399;

#7 Chicken Pie #7 Chicken Pie

#10 Make the Perfect Cup of Hot Chocolate
For rich flavor and a frothy top, always use full-fat milk (this is no time to worry about your diet). Use just shy of an ounce (about a third of a cup) of finely chopped chocolate per cup of milk. The cocao content is up to you: One in the 60 percent range will make a rich, silky hot chocolate, whereas a slightly lower percentage will make a sweeter drink. To flavor it, add cinnamon, vanilla, chili powder, raspberry sauce, or peppermint. For an extra kick, throw in a splash of Baileys or a flavored liqueur. Flake some chocolate on top to make it look professional, or add a raspberry, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and so on. Use soft marshmallows because they melt better; the small ones are best, but the big ones are still great for dipping. And don’t forget the whipped cream on top!

#11 Make Like Hans Brinker
Fairlee, Vermont’s Lake Morey is home to the longest natural ice-skating trail in the country. This breathtaking two-mile-long track is protected from harsh winds by the deeply forested hillsides around it. The four-mile loop trail, generally frozen solid from December to April, hosts several seasonal events, including the Lake Morey Skate-athon (January 10 this year), Lake Morey WinterFest (January 11), and a series of Nordic skating workshops (January 17-18). Or just come for a quiet day of skating with family or friends. Relax and enjoy the panoramic views of Vermont’s snow-covered mountainsides and cliffs. 802-649-3939; 802-333-3405;

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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Updated Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

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2 Responses to Winter Fun | 17 Ways to Love Winter in New England

  1. Mrs S Russo January 6, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    You missed a great family event in Stowe,VT on March 7th. Relay For Life NordicStyle being held at the Trapp Family Ski Touring Center. The “only” NordicStyle Relay in the country,this Relay has all the elements of a summer Relay, but is done on cross country skis, snowshoes or in winter boots on the oval or on the beautiful cross country trails of the lodge. For more information on particpating as a team, joining a team or being part of that very special group of cancer survivors, and being part of this historical Relay, go to Hope to see you there as we work towards a cancer free society….

  2. Allen Hawthorne April 27, 2009 at 8:59 am #

    There’s more to the traditional “sugar on snow” treat: alternate spoonfuls of the chewy, syrup-sweetened snow with small bites of a dill pickle spear and occasionally cleanse the palate with a bite of ordinary cake donut.

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