New England in Spring
New England spring is the time to squeeze in that last ski run — in a t-shirt! Then come the fragrant lilacs, yellow forsythia and flowering trees. There is an enviable continuity about life in New England. With 400 years of tradition to call on, many enjoy doing what their grandparents and earlier ancestors did: plowing, gardening, fishing or making johnnycakes for May breakfasts in Rhode Island.
Travel Ideas for Spring in New England
- Fairfield: some 30,000 dogwoods bloom during the annual Dogwood Festival at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church.
- Hartford: the Connecticut Spring Antiques Show is America’s leading pre-1840s American furniture and decorative arts show.
- Play ball! From April onwards, Connecticut’s Minor League Rock Cats play at the friendly New Britain Stadium, just south of Hartford. The team mascot is …Rocky!
- At the Connecticut River Museum in Essex, take an afternoon cruise on the schooner Mary E and stroll through the historic village.
- Portland: Take a trolley tour, follow the Maine Beer Trail, take a ferry to an island in Casco Bay, and photograph Portland Head Light.
- Freeport: Bag a bargain in the 200 outlet stores, designer shops and boutiques.
- New Gloucester: At Pineland Farms, visit the creamery and equestrian center, hike or bike well-groomed trails.
- Statewide: Each spring hundreds of species of birds return to Maine. Follow the Maine Birding Trail.
- Old Sturbridge Village: See the running of the lambs during Wool Days at one of New England’s most famous living history museums.
- Cape Cod: Visit Sandwich and the Heritage Museums and Gardens, where the Dexter Rhododendrons are spectacular!
- Salem: Explore this historic seaport, with its outstanding Peabody Essex Museum (and extraordinary Yin Yu Tang house).
- Boston: Children love the Museum of Science, the New England Aquarium, and Boston’s Children’s Museum.
- Maple sugaring all over New Hampshire (early spring): Stop at a sugarhouse to see how this New England delicacy is made; sample maple sugar treats.
- White Mountains: Take the aerial tramway that swoops to the top of Cannon Mountain in less than 10 minutes. On a clear day, you can see the mountains of four New England states and into Canada!
- Concord: Learn all about space at the revamped McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.
- Providence: Buy fine art, jewelry, clothing, glass and more at the RISD Alumni Art Sale. Everything is made by graduates of the Rhode Island School of Design.
- Newport: Tour the Newport mansions to see how the ultra rich lived in the Gilded Age. Equally grand is Rough Point, the estate of heiress Doris Duke, who lived there until 1993.
- Maple sugaring in Vermont: (early spring) Stop at a sugarhouse to see how this New England delicacy is made and to sample maple sugar treats.
- Manchester: Visit Hildene, the Lincoln family home and estate, with its gorgeous gardens. Woodstock: At Billings Farm & Museum, see a working dairy farm, taste delicious ice cream, and tour a creamery and restored farmhouse that reflects the agricultural heritage of Vermont. Across the street, visit the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller U.S. National Historic Park. Tour the mansion or simply walk the grounds under the shade of sugar maples and 400-year-old hemlocks.
- Statewide: Spring brings the return of farmers’ markets, selling fruit and vegetables, cheese and jam, and often, crafts.
New England Spring Festivals
- Meridan Daffodil Festival: Outdoor family festival featuring 600,000 flowers.
- New Haven: Dance, laugh, and be entertained at the annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas.
- Moosehead Lake Region, around Greenville: Moose Mainea celebrates the moose, with canoe races, a Mooseterpiece Craft Fair and more.
- South Paris: Don’t miss the annual Lilac Festival at McLaughlin Garden.
- Cape Cod: During Cape Cod Maritime Days, tour historic lighthouses, see boat-building exhibits, or join a kayak excursion.
- Nantucket Island: The Daffodil Festival Weekend celebrates the millions of daffodils of every color, shape and size that bloom on the island.
- Portsmouth: Some of North America’s oldest lilacs grow in New Hampshire. See them at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion.
- Franconia Notch: During the Annual Fields of Lupine Festival, purple flowers cover the meadows.
- Bristol: During Daffodil Days at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, 50,000 daffodils are in bloom.
- Statewide: Since 1867, Rhode Islanders have celebrated spring with May breakfasts, usually featuring Rhode Island johnnycakes, made from cornmeal.
- St. Albans — Annual Vermont Maple Festival: A celebration of Vermont's sweetest product.
- Woodstock: At Billings Farm & Museum, see demonstrations of sheep shearing and herding with Border Collies.
What to Wear
Spring in New England is quite variable in temperature — bring a few layers just in case. Spring also sometimes brings periods of rain so be sure to bring an umbrella and raincoat.