When it's time to leave the city behind, shake up your usual circuit of indoor activitiesand kick back with the family, a trip to beautiful upstate New York is the easiest—and by far most awesome—way to get out of town. From foodie-friendly carnivals with local fare to competitive ice fishing in New York's sparkling lakes, you'll find everything you need to unwind in the fresh air. Plus, you'll totally wow your whole brood. Now hop in that Zipcar and get going!
RECOMMENDED: Ski trips for families near NYC
2015 Lake George Winter Carnival
Your favorite summer sailing destination is also jam-packed with winter fun for families, featuring everything from an ATV scavenger hunt to giant-kite flying. Kids can toast gooey marshmallows on the beach under a sky full of fireworks, watch daredevil drivers—professionals, of course—race cars on the ice and catch a once-in-a-lifetime ride via dogsled. Various locations in Lake George, NY (518-240-0809,lakegeorgewintercarnival.com). Saturdays and Sundays in Feb; see schedule for details and prices.
King of the Ice Fishing Contest
Every year, the Sullivan County Conservation Club challenges ice fishers to camp out for an afternoon and catch the biggest trout, pickerel, perch, crappie or walleye you've ever laid eyes on. With prizes ranging from $75 (3rd Place) to $500 (King), plus cool trophies for the pint-size set, it may be time to sign up, bundle up and take a trip. When you inevitably work up an appetite, stop by the WLFD Annual Pancake Breakfast by the weigh-in station (7am to noon) at the White Lake Fire Department to fill your bellies. White Lake/Kauneonga Lake, weigh-ins at White Lake Fire Department, 1596 St Rte. 17B, White Lake, NY (sullivancountyconservationclub.org/king_of_the_ice.html). Feb 15 6am–3pm; $15, kids 13–16 $5, kids 12 and under free with paid adult.
45th Annual Central New York Maple Festival
Families with a sweet tooth will love Cortland County's two-day celebration, complete with a pancake-eating contest, horse-drawn wagon rides, helicopter rides and a demo of Sugar Shack's syrup-making process. Last year's roster included live entertainment from the Gone Fishin' Band and Steve Southworth & the Rockabilly Rays, live demonstrations from chain-saw carver Mark Watson and plenty of carnival rides for the kiddos. Various Locations in Marathon, NY (607-745-7710, maplefest.org). Mar 21 9am–5pm, Mar 22 9–4pm.
Kids going stir crazy? Take a trip to Syracuse to catch some of Winterfest's 11-day celebration. Visit Saturday, February 14, for kid-friendly fun like Central Branch Library's Toddlers Tango class (11am), where little ones will undoubtedly dance until nap time! Visitors big and small will love local museum and art events, too—pay a visit to participating venues like the Museum of Science and Technology or Onondaga Historical Association Research Center to see ongoing exhibits. Other Saturday fun includes rock climbing, ice skating, snowshoeing and sledding, and the rest of the festival offers exciting events like a chili cook-off, treasure hunt (the winner gets $1,000!) and team trivia. Various locations in Syracuse, NY (315-676-2496,syracusewinterfest.com). Feb 12-22, noon–10pm.
35th Anniversary of the Miracle on Ice
A must-see event for serious hockey fans big and small, the 1980 Miracle Reunion celebrates the 35th anniversary of the U.S. Olympic hockey team's iconic victory against the Soviet Union. The team responsible for "the greatest sports moment of the 20th century" will be in attendance, and guests will hear the famed athletes speak about the experience while exploring audio and video footage from the 1980 Winter Olympic Games. 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, Lake Placid, NY (whiteface.com, 518-523-1655). Feb 21 7:30pm; $19.80, VIP $250.