One year, I spent Christmas in Florida. Palm trees and not a snowflake in sight. I walked around in a long sleeve shirt and shorts under the 50 degree, cloudless sky. It was nothing like the Christmas’ I’ve spent in New England.
And frankly, nothing like Christmas at all.
When I think of Christmas, I think of hot chocolate and winter wonderland. Here, in new England, the snow falls like clockwork, and the smell of fire seeps out of chimneys at every corner.
There are holiday markets in most cities and magnificently decorated homes on all the back roads. Christmas in New England is magical! And here are all the reasons why:
New England Clam Chowder
As it indicates in the name, New England Clam Chowder is a New England staple. You can find it on basically every menu, in every restaurant all year round. But around Christmas it is a shire delight!
Now I might be bias, but Noah’s in Stonington, Connecticut has the best clam chowder in all of New England. It’s thick, creamy, and chock-full tender clams and diced potatoes! They do, however, offer an optionthat strays from the traditional chowder, a clear version. But don’t worry, the creamy version is find right on the same menu. And crackers are provided!
Snowboarding (or Skiing) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire
Whether you reach it from Lincoln, Conway or Jefferson, each spot has its own magic. Ride the trains to the tops of the mountains, ski down Loon Mountain or snow-shoe at Nordic. White Mountain is a winter sport paradise!
You can easily make a trip to the White Mountains the perfect weekend gateway!
Jingle Bell Run in Freeport, Maine
Every year, around the first week in December, The Arthritis Foundation hosts a holiday themed 5k race! Lace a set of jingle bells into your shoe laces, and throw on your most festive holiday costume for the yearly run in Freeport, Maine. Unable to run, show up as a spectator! 100% of the proceeds go to this great cause.
While you’re in Freeport, be sure to check out the free horse drawn wagon rides, and visit Santa and the talking Christmas Tree! The Jingle Bell Run happens to fall right at the start of the Freeport Sparkle Celebration.
Christmas Tree Farms
One of the best things about New England… you get to walk up one cold morning to venture to a tree farm. Where you get to cut down your own Christmas tree! If you’ve never done it, it’s a must.
First, stop at a local cafe and pick yourself up a yummy latte, or a creamy cup of hot chocolate, and head to East Hampton, Connecticut. Where you will find the best Tree Farm in all New England (yes, bias!). Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree Farm!
I mean the name alone is a selling point! Here they have a great selectionof trees, from small three footers to big ole eight footers! And beautiful wreaths and ornaments. They also have hay wagon rides and a toasty log cabin! Charlie Brown’s is a one stop destination for all your Christmas necessities!
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the lights and decor strewn about. And the best place to see all ofit… the Newport Mansions!
Every year The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House fill with thousands of poinsettias, fresh flowers, evergreens and wreaths. The rooms echo with Christmas carols, and smell of pine as you glide past enormous trees, and silver antique china sets. It’s the most elegant Christmas you will ever see!
Winter Wassail Weekend – Woodstock, Vermont
,Another New England tradition! Each year around the first weekend of December, Woodstock, Vermont fills with twinkling lights, Santa hats, and the smell of Wassail. If you’reanything like me, you have no idea what Wassail is! Before attending this weekend myself, I had never heard of the hot mulled cider. But boy, I can tell you, I will never forget the taste! (yum!)
Spend the weekend walking through museums, and historical centers. And spend some quality time with Santa at breakfast. There iseven a parade (best viewed by the village green)! The festivities last all weekend, but whether you choose to make a day trip of it, or to stay all weekend, you’ll surly have a blast!
Lobster Pot Tree
This annual tradition is definitely like no other! All over New England you can find these unique lobster pot trees. The communities come together and use real lobster pots borrowed from local lobster men. They stack them tall, and put on a show as they light them the weekend after Thanksgiving!
Last year(2017), Julian Popko, the man behind that installation in Provincetown, Massachusetts, passed away. He and his family have kept this tradition going for nearly 13 years, decorating the tree-shaped sculpture with red bows, plastic lobsters and nearly 3,400 lights. It is a sight worth seeing, so if you’re ever in town near or around Christmas, stop by Lopes Square and see the magnificent lobster pot tree!
Gingerbread House Contest
For the last 28 years, Portsmouth, New Hampshire has hosted a contest for the best gingerbread house around. This sweet local tradition literally makes your mouth water as you step into Discover Portsmouth during the month of December! Free to the public, you can head on over anytime from the middle of November to just before Christmas to see these lovely creations.
Polar Express in Greenwich, Connecticut
The Railroad Museum of New England, or Thomaston Station, springs to life in the winter. Starting with the decor in the lobby, to the vintage Rutland with plush seating (train), this polar express is a ride like no other. Inside the vintage train enjoy the sights while sipping on (you guessed it) hot chocolate and singing Christmas carols with the elves! And be sure to talk off Santa’s ear as he says hello to all the patrons on the line.
Rides are Friday through Sunday starting November 25th. But it onlyruns until Christmas!
I’ve mentioned it a bunch of times, and if you don’t know, I love it! But Christmas would not be complete without the best hot chocolate in New England!
Now, I’ve tried a lot of hot chocolate in my thirty years on this planet, some were too rich, while others tasted similar tohot milk. But I assure you, I have tried at least one thousand cups! And with that, I feel confident saying, the best hot chocolate in New England award belongs to Flour Bakery, a mini-chain in Boston!
When you read the ingredients, you’ll be surprised to find chilepowder and a bit of cayenne listed. These ingredients don’t add the kick you’d expect though, but instead give you a genuine feeling of warmth. If you haven’t had it, try it! You have no idea what you’re missing!
I realize that, being from New England, my idea of the perfect Christmas is somewhat skewed. Some people are used to the palm trees, and enjoy swimming while Christmas music plays from the speaks in their backyard. But if you’ve ever watched a Christmas movie, you know that isn’t how Christmas is “suppose” to look! And with all these wonderful activities and tasty treats, who can argue with the magic of a New England Christmas!
What does your Christmas look like?