New England is a region awash in stereotypes. To hear outsiders tell it, the six states house egg-heady, grumpy Puritans; eat bland food like baked beans; and totally lack in sophistication and style. Also, everybody wears North Face and talks like they're from South Boston. Or, maybe Downeast Maine, if they're giving directions.
To all of that we say, nice try! In reality, each principality boasts its own distinct character and singular pull, be it culinary, cultural, or related to the countryside (most likely, an amalgam of all three). So toss aside the Brahmin bromides and take a fresh look at what makes each New England state so alluring.
1. Ben & Jerry’s
Need it even be said? The state that gave you Cherry Garcia is clearly a spot worthy of your devotion. But at the company’s Waterbury factory, you can actually see where the hippie-double-dippy magic happens, thanks to 30-minute tours that culminate at the sample-friendly scoop shop. Those nostalgic for Wavy Gravy can visit the Flavor Graveyard -- which is exactly what it sounds like, tombstones and all -- and pay their respects. Just look for the happy plastic cows out front.
There is perhaps no more on-the-nose Vermont city than Burlington, and not just because it birthed Phish. The college town has it all: prototypical hippies, locavore cuisine, foliage-dotted hills, historic churches and buildings, a thriving music and arts scene, and an unmatched commitment to renewable energy. For those craving a little Quebecois culture, Burlington is also less than an hour from the Canadian border. And yes, a certain senator and presidential candidate used to feel the burn as mayor of this lakeside lefty spot.
One of the state’s special charms is just how much everyone loves their pups -- which means they love your pup too. Your four-legged family member is allowed pretty much anywhere, from coffee shops to hiking trails to breweries. Pet stores like The Quirky Pet in Montpelier raise pet ephemera to the next level, and hotels such as the Stowe Mountain Lodge dedicate significant resources to make sure Ozzy Pawsborne is walked, fed, groomed, and coddled -- even if Mr. Pawsborne is a 140lb Mastiff banned everywhere else.
Snow or shine, Vermonters never stay indoors for long. And it makes sense -- no matter the calendar month, the state remains pristinely beautiful. In the winter and spring, locals and visitors can ski, snowboard, snowshoe, and dogsled the Green Mountains. Come summer and fall, they turn their attentions to hiking, biking, running, and horseback riding. Trust us: anyone who’s visited has daydreamed at least once about ditching city life, settling into a remote cabin, and becoming an outdoor warrior.
Yeah, yeah, we know: Wisconsin. Well, we’ll see them their silly foam hats and raise them a sharp white raw-milk cheddar from the Green Mountain State. Cabot Creamery is the big name here, but the Vermont Cheese Trail is awash in washed rinds and many other cheese types -- 46 different cheesemongers populate the trail, churning out artisanal cheddars, fresh chevres, blues, and more. Do the cheeses pair well with the state’s numerous craft brews? There’s only one way to find out.