New York State Winter Getaways You Need to Take

There’s no reason to spend all of winter inside your apartment, binge-watching The OA and refreshing flight deals to the Caribbean. New York state (the part beyond the city) offers so many great things to do during the colder months -- from skiing and snowboarding in the mountains, to ice skating on pristine lakes, to warming up with hearty food and locally brewed beer. So before winter’s over, make sure you hit these destinations that fully embrace the season.

Holiday Valley Resort
Holiday Valley Resort


While Western New Yorkers and Canadians are all too familiar with Ellicottville’s lively Fall Fest held during the peak of fall foliage season, the town sees most of its traffic during the winter. People clad in ski and snowboard gear fill the charming walkable village full of spas, chalets, boutiques, and restaurants, before hitting up some of the best ski resorts the state has to offer.

What to do: Hit the slopes at Holiday Valley Ski Resort, which boasts 58 runs and 290 acres of skiable terrain; or if you find yourself in town during the week, take advantage of skiing at North America’s largest private ski club, Holimont, which is open to the public Monday-Friday. Get a hot stone massage at Ellicottville Oasis Spa; buy some classic Americana home decor at Kazoo II; and take home some cheese, like smoked hot pepper or white stilton with mango and ginger, from the EVL Cheese Company.

What to eat: Spicy African peanut soup at Ellicottville Brewing Company; roasted duck at Dina’s; porchetta e gnocchi at Villaggio; bourbon blue cheese burger at Cadillac Jack’s.

Dogsledding on Mirror Lake
Dogsledding on Mirror Lake | Flickr/Samantha Kulpinski

Lake Placid

Lake Placid is best known for hosting the Winter Olympics twice, and you can trust that it’s capitalized on that legacy. Visitors can not only get a glimpse of the history at the museums and former sports venues, but also have the opportunity to partake in some of the winter sports seen at the Games. The village is also full of natural beauty, including two lakes (Mirror Lake and Lake Placid) and the snowy Adirondack mountains.

What to do: Before you go, watch Miracle, the 2004 movie that tells the true story of the USA’s ice hockey team during the 1980 Games, who defeated the Soviets in a surprise victory during their quest for the gold medal. Then visit the Herb Brooks Arena, named after the head coach of the underdog Americans. Ice skate on Mirror Lake; take a gondola ride up and/or ski down Whiteface Mountain; bobsled or luge at the Olympic Sports Complex; and visit the Lake Placid Olympic History Museum.

What to eat: BBQ brisket at Lake Placid Pub & Brewery; charcuterie and stuffed calamari (while taking in Adirondack views) at Top of the Park; pickle fried chicken at Liquids and Solids; Brie and brown sugar crêpe at Big Mountain Deli & Crêperie.

The Well Dressed Food Company
The Well Dressed Food Company

Tupper Lake

After you get your Olympic fix at Lake Placid, take a 40-minute drive to Tupper Lake to take in more Adirondack wilderness and the great outdoors. Whether you’re looking to go ice fishing, snowshoeing, or just want to take in some wintry summits, Tupper Lake is the perfect place to fully embrace the winter.

What to do: Hike to the summit of Ampersand Mountain; ice fish on Raquette Pond; go on a pub crawl with a twist with The Brew-Ski (which invites participants to either cross-country ski or snowshoe to several pubs and breweries); tour the workshop and pick up a handmade leather good from the Leather Artisan.

What to eat: Mexican stuffed peppers from Well Dressed Food; The Presley sandwich (peanut butter, bananas, bacon grilled on Texas toast) from Ohana’s 1950s Diner; ziti alla vodka from Little Italy Pizzeria; apple turnover from Larkin’s Deli & Bakery.

Water Bikes of Buffalo
Water Bikes of Buffalo


While some freak blizzards and storms over the years have given Buffalo’s winters a notorious reputation, Buffalonians revel in the cold, and the amount of things to do there is a testament to that. There are tons of sports, outdoor activities, and great restaurants to make your trip well worth it -- not to mention, it’s the best time of year to visit Niagara Falls.

What to do: Head to Buffalo RiverWorks, a bar/restaurant and sports complex that hosts the Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament, roller derby, curling, and open ice skating; if you’re looking to go to a professional sports game, just minutes away is the KeyBank Center and HarborCenter, home of the NHL Buffalo Sabres and one of the very first additions to the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), the Buffalo Beauts, respectfully; go ice skating, or ride an ice bike at Canalside; enjoy significantly less crowds at Niagara Falls, and witness how the mist freezes over every surface; head indoors and visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Complex, which is considered one of the famed architect’s finest works.

What to eat: Pho from Pho Dollar; chorizo tacos from La Divina Mexican Store; potato ricotta and pulled pork pierogi from Ru’s Pierogi; an order of wings at the Swannie House (just DON’T call them “hot wings”).

New York Wine & Culinary Center
New York Wine & Culinary Center


A small town located in New York’s renown Finger Lakes region, Canandaigua is not only famous for producing world-class wines, but it’s also home to Bristol Mountain -- a ski resort boasting a 1200ft vertical and 138 acres of skiable terrain. Whether you’re looking to plan a ski getaway or would rather hit the wine trails instead, Canandaigua has you covered.

What to do: Ski at Bristol Mountain; fly past the snowy tree tops and take a zipline canopy tour with Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures; go wine tasting on the Canandaigua Wine Trail; take a cooking class at New York Wine & Culinary Center.

What to eat: Mole poblano at Rio Tomatlan; Bavarian pork roast at Rheinblick German Restaurant; chicken xacuti -- an Indian curry made with red chilis and roasted coconut at Flavors; chocolate chip cookie from Macri’s Deli & Cafe.



Considered “America’s Hometown,” Cooperstown is mostly known for being home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but it’s also full of small-town charm with farmers markets, mom-and-pop shops, and classic diners. Winter offerings range from museums and galleries, to outdoor activities at a nearby state park.

What to do: Pay a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame; spend a day gazing at fine art at the Fenimore Art Museum, which has extensive collections of American Indian art and American folk art; take a tour of Brewery Ommegang and sample some of the Belgian-style ales; go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at Glimmerglass State Park.

What to eat: Biscuits and sausage gravy at Cooperstown Diner; brewer’s board (a generous array of meat, cheese, and bread) at Brewery Ommegang; the Zealous Burger at Council Rock Brewery; Bavarian Creme donut from Schneider’s Bakery.

Hunter Mountain
Hunter Mountain


Located on one of the highest peaks in the Catskills (about two and a half hours outside of NYC) Hunter Mountain is known as one of the premier ski getaways in New York state. With a comprehensive Learning Center for first-time skiers or snowboarders, as well as multiple terrain parks, there’s something for everyone, no matter their skill level.

What to do: Ski or snowboard Hunter Mountain, which boasts 240 skiable acres, 58 trails, and a 1600ft vertical drop; go snow tubing at one of the state’s largest snow tubing park; go winter horseback riding at Bear Creek Landing; get a massage at KAATSKILL Mountain Club’s spa.

What to eat: Belgian Liege waffle at Pika’s Waffle Stop (conveniently located right on the slopes of Hunter Mountain); seafood gemelli at Van Winkle’s Restaurant; NY strip steak aux trois at Chateau Belleview.

DM Weil Gallery
DM Weil Gallery

New Paltz

This small Hudson Valley college town has plenty to offer in the winter months; mountain climbing, locally owned shops, a castle-like resort and spa, and historic cobblestone homes make New Paltz seem a world away from New York City. The fact that it’s only a 90 minute drive from the city and offers amazing scenery of the Catskills make New Paltz a perfect destination if you’re looking for a quicker weekend trip.

What to do: Snowshoe or hike through Mohonk Preserve which is full of trails, streams, forests, and the Shawangunk Mountains; enjoy modern art at the DM Weil Gallery; shop the many vendors at the outdoor market on Water Street; unwind and soak in the heated mineral pool at the the Mohonk Mountain House spa.

What to eat: Adana kebab, a combination of beef and lamb with onions, garlic, red peppers, and marinated with Turkish herbs and spices at Anatolia; peking duck crêpe at Main Course Catering; sushi platter at Hokkaido; honey bee cake at The Village TeaRoom Restaurant & Bake Shop.

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Caroline King is a freelance writer based in Buffalo, NY. Despite constantly talking about Buffalo’s perfect-weather summers, she still keeps a snow brush and ice scraper in her car 365 days a year. Follow her musings on Twitter, or her travels on her blog.