Maybe exploring New England in the wintertime isn't the wisest decision, especially considering I'm from Texas and I don't know how to drive in snow. The winter months offer some unique opportunities that make it worthwhile to visit this time of year. My bucket list is all about trying new things, so winter in New England, here I come. Burlington, Vermont I hear Vermont has great summers, but Burlington, Vermont, evokes images in me of snowy winter all year round. I picture kids and dogs frolicking the hills in knee-high snow, traipsing across rivers and valleys, making smoke rings with their winter breaths. Burlington is the quintessential old-world small town. Even in 2015, the one-road main street is still the center of town and hosts events frequented by tourists and locals alike. The final scene of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" comes to mind, with the Whos of Whoville standing in the town center singing in unison. Besides the usual Christmas-themed celebrations, the town holds on to the last of the festive winter with the annual Winter Lights Event on Church Street. Located in downtown Burlington, the extravaganza features light installations and canopies that cover the streets, buildings, and trees. The event runs over a weekend in early February. New Haven, Connecticut I have spent a lot of time in Connecticut. I have family there. When I was young, a family friend strongly encouraged me to consider Yale University to further my education. I was 6. If he had mentioned that I would have access to the historic and fairytale storybook mansions of Hillhouse Avenue, I might have considered it. I had no clue about the history in New Haven, Connecticut, until planning this trip. Charles Dickens and Mark Twain (one of my writing heroes) considered Hillhouse Avenue's historic district to be the most beautiful street in America. From two of the most descriptive scribes in the world, you can't find a more ringing endorsement. The section of mansions, built in the middle and late 1800s, is considered the first suburb in America. Yale University uses the ornate mansions as department buildings, and the oldest, Abigail Whelpey House, built in 1826, is a resident hall for Yale administrators. The street makes me wish I had studied more in high school, applied to Yale, and attended just to have unfettered access to these gorgeous historic homes that are a part of U.S. history. Newton, Massachusetts If you're not a cold weather person, then finding activities where you can escape the cold and have a good time is a must when traveling in New England in the winter. One of my favorite cold weather escapes is the local library. In Newton, Massachusetts, the local library may be a gothic cathedral-looking structure on the campus on Boston College. You can spend hours soaking in the ornate architecture of the John J. Burns Library. It looks like an 18th-century English cathedral. It's a library that has its own blog. The library houses the archives of Boston College along with several collections of historical significance and makes my classic writer and historical writer fangirl insides go crazy. At present, the library houses an exhibit of text and contexts of the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Frederick Douglass. South Portland, Maine I am not one of those people who only eat chili in the winter and salads in the summer. Food is food, but something about chowder in the wintertime warms my heart and my insides. New England is known for its lobster bakes and seafood grills, but there is nothing like a great chowder during a cold winter's day. Any winter excursion has to end with a way to recover from all that cold. Gilbert's Chowder House in South Portland, Maine is a must-stop. The thick, creamy chowder is full of flavor, and in a place where every restaurant has its own version, Gilbert's chowder is tradition at its best. The clams are fresh. At Gilbert's, they serve a generous portion, hot and satisfying with oyster crackers on the side. The price is reasonable, so you can enjoy the rest of their menu, too. Chowder is synonymous with New England anytime, but I agree it tasted best in the wintertime.
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