As the holiday season ramps up, New England remains a prime destination for touring. It’s worth the low temperatures to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal in Massachusetts or sip a cup of hot cider in New Hampshire.
Late fall along the Maine coast means clear air and few crowds. Take a drive to Ocean Point, at the tip of a peninsula director south of Damariscotta. See Lighthouses in the distance on the water and enjoy the brisk air. Afterward, head back to Damariscotta for a warm bowl of chowder and a tall brew. Motorists can also motor north to Acadia National Park and drive the Loop Road, which remains open through November.
Hunt for Seaglass on the Coast
To the south along the coast, Old Orchard Beach hosts the annual Celebration by the Sea: Holiday Scavenger Hunt. Participants record where they found holiday treasure and turn it in for prizes. For more treasure, bundle up and walk the beaches of Kennebunkport to the south for seashells and sea glass, which wash up on shore during this month. Also, in Kennebunkport, visitors can take an early winter walk in Wells Reserve at Laudholm, with seven miles of trails that lead through compelling forests and marshes.
Massachusetts’ Blackstone Valley, southeast of Boston, is packed with charming New England attractions. At the Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, visitors can bask in the festive lights of the Winter Wonderland & Festival of Illumination. Highlights include handcrafted Chinese lanterns as well as festive holiday displays. About 45 miles to the northeast lies Boston, where fine restaurants host special Thanksgiving Meals with all the trimmings. Enjoy the last days of fall color or strap on the skates and skim across the frozen water of Frog Pond.
See History at Old Sturbridge Village
In the Sturbridge Townships region of Massachusetts near the Connecticut border, old New England is lovingly preserved. Old Sturbridge Village consists of more than 40 historical buildings and 200 forested acres, with costumed historians, artisans and farmers demonstrating how the locals lived more than two centuries ago. Enjoy hearthside cooking and shop in the Village’s Holiday Market and Cafe for ornaments, beverages and sweet treats. Find that perfect centerpiece for Thanksgiving.
Manchester is a vibrant town that was once a city of industry. Fans of architecture can explore the Heather Street Wright Houses, a pair of masterpieces designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Zimmerman and Kalil houses embody Wright’s prairie style of architecture. Feeling playful? Boards and Brews is a Board Game Cafe with 1,600 games, from Age of War to Yahtzee. Elsewhere, the Currier Museum of Art collects and exhibits iconic works, including paintings from major impressionists and abstract masters like Piccaso.
Loving the Lakes Region
The cluster of lakes in the heart of New Hampshire gives travelers a host of options as the temperature drops. If you’re visiting while the autumn colors are still blazing, take a drive on the Kancamagus Highway. This 34.5-mile scenic drive along State Route 112 has been designed as an American Scenic Byway for its rich history and beauty. If you’ve arrived late enough for snowfall, enjoy downhill skiing on Gunstock Mountain Resort or walk through “Snowshoe Saunters Saturdays” at Prescott Farm.
Wander Through the White Mountains
As temperatures drop in the most rugged mountain range in New England, the holiday spirit heats up. If you’re not skiing or hiking through a winter wonderland, go on a Jingle Bell Chocolate Tour from late November to early December. Visitors also can visit Santa’s Village in Jefferson. Stock up on candy canes and drop into Santa’s home for some jolly fun.