Overlooking the placid waters of Lake Champlain, Burlington has a couple of claims to fame. After all, this is was the birthplace of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream back in the 1970s. It’s also home to the University of Vermont, meaning a buzzy, student town vibe, and lots of local passion for the Vermont Catamounts basketball teams – both the men’s and the women’s. These university teams play to packed crowds at the Patrick Gymnasium, a venerated venue which has seen some of basketball’s all-time greats strut their stuff.
Then there are the Vermont Catamounts men’s and women’s ice hockey teams, who play at the Gutterson Fieldhouse, known to locals as the Gut. Joyously raucous, the stadium makes for a frenetic day out, but be sure to book your tickets well ahead of time, as the people of Burlington really, really love their ice hockey, with each game being a major event.
An hour and a half southeast of Burlington lies the beautiful community of Woodstock. It’s got nothing to do with the zeitgeist-grabbing 60s festival of the same name – that took place over in New York state. This Woodstock, in Vermont, occupies an enviable position by a river, and is dotted with boutiques, quaint shopfronts with colourful awnings and family-run restaurants.
Local ice hockey players, the Woodstock Wasps, are the team to catch when you’re in town. This is also a fine place to show off your own skills. The Woodstock Inn & Resort has a sumptuous golf course which is ranked among the best in the world, with sweeping greens suited to golfers of all skill levels. And, if it’s the right season, you can hit the slopes of the Suicide Six ski area.
Drive for around 2.5 hours southeast to get to Boston, where sport is a religion among the locals. There’s a lot to choose from, depending on the season. The Boston Bruins are the beloved ice hockey greats who whip up a frenzy whenever they take to the ice. Things get especially heated if they’re up against their deadly rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. You can catch them in action at the TD Garden arena.
Then there’s the great sporting cathedral of Fenway Park, home to the legendary Red Sox. Baseball is woven into the very fabric of the United States, and you’ll see why when you watch a game in this great venue. The nation’s other obsession, American football, can be enjoyed at Gillette Stadium, where local heroes the New England Patriots do their thing. Look out for their A-list quarterback, Tom Brady.
Portland is a realm of lighthouses, beaches, salty sea air, lobster rolls and clam chowder. Not to mention cobblestoned streets, long-standing boutiques and antiques stores, and farm-to-table restaurants aplenty. But what about the sport? Basketball is well represented by the Maine Red Claws, a minor league team who play home games at the Portland Expo Building.
For baseball, you can catch the Sea Dogs in action at Hadlock Field. The atmosphere is always electric, and there’s a serious sense of fun – especially when their mascot, Slugger the Sea Dog, makes an appearance. If you’re here in September, you can also watch one of the biggest local events of the year: the Maine Marathon. It’s a fine time for soaking up the Portland culture and mingling with locals.
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