Things To Do in Massachusetts in Winter

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Winter in Massachusetts is cold but beautiful. Although tourists tend to flock to Massachusetts during the summer and fall, many also travel there in the colder months to enjoy a picturesque winter in New England.

The weather can change a lot from month to month so be prepared. December tends to be the warmest and least snowy month of the winter while January is the coldest.

It’s still pretty cold in February and sometimes in March but the sun is much stronger that time of year and it stays light out later than the early winter months. Try to plan your activities around these changing weather conditions.

The following is a list of things to do in Massachusetts in winter:

Go Ice Skating:

Ice skating is a classic winter past time. Nothing says winter in New England like skating outdoors in the winter weather. Although there are many indoor skating rinks you can visit year round, skating at an outdoor rink in the winter is such a unique and fun experience.

Ice skating in winter

The following are a list of outdoor ice skating rinks in Massachusetts:

  • Frog Pond Outdoor Skating Rink on Boston Common
  • Kelly Outdoor Ice Skating Rink in Jamaica Plain
  • Kendall Square Community Outdoor Ice Skating in Cambridge
  • Larz Anderson Skating Rink in Brookline
  • The Rink at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge
  • Winter Skate at Patriot Place in Foxborough
  • The Rink at 401 Park in Boston

Enjoy a Sleigh Ride:

Enjoy the winter wonderland by taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride on a picturesque New England farm. The sleigh rides are such a great way to enjoy the beautiful winter weather without having to trudge through the ice and snow. The sleigh rides tend to last about 30 minutes and are available for couples as well as groups of 6 to 12 people.

Horse-drawn sleigh

The following is a list of places that offer sleigh rides:

  • Cornerstone Ranch in Princeton
  • Kimballl Farm in Haverhill

Check out a Winter Carnival:

Winter carnivals are a great family activity. Although they don’t have amusement park rides like summer carnivals do, they usually offer other fun activities like sleigh rides, hay rides, hot chocolate and clam chowder competitions, ice skating, fireworks, ice sculptures, dance parties and more.

Things to do in Massachusetts in Winter

These events tend to take place in January and February during school vacation week each year in order to give kids something fun to do on their week off.

The following is a list of annual winter carnivals:

  • Lowell Winterfest in Lowell
  • Greenfield Winter Carnival in Greenfield
  • Acton Winter Carnival in Acton
  • North Adams Winterfest in North Adams
  • Old Sturbridge Village Winterfest at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbidge
  • Children’s Winter Festival on Boston Common in Boston
  • Winter Festival in Attleboro
  • Easthampton Winterfest in Easthampton

Visit a Winter Beach:

Contrary to public opinion, winter time is one of the best times to go to the beach. In winter, there’s no crowds or noise to deal with, prices tend to be cheaper, parking is plentiful, local wildlife is abundant and the scenery is beautiful.

Winter beaches in New England tend to be beaches were many of the nearby facilities, shops and restaurants are open year round. There aren’t a ton of beaches like that in Mass which makes the ones that are even more special.

The following is a list of popular winter beaches in Massachusetts:

  • Cape Cod National Seashore in Cape Cod
  • Salisbury Beach and Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Salisbury
  • Nantasket Beach in Hull
  • Plymouth Long Beach in Plymouth

Go Winter Bird Watching:

Northern Massachusetts is a hotspot for beautiful and rare birds who are active during the winter, particularly snowy owls and bald eagles, as well as harlequin ducks, ivory gulls, and king elders.

Many winters, snowy owls travel down from the article circle to the coastal regions and marshes of southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts to hunt for food when their food source is low in the arctic. You can often spot them on the various marshes. beaches and harbors in Massachusetts.

Snowy owl

In addition, bald eagles live in New England year round but are particularly active during the winter, making sightings of this bird much more likely in the winter.

To view these birds, you can visit known hot spots for bird sightings, such as Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Salisbury, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island, the beaches and harbors of Cape Ann, or you can attend an annual bird watching festivals and events, such as the Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend in February or the Merrimack River Eagle Festival in Newburyport in February.

Take a Scenic Winter Drive:

Why endure the cold winter wind in your face when you can take a nice leisurely drive in a warm car instead? Massachusetts has some beautiful coastal and inland roads that are even more breathtaking during the winter weather. Sit back and enjoy the view while you drive around and look at the glory of winter through your window.

The following is a list of scenic winter drives in Massachusetts:

  • Route 6A in Cape Cod
  • Essex County Scenic Byway (Routes 33 and Route 1A)
  • Mount Greylock Scenic Byway in North Adams
  • Jacobs Ladder Trail (Route 20) in Western Massachusetts
  • Mohawk Trail Scenic Byway in Western Massachusetts
  • Battle Road Scenic Byway in Lexington and Concord

Go Sledding or Snow Tubing:

Although winter sports like skiing and snowboarding require some level of skill and training, there are some winter sports that anyone can do, like sledding and snow tubing. Plus, it’s such a fun way to really get out in the elements and enjoy the snow up close.

The following is a list of winter sports parks with sledding and snowtubing as well as skiing:

  • Amesbury Sports Park in Amesbury
  • Butternut Ski Area in Great Barrington
  • Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Littleton
  • Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont
  • Ski Ward Ski Area and Tubaslide

Looking for more ideas on cool places to visit in Massachusetts? Check out the following article on the best places to visit in Massachusetts or check out this list of attractions in Massachusetts.

Sources:
“Children’s Winter Festival 2020.” Boston.gov, boston.gov/calendar/childrens-winter-festival-2020
“5 Massachusetts Winter Carnivals.” Visit Massachusetts, visitma.com/blog/2016/01/4-winter-carnivals/
“Superbowl of Birding.” Mass Audbon, massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/joppa-flats/programs-classes-activities/go-birding/superbowl-of-birding
“Viewing Snowy Owls.” Mass Audobon, massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/blue-hills-trailside-museum/our-work/snowy-owl-project/viewing-snowy-owls
“The Best Beaches to Enjoy this Winter.” Sconset Landing, Feb 15. 2017, sconsetlanding.com/blog/best-beaches-enjoy-winter/
Vann, Korky. “A Few Good Reasons to Visit New England Beaches in the Winter.” Hartford Courant, courant.com/ctnow/hc-vann-shopping-around-0214-20160214-column.html
Bills, Joe. “Best Ski Areas for Snow Tubing in Massachusetts.” New England Travel Today, 9 Jan. 2020, newengland.com/today/travel/massachusetts/best-snow-tubing-in-ma
Beckius, Kim Knox. “Best 5 New England Winter Drives.” New England Today, 19 Feb. 2020, newengland.com/today/travel/new-england/best-new-england-winter-drives/