It's the most wonderful time of the year and, across the U.S., there's certainly no shortage of holiday cheer. But although the snowy peaks of Aspen or the tourist-crazed Rockefeller Center might be on some holiday wish lists, in New England there's a certain magic that can't be felt anywhere else - and here's where you should go to experience it.
Take a nice long look down Main Street around Christmastime and you just might see the picture-perfect scene that inspired Norman Rockwell. Every year the town recreates the exact setting seen in the artist's famous painting of Stockbridge, complete with period automobiles and horse drawn carriages. (Bonus: Take a photo opp. with Norman Rockwell in a “Triple self portrait” selfie at one of the photo booths along Main St.)
Celebrate a bygone era of holidays past as you stroll through Gilded Age icons like The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House, all decked out in Yuletide finery. Gaze at sumptuous trees, crimson poinsettias, fine china, and mannequins dressed in period clothing. When you're done with your tour, grab a bite at Tallulah on Thames; Executive Chef Jake Rojas offers a four-course, prix fixe menu sourced with local ingredients.
The setting is classic: snow drifts lay on the rooftops of colonial-style home while the scent of pine wafts through the air. For the last quarter-century, Woodstock has hosted Wassail Weekend, a pre-Christmas festival that includes a parade of more than 50 horses and a wassail feast. For the best spot to catch some shut-eye during your visit, reserve a room at The Woodstock Inn.
Christmas in New England just isn't complete without admiring the tree and musical light show at Faneuil Hall, treating yourself to a fancy dinner in the North End (finished off with a trip to Mike's Pastry), shopping for gifts on Newbury Street or catching a performance of the Holiday Pops.