New England Winter Fun: 17 Ways
Click here to listen to Mel Allen talk with the “Frugal Yankee” on having fun in winter, not just surviving, but thriving — from going to winter carnivals to building your own igloo.
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; montshire.org
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
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.
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.
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; nha.org Skywalk Observatory, 617-859-0648; topofthehub.net
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; icelandichorses.com
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
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; icefishingderby.com 877-655-2530, 207-655-2530; sebagolakeregion.com