When the cold winds howl and the snow blankets New England, New Englanders and winter-loving visitors can be in their glory. They can hit the slopes, lace on skates, and feel the cold air blow by them as they whip along on a snowmobile. But if being chilly and damp is a far cry from your preferred winter pastime, there is still a lot to do indoors throughout the long New England winter. In the northeast corner of the country, there are many places to go where you may just forget that it's winter at all, even on the coldest days.
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens
You can check your coat at the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens, located near Yankee Candle Village in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, because butterflies like it warm. 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. Magic Wings is open daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. in the winter, but hours are extended until 6 p.m. in the summer.
The Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park resort in New England is an ideal getaway option for families who want to escape winter for a while. The resort's 68,000-square-foot water slide playground is always a tropical 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Other on-site amusements include the MagiQuest live-action adventure game, Howlin' Timbers Play Park, the Howlers Peak Ropes Course, miniature golf, a bowling alley, an arcade, and a Build-A-Bear Workshop. Once you check-in, everything you need to pretend you're far away from the New England winter is under one roof.
Elizabeth Park Greenhouse
You may rub your eyes and blink in disbelief when you leave behind the snow and enter the greenhouse at Elizabeth Park. The 100-year-old greenhouses at America's oldest municipal rose garden in Hartford, Connecticut, bring spring to life with rows of colorful flowers, even as winter lingers on outside. Inside the warm confines of these indoor gardens, you'll be treated to the sweet scents and sights of flowers in bloom. The greenhouses are open year-round and are free to enter.
Cape Codder Resort and Spa
The 8,200-square-foot indoor water complex at this family resort in Hyannis on Cape Cod 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, let your achey joints soak in the giant, tension-easing whirlpool. Then, head outdoors to the Cape Codder's year-round outdoor heated pool. Right on the premises, you'll also find a Hearth-n-Kettle Restaurant, which is perfect for family dining, and the Grand Cru Wine Bar & Grill if you're looking for something more upscale.
Mohegan Sun Casino
At Mohegan Sun, the casino complex in southeastern Connecticut, it's easy to forget that it's winter outside. You can spend many hours playing at the gaming tables or feasting at one of several outstanding restaurants. The decor of the casino represents the four seasons. As you walk through the different casinos, pay attention to the details of the design in the Casino of the Earth, visit the dome and waterfall in the Casino of the Sky, and try your luck at the slot machines and 33-table poker room.
SkyVenture New Hampshire
Plenty of intrepid surfers ride New England's waves in the winter, but why would you surf in the icy cold ocean when you can surf indoors? At SkyVenture New Hampshire, which is also a good place to try indoor skydiving, you can also catch waves at North America's largest indoor surfing facility. Surf's Up New Hampshire is an 11,000-square-foot, all-season paradise that features a programmable SurfStream from American Wave Machines churning up gnarly, 32-foot waves.
Okemo Valley Golf Club
Don't let the snow stop your golf game. At the Okemo Valley Golf Club's Indoor Golf Training Center in Vermont, you don't have to worry about your golf clubs or your skills getting rusty. 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. And because it's located at a ski resort, you can let your snow-loving travel companions hit the trails while you get your work out inside.