Five New England Destinations to Combat the Winter Blues

The winter season is upon us, giving us short, dark days and because of the shift into gloomier weather, winter can be a struggle for both one’s mental and overall health. Especially for those in Maine, these long winter months leave us dreaming of those bright sunshine and warm summer days visiting either the coast or the tourist towns alongside it. However, there is a beauty to be found in these cold days through adventuring and exploring the destination areas close by. Instead of watching Hallmark holiday features or Christmas movies to obtain that holiday magic, try taking a trip to any of these for the same effect, a beautiful sight, and fun-filled Winter memories. Below are five destinations in New England that will hush your winter blues and bring some light to these continuous winter months. 

1. Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. 

Discover the magic and look in awe as you witness hundreds of thousands of lights strung up around trees creating unique and multi-colored designs all over. This attraction is located on the coast of Maine and this year-round garden transforms for six weeks (November to December) to create a winter wonderland delivering the holiday spirit to all audiences. This event is so picturesque and is a great place for a date with your significant other, a day trip with your friends or as an activity with your family. Tickets are extremely affordable for this event at $16 for adults and conveniently, they are available to purchase both in person or online. 

2. Sunday River in Bethel, Maine

This surely will be a hit with the ski and snowboarding lovers in mind, especially our college students here at the University of Maine. With 135 trails and eighteen lifts to get you to 2,300 feet of elevation, there is something for every skill level - from beginner to advanced. There are even ticket deals offered for college students around the area that allow unlimited access to three resorts (Sunday River, Loon, and Sugarloaf) with the purchase of the all winter season pass for the total of $439 and additionally, with the purchase, you get extra perks. Because day passes can range into steep pricing at almost $100 a day for some places, this pass is a smart purchase if you are a frequent skier or snowboarder and go more than four times a season.

3. North Conway in New Hampshire

Located just fifteen minutes from the Maine border, this will definitely be a fun-filled day for your small town and shop-loving best friend. This destination is almost out of a Hallmark holiday feature because it’s so picturesque and with over 70 stores and restaurants to pick from, Settlers Green has something for everyone. When you want a break from shopping, take the hour and drive up to Mount Washington’s Summit for breathtaking views to either go and visit or watch the sunset. 

4. Ice Castles in North Woodstock, New Hampshire

These ice castles are truly magical and something you have to see with your own eyes. Located in just six cities across North America, you can view award-winning castles in late December through early January for just $17 per ticket. This experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists, including LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, and fountains. It is the perfect date location or a perfect day trip to visit with your friends - either way, this destination will not disappoint!

5. Stowe Winter Carnival in Stow, Vermont

The 46th Annual Stowe Winter Carnival took place from January 23rd to the 26th for this 2020 winter season. This is a great place for generations of families to come together and partake in sporting events, ice carving competitions, and even snow-golf or snow-volleyball games. Rated by Country Living as one of the “15 Best Winter Festivals All Across the U.S.,” this quaint town of 5,000 people holding the most beautiful Winter Festival will not disappoint anyone who makes the trip to go and visit it.  

So there you have it, five destinations in New England that are within driving distance and offer beautiful sights and memorable experiences - on a college budget. Hopefully, this list helps you combat the winter blues as we continue to hope for sunnier and brighter days ahead!