child in ice tunnel in Woodstock, NH, ice castles (go where there's snow in New England)
Ice castles in Woodstock, New Hampshire

Sometimes our Boston winters are a bust — all cold toes and no snow. No sledding, no snow forts, barely enough powder for a scrawny snowman. And while the shovelers might rejoice, those of us with young kids know that winter without the white stuff is just cold fall!

So if you’re craving some outdoor fun this winter, consider leaving the city and exploring the areas of New England with snow! Parts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are almost guaranteed to get some bonus snow with their cold temps. Here are a few spots we like — even if you don’t ski!

Stowe, VT

Stowe is about a three-hour drive from Boston, but its snow accumulation makes the Vermont town feel like the North Pole. Beyond skiing, Stowe offers snowshoeing, skating, and even a huge sledding hill right behind the town’s elementary school (younger kids can do an abridged version by climbing the hill partway). If you didn’t bring your own sleds, you can rent at Umiak Outfitters in town. And for a different view of the sparkling white stuff, ascend to the summit of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain, by gondola. There’s no mistaking that it’s winter from up there!

Woodstock, NH

Woodstock doesn’t just stop at snow; every winter, the town offers actual ice castles! Walking around this winter wonderland, you might just feel like Elsa in Arendelle — or Olaf, as you happily launch down an ice slide. Beyond the ice castles, you can also ice skate or snow tube at nearby Loon Mountain, or sled with the whole family in a 10-person snow tube at Waterville Valley. Warm up with a meal at the Woodstock Inn Brewery, and stay along the mountain-fed Pemigasset River. (Shameless promotion: My family owns this Airbnb.)

Loon Mountain in Woodstock, NH (go where there's snow in New England)
Loon Mountain

Bethel, ME

Even if you don’t ski, visiting a ski town like Bethel (home to Sunday River) offers a heap of winter fun — and guaranteed New England snow! Go tubing on the mountain’s Sundance Trail, rent a ski bike from the SnowSports School, or stroll along a half-mile winter trail lined with thousands of lights. Near the mountain, you can climb aboard an eight-passenger sleigh ride with Deepwood Farm. As a team of horses pulls you past snow-topped pines that look like they were painted by Norman Rockwell himself, you’ll be feeling all sorts of wintry.

Horse drawn sleighNorth Conway, NH

Another ski area (with 13 ski resorts and Nordic centers within a 30-minute drive!), North Conway is more than just slopes. Try a family snowshoe adventure on the numerous trails in the area, or ice skate in the center of town. Want to take the kids snow tubing? King Pine ski area features lift-serviced tubing, making it easier to get up the hill; at Great Glen Trails, you’ll climb the hill yourself but enjoy a warming hut at the top. And if you like the idea of someone else controlling the sled, try a dog-sledding adventure at nearby Muddy Paw.

Dog sleddingYour local ice rink

My girls would give me an intense side-eye at this suggestion, but if you have younger kids, consider this desperate resourceful mom hack: Almost all ice rinks have a pile of snow outside, collected by the Zamboni. It won’t be enough for sledding, and you certainly wouldn’t want to eat it, but it may be a perfect miniature mountain for your snow-loving toddler.

Because when a brown winter has got you down, sometimes you just need to go… where there’s snow — in New England!

Jessie Keppeler
A Maine native, Jessie migrated down the coast to Boston after college, and it’s been home ever since. She has lived in various corners of the city — from Allston and Brighton to Newbury Street and then Jamaica Plain — before settling in Brookline with her husband and three daughters. As much as she loves home now, she also likes to leave occasionally: recent family travels include Italy, Belize, and Washington D.C. Jessie writes with a cat curled up nearby and a dog at her feet. And a cup of coffee. Always.

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