With its regional foods, extreme temperature changes and, seemingly, its own unique take on the English language, New England may seem downright quirky to the rest of the world. But ask any New Englander if there is anywhere they’d rather be and most won’t hesitate to spend a few minutes – or half the day – sipping a Mad River root beer and extolling the charm, personality and unique features of their homeland.
Here are a few of the best things about living in New England.
You Can Visit Every New England State in the Same Day
No other region of the country is as easy to traverse as New England. Starting at the southern Maine/New Hampshire border coastline, you can have a bowl of clam chowdah and glimpse a humpback whale, then drive west through the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont, then continue south through the farmlands of Massachusetts, down past the cities of Connecticut and east to the shore of Rhode Island.
Change of Seasons
When you live in the North, you only have to look outside to know what time of year it is, and New Englanders make the most of each distinct season. There’s snow ice cream to be made and sledding, skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing on winter days. Autumn means scenic drives and hikes to soak in the brilliant fall foliage. Summer brings swimming, boating and hiking, and springtime … no one on Earth appreciates the arrival of warmer weather and the colors of bluebirds, crocus and flowering tulip trees like people living in northern climes.
Chowdah and Lobstah and Maple Syrup – Oh My
New Englanders heartily love their regional cuisines and you can find fresh chowder, lobster rolls and fried clams at quaint clam shacks that dot the coast. Just when winter has overstayed its welcome comes maple syrup season, and visiting a sugar shack in late winter is an annual must-do to see the sap-to-syrup process in action and sit down to a breakfast with that freshly made syrup.
L.L. Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, Maine, offers courses, trips and tours and sells everything you need for getting out and exploring the region or for stylin’ in a warm ski lodge. And the 400,000 candles are not the only attraction at the enormous Yankee Candle flagship store in South Deerfield, Mass., which offers exhibits, candle-making workshops and a Bavarian village complete with falling snow.
The hundreds of farms mean countless opportunities for the freshest of local foods such as strawberries, rhubarb, apples, squash, asparagus, goat cheese, herbs and the regional favorite – butter-and-sugar corn. These fresh finds are at farmers markets and at U-Pick orchards and roadside stands, many of which still operate on the honor system.
In New England, it’s not uncommon to drive past houses with signs declaring the structures were built in the 18th century. Whispers and remnants of the “olden days” and Revolutionary War battlefields are sprinkled throughout the region. From living history museums such as Historic Deerfield to the Minute Man National Historical Park – where the opening battle of the Revolutionary War occurred – New England provides a unique window into our country’s past.
The Big E
This enormous 17-day autumn event showcases the best that New England has to offer – in agriculture, crafts, food and industry. If you get a hankering for a slice of Maine wild blueberry pie and a Massachusetts lobster roll all in the same day, The Big E is the place to be. And it's big – it’s the largest agricultural event on the Eastern Seaboard and the fifth-largest fair in the country.
You don’t have to travel far within the region to see moose, loons, humpback whales, bobcats, Atlantic sturgeon and ruby-throated hummingbirds. Everyone has a feathered, furry or scaled critter favorite. And in spring and fall, you’re in prime viewing territory to see thousands of birds on their migration paths.
Outdoor and Indoor Recreation
Candlepin bowling, anyone? This skinnier-pin variation of traditional bowling was invented in Worcester, Mass., in the 19th century and remains popular here, while the rest of the world largely hasn’t caught on to its appeal. The area’s many rivers and lakes offer wicked-good fishing, swimming and paddling opportunities. And the mountains, while not as tall as some in our Western states, are every bit as popular for hiking, rock climbing, cycling and camping.
These warm garments are everywhere in traditional shops, and hand-knitted numbers are in farmers markets. The good thing about living in New England is that, when you find a favorite sweater, you can wear it for the next eight months.