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Whiteface Lodge
Photograph: Courtesy Whiteface Lodge

The best winter getaways from NYC

Hit up ski destinations, mountain towns and upstate resorts with our roundup of the best winter getaways from NYC

By Shaye Weaver
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It's time to getaway. The city is quiet, the powder out there is fresh and the need is great. While there are plenty of things to do in winter in NYC, the city can also feel awfully gloomy when the sun disappears at 4pm each day. To ward off the winter blues, you could get yourself into one of the best bars with fireplaces or...you could flee. Whether you’re the adventurous type looking for some of the area’s best ski trips near NYC or a more low-key vacationer wanting to kick back and relax, we’ve got you covered with the best winter getaways from NYC. 

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Best winter getaways from NYC

1. Stone Harbor, NJ

2.5 hrs by car

Some of the most underrated winter destinations are actually off-season summer hot spots, like this charming town on the southernmost corner of the Jersey Shore. A mashup of tiny shops, cottages and beaches, the three-block-wide community is populated by beach-going families and longtime renters and vacationers during summer. During the winter, trees are bedecked with Christmas lights and those quaint streets are a bit roomier, offering a peaceful setting complete with views of gentle snowfall over the picturesque bay.

What to do: Along with Avalon, Stone Harbor is one of two beach towns located on Seven Mile Island, which was first established in 1887. Nature lovers will enjoy the coastline’s beautiful, protected sand dunes. (You can look, but don’t touch!) In the summer, good winds and short walks to the waterfront make this beach a favorite for surfers and boogie boarders, but during the winter, don’t miss Stone Harbor Point at the southern tip of the beach, which offers beautiful views of the cape and a lighthouse at Hereford Inlet.

Where to stay: The aptly coastal chic Reeds at Shelter Haven is one of the town’s main destinations, with fine dining at Sax Restaurant & Lounge, live music events at the bar, and 37 beautifully-appointed guest rooms and suites that each offer the feel of a New England coastal escape in the middle of south Jersey. In the early winter, the waterfront dining area stays open for guests to cozy up with blankets on lounge chairs and catch views of the untouched beach which seems to go on for miles. One of the best parts? Rooms are equipped with working fireplaces—ideal for keeping warm while enjoying floor-to-ceiling views of the bay.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Christian Barrette

2. Montreal

6 hrs by car

Folks forget that Montreal (yes, in Canada) is as quick a drive from the city as upstate attractions including Niagara Falls. And for just a six-hour drive, you can immerse yourself in another country, cuisine and culture.

What to do: Montreal is a culinary capital to rival New York City (just ask them about bagels), and during the winter, comfort foods like poutine at the classic Québécois joint Pierette Patates or anything at the beloved Joe Beef make for hearty feasts. Waterfront scenes are another forte in the city—from the old-Montreal port to the revitalizing winter hot spa Bota Bota. And for the adventurous vacationer, try ice skating or skiing on the Mont-Royal. Last but not least, check out the glowing Montreal en Lumière Festival, a festival of lights, music, food, and art.

Where to stay: Symbolizing the marriage of French and English, Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth is one of our favorite stays in downtown Montreal. Known as the site of the John Lennon-Yoko Ono bed-in of 1969, the hotel offers a central location, impeccable hospitality and contemporary, refurbished digs following a multi-million renovation.

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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Philip Bump

3. Gardiner, NY

1.5 hrs by car

First settled by French Huguenots, this hamlet is surrounded by loads of natural attractions and villages that offer a small-town getaway from the city. For a town of just over 5,000, it boasts a large amount of sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including a mountain historic district and an 18th-century mill known as the oldest in the state.

What to do: The area intersects with the rock climberbeloved Minnewaska State Park Preserve, whose stunning rock formations include a five-hour hike up to the cliffs called Gertrude’s Nose. During the winter, the main attraction is the Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery, the first whiskey distillery in the state since Prohibition. Producing several styles of spirit, namely bourbon, rye and rum, the distillery offers tours, tastings at their tasting room and even a menu of grub to complement it at the Tuthill House at the Mill restaurant.

Where to stay: Fancy a stay at a 148-year-old Victorian castle resort in the heart of the Hudson Valley? The Monhonk Mountain House is surrounded by miles of untouched nature and is known for an acclaimed spa replete with an outdoor heated mineral pool and a rejuvenating solarium. Though a bit pricier, a stay here is an elegant way to unwind while taking in breathtaking natural beauty.

Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP

4. Woodstock, VT

5 hrs by car

It takes five hours to reach this almost magical Vermont shire town founded in the 18th century, but it’s certainly worth visiting during the wintertime Wassail Weekend—an annual December celebration where residents don their finest holiday wear to parade into town on horseback and participate in a variety of other activities including a tree lighting. Throughout the cold months, the Main Street shops, historic homes, and country inns are blanketed in pure white snow, making it one of the most beautiful small towns in America.

What to do: The town is also home to some of the oldest—and finest—general stores in the country, including FH Gillingham & Sons, which specializes in local goods like jellies and jams as well as handicrafts. Beyond the town’s borders, there are also ample outdoor attractions ranging from the dairy-producing Billings Farm & Museum, the conversation-friendly Rockefeller National Historical Park and, for the adventurous, the Suicide Six skiing and snowboarding area.

Where to stay: Find room and board at the Lincoln Inn & Restaurant, helmed by Michelin-trained chef Jevgenija Saromova and her partner, owner Mara Mehlman. Located on six acres of landscape, the secluded inn follows the tradition of Europe’s lauded restaurant-inns—destination-worthy eateries that offer accommodations for an immersive sense of place. Here, visitors have access to six rustic guest rooms, each with a different design.

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new paltz
new paltz
Photograph: Courtesy Jim Smith

5. New Paltz, NY

2 hrs by car

If you’ve ever walked the six-mile perimeter of Central Park and felt wistful leaving the North Woods—which were designed to resemble a forest in the Adirondacks—then it might be worth heading to New Paltz, NY to tackle some serious hiking. A nature-filled weekend starts by booking a roundtrip ticket to Mohonk Mountain House via the Catskill Carriage, which is redefining the charter bus experience. During your trip, you are provided with every amenity you could possibly need. Wifi, outlets, snacks, candy and even homemade cookies? MTA, take notes. 

What to do: The best reason by far to visit Mohonk is to get outside and explore its extensive hiking trails, which are set in 2,200 acres of forests. One of the most popular hikes is a relatively easy trek up to Sky Top Tower, a stone structure that was built about 85 years ago in honor of one of the resort’s founders, and which offers fantastic views of the surrounding area. All of the hiking trails are well marked and maps are provided, offering hikers everything from a beginner path to some serious rock scrambles located along a network of paths situated on lakeside cliffs.

Where to stay: Situated at the top of the Shawangunk Ridge, Mohonk Mountain House (1000 Mountain Rest Rd; 845-765-3286, mohonk.comoverlooks the half-mile-long Lake Mohonk and is a National Historic Landmark that has been owned by the same family for almost 140 years. While staying at this 265-room Victorian castle with a full-service spa isn’t exactly roughing it, photos of long-gone relatives, fireplaces and the lack of TVs in each room add some rustic charm.

winter getaways from NYC
winter getaways from NYC
Photograph: Courtesy Whiteface Lodge

6. Lake Placid, NY

5 hrs by car

A drive up the New York State Thruway takes you into the heart of the Adirondacks-set winter wonderland Lake Placid. Outdoor enthusiasts have their pick of activities: cross-country skiing, ice-skating, touring historic sites of the 1980 Olympic games. Test your skills during the Lake Placid Loppet, an annual 25K or 50K cross-country skiing race held at the Olympic Sports Complex (Feb 24 to 26). Or strap on skates and hit the frozen Mirror Lake, or gear up for a luge or bobsled ride.

What to do: Snag a bird’s-eye view of the highest vertical drop east of the Rocky Mountains when you take a ride on the Cloudsplitter Gondola. The eight-person chariot transports you from the Main Base Lodge of Whiteface Mountain to the top of Little Whiteface in about 15 minutes. Between Instagram snaps along the way, bask in the mountain views, ski trails, forests and Lake Placid itself.

Where to stay:  You can't do much better than the Mirror Lake Inn, a four-diamond, seven-acre resort boasting a full spa, gym and salon, private beach, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis and golf and excellent access to hiking and skiing trails. Whiteface Lodge puts you right in the action, since it’s just a few minutes from the ski slopes of Whiteface Mountain and mere blocks from Lake Placid. That said, given the spot’s one-bedroom suites, on-site restaurants and spa, you might not even want to leave. 

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Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Boston

5 hrs by bus or 3.5 hrs by Amtrak

Sometimes escaping the city means heading to another city. The City of Kind Hearts, the Cradle of Liberty or Beantown—whatever you call it, Boston is an ideal extended weekend trip for history buffs and food lovers alike. Sitting some 200 miles north of NYC, this city will soon be home to a 16-restaurant Time Out Market.

What to do: There’s something for everyone in Boston: Sports fans can catch a Red Sox game at Fenway Park while art geeks head to the Institute of Contemporary Art or Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a reconstruction of a 15th-century Venetian palace founded by the eponymous socialite. One of our favorite things to do: Take a walk through Boston’s Freedom Trail starting with the statue of George Washington at Boston Common, passing the Massachusetts State House and ending at the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship.

Where to stay: One of the city’s newest hotels, the 136-room, boutique-style Envoy has already racked up the accolades. Its Seaport location—offering views of the Boston Harbor—is complemented by nautically-themed rooms. There’s an in-house restaurant serving serious seafood along with live music, and a rooftop bar overlooking the water. Bar bites from the Outlook Kitchen downstairs include pulled pork tacos, salumi flatbread and two different grade A burgers.

Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Philadelphia

1.5 hrs by Amtrak or car, 2.5 hrs by NJ Transit and SEPTA

Philadelphia is an excellent year-round escape from NYC. Just 95 miles southwest of Manhattan, the City of Brotherly Love gives NYC a run for its money in the Christmas cheer department. During winter, check out destinations like the Electrical Spectacle at Franklin Square, the Holiday Light Show at Shady Brook Farm or the Deck the Hall Light Show at Dilworth Park’s Wintergarden to get in the mood.

What to do: Beyond lights, a trip to Philadelphia is hardly complete without a cheesesteak: Try the tourists-loved Pat’s or Geno’s, or try more local favorites like John’s Roast Pork or Campo’s Deli. The latter is located near famous sites like the Liberty Bell, a hot spot for culture vultures. Other dining options include the Reading Terminal Market at City Hall, famed for being America’s oldest farmers’ market, or a critically-acclaimed brunch mainstay, High Street on Hudson.

Where to stay: Consider a smaller boutique hotel when staying in Philly: The Old City’s Lokal Hotel is housed in an erstwhile Civil War cap-making shop with just six modern-industrial units. Check-in and -out is all app-based, and an in-room tablet and city guide offer enough support and suggestions for things to do in Philadelphia. For a homey vibe without getting an Airbnb, opt for the award-winning Dwight D Hotel, a rejiggered 19th century townhouse with eight elegant rooms, concierge and cleaning services.

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winter getaways from NYC
winter getaways from NYC
Photograph: Gaby Shearer

9. Skytop, PA

2 hrs by car or Martz Trailways Bus

Don’t scoff at the Pocono Mountains. The area’s become an underrated getaway for New Yorkers, who typically flock to the snowcapped Catskills or Adirondacks come wintertime. This modest mountain range is home to a bevy of nature activities and lodges that’ll make your Instagram followers drool with jealousy.

What to do: Explore a snowy forest during a winter hike or on the back of a dog-drawn sled. Through Skytop Lodge, you can sign up for hikes or a session with Arctic Paws Dog Sled Tours, during which you’ll settle in behind a team of energetic huskies. (Please leave the “mush” yelling to your tour guide.) If you want to go full-on winter outdoorsperson, cast away from Skytop’s private Poconos stream, which is stocked with trout, for some ice-fishing.

Where to stay: Why not just settle into Skytop Lodge’s historic digs, which sit on more than 5,000 acres of nature preserve? The stately stone Main Lodge has 124 guest rooms and suites, all of which are decidedly regal, with dark wooden headboards and end tables, pops of royal blue in the bedspreads and decorative accent walls. After a day of hiking, tuck into the Windsor Room for hearty, stick-to-your-ribs winter fare, like French beef stew or the red-wine–braised chicken, and white-bean and duck casserole.

A4KHDN
A4KHDN
Photograph: Courtesy of nobleIMAGES / Alamy

10. North Fork, LI

2 hours by car/Jitney bus

Head to Long Island’s North Fork this winter for incredible field and bay views without traffic. Bring your taste for Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio because its numerous wineries are still open.

What to do:
 Winery tour options abound here, so take your pick! Sample Merlot at One Woman Wines and Vineyards (5195 Old North Rd, Southold; 631-765-1200, onewomanwines.com), try Coffee Pot Cellars’ sauvignon blanc (31855 Main Rd, Cutchogue; 631-765-8929, coffeepotcellars.com), or sip on something bubbly at Sparkling Pointe (39750 Middle Rd, Southold; 631-765-0200, sparklingpointe.com). No judgment if you decide to hit up all three.

Where to stay:
 North Fork is perfect for a day trip, but if you want to extend your stay, tap Arbor View House B&B (8900 Main Rd, East Marion; 631-477-8440, arborviewhouse.com), known for it’s plush garden and gourmet breakfast, as your relaxing home away from home.

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Nothing is better than spending the colder months in a cozy cabin near NYC. It's the perfect winter getaway from NYC and is only made better with hot chocolate, a crackling fireplace, wool sweaters and a cozy cabin to cuddle up in. Whether you need lodging at ski resorts near NYC or somewhere rustic chic for a girls’ weekend, this list of cabins near NYC on Airbnb has got you covered. After just a few hours of driving, you could be snuggling in a chalet in the Pocono Mountains, relaxing in a geodesic dome in upstate New York or sipping a hot toddy in a trendy container cabin in the Catskills. No matter where you choose to go, escaping the city to a snow-covered wonderland has to be one of the top things to do in the winter.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to weekend getaways from NYC

Note: please check the latest travel guidance before booking your trip.

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Photograph: Courtesy Airbnb

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DISCLAIMER: Given current regional and national guidelines, certain businesses mentioned in this article are operating on different schedules and limited capacities. Call each business before your visit to receive up-to-date information.

The best road trips from NYC will take you to quaint cottage towns, beautiful fishing destinations and European-like cities ideal for romantic getaways. Because let's be honest: as much as we love our city, one of the best things to do is to get the hell out sometimes. All of the destinations we highlight are less than six hours away but if you really want to hit the road, opt to go cross-country when embarking on the best road trips in America.

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