Photo by Salt Water New England

Monday, January 6, 2020

Question for the Community: Do you use your (family) summer houses in winter?

Photos by Salt Water New England
The first time visiting a summer community off-season is disconcerting. Familiar people are gone.    Some favorite stores are boarded up.  But what often follows is a greater appreciation.  It is much easier to move around.  Store keeps are so much happier to see you. 

And when visiting not just on the fringes of the summer season but in the dead of winter,  you soon feel more like an insider.  (And sometime literally, eating chowder and looking out at the storms through the fogged windows.)

Inevitably, after experiencing both, I long for the winter visits during summer more often than the summer visits during the winter.

Question for the Community:
Do you use your (family) summer houses in winter?  For what, and how has that changed over the last decade?
Scratchy Photo from 1980s: En route to the family house in Edgartown in December.









25 comments:

  1. Yes, living in the south most do go to their vacation homes year round. We get to burn the fireplace, watch the winter skies on the water, go to the historical spots, eat in restaurants without a line and get there in half the time without traffic.

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  2. Yes, our family has a house on the coast in the Carolinas, and I love the "Off Season" as I find as I get older I appreciate the solitude. On the other hand, seeing all of the neighbors in the spring is nice as well.

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  3. My parents' bayfront cottage on Cape Cod was not suitable for winter use, inadequate insulation and heating, so we drained the pipes. Some years we would visit, staying at a nearby private inn that was amazed to have winter guests. Unfortunately one of the heirs tore it down and rebuilt with a massive look-at-me year-rounder that I can scarcely stand to visit in any season.

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  4. Yes, we do use our family summer houses in winter: in fact, we have just returned from a chilly, gray, rainy - and happy - week in the community we live in during the summer. While it is a completely different experience, it is one all of our family loves, and we savor the differences. We miss the many beautiful farm stands and the abundant produce, and the life-jacket-wearing children biking down the village lanes. But we still treasure the great natural beauty of salt marshes in winter, and water that changes color every day.

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  5. Oh yes. My husband is there now resting up from the hectic holiday season. The quiet and the chill along with a roaring fire and a hike in the woods are the perfect tonic to "the season."

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  6. The family had a summer cottage on the Outer Banks of North Carolina up until a few years ago. It was rarely used in the winter. There was no heat. In fact, I think the only time it was used was on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brother's flight. The monument was visible from a rear window in the house. My late father-in-law was an aeronautical engineer (pre-aerospace, he liked to say) and I think that was special to him.

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  7. Yes, it is at the "Shore" as we aboriginals from New Jersey describe it and we go there every weekend. It is QUIET and peaceful and relaxing and wonderful. We walk the beach, see whales, seals, porpoise and more. We watch movies and sleep in. It's the best.

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  8. Yes, we love the cottage in the winter. The fireplace is lit first thing in the morning and blazes all day.

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  9. Wonderful photos. Thanks so much!

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  10. We use our house in coastal Rhode Island in the winter, but obviously not the same way we use it during the summer. About every other year we celebrate Christmas at the RI house. I personally go without the family every three weeks or so just to check in the house and boat, but not to stay over (a 6 hour round trip). Our favorite breakfast spot is open 11 months out of the year, so we always make a stop there during the off season. When the whole family goes out and we do stay over, we tend to try restaurants that we normally wouldn't go to in the summer season.

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  11. I'll echo the comments about "the Shore". My house doesn't have much insulation, but it's still a fantastic getaway in the winter. You notice lots of things you'd otherwise miss in both the built and natural environment when it's just you and the locals.

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  12. Our place on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is used all year. In fact, the winter is more pleasant than in the heat of the summer.

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    1. I'll drink to that! We had a place there for about 15 years and I boycotted it in July and August! Loved it in the winter though.

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  13. My parent's Cape cottage wasn't winterized, so it wasn't until they moved (retired) to a proper house that we spent much time there in the winter. Winter on the Cape is fabulous, from local's summer until Memorial Day.

    Our vacation condo is in the White Mountains, so it's a year 'round destination, but it's very rare that we go in the summer.

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  14. Yes. My parents' house on the south coast of Rhode Island is used year round by our family and has been the twenty-four years it's been in the family. My girlfriend and I have as recently as last year used it in February, my sister's family was up there over New Years. I've been known to go kayaking on the salt pond across the street as early as March and as late as November. Over the years I've celebrated New Years and other winter holidays there.

    What I've found most difficult in recent years is a whole lot of places (restaurants, shops, ect.) prior to Hurricane Sandy that were year round are now only seasonal. Last February finding more than a small handful of restaurants to go to was a challenge. It's one of the reasons my girlfriend, when planning our winter vacation, said "I'm just not sold on Rhode Island in February."

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  15. Yes! The Rhode Island shore is beautiful this time of year, and quiet!
    SNP

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  16. Our anniversary is in early February and we love going to Maine, Vermont, the Berkshires, etc., to celebrate. (It's one of the few times we get to see snow!)

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  17. We use the summer house for a much needed quiet get-away after the end of year holidays. Also, for bird migration season in late winter / early spring. These times are very private, just the two of us, no guests, hot spiced drinks, a roaring fire, and good books. Ahhhhh.

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  18. Scott (from New Orleans)January 8, 2020 at 8:35 AM

    Absolutely! In fact, we love going to our place on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the winter probably more than when it's crowded with beach goers in the summertime. The restaurants are much more available and its fun to take your time wandering around and rediscovering the town when it isn't packed with those from away.

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  19. For sure! Our second home is in Boothbay Harbor, ME, and we (or I) use it at least one or two weekends a month throughout the winter. An earlier commenter is dead on that you are able to become a much more integral part of the community, which is especially rewarding once the people "from away" come back after Memorial Day. You are known by name at the hardware store, bakery, bookstore and coffee shop. The winter light off the ocean penetrates deeply into the house, especially in the morning, and the great photos you can get in the winter make you feel like you're in on a secret that others are missing. Just the best!

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    1. Hardware store: Grover's?
      Bakery: Baker's Way? Mama D's?
      Bookstore: Sherman's?
      Coffee Shop: Red Cup?

      We live here year round now and agree that winter can often be the best.

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    2. Yes, Yes, Yes and Yes. You nailed them :-)

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  20. During my college years I would take off for a winter weekend to my family's unheated, uninsulated summer home on Cape Cod, just for a respite. Walks on the beach, big fires in the fireplace, hot stew from the stove, heavy wool blankets on a mattress dragged onto the floor by the fire. Girlfriends thought it was pretty romantic.

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  21. Currently enjoying this post at my home in Edgartown, thank you for the wonderfully scratchy pictures. And yes, I escape to the family cottage on that "other" island quite frequently in the dead of winter.

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  22. Our 'Summer Home' is on the shore of a lake in the heart of orchard/wine country - but8 hours away. I know my retired parents have visited in the off season, but so far my wife and I have only 'shut it down' in preparation for winter; we've never been between September and April.

    The one of the best things about summer is all the fresh fruit in season, but I can see the appeal, and would love to see the landscape with a dusting of snow.

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