There’s arguably no region in the U.S. more enthusiastic to welcome spring’s arrival than New England. As the seasonal thaw takes hold, hotels and resorts that command top dollar in the summer season entice travelers by offering more bang for your buck with special offers, packages, deals, and added value.
Even better, as our parkas get tucked away to make room for lighter layers, destinations fête the return of warmer temperatures with fairs and festivals to trumpet spring’s arrival, so you can enjoy the perks of pre-peak-season travel.
Here are a half dozen destinations that have put winter in the rear-view mirror and are welcoming travelers with deals and steals:
Some of these places I’ve visited on a press trip, others I’ve discovered in my many New England travels. All opinions are my own.
1. Bretton Woods
History buffs take note: Surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest, the Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods has hosted four former presidents including Calvin Coolidge, Warren G. Harding, Woodrow Wilson, and George H.W. Bush. It was also the site of the signing of all major documents at the Bretton Woods International Monetary Conference in 1944, designating the popular New England retreat an official National Historic Landmark. In addition to commanders-in-chief, the sprawling bucolic property has been a favorite among poets, celebrities, and generations of families. But, recent renovations and expansions like the new Presidential Wing show the resort has not been left in the past but instead has a bright future.
As the ski season comes to a close, the resort’s surrounding hills are peppered with springtime blooms best enjoyed on a canopy tour. The zip lining experience high above the hemlock trees offers sweeping views of Mount Washington and the Presidential Range. The longest of the nine zips is over 1,000 feet long and about 165 feet high off the forest floor, with two sky bridges and three rappels. The tour is designed for participants of average mobility, strength, and reasonably good health, but there are a number of short hikes along an unpaved path, so folks should be comfortable walking on uneven ground and down a moderate incline. Now is the best time to experience it all with the resort’s Take a Break offer, allowing guests to save 20 percent off the best available rate now through September 5, 2023, when booked before April 11, 2023.
Idyllically nested on Maine’s southern coast, Ogunquit boasts all the spoils of the quintessential New England summer beach town: miles of windswept sandy beaches, picture perfect craggy cliffs, and buttery lobster rolls around nearly every corner. It also has all the crowds that come with it that time of year. Springtime, however, is the best time to bask in Ogunquit’s grandeur without the masses. The captivating Marginal Way, a popular 2.5-mile paved path that traces the coastline, draws heaps of visitors in the summer, but this time of year, visitors can go at their own pace, pausing for birding or soaking in the view on one of the many oceanfront benches.
Just minutes from the Marginal Way is the historic Colonial Inn, which served as an impressive private residence during the mid-19th century and today welcomes travelers looking to experience the Maine coast. The property is considered the last of Ogunquit’s once-numerous stately Victorian-era hotels still in operation as a hotel. To celebrate the season, The Colonial Inn’s Spring Fling package features 10 percent off a two-night stay with chilled sparkling wine and a charcuterie board for guests upon their arrival.
3. Martha’s Vineyard
An island getaway seems like the perfect way to shake off winter’s chill, and Martha’s Vineyard delivers. Shoulder season has its own kind of magic, no more so than in the spring, when the excitement of summer’s arrival is palpable but you can still live like a local. It’s also when you’re most likely to bump into the island’s regular celebrity guests and homeowners. Think Carly Simon, James Taylor, Oprah Winfrey, and Diane Sawyer.
Be there for the unofficial first sign of spring (if you’re not counting the crocuses and forsythia blooming across the 87-square-mile island): the annual opening of the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs. Built in 1876 and welcoming not just the young but also the young-at-heart ever since, the colorful carousel is the oldest operating platform carousel in the country. In the summer, long lines swell for a ride on the hand-painted horses or to play the brass ring game.
After horsing around, you’ll have worked up an appetite, and spring is the best time to land coveted reservations that would have summer travelers waiting months for (like at l’étoile in Edgartown, which opens in May but starts taking reservations mid-April). Or, you can try scoring a table as a walk-in at hotspots like The Sweet Life Cafe.
The centrally-located Vineyard Square Hotel & Suites in the heart of charming and walkable Edgartown has a springtime offer: stay any night Sunday through Thursday in May and experience prices 25–30 percent lower than the high season. Enjoy your private balcony or relax in a rocking chair on the front porch, hop on one of the hotel’s bicycles, or borrow some board games for some family fun.
In the shadow of the shamrock-hued vista of the Green Mountains, Manchester perfectly marries past and present with its storybook downtown punctuated by century-old storefronts and white church steeples careening skyward. Experience an innovative culinary scene and modern comforts. Spring is arguably the best time to experience the legendary hiking trails best known in these parts.
Though Prospect Rock is a popular trail, some parts are remarkably steep and you’ll find a handful of mountain streams to cross. If just a casual hiker, stick to the Lye Brook Falls Trail. It’s 4.5 miles out-and-back, well-marked, and rewards hikers with a breathtaking view of a 125-foot-tall waterfall that has new growth along its rocky face this time of year. If you prefer to sit back and take in southern Vermont’s springtime grandeur in a comfy seat, the Mount Equinox Skyline Drive opens at the end of May and is a stunning drive that ascends 3,846-feet to the summit, offering panoramic mountain views. One not-to-miss hidden gem in Manchester is The American Museum of Fly Fishing. What it lacks in size it makes up for in interest, with exhibits and artifacts that steal the attention of even the casual outdoor enthusiast.
The Kimpton Taconic Hotel is centrally located in the heart of historic Manchester Village and feels the part with its traditional clapboard architecture and grand front porch, while offering a simple, accessible luxury vibe. This season, take advantage of the Third Night’s a Charm package, where travelers get their third night for free when booking three or more nights (book by May 23, 2023).
When America’s wealthiest families made Newport its blueblood summertime playground during the Gilded Age, it set the bar high for travelers for decades to come. Fortunately, more than a century later, the City by the Sea still delivers, with mansions turned museums that belonged to society’s elite allowing us hoi polloi to get an up close look at their 19th-century decadence. As summer brings tens of thousands to this coastal enclave on the southernmost tip of Aquidneck Island, it also brings top dollar. Even the most basic accommodations can be hundreds a night. But springtime allows travelers to not only enjoy so much of what Newport is best known for — Cliff Walk, mansions, and world-class dining — they can experience more than one million blooming daffodils across the city and a bevy of springtime events.
In April, the Newport Beer Festival welcomes more than 50 craft brewers from near and far plus live music and good grub at Fort Adams perched on the shores of Narragansett Bay. May brings the Newport Oyster & Chowder Festival, where you can slurp and savor briny bivalves to your heart’s content from growers across Rhode Island. Enjoy creamy clam chowder, stuffies, and other spoils of the sea (and plenty for landlubbers) and tons of drinks to toast the season. Even better, the circumnavigating Ocean Race sails into town mid-May, bringing with it nearly 10 days of excitement and fanfare.
Best of all, lodging rates are still a far cry from what you’ll find in the summer and fall. Rooms at the newly christened Newport Harbor Island Resort on Goat Island can command hundreds in peak season. But take advantage of pre-summer offers like Book Early & Save, which offers up to 20 percent off the best available room rate when booking a month or more in advance (two-night minimum required; reservations are non-refundable). Ready to upgrade? Through April, the resort is offering a Suite Life package, featuring 15 percent off their roomy suites plus a complimentary bottle of prosecco, daily breakfast for two, and a pair of seasonal cocktails upon arrival.
6. Cape Cod
The sandy, hook-shaped peninsula off mainland Massachusetts made famous by the Kennedys can shake off winter’s wrath with the best of them, so it should come as no surprise that Cape Cod feels different when spring arrives. Museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants along Main Street in towns including Falmouth, Dennis, Hyannis, Chatham, and Wellfleet — yes, they all have a Main Street — have a palpable energy. Seasonal ice cream shops start reopening for the season this time of year; others, like Cape Cod Creamery, forge ahead the whole year through.
The spring thaw might be best exhibited by the busy greens across the Cape’s more than 40 public and private golf courses. Highland Links in Truro is one of the oldest, built in 1892 and perched high along windswept bluffs overlooking a picture-perfect lighthouse (the tallest on the peninsula) and the sea. The Cape Cod Country Club in East Falmouth bordering scenic Coonamessett Pond is open to the public and enjoyed by golfers of all skill levels. Or stay and play at Blue Rock Resort in South Yarmouth with its own par-3 course. In celebration of the resort’s reopening in mid-April, the Goodbye, Winter Blues package includes perks like early check-in and late check-out, a flexible cancellation policy, and a special welcome amenity upon arrival. Even better, guests enjoy reciprocal rights with the other Red Jacket Resorts nearby including access to dining, swimming pools, and a large expanse of private beaches.