Portsmouth, New Hampshire
An hour north of Boston, Portsmouth has gotten increasingly New England-cosmopolitan in its food, lodgings, and shops. Check into the Ale House Inn, perhaps timed to chuck snow at some Yankees during the town’s annual Snowball Fight on March 17 (pending snow, of course). Browse shops like Sault and Skowhegan Quality Goods and then belly up to the oyster bar at Row Portsmouth, the Seacoast outpost of Boston favorite Row 34, where oysters are $1 everyday in the winter from 11:30 to 5:00. In April, the restaurant welcomes cult-followed Jack’s Abby Brewing to the already-extensive craft beer lineup with a draft party at a date-to-be-named (check the website for details).
There are no crowds, and that’s the point. Husband and wife team Mark and Gwenn Snider’s Nantucket Hotel stays open all year round for those who know offseason Nantucket can be best season Nantucket. Eat at The Proprietors’ Bar & Table, followed by a glass of wine or two at the bar at Gabriel Frasca’s Ventuno. Or opt out of the outside: The hotel’s Art of Cabin Fever package, on offer now through April, lets guests book any number of stay-in treats and services, from massages, meditation classes and daily yoga to fondue by the outdoor fire pits and cocoa or champagne in the outdoor hot tub. What’s more, this week, the hotel’s popular Breeze Restaurant reopens with a major refresh and newly revamped menus.
In picture-perfect Rockport, overlooking the pristine Penobscot Bay, the Samoset is back in the offseason by popular demand, with winter specials, acres of snowshoe-ready grounds (that in the summer are the golf course), an on-property skating rink, balcony hot tubs, and an award-winning spa.Through the end of April, book one weekend night, and receive the second night at half off.
We suggest checking in for Maine Restaurant Week, going on now throughMarch 12, featuring the newly James Beard nominated Francine in nearby Camden.
Newport, Rhode Island
If it’s too chilly to stroll the scenic Cliff Walk, arguably even more stunning in the crisp winter months, Newport’s 10-mile Ocean Drive is just as breathtaking a view of the New England coast at its best (and from the cozy confines of your car). At Forty 1° North, you can enjoy the best of all seasons and worlds: a water view and a cozy fire and plenty of open bar seats at the typically packed Christie’s. Winter weekends often find executive chef Terence Feury digging up bivalves at the Walrus and Carpenter Oyster Farm on Narragansett’s Ninigret Pond to serve that evening at his Grill and Oval Bar. In the center of town, the hotel’s in walking distance from Newport’s still-bustling winter nightlife, but you’ll be happy enough staying in for a locavore’s dinner—when the docks outside are empty, it just means more oysters for you.