If you’re in the mood for a winter getaway that involves more than hunkering down in a cozy cabin, you’re in the right place. It’s the best time of year for a cold-weather adventure, when the Northeast transforms into a winter wonderland, with epic snowy playgrounds just a mere few hours away from major cities.
Whether you’re in the mood for a ski weekend or prefer to partake in something a little less traditional on the East Coast, we’ve got you covered with a whole array of winter activities, from snowmobiling and ice skating to snowshoeing and ice fishing. So lace up your snow boots and get ready to set out on your journey.
You can’t talk about winter adventures without mentioning skiing. While the West Coast does, admittedly, tend to get more fresh snow and boast bigger mountains, there are still plenty of slopes to try out if you want to stay on the East Coast. Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort offers some of the best skiing in the Northeast, for a quintessential New England ski trip. Other options include Hunter Mountain or Windham Mountain Club in the Catskills. For accommodations, Urban Cowboy Lodge in the Catskills is situated near Belleayre Mountain, and after a day of skiing, you can return to the lodge and relax your sore muscles in the Estonian sauna.
For a more private experience, consider a jaunt to Twin Farms. The all-inclusive luxury resort spans hundreds of acres in Barnard, VT, with six private, groomed skiing trails and all of the necessary equipment. The property’s snowmobile brings guests back to the top of the hill after each run.
Sure, you can go ice skating at one of the busy city rinks, but why not enjoy the activity while taking in the gorgeous New England landscape, outside of the hustle and bustle? Head to the Hudson Valley for a day of skating at Bear Mountain, or Kiwanis Ice Arena in the Catskills. If you want to turn it into an overnight, consider Scribner’s Catskill Lodge, which boasts an on-site ice skating rink, set up for “glice” skating, amidst a mountain backdrop.
Ice Fishing and Ice Curling
Perhaps you want to explore less traditional winter pursuits—may we suggest ice fishing and ice curling? The former is pretty self-explanatory, and the kind of ice fishing you’ll experience is typically very dependent on the locale: in Maine, you can reel in salmon, and in Rhode Island, it tends more towards pike.
Ice curling might be a bit less familiar; it’s a sport where two teams slide stones on ice towards a target—perfect for the adventurous traveler. Professional ice curling clubs can be found all around the East Coast, though it can be harder to find recreational options—if you’re not sure where to go, try Cedar Lakes Estate in the Hudson Valley.
Skiing or snowboarding can have a rather steep learning curve. If it’s not particularly appealing to you and you’re not feeling the idea of zooming down a mountain, consider snowshoeing. It’s a great alternative that also provides a workout, but requires less experience. Instead of slowly slugging through snow, you’ll trod on top of it with a pair of snowshoes. The best time to go is after a fresh snow, and a plethora of state parks (like Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve and Whitehall State Park) have dedicated trails.
It turns out that ziplining isn’t just a warm-weather activity. In fact, winter is one of the best times to embark on a ziplining excursion, as the snow-covered tree tops create a breathtaking perspective. Intrigued? Head to New Hampshire, where you can take a canopy tour of Bretton Woods at Omni Mount Washington Resort. This behemoth of a resort is also a good option if you want to try some more traditional winter activities, like alpine and Nordic skiing, gondola riding, tubing and snowshoeing. There’s even an indoor rock climbing wall.
Jet-skiing on land does exist, and it’s called snowmobiling. Hop on one of these motorized vehicles and plow through the snow, for a fun daredevil adventure. For the ultimate snowmobiling experience, check out Polaris Adventures. The company offers rental excursions all around the country, but you can’t go wrong with Maine; two destinations—Fryeburg and Shin Pond Village—deliver off-roading adventures that give you a nature-immersing rush. You can also explore Mount Washington, for a New Hampshire getaway.
Feeling particularly daring? Set out on a mountain biking excursion. And yes, this is a winter-approved activity, as the fat tires make for better traction on the snow or ice. If that catches your interest, then there’s no better place to do it than in Stowe, Vermont, which has been hailed a “mountain biking mecca” due to its extensive trail network for all levels of riding.