We know, we know, it’s pretty damn cold outside and all you want to do is Netflix and chill, but there are plenty of Instagram-worthy activities to do during the winter months in New York. Whether it’s taking in some of the most renowned art the world or camping out under the stars, there are plenty of sights to see. So put on your long johns, strap on your boots with the fur, and hit up some of the most beautiful places in New York State during winter.
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Hudson’s Warren Street
Hudson’s main drag is an antiquing mecca year round, but whether you care about end tables or not, it sure is cozy, in a “shouldn’t there be carolers standing right here” kind of way. There’s plenty to do that doesn’t require a U-Haul, from tours of Hudson Opera House, three galleries, and everything from Iberian wine and Scandinavian food, to the just-what-it-sounds-like Spotty Dog Books & Ale.
When most folks think of stunning architecture on Long Island, their eyes start drifting to the Hamptons. But for a "show queen" rather than beach vibe, turn your attention to the middle of the North Shore and Oheka Castle -- a palatial place built for Otto Kahn in 1919 with 127 rooms, and a French-inspired garden. Look familiar? If you’re a movie buff, you’ll recognize it was Xanadu in Citizen Kane, if you’re a T-Swift fan, you’ll remember it from a music video you’ve maybe seen called “Blank Space."
Windham Mountain Resort
This resort, less than an hour from Albany, is known for its Tim Burton-esque landscapes. When you tire of skiing and snow boarding, there are more than 50 hiking trails, an inn, three restaurants, a golf course, a spa, an adventure park, and a mountain bike park -- should the weather allow. So hit the slopes... and then the lodge for a hot toddy.
Don’t go chasing Ludlowville waterfalls. No really don’t do it. The water will be frozen -- beautiful, but still frozen. Ludlowville Falls is one of the most sought-after destinations year-round for its unbeatable hiking trails, but in winter, you can also add ice climbing to that list.
How winter is the village of Lake Placid? Well, it hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980, including the much fabled “Miracle on Ice” USA vs. USSR hockey game (spoiler: America won). While it’s nice to look at year-round, it comes into its own in winter, when the lake itself resembles a perfect holiday card -- that you probably still shouldn’t ice skate on.
While you’re visiting the most holiday-card-worthy winter places, try your luck at making your wintertime even more beautiful by signing up for the Make Life Wonderful sweepstakes from NY Lottery. Enter any non-winning holiday Scratch-Off ticket for a chance to win prizes like $500 a week for life. Hey, who knows, it could be you this time around.
Beardslee is a replica of an Irish castle, originally built in 1860 and subsequently rebuilt after being burned down twice (but the fourth one stayed up!). Now it’s a very cool looking restaurant up in Little Falls, covered in ivy vines and glowing when lit up at night. And when it snows? Irish architecture aside, it’s straight out of an Austen novel or Downton Abbey Christmas special. With food!
On the southern shore of Lake Eerie is Dunkirk Harbor, where even in the winter you can find ducks hanging out thanks to the ice-less water -- thanks to a nearby power plant. What does this mean? You get a perfect view of the harbor in the winter, capped by a quaint red-tipped lighthouse and Victorian keeper’s house. Aww.
It’s theorized that Mohonk is actually derived from a Lenape word that means "place of bears." Please do not let that affect your decision process when it comes to choosing a place to hike and explore -- its 8,000 incredible acres of forests and cliffs are more than enough room for you and all those bears, particularly in the winter when Mohonk looks incredible and those major ursas will be fast asleep.
Untermyer Gardens Conservancy
Originally the estate of Samuel Untermyer, this as-far-as-the-eye-can-see land sprawl is pretty much a mini Versailles located right in Yonkers. During the holidays, the conservancy throws up a zillion lights and the winter months at large are great times to visit because the black-and-white Instagram potential is off the charts. And you don't want some pesky summer visitors getting in your shot.
Locust Grove Estate
Overlooking the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie, this 200-acre estate boasts a historic lawn farm, museum pavilion and some of the most gorgeous views of New York State around -- the perfect perch to hang out with something mulled. The estate also includes hiking trails and tours of the grounds. So snowshoes.
Bear State Mountain Park
Don't worry, they're asleep, remember? Bear State is rugged and rustic, and extra worth it in winter, when the mountains rising from the west bank of the Hudson River look especially dramatic. The park features an outdoor skating rink from October to mid-March, and you can spend a night under the stars in a tent or cabin, so long as you pack those thermals.
New York Botanical Gardens
During the winter months, New York Botanical Gardens lays it on with seasonal classes, lectures, guided tours, and exhibitions that will elicit, "Wait, why aren't those dead!?" at every turn (see: orchids). Once you know everything about its 250 species of plants, check out Bar Car Nights, the 21-and-over starlit and cocktail-accompanied version of the Holiday Train Show.
Mt. Marcy Peak
If you’ve got the snowshoes for it, standing atop the highest point in New York State will make you feel like some ancient winter god surveying the land you just froze. While its elevation of 5,343 feet sounds hardcore, this Essex County peak is not considered technically challenging, and there are four trails to the summit to choose from, dependent on ability and how recent the latest snow dump was.
Besides oysters, this bay is home to, well, a lot of beautiful homes. And by homes we mean mansions. Just everywhere, and when you’re over getting sick with envy, there’s a quaint main street that, which, when it’s not busy looking like Bing Crosby wrote songs about it in the winter, hosts an enormous Oyster Fest in the fall. And it’s got its own LIRR stop a literal stone’s throw from town, so… hop on that this January.
Schoharie County natural cave network, Howe Caverns, maintains a temperature of 52 degrees year-round. Its tours range from the leisurely to the adventurous, and you can even stay overnight. It’s the second-most popular tourist attraction in the state after Niagara Falls, for its stunning limestone formations, stalactites, and underground lake. Best of all, no sweaters -- Christmas or otherwise -- are required.
The Vanderbilt Mansion
The Vanderbilt Mansion sits pretty in Hyde Park and was built in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture. Think of just about any beautiful building you’ve seen in France. Got it in your head? It’s probably Beaux-Arts. Even without a fine layer of snow, this spot is where any one of your recently-engaged-during-the-holidays relatives would die to have a wedding, but a Hudson Valley mansion in the winter? Straight up snow globe material.