Shed some layers and soak up the sun when you venture to the White Mountains in shoulder season—like the skiers above, who found their sweet spot (Maple Villa Glade) in mid-April with help from outfitter Ski the Whites.Photo Credit : Cait Bourgault
Ah spring, New England’s most fickle season. It teases us with warm sunbeams and then dumps frozen precipitation on our dreams of wearing shorts. But staying homebound until May is not an option. As the landscape awakens, you should too—not only to preempt summer’s crowds and to save a few dollars with shoulder-season hotel rates, but also to stretch your mind and body and to rediscover a sense of wonder.
A multisport spring getaway in New Hampshire’s White Mountains isn’t just for extreme athletes, so pack your ski jacket and a golf polo and go. In the Mount Washington Valley, entrepreneurial locals stand ready to help visitors experience action-packed days on both backcountry slopes and thawing fairways. You don’t have to be a Tuckerman Ravine daredevil to ski after chairlifts stop spinning: Ski the Whites’ Andrew Drummond equips competent skiers with the gear, knowledge, and inspiration to venture off-piste, where pristine terrain remains skiable as late as mid-June. Meanwhile, several golf courses scramble to open early, including Indian Mound Golf Club, which sends plows out to clear greens even as snow lingers in the bunkers. At the on-course tavern, the homemade corned beef is a well-earned reward for refusing to couch-potato your way through shoulder season. 603-356-5701; mtwashingtonvalley.org
To the uninitiated, crushing the Hendrickson hatch sounds like something you might do on a snowboard. But as April arrives, it’s not the shredding of powder but the hatching of mayflies that has outdoors lovers in a fervor. Home to the American Museum of Fly Fishing and an Orvis fly fishing school, Manchester is the ultimate place to experience the thrill of fooling trout with feathery flies crafted to mimic these aquatic insects. Whether you dabble in a free Fly Fishing 101 course at Orvis, invest in a one- or two-day school, or learn the nuances of the sport with a private guide, spring is the ideal time to take up this new hobby and bond with others who long to stand meditatively in the stream of life. 802-362-3750; orvis.com
When the alarm sounds before 7:30 a.m., it may be your strong inclination to stay tucked into your comfy, fully equipped cabin, one of five built in 2017 for farm-stay vacationers, at Fat Sheep Farm. But if you layer up and head out to help with chores, as guests are invited to do daily, you may be treated to more than fresh eggs and soul-stirring mountain views. Spring is lambing season, and each sunrise brings the possibility of witnessing a tiny fluffball taking its first wobbly steps, bleating sweetly, and bonding with mama. And by late June, rich, sweet sheep’s milk will feed the farm’s newest offering: cheese-making classes. 802-436-4696; fatsheepfarmvermont.com
While northern New England farms are still socked in with snow, the coastal Connecticut landscape is showing signs of life. Actually, the growing never stops at Stone Acres Farm, where high-tunnel greenhouses sustain crops year-round. Be one of the spring early birds to visit, and you can come away with fresh-laid eggs and hearty starter plants to populate your own garden. Jane Meiser, whose family has cultivated these 63 acres for 10 generations, and her restaurateur husband, Dan, have tantalizing plans for the property and its Yellow Farmhouse Education Center, where the lineup of culinary classes picks up later in the spring. Your purchases help ensure Stone Acres’ future at the heart of a dynamic food community that has already captured elite chefs’ attention. 860-245-4414; stoneacresfarm.com
Although the trees are bare when the Cambridge Science Festival’s street banners go up a few weeks before opening night, by the end of this annual festival’s April 17–26 run, leaf buds and blossoms will have appeared. Even more exciting: Approximately 250 events—some family-friendly, others designed for adults—will have made the STEAM fields unexpectedly entertaining. The MIT Museum is at the heart of this rite of spring, which began in 2007 as the first of its kind in the United States. Attendees can build their own itinerary of behind-the-scenes lab tours, ecology outings, astronomy observations, and more. Don’t miss April 18’s Science Carnival & Robot Zoo, where 150 interactive booths offer hands-on activities such as making nitrogen ice cream and feeding microorganisms with an eyedropper. 617-253-5927; cambridgesciencefestival.org