No room in the budget for global adventures? Skip the plane ride (and price tag) in favor of these 10 spots that will have you experiencing distant states and the world without leaving New England.
Escape the cold weather and turn up the heat with a night of salsa dancing hosted by the Havana Club at the Greek American Political Club in Central Square. Just steps from the T, Havana Club plays host to a ballroom-style Latin dance party every weekend, with live music most Saturdays. Have two left feet? Included in the cover price ($12, $15 if there’s a band) is an hour-long group lesson by the Salsa y Control Dance company, whose instructors will show you the mambo, the cumbia, and some basic partnering techniques -all the moves you’ll need once the party starts at 10 p.m. 21 and older, Havana Club, 288 Green St., Cambridge, 617-312-5550, www.havanaclubsalsa.com
Picture this: tables upon tables of antique jewelry, toys, clothing, kitchenware, crafts, and more; an endless array of items to pick through and barter over. If it’s the atmosphere of London’s famous Portobello Road that you’re after, New Milford could be the next best thing. In operation since 1976, the Elephant’s Trunk Country Flea Market has grown to include upward of 300 vendors for your antique-hunting pleasure and is open every Sunday from April through November. 5:45-7 a.m. admission is $20 but drops to $2 after 7 a.m.; 490 Federal Road, Route 7, New Milford, Conn., 508-265-9911, www.etflea.com
Roll your own
Arguably, the only thing more difficult than pronouncing gnocchi is making it. If you’re craving a taste of Italy, look no further than Harvard Square, where the Cambridge Center for Adult Education will have you cooking like a true Italian. Roll up those sleeves and learn to whip up potato, semolina, and ricotta versions of this dumpling dish and its accompanying sauces. The course costs $69 and meets Dec. 3 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Call ahead or register online (the class is limited to 16). 42 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-547-6789, www.ccae.org
If a voyage to the Amazon
is out of the question, experience a slice of the rain forest at the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens in South Deerfield. Wander through the tropical indoor gardens, where upward of 4,000 butterflies and moths flutter among the vegetation in the 8,000-square-foot conservatory. It won’t just look like the rain forest. It will feel like it too, as the temperature hovers around 80 degrees daily. Adults $12, seniors $10, children and students $8, under 3 free. 281 Greenfield Road, 413-665-2805, www.magicwings.com
Could New England’s answer to Scotland’s Loch Ness be in Vermont? Rumor has it that Lake Champlain plays host to its own monster, Champ, who is a bit of a local celebrity. Even the local minor league baseball team - the Vermont Lake Monsters - pays homage to this tall tale. So pack a picnic and sit by the lake’s edge. Luckily, nearby Burlington has plenty to keep you busy once you tire of waiting for Champ to make an appearance.
Who says you need to go to Napa Valley (or France, for that matter) for a truly enjoyable vineyard experience? The charming Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod has nine wines to sample - $7 gets you access to five - all of which go from the grape to the bottle right on-site. The gorgeous five-acre estate is just as enticing as the wine. Edward Hopper was inspired by the property to paint the works “Rich’s House’’ and “Rich’s Barn’’ in the early 1930s. There’s also a gift shop filled with wine-themed novelties and bottles of wine for sale. Open through Thanksgiving; free tours from Memorial Day through Columbus Day; 11 Shore Road, North Truro, 508-487-6200, trurovineyardsofcapecod.com
Tap into this
Wiener schnitzel, anyone? Sauerbraten? Sample the traditional flavors of Germany in Boston’s Theater District at Jacob Wirth Restaurant. In operation since 1868 and in the same spot since 1878, the restaurant and bar has endured Prohibition, the Great Depression, and two world wars. These days, with 13 German and Belgium beers on draft and 11 by the bottle, you can create your own mini Oktoberfest. 31-37 Stuart St., 617-338-8586, www.jacobwirth.com
Take the falls
Though New Hampshire and Maui may seem worlds apart, achieving that Hawaiian vibe is right in your own backyard (minus the tropical temperatures, that is) when you view a rushing waterfall. Our vote goes to Arethusa Falls - said to be named for the poem “Arethusa’’ by Percy Bysshe Shelley - in White Mountain National Forest. A moderate hike from the parking lot up the roughly 1 1/2-mile (one-way) trail leads to this overlook where Bemis Brook cascades nearly 160 feet into a pool below. Make a day of it by packing a lunch to eat on the boulders by the water’s edge. Route 302, Crawford Notch, N.H., www.nhstateparks.com/waterfalls.html
Shine a light
The wonders of Asia aren’t as far away as you might think. Wander down Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge and you’ll happen upon the Greater Boston Buddhist Cultural Center, complete with meditation room, tea house, and vegetarian dining room, where members partake in yoga classes, prayer groups, meditation, lectures, and more. Founded in 1999, the center is a branch of Fo Guang Shan (Buddha’s Light Mountain) Monastery in Taiwan. Open to the general public Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 950 Mass. Ave, Cambridge, 617-547-6670, www.ibps.org/boston/GBBCC/eng/
It’s a tradition
Leave the hustle and bustle of the city and cultivate an inner peace at Kaji Aso Studio, a serene spot in Boston that offers classes in Japanese poetry, art, calligraphy, ceramics, and more. In the basement of the center you’ll find a traditional Japanese tea house, the House of Flower Wind, built by the center’s founder, Kaji Aso. The tea house hosts weekly traditional tea ceremonies, where you can nibble on cake and chat with other guests. If you’re interested in learning the ancient art of tea preparation, House of Flower Wind also offers an eight-week apprenticeship for $295. $30 for tea ceremony, Sundays from 4-6 p.m.; 40 St. Stephen St., 617-247-1719, www.kajiasostudio.com
Nicole Cammorata can be reached at NCammorata@boston.com.
© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.