Get a sugar rush at these maple syrup meccas.
March may be muddy and cold, but it does have one thing going for it: This is the season when the maple sap starts flowing, and sugarhouses open their doors for hearty country breakfasts and demonstrations, no reservations required (if you’ve never seen sap being boiled down to syrup, you’re in for a treat). Though most can be found in the "maple belt" of western Massachusetts, a few sugarhouses lie closer to town. Wherever you go, get there fast: Sugaring season lasts only through mid-April, and unexpectedly warm weather can cut things short.
Hyland Orchard and Brewery Miles from Boston: 61. Throughout the year, this industrious farm serves as microbrewery, pick-your-own orchard, and petting zoo. But right now, maple rules at the buffet-style pancake breakfast and sugaring demo. 199 Arnold Rd., Sturbridge, 508-347-7500, hylandorchard.com.
Pomeroy Sugar House Miles from Boston: 99. The diner-style menu features pancakes, French toast, waffles, sausage, bacon, home fries, and muffins. If you stay at the on-site B&B, you’ll be the first in line. 491 Russellville Rd., Westfield, 413-568-3484, pomeroysugarhouse.com.
North Hadley Sugar Shack Miles from Boston: 108. Accompanying the pancakes are locally grown blueberries, eggs from Diemand Egg Farm in Wendell, and milk from Mapleline Farm. 181 River Dr., Hadley, 413-585-8820, northhadleysugarshack.com.