March is not the prettiest month. It’s almost spring, which is a tease because it’s still cold. If there’s snow, it’s dirty and you’re tired of it. If there’s no snow, the yards, streets, and gutters are filled with left-over winter debris (and dog poop). And, you’re robbed of an hour of sleep when daylight saving time begins.
Sure, there’s March Madness (but you probably won’t win the bracket) and St. Patrick’s Day (green dye, drunk crowds, and a general lack of understanding of what’s being celebrated). But there’s also this: maple sugaring, migrating birds, spring skiing, festivals, and special events. Here are some fun things to see and do to help you survive the month of March in New England.
EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY
Dine out Boston (www.bostonusa.com/dine-out-boston) returns March 3-8 and March 10-15 and offers the perfect excuse to sample a new restaurant and support the local dining scene. Some 65 restaurants across the city will be offering prix fixe lunch and dinner menus at reduced rates. Lunch is available at $15, $20, and $25 and dinner at $28, $33, and $38.
Maine Restaurant Week, March 1-12 (www.mainerestaurantweek.com), will showcase restaurants and chefs around the state, offering multi-course meals at fixed prices ranging from $25 to $55 per person, depending on the establishment. Most of the 45 or so participating restaurants are in Portland, named the 2018 Restaurant City of the Year by Bon Appetit magazine, but others are in South Portland, Camden, Lewiston, and Kennebunkport. Several special events will also be held during the week, including the 10th annual Incredible Breakfast Cook-Off; Crave, a coffee and pastry pairing; and Spirit Quest, acocktail and small-bites tasting tour.
SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH
More than 50 sugarhouses across Massachusetts will join in to celebrate Mass Maple Weekend, March 16-17 (www.massmaple.org). There will be tours, demonstrations, and tastings, along with special events and displays.
Sugarhouses across New Hampshire will welcome guests during New Hampshire Maple Weekend, March 23-24 (www.nhmapleproducers.com), when producers offer free samples, pancake breakfasts, horse-drawn rides, and petting farms. It’s one of New England’s largest sugar season celebrations with more than 50 participating sugarhouses.
Get a look at the maple sugaring process and lots of free tastings on Maine Maple Sunday,March 24, when sugarhouses throughout Maine open their doors and their pantries for the statewide celebration (www.mainemapleproducers.com).
It’s all maple sugar this and maple sugar that during the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend, March 23-24 (www.vermontmaple.org). Hot maple toddies, maple baked brie, a sugar maple massage, anyone? Check out the website for participating sugarhouses.
Get an early look at spring — and a major mood boost — at the annual Smith College Bulb Show at Lyman Conservatory, March 2-17 (garden.smith.edu/event/spring-bulb-show), with hundreds of blooming spring bulbs, including flashy tulips, blossoming crocuses, and scented hyacinths, lilies, and narcissi.
For inspiration for your own gardens, visit the Boston Flower Show at the Seaport World Trade Center, March 13-17 (www.bostonflowershow.com). The colorful exhibit will feature a slew of life-size gardens, demonstrations, and workshops.
GO FOR THE BIRDS
Though their numbers are increasing, the sight of a soaring bald eagle still thrills. The lower Connecticut River is prime winter eagle-watching territory, when a dozen to two dozen migrating eagles are drawn to the open water, and the plentiful fish. Board the 64-foot RiverQuest tour boat at the Connecticut River Museum Steamboat Dock in Essex, Conn., for a scenic, naturalist-led two-hour cruise. Your ticket also includes access to the Connecticut River Museum, showcasing its special Eagles of Essex exhibit. Cruises are offered Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through March 17 (www.ctrivermuseum.org).
GET A GOGGLE TAN
Tons of snow, warmer temps, and bluebird skies make skiing in March a real treat and Mount Snowknows how to make the most of the month (www.mountsnow.com). The southern Vermont resort will be hosting the Jack Jump World Championships, March 4; the Carinthia Freeski Open, March 9-10; Bud Light St. Patties Day, March 17 (dress in green and get $17 lift tickets); and the Bud Light Reggaefest, March 23-25, with a pond-skimming contest and a duct-tape derby.
Sunday River (www.sundayriver.com) in Maine will host the Maine Adaptive Ski-a-Thon, March 23; the World Pro Ski Tour, March 29-30; and a Chili Cook Off, March 31. The resort will also host other festivities throughout the month, like murder mystery dinners, a BMW Winter xDrive Experience, and learn-to-ski days with special deals on lift tickets and rentals.
March is traditionally one of the snowiest months at Sugarbush in Vermont (www.sugarbush.com), coinciding with some of the best events of the year, including the freestyle Castlerock Extreme competition, March 9; Vermont Specialty Food Day, March 16; Island Weekend with a slopeside luau, March 23-24, and the Dummy Big Air (build your own ski dummy for the competition), March 31. There’s also a variety of special activities, like photo tours, distillery tastings, moonlit snowshoe treks, movie nights, and live concerts.
Sugarloaf in Maine (www.sugarloaf.com) hosts the US Alpine Speed Championships, March 16-21, and the ninth annual Banked Slalom, March 30-31. The month of March is a fun, relaxed time to visit, when the resort also hosts themed dinners, live entertainment, and special mountain tours.
The KITCHEN at the Boston Public Market, managed by The Trustees of Reservations (www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/metro-boston/boston-public-market.html), offers hands-on, seasonally inspired culinary classes in March, showcasing local products and cuisine. Check out Farm-to-KITCHEN Winter in New England, March 6, 13, 23, 29, and 30; Breadmaking with Jason Bond from Bondir, March 11; and Master Class: Showstopping Veggies, March 9. The KITCHEN also hosts free cooking demos and kids’ programs.