Small Town Traditions in New England >>> VisitingNewEngland.com
10 Small Town Traditions That Make Living in New England Truly
Front porch life at the Vermont Country Store in Weston, Vt.
Article, photos by Eric Hurwitz --
created for VisitingNewEngland.com on 11/7/2022. @newenglandinfo
Everyone seeks a sense of community and
a feeling of belonging. What better way to experience those joys on a
daily basis than by enjoying small town traditions in New England?
While our society might have reached the point of no return with
incivility and moral degradation, living in or visiting small towns in New England can
often remind us of the simple things in life that matter most. People
coming together as a close-kit community, faith, family and a few
traditional destinations along the way can do wonders for the soul.
While the good old days weren't always good -- far from it -- somehow
we have lost our way in slowing down, enjoying the moment and counting
New England living, a day trip or a vacation can bring us back to another place and
time with timeless joys. Here are just a few to make one feel good
about living in the 21st century...
Gathering at the Town Green in New England
Uncommon Art on the Common, Walpole Town Common, Walpole, Mass.
Many small New England towns still prominently feature town greens (also known as town commons). These greens often date
back to Colonial times where
they served as the physical and spiritual centers for these early
towns. Today, many town greens continue to be the center of town events,
fairs, and other gatherings. That could mean, for starters, a Christmas
tree lighting event, a fall harvest fair, winter festival, a summer
concert -- or, just a simple thing like an idyllic place to have lunch or read a book
at your own pace.
Classic New England tradition: Enjoying the Town Green in
New England states still feature town greens with Connecticut, Massachusetts and
Vermont leading the way with
these charming, quaint parcels of land
that not only bring people downtown but bring them together. It is so
heartwarming to experience these community gatherings, no matter what
time of the year.
Shopping at an Old Fashioned Country Store in New England
Brown & Hopkins Country Store, Chepachet, R.I.
If you've had your fill of faceless big box stores and cookie cutter
shopping centers, then an old fashioned New England country store could
restore your shopping soul. After hundreds of years in business, many of
these rustic places to shop are still thriving.
There's something so magical about shopping in these classic,
nostalgic places that date back to the colonial days. Perhaps it is the
penny candy, maple syrup, jams and jellies, homemade fudge, local
cheeses, the peanut butter-making machine and the old-fashioned pickle
barrel. Then again, it could be the aromas of candles and soaps. Maybe
it is the mix of clothing, hardware items, toys, gifts and puzzles, as well as the
hard-to-find merchandise that we thought was gone forever. I suspect,
though, that the greatest thing about a New England country store is
its folksy, New England character, characters and customer service.
Once stepping into a traditional New England country store, you know you
are in New England.
Going to Church on a Sunday Morning in New England
United Church of Christ, Keene, N.H.
The historic church with the tall white steeple has been a mainstay,
often in the downtown areas of small New England towns. Once often part of a town
common, these churches were moved or rebuilt when the separation of
church and state occurred in the 1830s. Although church attendance is sadly
down, it's not uncommon to see community in numbers walk or drive to church on a
Sunday morning. For many, it is a way to continuously connect to a
higher ground, pray for a better world and keep the faith with
like-minded people who are believers, seek that sense of belonging and
work together as a community to help each other overcome personal and
Plus, that Sunday morning at church can be preceded or followed by some
bacon, eggs and coffee at the local
Summer at the Ocean Beaches in New England
Short Sands Beach, York Beach, Maine.
When in New England, do as the locals do. Since so much of New England
is located by the coast, going to an ocean beach is an essential summer
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island
features many publicly-accessible ocean beaches. There's nothing
setting up a towel or chair on the sand and taking in the salt sea air,
ocean waves and, if deemed safe by the lifeguards on a given day, enjoying a dip
in the water.
Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island offer the most ocean beaches with
Cape Cod taking first place for many choices in
My favorite beach destination in New England, though, has to be York
Beach, Maine. Here's why.
Leaf Peeping and Other Autumn Traditions in New England
Foliage at Cate Park, Wolfeboro, N.H.
The window is short for brilliant fall colors
in small town New England (and everywhere else, for that matter) with
peak foliage occurring in October. It starts north and then works it way
down south and is all good, no matter what part of New England! When
combining fall leaf peeping with other seasonal delights -- like apple
picking (see the next section), drives through the mountains, fall festivals in
quaint towns, comforting nights by the fire pit, and brisk walks and
hikes with that unmistakable chill in the air -- the autumn vibes
prove overwhelmingly satisfying to the soul. Thank you, New England, we
love all these traditions!
Apple Picking in New England
Family at Red Apple Farm, Phillipston, Mass.
September and part of October in small town New England bring apple picking in New England. It's
such a great feeling getting outside in a rural place with, often, a
refreshing chill in the air and the chance to walk or perhaps take a
horse-drawn wagon to an apple field and fill your bag with apples -- or
for finding that perfect pumpkin from a patch. Plus, many of these
apple orchards have farm stands where apple cider, apple dumplings,
apple cider slush and apple cider donuts can be purchased -- and, oh
yes, I almost forgot -- fresh produce, too!
Celebrating Christmas in New England
Nubble Lighthouse at Christmas, Cape Neddick, Maine.
The Christmas holiday season is where traditional
small town New England
living really shines. Despite the cold
weather, many New Englanders love to celebrate Christmas at tree
lighting ceremonies, Santa parades, sleigh rides, caroling, concerts,
trolley rides, holiday arts and crafts fairs, hot chocolate bars and
more. Some towns have multi-day Christmas celebrations located by
the sea. Imagine seeing a lighted lobster trap Christmas tree and
arriving by boat!
Maple Sugaring in New England
Parker's Maple Barn, Mason, N.H.
We all love maple syrup,
right? Savoring this delicious food treat straight from the source in New
England, however, is an even sweeter experience. The fresh taste that
comes right off the maple trees is a game changer with a far sweeter
experience than buying at the local market. While visiting a maple
sugar house can stand on its own to fully appreciate and enjoy this New
England experience, some places have their own on-the-premises
restaurants where maple-based breakfasts, lunches and drinks
prove to be irresistibly delicious.
March is a great time to go out into the country and experience great
New England traditions like the maple syrup season!
Seafood Shack Dining in New England
Petey's, Rye, N.H.
unpretentious no-frills seafood shack often turns out the best
seafood in New England -- not to mention generally better value for the
money. Some specialize in fried clams, New England clam chowder,
lobster and lobster rolls while others source, locally, a fuller
spectrum of seafood dishes. These inviting, comforting type of places
-- many with water views -- tend to comee across like huge family
gatherings with long tables, loud conversations and celebrating over
the blessings of good food. Only this time, it's New England and the fresh,
seafood takes center stage!
No Particular Reason
Motif #1 Red Fish Shack, Rockport, Mass.
One of the great things about New England is its spontaneous nature.
The six-state region can never be fully covered by a travel guide as
virtually every twist and turn on the back roads and main streets
provide scenic delights.
Downtown Walpole, Mass.
Your New England travels don't have to be relegated to vacation towns,
either. Proof: Some of the photos you see in this story were taken in Walpole, Mass. -- a pleasing small town 18 miles
southwest of Boston. it is not a vacation town by any stretch of the
imagination but rather a close-knit residential town that people
happily lay their roots. Like many small towns in the six-state region,
Walpole has plenty of "New England" pop!
Covered bridge in Dummerston, Vt.
Just know that a treasure of traditional New England surprises await
you if fully
engaged in the travel process. That means putting the cellphone away and seeing the world around you
-- this time, in the form of New Englandd, one of the most beautiful
regions in the united States!
Essential Places to Stay in New England
Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont | Cliff House Resort and Spa, Cape Neddick, Maine | Omni Mt. Washington Resort, Bretton Woods, N.H. | The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, R.I. | Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham, Massachusetts (Cape Cod)
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