Winter Adventure Day Trips in New England

Travel to these day trip destinations on one tank of gas—or less.

Sacrificial altar at American Stonehenge. Taken by Katherine Rabideau (2010).
Sacrificial altar at American Stonehenge. Taken by Katherine Rabideau (2010).

Written by Denise Dube

Heat-fueled and house-bound wintery months hit hard. Get the mittens and scarves and plan an adventure. Here are a few ideas—all a tank of gas (or less) away.

Nashoba Valley Ski Area

79 Powers Rd.
Westford, MA
(978) 692-3033

Why Go?
 Patch Editor Patrick Ball said these snow-laden slopes satisfy every age, whether you’re a 3-year old learning to ski or 60-year old picking up a snowboard. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding, sledding, tubing or just running around those frosty hills. 

Insider Tip: Unlimited season passes save serious cash for those who hit the slopes every week.

Must Do: Take a modern-day sleigh ride on a tractor-pulled wagon that weaves through the woods. 

The Fine Print: Don’t worry about packing snacks—the Outlook Restaurant is open seven days a week.

Boston Brew Tours

1035 Cambridge St., #1, 

Cambridge, MA 

(617) 453-TOUR

Why Go? Harpoon Brewery, Sam Adams, Cambridge Brewing Company are known labels throughout New England. See and taste it all in one day. Bonus: Boston’s best food is included.

Insider Tip: Book the tour online. Choose from: the Original Brew Tour, the Evening Brew Tour and the Brew Pub Crawl. Tours include transportation. The motto is: “You drink, we drive.”

Must Do: If you can swing it, opt for a private tour.

The Fine Print: Massachusetts’ drinking and driving laws are harsh. Let someone else do the driving.

Mt. Washington Auto Road 

1 Mount Washington Auto Rd.

Gorham, NH

(603) 466-3988

Why Go? The peak is almost 6,300 feet up and, once there, the view is magnificent. This almost eight-mile ride uphill is a New England rite of passage. At the entrance you’ll get a map, information-filled CD on the topography and a bumper sticker.

Insider Tip: Getting up the almost 6,300 foot-high mountain road—with dirt in some places—involves a few treacherous roads and sometimes no guardrails. Weather and wind change as you ascend. Make sure your car is in tip-top shape. 

Must Do: The views are magnificent—and ever changing. In less than eight miles, you’ll watch nature change with the temperature and wind, all from behind the wheel.

The Fine Print: Just before you reach the top you’ll see train tracks for the Cog Railway that takes visitors up by train. Next time, opt for that instead of driving.

America’s Stonehenge

105 Haverhill Rd., Salem, NH

(603) 893-8300

Why Go? It’s cheaper than heading to Salisbury, England. This mystery maze, filled with stone rooms and sacred sites, belongs to New England. Like Stonehenge, it was created by people who understood astronomy and is still viable as a predictor of solar and lunar events.

Insider Tip: You can expect 4 to 6 feet of snow in the winter, so bring snow shoes.

Must Do: At 4,000-years old, this is the country’s oldest man-made site. That only makes it worth a visit. However, if you're planning to visit soon, you should check out the Winter Solstice event on Dec. 21.

The Fine Print: Open daily 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Last admission is 4:00 p.m.

The Polar Express

Woonsocket Railroad Depot

1 Depot Sq.

Woonsocket, RI

(401) 724-2200

Why Go? Step into the pages of the holiday classic book, written by Chris Van Allsburg. You’ll head toward the North Pole and Santa’s elves in search of a special bell. “The magic for children and parents begins as soon as the family drives up to our Polar Express Station built in the 1880's,” Blackstone Valley Tourism Director Bob Billington said. 

Insider Tip: Children are encouraged to wear their pajamas on the train.

Must Do: Enjoy the hot chocolate and cookies served on the train and snap photos of your kids with the conductor, Santa and Mrs. Claus, Rudolf and Frosty before and after the trip.  

The Fine Print: This train's on a schedule! If you miss it, there are no refunds. Tickets start at $36.


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