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Whether you love spending your winter days outdoors on the slopes or indoors with a cup of something warm and a great book, New York State has a wide variety of specialized winter vacation options ready and waiting for you. Family-friendly lodges with indoor water parks? New York has them. Luxury getaways with gourmet food and in-room fireplaces? New York has those, too. Adorable bed and breakfasts in charming Victorian villages? Yes, indeed — New York has those. Dig in and check out some of these fantastic vacation destinations.
Best Overall: The Inn at Holiday Valley, Ellicotville
The Inn at Holiday Valley offers some of New York’s only ski-in/ski-out lodging, but skiing is just one of the huge variety of activities available at this enormous family resort in Ellicottville, an hour south of Buffalo. Also on the list of activities: snowshoeing, tubing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, a terrain park and even a “mountain coaster” — a gravity-powered cart that sends you sailing down the mountain on a rail. When Mother Nature doesn’t comply, the resort uses state-of-the-art equipment to make fresh powder for the slopes.
The Inn itself is simple and cozy, with traditionally-appointed hotel-style rooms, as well as larger suites with private fireplaces and Jacuzzis. Defrost après-ski in the heated indoor pool and hot tub, and enjoy complimentary shuttle service to all of the resort’s base lodges.
Best for Families: Six Flags Great Escape Lodge, Queensbury
Cabin fever? No way! Not at this resort, situated about ten miles south of Lake George in the Adirondacks. It’s styled as a cozy mountain lodge, complete with a moose theme, crackling fireplace, and pine bunk beds in the suites for the kids. Multiple dining options, including one of the country’s largest Johnny Rockets, will keep the whole family fed. A large arcade room for the kids and a luxurious spa for the parents round out the lodge experience.
But let’s be real: the main attraction here is White Water Bay, the lodge’s massive indoor waterpark. White Water Bay includes water slides, a lazy river, a raft tube slide, a surfing simulator, a hot water spa for 18 and up, as well as a splash pool for toddlers and non-swimmers.
Best for a Ski Weekend: Thompson House, Windham
Load the skis into a rental car and take the two-hour drive from New York City into the Catskills for a great, accessible ski weekend in the Windham area. The Thompson House offers simple, clean, classic lodgings in a stellar location that puts you just one mile from the large Windham Mountain Resort and about ten miles from the Hunter Mountain Resort. Plattekill Mountain is also within striking distance, at about thirty miles away. Ski package deals, which include lift passes and discounts on equipment rentals, are available.
A fireplace in the lobby offers a nice place to warm up after a day of skiing (or a quick glide around the Thompson House’s ice skating rink), though suites with Jacuzzis are also available for a good defrosting option. Continental breakfast, including homemade granola, is available each day, and for other meals, you’ll find a variety of eateries nearby.
Best Spa Resort: Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz
Take a trip back in time in this massive castle-like resort which overlooks Lake Mohonk just 90 miles north of Manhattan. Choose from a variety of room styles, from basic hotel rooms to enormous sprawling suites, all of which are appointed with antique (and antique style) furniture and top-quality linens and amenities. Some rooms face the beautiful lake, others look out over the rolling Catskills, but the view is spectacular in every direction. In fact, it’s such a stunning vista that Currier and Ives used it for one of their famous lithographs. Five-star dining is available on-site, and wintertime guests can also enjoy ice skating, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snow tubing.
Wellness has always been a focus at Mohonk Mountain House, even when it was first built in the 1800s, so it’s no surprise that it is now home to one of the finest spas in the world, regularly listed among the best of the best by travel authorities and spa aficionados. Spa treatments on offer include not only a variety of massages and other body treatments, but also mindfulness training with certified therapists, guided nature appreciation walks with naturalists, yoga and meditation classes, energy therapy work, and standard salon treatments.
Best Luxury: The Point, Saranac Lake
Built a century ago as William A. Rockefeller’s hunting lodge in the Great Camp era of the Gilded Age, The Point is Upstate New York’s only five-star resort. Accommodations are simultaneously rustic and luxurious: think fieldstone fireplaces, mounted antlers, carved pine beds, leather wing chairs, and even oil paintings from original Hudson River School masters and hand-drawn antique maps.
The resort is not large — just eleven uniquely-appointed guestrooms and suites — but amenities are plentiful. Ice skating, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and even curling are available to guests. Evening meals are an occasion, served to guests in jacket and tie (and black tie two nights a week) at shared tables, evoking the hunting parties of a bygone era. It’s a full experience, not just a hotel, but one that you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else.
Best Views: Lake Placid Lodge
Lake Placid, home to two separate Winter Olympics, is a favorite East Coast destination for skiers. Whiteface Mountain, located about a half-hour outside of town, offers the longest vertical drop of any East Coast mountain, and Mt. Pisgah offers nice family skiing and tubing options in nearby Saranac Lake. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and even bobsledding are also on offer in and near this charming resort town.
And if you’re headed to Lake Placid, why not stay at the spot with the very best view? Overlooking the stunning and peaceful lake that gave the town its name, with a long view out over the mountains (including Whiteface), Lake Placid Lodge offers vistas that a person could spend hours looking over, regardless of the season. Each of the 13 guestrooms and 17 cabins has its own gorgeous view (as well as luxury in-room amenities), and if you choose to dine at the on-site gourmet Artisans restaurant, you can enjoy the full panorama while you eat.
Best Romance: Chalet of Canandaigua, Canandaigua
There are few things more romantic than a cozy mountain cabin, a crackling fireplace, and snow falling outside, and a wintertime trip to the Chalet of Canandaigua, near Rochester, epitomizes the scene. This B&B offers three private suites, each with a huge soaking tub, an in-room fireplace, a walk-in shower (big enough for two!) all beautifully appointed in rustic mountain style.
A large gourmet hot breakfast is included, as is an evening dessert, and the convenient location of the Chalet allows for easy access to attractions in the Finger Lakes, including wineries, museums and outdoor sports.
Best Budget: Hope Lake Lodge, Virgil
The Hope Lake Lodge and its sister property, Greek Peak, have been one of Central New York’s favorite ski destinations for years. Beyond downhill skiing, the outdoor sports complex offers tubing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, adaptive skiing, as well as a terrain park. Hope Lake Lodge’s indoor offerings aren’t too shabby either: a spa, an arcade, fine and casual dining, and best of all, an indoor water park.
Rooms are simply appointed, but comfortable, with rustic touches like pine headboards. A few different varieties are available to accommodate families or groups, including some rooms with a Murphy bed, which kids adore. All this comes at prices that are in line with Central New York, which is to say, not a bad deal at all, especially for those used to big-city prices.
Best B&B: The Inn at Cooperstown
Skiing and snowboarding aren’t everyone’s idea of a perfect winter vacation: some just want a picturesque snow-covered Capra-esque village with good shopping and dining, and gorgeous historic Cooperstown certainly fits that bill. The Baseball Hall of Fame, Brewery Ommegang, the James Fenimore Cooper-founded Farmers’ Museum, and oodles of gorgeous small galleries and great boutiques and restaurants.
The Inn at Cooperstown is the perfect in-town location to stay while you explore here. Like much of the town, the building itself is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and you’ll find that each individually-decorated guest room follows that historic aesthetic, but with modern amenities like flat-screen televisions and private ensuite bathrooms with tiled showers. A hot breakfast buffet is served each morning to get you filled up for a day of small-town exploration.