RECOMMENDED: Winter getaways from NYC
2½ hours by car or bus
This downhill sport has all the screaming momentum you crave sans the need for skill or coordination: Just settle in and let gravity do the work. Hunter Mountain recently gave its tubing park a major makeover—it now boasts 24 shoots, each 1,000 feet long, and a new carpet lift to take you back to the top when you’re ready for another go. 7740 Main St, Hunter, NY (800-486-8376, huntermtn.com). Two-hour session $20.
Where to stay: For a dose of kitsch, try Kate’s Lazy Meadow (5191 Rte 28, Mount Tremper, NY; 845-688-7200, lazymeadow.com; from $175/night)—founded by B-52’s singer Kate Pierson—whose suites are done up in “atomic” midcentury style.
Minnewaska State Park Preserve
2 hours by car
Some parks look dead in the winter, but this 23,000-acre preserve offers dramatic scenery year-round. Minnewaska is known for its lakes and waterfalls that turn into dramatic icescapes when the temperature drops. Hike along 32 miles of footpaths and 35 miles of well-maintained carriage roads (snowshoes can be rented for $15 per day). Keep an eye out for upcoming guided hikes, such as a three-mile trek with a stop at Awosting Falls, which environmental educator Laura Conner says “looks like a frozen volcano in winter.” Entrance at 5281 Rte 44/55, Kerhonkson, NY (845-255-0752, nysparks.com). Vehicle entry $8.
Where to stay: The Minnewaska Lodge (3116 Rte 44/55, Gardiner, NY; 845-255-1110, minnewaskalodge.com; from $149/night) is close to the preserve and offers serene mountain views.
Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center
3½ hours by car
Leave it to the pros to set up a world-class cross-country-skiing destination. This spot was founded by former Olympian Olavi Hirvonen and his wife, Ann; Hirvonen grooms the trails himself almost every day. Ski along more than 30 miles of paths through the Adirondack Forest Preserve. You can also try a kicksled—a man-powered vehicle in which one person sits while the other pushes ($10–$15/day). 139 Lapland Lake Rd, Northville, NY (518-863-4974, laplandlake.com). Admission $18–$20, equipment rental $18–$20.
Where to stay: Rent a room or a tupa (cottage) right on the grounds (from $175/night) and warm up in a Finnish wood-burning sauna. Overnight guests get complimentary access to the trails.
1½ hours by train
The folks at Alpine Endeavors literally wrote the book on this activity in the area (An Ice Climber’s Guide to the Catskill Mountains). So who better to lead you up the slippery facade of the Shawangunks? Guides will pick you up from the Poughkeepsie Metro-North station, set you up with lunch, and drive you to and from the best ice-climbing spots in the region. They’ll also provide all of the necessary equipment. Beginner? Instruction is included for parties of three or fewer. 44 Main St, New Paltz, NY (877-486-5769, alpineendeavors.com). $110–$280/person.
Where to stay: Warm up at the Mountain Meadows Bed and Breakfast (542 Albany Post Rd, New Paltz, NY; 845-255-6144, mountainmeadowsbnb.com; from $165/night), a B&B with a hot tub and a cozy fireplace.
Extreme Off-Road Sports
3 ½ hours by car, 4 ½ hours by bus
If you feel the need for speed but don’t feel like achieving it under your own power, get thee on a snowmobile. Extreme Off-Road Sports offers one-hour snowmobile tours to the top of Prospect Mountain in Lake George. They’ll furnish the vehicle and the helmet—you remember to bring your camera to snap the view. 2159 State Rte 9, Lake George, NY (518-260-0066; extremeoffroadsports.com). Tours: $80, couple $120. 18+, driver’s license required.
Make it a weekend: Feeling fancy? Get a winter discount at the splurgy Sagamore Resort (110 Sagamore Rd, Bolton Landing, NY; 866-385-6221, thesagamore.com), a summertime hot spot that sits right on the lake. The Winter Fireside Package includes one night’s accommodation, plus breakfast and dinner (rates start at $162).
2 ½ hours by car or bus
Is there any kind of cold-weather pastime that Windham Mountain doesn’t have in its Adventure Park? There’s tubing on a 650-foot-long slope ($20–$25); ice-skating on a 120' x 60' rink ($10, skate rental $5); and three-odd miles of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at nearby Windham Country Club. For kids, there’s a mini snowmobile park and a Euro Bungy, a hybrid bungee-jump–trampoline. But our favorite has to be the twin zip lines, which allow you to race someone down the 500-foot-long course while you’re 40 feet in the air ($10–$15). 19 Resort Dr, Windham, NY (800-754-9463, windhammountain.com)
Where to stay: The historic Catskill Lodge (350 Rte 296, Windham, NY; 518-261-7150, catskilllodge.com; $69–$129), just five minutes from the resort, fuels you up with a homemade breakfast every morning.