|Five Places Where You'll Forget It's Winter|
|Warm Up to New England this Winter|
When winter winds howl and snow blankets New England, some travelers are in their glory--they can't wait to hit the slopes, to lace on skates, to feel the cold blow through them as they whip along on a snowmobile. For others, though, being cold and damp is a far cry from their preferred pastime.
Does that mean a winter vacation in New England is out of the question for the cold-blooded among us? Heck, no. Here's my guide to five New England places where, even on the coldest, blusteriest day, you may just forget that it's winter at all.
The 8,200-square-foot indoor water complex at this family resort may just fool you into believing it's the middle of summer. While the kids play in the waterfalls and whoosh down the two winding slides, you can close your eyes and ride the waves, picturing yourself at the shore on a sunny day. Or really warm up in the giant, tension-easing whirlpool. Then, when you're really ready for a taste of summer in the middle of winter, head outdoors to the Cape Codder's year-round outdoor heated pool. Another plus--right on the premises, you'll find a Hearth-n-Kettle Restaurant that's perfect for family dining and the Grand Cru Wine Bar & Grill if you're looking for something more upscale. Either way, the key is you won't have to wander far in the winter weather to find delicious grub. For reservations, call toll free, 855-861-4370.
2. The Okemo Valley Indoor Golf Training Center at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont.
Thought you couldn't golf in New England when there's a foot of snow on the ground? Au contraire. At the Okemo Valley Indoor Golf Training Center, your clubs won't get rusty, and neither will your golf skills. In fact, you may just be able to knock a few strokes off your handicap with the instructional programs offered at Okemo. Affordable daily rates are available for the Academy's Swing Stations and 9-hole Practice Putting Green, and the Full Swing Golf Simulator is available for an hourly fee. For information or simulator reservations call the Pro Shop at 802-228-1396 or the resort toll free at 800-78-OKEMO.
3. Elizabeth Park Greenhouses in Hartford, Connecticut
You may have to rub your eyes and blink in disbelief when you emerge from the greenhouses at Elizabeth Park and see mounds of white stuff all around. The 100-year-old greenhouses at America's oldest municipal rose garden keep a breath of spring air alive throughout the winter. Inside the warm confines of these hot houses, you'll be treated to the sweet scents and sights of flowers in bloom. The greenhouses are open to the public during two weeks in March (March 17-29 in 2014).
4. The Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens at Magic Wings in South Deerfield, Massachusetts
Butterflies like it warm. So warm, in fact, that Magic Wings, a Butterfly Conservatory and Gardens in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts has a convenient coat closet where you'll want to leave your winterwear before venturing inside. The steamy, 8,000-square-foot glass conservatory is home to about 4,000 butterflies from all over the world. "Flight attendants" are on hand to identify the various species for you--and to help you check for hitchhikers when you leave. Not only is winter weather harmful to butterflies--USDA regulations could be potentially harmful to Magic Wings if some of these exotic species from afar were allowed to get "loose." Did you know that butterflies only live for about two weeks? A visit to Magic Wings may just help you survive winter's icy grip--after all, it doesn't last forever. Magic Wings is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the winter (hours are extended until 6 p.m. in the summer). For more information, call 413-665-2805.
5. Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut
There is a Winter Casino at Mohegan Sun, but the good news is, the gaming complex in southeastern Connecticut is now so enormous that you could easily occupy hours roaming through shops, bellying up to Craps and Roulette tables, flirting with one-armed bandits or feasting at one of several outstanding restaurants without ever knowing that it was winter--inside or outside. The decor of the original Mohegan Sun Casino reflects the four seasons--as you wander the circular layout of the casino, the carpet pattern changes from bright spring flowers to summer hues to orange and gold fall leaves. Stop there--and head for the Casino of the Sky with its planetarium and giant, cascading waterfall. After all, you know what comes after fall. The Mohegan Sun is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For casino information, call toll free, 888-226-7711.
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All photos © 2001 Kim Knox Beckius, licensed to About.com, Inc.