Downtown street in Woodstock, Vermont. Image credit Mystic Stock Photography via Shutterstock

7 Best Towns in New England for a Winter Getaway

New England comprises six states: Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut. They all held a lot of significance throughout the United States' founding during the 17th to 18th centuries, with a lot of that history showing today. These states are known for their cold winters and history, making them a great stop for anyone trying to get away from the more crowded cities in the northeast looking for a vacation. These towns spread throughout the states of New England, only showing a fraction of the fun and peaceful times waiting to be had throughout the region.

Woodstock, Vermont

Downtown street in Woodstock, Vermont
Downtown street in Woodstock, Vermont.

On their website, the town of Woodstock in Vermont says that they are "Serving Genuine Smiles to Every Visitor," which is perfect for anyone looking for a winter getaway. There are activities for both thrillseekers and people just wanting to relax during the colder months. For the adventurous, the Nordic & Snowshoe Adventure Center offers cross-country skiing, with lessons available for people just starting out. Surrounding these ski trails are an abundance of regular hiking trails for those who don't want to get their skis on. The streets of Woodstock get decorated during the holiday season, and its residents celebrate during "Wassail Weekend," where communities come together for cider and welcome the winter season. Plenty of lodging is available and accessible, like the Woodstocker B&B (short for bed-and-breakfast) and the Woodstock Inn & Resort. These Inns are right on the action and a great stay with adventure nearby.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Boothbay Harbor on Maine coastline.
Boothbay Harbor on Maine coastline.

Boothbay Harbor is a mid-coast town in the Gulf of Maine. While it attracts people year-round with boat tours, fishing, and other warm activities, Boothbay really shines after the snow falls. The town's botanical gardens are lit up, providing 14 acres of gardens to explore with more than 750,000 LED lights strewn throughout in an event called Gardens Aglow, occurring from late November until just before the new year. The local nature isn't the only part of town that's lit up, as the town's titular Boothbay Lights sparkle for several weeks, welcoming guests with gorgeous displays around the area. There are even parades like the Lighted Fire Truck Parade and the Lighted Boat Parade, which are holiday traditions. At the local Boothbay Railway Village Museum is the "North Pole Express," which takes guests to and from the North Pole alongside a meeting with Santa himself. Inns like Brown's Wharf or Linekin Bay are right on the water for excellent ocean views.

Essex, Connecticut

First Baptist Church in Essex, Connecticut. Image Credit: JG, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
First Baptist Church in Essex, Connecticut. Image Credit: JG, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the oldest still-running Inns is in Essex, Connecticut. It's called the Griswold Inn and has food alongside lodging that's been going since 1776! The town is right next to the Connecticut River, which is important to the people who live there. The Connecticut River Museum highlights its legacy throughout many centuries. A legacy railroad runs through the town, which is lit up during winter months and has tickets for special rides called Essex Steam Train. Essex is surrounded by tons of nature, with parks and nature preserves everywhere. There's the Canfield Woods Nature Preserve, Meadow Woods, Turtle Creek, Viney Hill Brook Park, Falls River Preserve, and the Bushy Hill Nature Preserve all in town! These parks have plenty of trails to explore, with winter walks and hikes proving especially beautiful. Turtle Creek, in particular, is right on the river and is great for bird-watching throughout all months.

Marlow, New Hampshire

new england autumnscape
New England autumnscape.

Calling Marlow, New Hampshire, picturesque would be an understatement, as the town's center has been photographed and painted many times over. What makes it so stunning is the white color of the constructed buildings around that area, like the Methodist Church, Town Hall, and Odd Fellows Hall. As the snow falls, the landscape blends in with the buildings, making the whole area a popular attraction for photographers and painters. In town is the Kinson State Wildlife Management Area, which is home to many different animal species like deer, turkey, and moose. The Ashuelot River runs through the park, making it a great fishing spot. Several spots in and around the area provide miles worth of views waiting to be found. The nearby Bald Hill has trails leading up to it, like the Gage Trail and the Elisabeth B. McIntire Trail. Lodging can be tricky, though, as nearby inns, like the Brook Road Inn, are miles away. 

Rockport, Maine

Rockport, Maine in a well-protected harbor just west of North Haven Island on Penobscot Bay
Rockport, Maine, in a well-protected harbor just west of North Haven Island on Penobscot Bay

The town of Rockport in Maine is known as an "art colony" because of its local connection with arts and culture. It's a coastal town, so it's right on the water and has nice beaches like Goodie's Beach, which, while cold, offers great serenity and calm during winter. Some of the more artsy locations include the Ralston Gallery and Michael Good Gallery, which display Peter Ralson's photography work and Michael Good's hand-crafted jewelry, respectively. Rockport has parks like Marine Park, where people come in and sit on the benches, taking in views. Marine Park's greatest attraction is a granite statue of Andre the Seal, who was raised by a local resident before passing away in 1986. Also in the park is a replica locomotive used to transport lime back when lime production was prosperous in the area. One of the other parks is Walker Park, which is nice for families to walk through. There are rocks that children can climb, but be careful after snowfall as they can be slippery. Lodging is quite easy, with The County Inn and Starlight Lodge being right in town.

Kent, Connecticut

The main waterfall at Kent Falls State Park in Kent, Connecticut, with fall foliage on the banks of Falls Brook.
The main waterfall at Kent Falls State Park in Kent, Connecticut, with fall foliage on the banks of Falls Brook. 

The town of Kent is on the New York border and has special events during the holiday season. These events include a tree lighting at the town hall, a parade of lights that includes fire trucks, rescue vehicles, ambulances, and floats parading down the main street, a breakfast with Santa at St. Andrew's Parish House, and more! Crossing the Housatonic River is Bull's Bridge, which is one of the few remaining covered bridges in the state. A few parks are in Kent, with the Macedonia Brook State Park and Kent Falls State Park being the most popular. Macedonia Brook has extensive trails like the Blue Trail, where people can get incredible views of both the Taconic and Catskill Mountains. Kent Falls has views of 17 different waterfalls lining the park, which all empty into the Housatonic River. Some of these falls freeze during the winter, making them frozen in time providing a very calm and serene experience. Hotels like The Victorian invite guests to stay in their town, with cozy interiors for an unforgettable experience.

Wickford, Rhode Island

Street view in Wickford, Rhode Island, displaying old houses and historic charm. Image credit Swampyank via Wikipedia.
Street view in Wickford, Rhode Island, displaying old houses and historic charm. Image credit Swampyank via Wikipedia.

In North Kingstown, Rhode Island, is a historic village called Wickford. It's a small community, coming in at around 380 acres, but it has a good amount of personality packed in. During the winter, there is an assortment of events, starting with the Festival of Lights, where residents dress in vintage clothing and take to the streets, even with a horse and carriage running through town. The town has all sorts of lights and decorations around this time, with a tree-lighting ceremony in late November. There's an elf parade with hot cocoa and cookies, so the festivity never falls short. People looking to get outside will enjoy the streets lined with decorations and light snow alongside colonial buildings and a view of the bay. Local lodging includes the Hampton Inn in South Kingstown and The Break Hotel in Narragansett. The village even has a Facebook page called "I Love Wickford Village," with 15,000 followers, bringing the townspeople together throughout the year.

So many different options are available for anyone wanting to travel to the northeast United States. New England has a mix of cold weather and friendly communities, which is perfect for any winter lover. Many towns in the area are coastal, meaning people who want both snow and a view of the water are more than welcome to come and stay. From lights adjourning the streets to snow blanketing the ground, there's no shortage of snowy fun and relation to be had in New England.

  1. Home
  2. Places
  3. Cities
  4. 7 Best Towns in New England for a Winter Getaway

More in Places