20 Best Things to Do in New England in March

Wondering what to do in New England in March? We’ve got plenty of ideas for how to make the most of the shoulder season!

By Katherine Keenan

Apr 04 2023


Snow flying in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.

Photo Credit : Andrew Spencer/Unsplash

Those who know and love New England know that winter brings a simple magic to the region, when snow flurries and icy temperatures make for a perfect time to hunker down, bundle up, and stay as cozy as possible. Long after the departure of fall foliage and well before the arrival of spring, March is one of these months which brings along with it a stretch of slower, simpler days.

If you’re not afraid of a little cold, March is a great time to hit the ski slopes, wander a quiet stretch of coast, or strap on some skates at an ice rink. Others may enjoy taking a warmer route by exploring one of New England’s renowned museums. If window shopping and nightlife is more your speed, the winter is a great time to visit the region’s cities, where a cozy bar or award-winning restaurant is always around the corner. There’s nothing more enchanting than Boston’s Beacon Hill, Portland’s Old Port, or Burlington’s Church Street when the snow is falling!

Covered Bridge and Snowy River
©Yankee Magazine/Mark Fleming

What is the weather like in March in New England?

The short answer is: unpredictable. Although spring technically begins in March, the average temperatures remain low and you’ll almost certainly still spot some snow on the ground. The average temperature during March in New England is TK, but in reality the temperature often fluctuates significantly from one week to the next. Visiting New England in March means there’s a solid chance you’ll experience either one snowstorm, freezing rain, or unseasonably warm day. Maybe even all three, if you’re lucky!

So don’t blame us if your travels land on a rainy week – flurries and showers come with the territory. If you don’t mind a little bit of cold, you’ll be just fine.

Snow flying in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.
Photo Credit : Andrew Spencer/Unsplash

Best Things to Do in New England in March

The following list of ideas includes excerpts from “35 Reasons Why Everyone Should Stick Around This Season” which first appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of Yankee Magazine.

March is an excellent time of year to explore New England (assuming your mittens and hat are always close by)! Whether you’re a visitor planning a trip or a longtime resident looking for fresh ideas, be sure to gather some inspiration from our list of the best things to do in March in New England.

Here are some of our favorite things to do in New England in March:

A turtle swimming at the New England Aquarium in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Sergey Konstantinov

1. Visit an aquarium

If you’re looking for a fun and educational aquatic experience, a visit to one of the following New England Aquariums is the perfect activity. Meander through the colorful exhibits and learn more about the creatures that live below the surface of the sea, plus the efforts being done to help protect these unique specimens and their native habitats.

For a list of the many fine aquariums in New England, including key species and attractions at each, please enjoy our Guide to New England Aquariums.

Ice Bumper Cars at the Providence Rink
Photo Credit : © Sandor Bodo–USA Today Network

2. Blow off some steam in an ice bumper car

The Providence Rink is the only place in New England where on-ice collisions are encouraged. Reserve your ice bumper car, a cool reinvention of the classic carnival ride, and spend 15 action-packed minutes spinning, slamming, ricocheting … and appreciating the architectural diversity of one of America’s oldest cities. Drivers must be at least 6, but kids as young as 3 can ride with adults.

Best 5 New England Spa Resorts
Mayflower Inn & Spa | Best 5 New England Spa Resorts
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Mayflower Inn & Spa

3. Get some well-deserved R&R time in at a spa

Spas dot the New England landscape, but only an elite few are truly transformative destinations that also have all the playful amenities you’d expect from a resort. From the mountains to the sea, the region’s five best spa havens are planted in sublime locations that alone are a balm for the soul. Each has a distinctive approach to pampering guests, but they share a common goal: to transport you to a state of pure bliss, and leave you with a map for finding your way there again on your own. Read on for our list of top New England spa resorts. Reboot your well-being at one of our picks for the five best New England spa resorts.

If you’re looking for a more intensive spa experience, why not consider a getaway to an inn with more on the menu than just a delicious breakfast and comfy beds? We know that we can all can benefit from a little pampering, so we’ve also chosen a handful of inns for our list of best overnight pampering spots in New England that will have you relaxed and glowing from head to toe.

Winter Weekend on Nantucket
Don’t miss a stroll on the beach, even in winter.
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

4. Wander a winter beach

Months before the sand becomes dotted with neon beach chairs, there is a haunting beauty to the beaches of New England. In winter the beaches stay fairly quiet, save for dog walkers and winter surfers. It’s a refreshing sight for those accustomed to summertime crowds, especially when temperatures warm up enough for a stroll along the coastline or on one of the region’s many beaches. The next time there’s a warm spell in the forecast, take this as a perfect excuse to plan a beach getaway (at off-season rates, no less)!

Some of our favorite New England coastal walks include: the Marginal Way in Qgunquit, Maine; Parker River National Refuge in Plum Island, Massachusetts; Bluff Point State Park in Groton, Connecticut; Napatree Point Conservation Area in Watch Hill, Rhode Island; and Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire.

See our list of 11 Magical New England Coastal Walks and our list of the Prettiest Beaches in New England for more ideas.

Lyman Conservatory at Smith College
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming

5. Warm up at a botanical garden

When winter feels relentless, grab that steamy beach read you never actually opened last summer and point your getaway vehicle toward one of New England’s pockets of tropical warmth.

It’s 70 degrees at all times inside New England’s largest glass-house garden: the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Fountains burble, camellias blossom, 40-foot palm trees stretch toward the sun. And you’ll feel the warmth tingling from the top of your head to the tips of your toes as you inhale the heavenly scent of Calamondin oranges.

Tropical sensations are likewise guaranteed inside the Lyman Conservatory at Smith College in Northampton, MA. One of the nation’s oldest plant havens, this 12-greenhouse complex’s jungle-like Palm House is always kept humid and at least 70 degrees for the comfort of its specimens, some of which are a century-plus old. You’ll feel better able to endure winter’s worst after spending time with these survivors and stopping to smell the flowering orchids and rhododendrons.

A Family Guide to Winter Fun in New England
Family fun at Nashoba Valley Tubing Park in Littleton, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Nashoba Valley

6. Slide on a snow tube

It’s a downhill thrill that requires no skill. An express ticket to childhood exhilaration, no matter how many years it’s been since you rooted for snow days. No wonder snow tubing is surging in popularity. New England’s top tubing destinations manufacture snow, groom lanes, and provide the cushy rubber donuts. All you need to do is bundle up, and let gravity do its job. Here are our five picks for the best snow tubing parks in New England.

Vermont’s Lake Morey Skate Trail
Photo Credit : Mark Fleming

7. Strap on some skates and go ice skating

Winter’s frigid temperatures turn local ponds into frozen wonderlands ready for ice skating, and with over four miles of cleared ice, Vermont’s Lake Morey Skate Trail is the longest in the country, providing a runway for skaters to take flight into a stunning winterscape.

When a natural body of frozen water isn’t handy, there are plenty of man-made outdoor ice skating rinks all throughout New England. Magnificent views of Rhode Island’s Pell Bridge make the outdoor rink at Newport Harbor Island Resort a can’t-miss for skaters. Not in Rhode Island? No problem, you can bundle up at one of the many other fantastic New England outdoor ice skating rinks this season.

Church Street Marketplace
Photo Credit : © Adam Silverman–USA Today Network

8. Shop ’til you drop

Put yourself in this picture: A soft snow falls, and a brick walkway that stretches for four pedestrian-only blocks becomes sprinkled with white. More than 100 shops and restaurants beckon you inside—bakeries and cafés and bookstores for lingering. When the sun pops out, there will likely be a musician or two setting up. Some 1.5 million visitors stroll Church Street Marketplace blocks each year, but on this day, you can imagine you’ve stepped inside a snow globe of the perfect winter cityscape.

Looking for a similarly great shopping town near you? Check out our list of Favorite New England Holiday Shopping Towns, which are especially full of magic during the holidays but are just as wonderful during the rest of the year.

And if outlet shopping is more your speed, check out our list of the best outlets in New England. From tax-free shopping in New Hampshire to splurging in Connecticut, you can meet all your shopping needs in one stop, while scoring the best bargains out there. Fashion crisis (and financial crisis) averted.

New Hampshire’s Ice Castles
Photo Credit : AJ Mellor

9. Step inside a magical ice castle

Without the wintry forces of nature, the artists who build New Hampshire’s most enchantingly ephemeral attraction would have themselves a giant puddle. But as the cold snaps and water flows over icicle building blocks, Ice Castles becomes a massive walk-through wonder, glowing with LED lights. Dress warmly, because you’ll want to experience all that awaits inside, including an ice sculpture garden and frozen slides. New this season: an ice bar serving frosty cocktails. Opens in January; see website for details.

Bow Market
Photo Credit : Carlie Febo Photography

10. Warm up by a fire at an outdoor beer garden

The alfresco options that sprouted up all over New England during the pandemic era may be less numerous these days, but some are so inspired that they remain permanent fixtures—and even top tables. Most glamorously, the Gondola Village at Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, serves haute après-ski fare in restored vintage ski gondolas that seat up to four. Millwright’s in Simsbury, Connecticut, has a row of elegant greenhouses that function as private dining rooms for two to five patrons, with a view of the restaurant’s signature waterfall. And at Batson River Brewing in Kennebunk, Maine, the wildly popular “fishing shacks” offer a cozy retreat for up to six, complete with party lights, plaid throws, and a menu of poutine, burgers, and house-made beers and spirits.

Looking for fireside dining in Boston? Carved into a former Somerville storage facility, Bow Market is a collection of 30-plus small businesses—florists, chocolatiers, a brewery—arrayed around a courtyard. In the winter, the space is filled with cozy firepits that serve as heaters and tables. Savor your choice of pork lumpia from Tanám or lobster mac and cheese from Bluefin, and—sheltered from the wind and warmed by the fire—discover how comfortable an outdoor midwinter meal can be.

Cait Bourgault documents a Northeast Mountaineering trek across a pristine snow covered landscape en route to the summit of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. (“Winter in the Mount Washington Valley,” January/February)
Photo Credit : Cait Bourgault

11. Cross country skiing

Cross-country skiing has long been a go-to winter pastime for New Englanders. It’s the perfect way to get outdoors, into the wilderness, and explore trails covered with snow. It’s also great exercise and can be easier than running on pavement or tackling rugged snowshoe trails. Most Nordic Centers offer cross country ski trails for all skill levels, from flat beginner’s loops to steep ascents and speedy downhills for the more advanced skier. They may be less celebrated than some of the big alpine resorts, but the multitude of cross-country skiing trails and centers scattered throughout New England is growing larger and more diverse with every passing year and each new technology advancement.

Wondering where to go? Here some of Yankee’s favorite places to cross country ski in New England.

Acadia National Park
Photo Credit : Visit Maine

12. Explore Acadia National Park

Of the 4 million visits people made to Acadia National Park in 2021, nearly all were by car. The scene looks vastly different when the snow flies, however, and most of the famed Park Loop Road is closed to auto traffic—offering a prime opportunity for winter enthusiasts to explore this stunning 47,000-acre park at their own pace and under their own steam. Read our guide to Acadia National Park here.

St. Patrick's Day Parade | South Boston, MA
Everyone’s Irish for at least one day a year during this popular family event, one of the largest St. Patrick’s parades in the country.
Photo Credit : Kozowyk, The Bros.

13. Celebrate Saint Patrick’s day

Even though New England’s late-winter landscape may not have brightened much by mid-March, the region still greens up in a big way each year when Saint Patrick’s Day arrives. Irish roots run deep here: In a ranking of U.S. states whose residents claim Irish ancestry, New England occupies the first five slots (Massachusetts, 22 percent; New Hampshire, 21; Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine, 18).

As a result, many of the foods Americans think of as central to St. Patrick’s Day are dishes more customary to New England than Ireland itself. Corned beef and cabbage, for instance, which later became a staple of Irish-American culture, was at first favored by Irish immigrants due to its low cost. But whether it’s this traditional boiled dinner you’re craving, or a hearty Beef and Guinness Stew, Yankee has the Saint Patrick’s Day recipes to make your next holiday gathering memorable.

But whether you mark the day with a loaded plate of corned beef and cabbage, pints of green beer, or an enthusiastic attempt at dancing an Irish jig (we know — those fifes and fiddles can make us do strange things), it’s almost always more fun to celebrate with a crowd at one of New England’s many St. Patrick’s Day parades! The South Boston annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is the most large and well known, and to learn more about the region’s biggest Boston Irish party you can visit their website or learn more about Yankee’s take in our post about the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Some of our other (smaller) favorites include the Cape Cod St. Patrick’s Parade in Massachusetts, the Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Rhode Island, the Greater New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Connecticut, the Scituate St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Massachusetts, the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Massachusetts, and the Manchester St. Patrick’s Parade in New Hampshire.

In big cities and small towns alike, you can also find plenty of places to hoist a perfectly poured pint and tap your feet to some lively music. To get you started, here are our top picks for the best Irish bar in every New England state. No matter where you go for St. Patrick’s Day, you’re going to have a good time!

The open-air museum Strawbery Banke is a hub of yuletide activity, with an outdoor ice rink bustling with skaters of all ages and a historic campus transformed into a winter wonderland.
Photo Credit : Michael D. Wilson

14. Visit a museum

A cozy afternoon spent in an art museum is a terrific way to gain a new perspective after a busy summer and fall—and New England, with its long history of nurturing art and artists, has some world-class options to choose from. In the winter months, you’ll find these places peaceful, uncrowded, and uplifting. Some of our favorites include: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts: The Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine; The Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut; and the RISD Museum in Providence, Rhode Island.

Looking for a snowier, more outdoor-oriented museum experience? Go west to explore The Clark’s 140-acre campus in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Tuesdays through Sundays, you can borrow snowshoes for an outdoor adventure, then step indoors to warm your toes and feast your eyes with a slow stroll through the galleries.

Here are some more of our guides to New England museums:

Best Art Museum in Every New England State

Modern House Museums in New England

Historic House Museums in New England

Best Small Museums in New England

Best Boston Museums for Kids

Jay Peak Pumphouse Water Park
Photo Credit : Jay Peak Resort

15. Splash around at an indoor waterpark

When the weather outside is frightful, indoor waterparks offer warm temperatures, prime lounging opportunities, and an array of waterslide adventures that seem to test the laws of physics. Mix in a lazy river and a poolside bar, and voilà: Inside, it’s so delightful. Two of our favorites are Jay Peak Pumphouse Water Park in Jay, Vermont, and Water Park of New England in Danvers, Massachusetts.

Sugarloaf Mountain
Photo Credit : Sugarloaf

16. Hit the slopes

American skiing owes a lot to New England. Some of the country’s earliest ski resorts launched in its rugged (and often icy) mountains. Olympians have been born here, they’ve trained here, and they still ski here. And New England remains a prime skiing region today.

In all, there are 91 ski resorts scattered across New England, from Maine to Rhode Island, which means it can be hard to decide. But in every state, there are a few standouts. Find out some Yankee favorites in our roundup of the best ski mountain in every New England state, our favorite under-the-radar ski mountains (a.k.a., all the fun without the crowds), and our picks for the best easy ski trails in New England for beginners.

An oversize fireplace casts a timeless glow at the c. 1673 White Horse Tavern in Newport, Rhode Island.
Photo Credit : Courtesy of The White Horse Tavern

17. Warm up with a fireside meal or beverage

Firelight is a time machine. Gaze into the swirling flames, feel the natural warmth radiating, hear the crackle of the wood releasing its energy, and you’re teleported to an age when fire—like food and drink—was a basic necessity. We’re comforted by the way a fireplace transforms a powerful force into a soul-soothing escape from the frosty outdoors. The best restaurants with fireplaces combine inspired cuisine with the romance of a warm hearth, and each one has a story to tell. Which is why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite New England inns and restaurants with fireplaces to help you navigate the chilly weeks ahead.

In the Chichester woods, sap boiling gets under way at Matras Maple Farm, started 20 years ago by brothers Willie and Asa Matras.
Photo Credit : Jenn Bakos

18. Make the most of maple season

If autumn is New England’s Mardi Gras, maple season is our Oktoberfest, a delicious celebration of regional heritage in liquid form. And as our tasty to-do list shows, syrup lovers from Connecticut to Quebec have plenty of inspired ways to drink it all in. You could visit a maple sugarhouse, pour it on at a pancake house like the iconic Polly’s Pancake Parlor, or simply bring home a bottle and cook up some maple goodies in the kitchen.

Some of our favorite maple syrup recipes for spring include our food editor’s recipe for Maple Gooey Butter Cake, these mouthwatering Maple Barbecue Ribs, a collection of boozy Maple Syrup Cocktail Recipes, and of course, Sugar on Snow. What’s more, there are many alternative maple concoctions that are worthy in their own right. We’ve also rounded up a few favorite New England–made maple products that give new meaning to maple. Fans of savory-sweet combinations will love the maple pepper, maple-smoked cheddar, and maple sriracha, while those with a sweet tooth may prefer to pop open a tub of the aforementioned maple cotton candy. And not everything is meant to be eaten: We found earrings, ceramics, refrigerator magnets, and even art supplies.

Don’t know your rich from your robust? Our guide to the updated maple syrup grades is here to help explain the difference. Just pass the pancakes!

19. Dust off your gardening gloves

Even if the ground is still covered in a layer of snow, March is a great time to start seedlings and gear up for spring. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner wondering where to start, use by stocking up on supplies to get seeds started for the upcoming spring as a great excuse to go wander through the balmy rooms of a greenhouse. Our list of the best New England nurseries and garden centers is a great place to start.

Candlepin Bowling
Candlepin Bowling
Photo Credit : Renee Schwietzke/Wikimedia Commons

20. Go candlepin bowling

New England’s primacy in the sport of candlepin bowling is clear. It all started here in 1880, when Justin “Pop” White, a bowling lane owner in Worcester, Massachusetts, invented the sport, which today remains part of the regional culture. No surprise, then, that the best candlepin alleys are located in New England.

Candlepin differs from standard (and, non–New Englanders might try to argue, superior) tenpin bowling in significant ways. The balls are smaller, players roll three balls per frame as opposed to two, and the pins are thinner. For those reasons, candlepin fans contend, the sport is more difficult. The International Candlepin Bowling Association has a robust website that details the sport’s history and how to play it.

Looking to try your hand at candlepin bowling? As the home of this historic sport, New England has some great spots to get you started. Here’s a list of our favorites.

What’s your favorite thing to do in March in New England? Let us know in the comments below!