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As Boston braces for colder weather – and revels in the World Series success of its beloved Red Sox – this small city with a big cultural pedigree offers plenty to see, and plenty of bargains. While a sunny stroll through the picturesque Public Garden might be out of the question, or at least an endeavor to be approached with caution and a really thick scarf, Boston’s indoor delights shine bright in winter. Here’s a sampling of winter activities in Boston, many of which cost twice as much in warmer months.
When the temperatures drop and the chill sets in, travel dreams often involve beaches and bathing suits. However, come winter time, there’s no reason why your perfect vacation can’t be to a cold-weather destination – in fact, there’s nothing better than cozying up by a roaring fire with a hot cocktail in hand and watching the snow fall from the comfortable indoors.
At these five warm and welcoming hotels, you can catch up on your much-needed R&R while doing nothing more than watching their glowing fires. Bonus: someone else gets to sweep out the ashes afterwards.
Forty 1° North, Newport, Rhode Island
While this seaside resort town is often thought of as a summer destination, winter is a great time to experience the charm of New England minus the crowds. At its chicest (and only LEED-certified) hotel, sitting directly on the water, each of the 28 rooms and suites has its own gas fireplace. Should you desire a reclusive retreat, you never have to leave the room. Simply lounge around in the bathrobe and slippers provided by the hotel, order one of their five signature spiked hot chocolates (dark chocolate raspberry, anyone?), and let the fire work its magic.
Winter predictably sees travelers heading to tropical islands for their vacations, but what about the cooler weather islands? There are a few advantages to heading someplace where you’ll be packing a sweater rather than a swimsuit: less crowds, better deals, and plenty of interesting things to do.
Here are a few of our favorite cold-weather island getaways.
Shetland Islands, Scotland
You’ll have to wrap up warm if you’re planning to visit Shetland in winter, but you may be rewarded with a sight of the Northern Lights; its far-north location makes it the best place in the British Isles to see them. Besides the aurora borealis, winter brings unique festivals, such as Up Helly Aa, a Viking fire festival held in Lerwick on the last weekend of January.
Food trucks are a perfect option for an on-the-go lunch during a visit to Boston, whether perusing shops in Harvard Square or exploring the Freedom Trail. Don’t be fooled by the low prices: food trucks in Boston may be perfect for a student budget, but they will also satisfy the most discerning palate. There are dozens of trucks in nearly every neighborhood, so I’ve narrowed down the list to the five hot spots most beloved by locals (and by me!). Read more
It’s that time of year again: the time when fresh-faced, idealistic college freshman descend upon the campuses of America. For the rest of us, whose college years are far behind us, there’s nothing like a trip to a college town to rekindle old memories. Whether you’re headed to a university town on vacation, or visiting a studious young friend or relative, these hotels let you enjoy the college atmosphere in a way that doesn’t involve dorms and frat parties. Read more
Why settle for a boring hotel room when you can stay somewhere that takes your trip to a whole new level? Though many Airbnb listings feature normal, furnished apartments and homes for short-term rental, there are also quite a few lighthouses, houseboats, and castles available around the globe – most with price tags that rival or beat the nearest hotel.
To find the most interesting places to stay, pick your city and then narrow down your search by “room types” like villas, tree houses, campers, or igloos (find these options on the left side of the screen). Once you’ve found somewhere that floats your boat (or is perhaps an actual boat), submit a reservation request through the “book it” button on the website.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve compiled a few of our favorite lodgings to jumpstart your imagination…
1. Vintage Houseboat, Amsterdam
This houseboat is located in a picturesque canal in central Amsterdam. For only 135 euro ($185) per night, you can’t go wrong, especially considering the sunny terrace for people and duck watching, a bottle of Prosecco waiting for you upon arrival, and the location within walking distance of most major museums. Read more
Forget mediocre fireworks displays and blasé barbecues. In these five unusually patriotic cities, Fourth of July festivities provide non-stop entertainment. From ax-throwing competitions in an Oregon timber town, to an annual “Pasties for Patriots” burlesque show in Austin, these places celebrate American independence like none other.
1. St. Pete Beach, FL: In this Tampa-area town, the local TradeWinds Resort dyes nearly 1,000 towels red, white, and blue to create a giant mosaic of the Betsy Ross flag on its beach. A small handful of the resort’s younger guests get in on the action, standing in place as the 13 stars on the original flag. Read more
Today, I learned about this incredible dining experience, and as a wanna-be-foodie, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. First thing I thought was: Leave it to Las Vegas to take something as simple as dinner and make it into a life-threatening, heart-dropping, stomach-churning experience. Enter: Dinner in the Sky. I poked around a little more into the phenomenon, and found that Sin City isn’t such an innovator, after all! The newest addition to Sin City’s roster of unique consumer experiences has actually debuted in a number of other cities and 40 countries around the world! This news sparked my curiosity: What are some of the other crazy dining experiences that I’ve never heard of? Here’s what I uncovered! Read more
Summer is the perfect time to pop the top on an ice cold beer. But, not just any beer will do. Warm weather lends itself to lighter, crisper brews, and these nine offerings fit the bill as some of the best summer beers. Enjoy at home, or better yet, include a brewery tour on your summer vacation itinerary. Read more
One of the best ways to get to know a place is through its public green spaces. Next time you’re traveling, pack a picnic and enjoy. Here are our picks for the best places to picnic in the U.S. this summer. Read more
Some people would have you believe that hiking is a 3-season activity. Assuming a concerned tone, they’ll warn you about frigid temperatures, park closures, and impassable trails. And, to a certain extent, they might be right. In the United States, winter is a season for skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Or gathering around a fireplace with a few friends and a mug of hot cocoa or mulled wine.
Hikers should know however, that they don’t have to put off their kind of fun until the spring thaw, even if the snowdrifts outside continue to grow. They simply need to pick up a new piece of gear: snowshoes. A basic pair will only cost a little more than the waterproof, Gore-Tex boots you probably already own. Once you’ve chosen your snowshoes, all you need to do next is dress in layers, pack plenty of snacks and water (and maybe a few hand warmer packets just in case), and select a trail. To get you started, here’s a short list of state parks in the Northeast with winter trails and on-site rental facilities. Read more
Boston is about as storied a city as they come in the United States, and if you’re looking to indulge in history, this is the place. If you’re shipped here on business, count yourself among the fortunate. It may be busy (and bitterly cold in the winter), but those who know where to turn can make a memory or two before calling it a week. In an effort to get you outside of the boardroom and into the wilds of Beantown, we’re offering up two restaurants, two attractions, and one bar that you can hit with just a few extra hours between meetings.
If you’re camped out inside the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, you may find yourself hankering for a pick-me-up. A legal one can be found just a few blocks inland at Sweet Tooth Boston. They’ll whip up a cake if you really need to leave a lasting impression on a client, but for quick pit stops, you’ll find some of the best cupcakes in New England.
If you find yourself hungry on a clear day, a quick jaunt to Sam’s overlooking the bay is well worth the walk. It’s a newer place located on the second floor of the Louis Boston, providing excellent harbor views and remarkably good food. As you might expect from an eatery with a water view, the prices are inflated somewhat, but not overly so. Read more
For most of the northeast, camping season ended weeks ago. The foliage is past its peak and as the end of the year creeps closer by the day, temperatures will continue to drop. Many seasonal adventure seekers have probably already put their hiking and camping gear into winter storage. What these people will be missing out on though, is the chance to experience a number of parks and wilderness areas across New York and New England in the off-season – no shivering required.
How is this possible? By staying at a rustic cabin or lodge maintained by the state or a non-profit. In the Pine Tree State, Maine Huts & Trails operates a 45-mile recreation corridor that includes three small, comfy “boutique hostels” (a fourth is due to open in late December) with hot showers, heated bunkhouses, kitchens, and dining rooms. Hike, ski, or snowshoe from hut to hut or choose Poplar, the hut closest to the town of Kingfield, for a shorter, easy-access trip. Sweeping views of Flagstaff Lake and the Bigelow Range are included at no additional charge. Read more
Across the country, fall is in full swing. Pumpkin beers crowd the shelves of bottle shops, trees have begun to shed their colorful leaves, and Halloween is two short weeks away. Which means that cold weather is already creeping south from the Canadian interior and the year’s first frost isn’t far off. Before winter arrives, make the most of October and plan a short road trip around two outdoor activities that are perfectly suited to autumn: hiking and pumpkin or apple picking.
Apple season is over for the handful of orchards between Boston and Providence, but plenty of pumpkins remain to be chosen and carved, and fresh-pressed cider is still available for thirsty pickers. C. N. Smith Farm in East Bridgewater, Mass. is one such place where you can buy a big orange gourd for the front porch. Purchase a ticket for a hayride and you’ll be carried out to a pumpkin field where acres of future jack-o’-lanterns are priced by the pound. On your way to C. N. Smith (or before making the return trip), stop at Blue Hills Reservation, a chain of 22 hills that aren’t particularly steep individually, but add up to a respectable hiking challenge when attempted in succession. Make the short climb to Eliot Tower from the Trailside Museum in Milton, or test your hiking mettle on the nine-mile Skyline Trail. Read more
Making sure the kids (and adults) are entertained while on a summer road trip can really make or break your vacation. The new book What’s Great About . . . I-95 by road trip expert Barbara Barnes offers a fun and educational way to pass the time while cruising down one of the U.S.’s most-traveled stretches of highway.
“It really does make [the ride] go faster,” says Barnes of the book. “It keeps the driver alert, and it makes the drive more fun.”
With sections broken down by state and points of interest designated by mile marker, Barnes maps out all 1,925 miles of I-95 from Houlton, Maine to Miami. The book highlights sights to look out for from the highway (like the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania and the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia) while providing little-known facts about notable people and places (The first woman to run for president? Victoria Woodhull, in 1872).
Now that you’ve got the car ride entertainment covered, we asked Barnes for her advice on planning the rest of your vacation. Here are five tips for the perfect I-95 road trip:
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