While winter time may be the sole reason some travelers/locals flee New York from December to April, for some the winter scene is the reason they flock to NY! With snow covered mountains perfect for skiing, frozen lakes for ice skating, delightful Christmas festivals, thrilling Olympic sport experiences, snowtubing, and snowboarding, there are so many options for New York winter getaways!
With both the Adirondack Mountains and Catskills Mountains being located in New York, you will find plenty of ski resorts, snow tubing & sledding hills, and ice-covered lakes. From Lake Placid, sitting in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, and home to some of the most thrilling winter adventures in New York to the annual winter carnival in Lake George, a snow dusted Central Park in the city, to a frozen over Niagara Falls it will not be hard to see why you should get out and explore New York this winter, despite the frigid temperatures!
8 Of The Best New York Winter Getaways
Home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, it is not hard to see why Lake Placid becomes a skier’s paradise and one of the best New York winter getaways. Whiteface Mountain, the highest vertical drop East of the Rockies, is a bucket list destination for experienced skiers as well as beginners with their family friendly terrain.
The best way to experience Lake Placid is by trying out their Olympic experiences that will give you a feel for what it is like being a part of the Winter Olympics. Take a ride down the 30ft. Toboggan Chute and out onto a frozen over Mirror Lake, where you may slide as far as 1,000 ft. The month of opening varies greatly depending on the weather and how well the lake freezes over, but is generally fully open by early February. ‘
Soar around a track at Mt. Van Hoevenberg on a classic Olympian bobsled. A bobsled can hold up to three passengers and you will be paired with a professional bobsled driver to enjoy your safety. This experience is designed for children 13 years and up who are at least 52″ tall. As an alternate option you can also enjoy a ride of the Cliffside Coaster designed to give you the feel of riding a bobsled.
For skiers and snowboarders, you just have to visit Whiteface Mountain. If you are an experienced skier/snowboarder you can hit the slopes and have the adventure of a lifetime. For newbie skiers and snowboarders, there are plenty of lesson options available for kids as young as four years old. They also offer private lessons and adaptive lessons available for individuals with disabilities.
For those who prefer not to hit the slopes, a gondola ride is the perfect alternate option for visiting Whiteface Mountain and taking in the stunning mountain views that surround. The Gondola will take you to the summit of Little Whiteface. You can hop off, go for a short hike around the summit, or enjoy the views of Lake Placid-both the lake and village-from the observation deck.
If you enjoy ice skating, head to the Lake Placid Olympic Center. Here you will find an indoor and outdoor ice-skating rink. An alternate option is to head to Mirror Lake, where you will find a two-mile long plowed trail around the edge of the lake that is free to access.
While you can’t ski down it, you can visit the top of the Olympic ski jump and look down for the same view the Olympic athletes got before venturing down. To see more of the Olympic grounds, you can tour the Olympic Center or head to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum to learn about the history in Lake Placid.
For more outdoor activities, head to Mt. Van Hoevenberg for some snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Head to High Falls Gorge for an easy winter hike. Stroll down Main Street in Lake Placid and find some unique souvenirs for yourself or some crafty Christmas gifts for those on your shopping list.
New York Winter Getaways: Lake George
An outdoor lover’s paradise any time of year, Lake George is a great Adirondack village to visit for one of the best New York winter getaways. Lake George freezes over in the winter, making it possible to walk its entire length to the other side. It also makes it the perfect location for an on the ice winter carnival that is held annually.
The carnival generally takes place on weekends in February at Shepard Park. Exact events/ vendors vary from year to year, but you can expect several food and craft vendors set up on the ice, polar plunges, fireworks, ATV races, a bonfire on the beach, and plenty of kids activities. The park is located along Canada Street, Lake George’s shopping and dining hub. Take advantage and stroll down Canada Street, aglow with Christmas lights, and check out the quaint, local shops for unique items and souvenirs.
While you can normally find ice sculptures littered around Shepard Park during the winter carnival, new for 2022 you can enjoy ice castles. The ice castles attraction will feature sculptures, tunnels, ice slides, fountains, caverns with large icicles, and a maze. If visiting in December you can enjoy the village lit up with thousands of lights during the Holiday Festival of Lights. For the adults, check out the ice bars found throughout Lake George for a drink.
If you are brave enough to hit the trails during the winter you will find many hiking options in Lake George, ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging. For an easy winter hike check out Pilot Knob or Shelving Rock Mountain Summit, or for a more challenging hike check out Black Mountain or Sleeping Beauty Mountain.
The Natural Stone Bridge and Caverns is great for snowshoeing in the winter. The natural stone bridge that is the centerpiece of this location is accessible in the winter months with a snowshoe tour and for those looking for more of an adventure, there are 14.5 miles of snowshoeing trails.
After you have had you share of fun in the single digit weather, head into an 80 degree tropical paradise at the Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Water Park. Tall Timbers Treehouse is perfect for the little ones, with kiddie sized water slides, water rifles, and an oversized water bucket at the top that spills over every now and then. You can also find a smaller area perfect for toddlers and babies.
There are two full sized single rider water slides and Avalanche, a 4-person large tube water slide. Soakum Spring, an indoor hot tub, will warm you up even more and you can grab a tube and jump into the lazy river for some relaxation. If you’re up for it, you can enjoy some simulation surfing.
Not only is the waterpark one of the best things to do in Lake George during the winter, but the resort itself is one of the best accommodation options! You will find many room and suite options, including themed suites with a separate cabin themed sleeping area for the kids. The lodge has two on-site dining rooms and an arcade.
New York City
Winter time in New York City, especially Christmas time, is just magical! Along with all the great attractions, culture, and experiences New York City has to offer year-round, the city comes to life with holiday events, winter sports, festive lights and decorations, and even a Christmas market, making it one of the best New York winter getaways.
If visiting during the holiday period, you won’t want to miss ice skating in Bryant Park, seeing the jaw dropping Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, catching a live performance of the Nut Cracker ballet or the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, or taking in the festive lights scatted across the five NYC boroughs. New Year’s Eve is also an exciting time to be in the city during the winter, with the traditional ball drop in Times Square.
Bryant Park transforms into a winter wonderland with free ice skating daily and the Winter Village, a food hall near the rink that is comparable to a Christmas market. Aside from the food vendors, you will find many selling crafts, jewelry, toys, games, wine, and more!
Central Park is a sight to behold in the winter as the normally lush green trees are transformed into bare branches dusted in fluffy white snow. You can wander the trails in the park, go sledding on the mini hills, or take a horse drawn carriage tour of the park. Other fun activities to be found in Central Park in the winter are snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Fifth Avenue is a popular spot to see extensive and festive storefront displays, including the popular Macy’s Christmas display. Fifth Avenue is home to some of the most upscale shopping options in the world, and prices certainly match up to that, but window shopping just to see the displays is worth the visit! For more Christmas light displays, head to Dyker Heights in Brooklyn on a self guided or guided tour for some remarkable Christmas light displays.
For some indoor winter fun visit some of New York City’s famous museums, where you will likely experience fewer crowds than the busier summer season and will escape the cold for a bit! The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and American Museum of Natural History should all be on your list.
Watertown/ The Thousand Islands
The Thousand Islands make for a gorgeous summer retreat, but dig a little ad you will find no shortage of fun winter activities to make you fall in love with the area in the off season! From the traditional winter sports like cross-country skiing, snow tubing, and snowmobiling to the Winter Wonderlights festival at Zoo New York and wine tasting for the adults, the Thousand Islands are one of the best New York winter getaways!
Visit the Dry Hill Ski Area to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. The resort also has a terrain park for snowboarders looking to try out their skill. Not great at skiing/snowboarding or never done it before? The resort offers group and private ski lessons for all ages.
The Minna Anthony Nature Center, one of the largest nature centers in the state, located on Wessley Island has eight miles of hiking trails. In the winter, the nature center becomes a haven for skiers and snowshoers with rentals available onsite. When exploring the trails be sure to keep your eye out for bald eagles along Eel Bay.
At Keewaydin State Park, situated along the St. Lawrence River, you can enjoy ice fishing and cross-country skiing. Jacques Cartier State Park’s large open lawns and trails make for the perfect snowshoeing and cross-country skiing location.
Ice skaters can head to Springer Market Square for outdoor ice skating or for an indoor rink head over to the Watertown Municipal Arena. Snowmobilers can drive the 45 minutes to Flat Rock Inn in nearby Tug Hill Plateau for snow mobile rentals and access to over 800 miles of trails.
If your New York winter getaway involves kids, stop at Zoo New York for animal viewing and if visiting from late November to early January you can catch the Winter Wonderlights event. After Jack Frost has nipped at your nose enough, head indoors to the Clayton Opera House for live entertainment, try to find your way out of Alcatrez or see how you deal in a Zombie Apocalypse at the Mystery Room in Watertown, or put your mind to work at the Sci-Tech Museum in Watertown.
For the adults, head to some of the tasty Thousand Island wineries to taste some local wines, brews, and spirits! Follow the Thousand Islands Seaway Wine Trail with seven local wineries like the Busted Grape, The Cape Winery, Coyote Moon Vineyards, and Northern Flow Vineyards.
New York Winter Getaways: Niagara Falls
One of the most well-known water falls in the world, Niagara Falls is a pure beauty any time of year, but winter brings about some unique views of the falls. View the ice-covered rocks and ice in the Niagara River as the falls continue to roar, or if you’re lucky you may catch the falls when they are almost (or are completely) frozen over. Not only will you get some unique views of the falls, you will also be able to avoid the massive crowds seen in the summer months, making it one of the best New York winter getaways!
While you may not be able to enjoy the Maid of the Mist experience during the winter time, you can still get up close with the American Falls. Take a ride on the Cave of the Winds elevator down to the base of the falls to see them in all their snow-covered glory or walk out on the observation deck to view them from above. Illumination of the falls is another thing that doesn’t end with the coming of winter, so if you are visiting in the evening be sure to stop by the falls to see them aglow in a rainbow of colors, only adding to the beauty!
Niagara Falls State Park is another great space for outdoor winter fun. Enjoy snowshoeing in the park with free rentals available at the Cave of the Winds Pavillion, or build a snowman & have an epic snowball fight with the kids! If snowshoeing is your thing, be sure to check out the other great parks in the area where you can enjoy the activity like Fort Niagara State Park and Whirlpool State Park.
For some indoor fun in the winter time head to the Aquarium of Niagara to see a variety of sea creatures up close, including sting rays, sharks, penguins, and seals. The Niagara Falls Climbing Center is great for families and individuals alike, giving you the opportunity to try your hand at rock climbing. The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center will take you back in time and explore the history of Niagara Falls and its role in the underground railroad.
Known as the Enchanted Mountains of Western NY, Ellicottville is the perfect combination of wintery beauty and winter adventure, making it one of the best New York winter getaways. With New York’s largest state park nearby and one of New York’s best ski resorts onsite, you are sure to have a blast!
Snowmobiling is a big winter sport in Ellicottville with over 350 miles of trails. Allegany State Park is a big spot for snowmobiling, but you can find a map of all the snowmobiling trails in the area. Other fun activities in Allegany State Park to try out include cross country skiing and snowmobiling. If you want to spend a weekend (or longer) in the park, check out the cabins along the trails that can be rented.
Lake Erie State Park is about an hour drive from Ellicottville and offers more opportunities for winter sports, including snowmobiling, cross country skiing, bird watching in an area that often sees rare migratory species, and a stroll beside the snow-covered lake.
Holiday Valley Resort is a must for families visiting Ellicottville with many family-friendly activities. Their snow tubing hill is perfect for anyone over 7 looking to enjoy the snow and with their “Little Tubers” hill even the younger kids can have a blast! If you are a snowboarder, check out Holiday Valley’s Terrain Park and practice some tricks!
If you are looking for something a little more thrilling, take on the slopes for some skiing at Holiday Valley. New to skiing? Don’t worry! Holiday Valley offers skiing lessons from kids as young as 4 all the way to adulthood. Go for a ride on the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster and glide through twists and turns in snow covered woods. As you ride down the hill you will have control of the car and how fast you go, making it a great experience for people of all ages.
Another great ski resort in Ellicottville and the largest private ski resort in the US, Holimont contains 55 trails for snowboarding and skiing, with the highest vertical drop being 700 ft. The resort also offers lessons for kids and adults. For a change in pace head to the Crosspatch Horse Ranch, where you can go on a horse drawn carriage ride or go for a wintery horseback ride.
After you have had your share of snow and cold, visit one of Ellicottville’s three spas. Anew Beginning Massage and Spa, Ellicottville Oasis Day Spa, and Falling Waters Spa offer massages that will ease those sore muscles from all the days of running around.
New York Winter Getaways: The Catskills
The Catskill Mountains are overflowing with adventurous winter sports for the whole family to enjoy, making it one of the best New York winter getaways. With iconic ski resorts and centers to choose from, including Hunter Mountain, Windham Mountain, and Plattekill Mountain, there is no shortage of outdoor adventure!
Skiing is a big winter sport in the Catskills which is home to some of the best ski resorts in NYS. Belleayre Ski Center boasts the highest peak in the Catskills that is skiable. Hunter Mountain, Windham Mountain, and Plattekill Mountain also offer a number of trails for skiing. Holiday Mountain is the perfect choice for beginning level skiers and those traveling with young kids. The trails are easier and programs are available to help new skiers develop skills.
The Catskills are also home to some of the best tubing hills in the state. The Hunter Mountain tubing hill is one of the largest at 1,000 ft. long. There is a lift that brings you back to the top, eliminating having to make your way back to the top each time. Plattekill Mountain is another option offering a similar experience.
The Windham Mountain tubing hill offers a 650 ft. hill with conveyer belt to bring your tube back to the top. If you choose this option, you will also want to check out their Adventure Park for ice skating and kids snowmobiling. Snowshoeing and skiing is another option to keep your trip adventure filled. If skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing isn’t enough adventure, be sure to add snowmobiling to your list! Bring your own or you can rent one at the Rip Van Winkle Ranch in Hunter.
For one of the most extreme ziplining experiences in the country opt for a ziplining adventure at Hunter Mountain, where you can choose from an extreme three-hour tour or a family friendly tour. For a winter hike choose the 1.4-mile Kaaterskill Falls trail and see one of the most well-known New York State waterfalls.
If you want to mix your winter wonderland with a little bit of tropical paradise the Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark is just the place for you! Being New York’s largest indoor waterpark with 84 degrees “weather” year-round, this park will be a big hit for the whole family! You can race your friends on the Jiggerty-Jaggerty slides, brave a ride on the Nor’Easter, relax on the Lazy River, ride the waves on the Endless Summer Flowrider, or if with the toddlers visit the family-friendly kiddie areas.
Aside from the waterpark, the Kartrite Resort has a bowling alley, arcade, adventure rope course and zipline, a rock-climbing wall, laser tag, and 3D theater. If you get hungry the resort offers a range of dining options from an all you can eat buffet to fine dining options. And why not stay overnight? The resort has plenty of accommodation options, from junior suites to three bedroom family suites.
The spa city is perhaps one of the last places you would consider for the best New York winter getaways, right? Wrong! While the mineral springs scattered throughout the city are one of the main draws during the summer months, it can be just as fun to visit them during the winter! You can still visit the springs and watch the flow of water squirt out past the snow-covered ground/fountains. To get a taste of their unique flavors be sure to bring a small cup or water bottle!
The Saratoga Spa State Park transforms from a lush green summer retreat to a winter wonderland with cross-country skiing trails that take you past the parks many mineral springs. Ski rentals are available in the park. Ice skaters will also delight in the ice-skating rink that appears in the park once the snow hits.
While skiing/snowboarding hills may not be available in Saratoga Springs, the options within driving distance are plentiful. The Gore Mountain area, about an hour North of Saratoga Springs, is perfect for downhill skiing and snowboarding. The area has 110 trails spread across four different peaks. The area also has 11 miles of cross-country skiing trails.
West Mountain is another great option, only a 20-minute drive from Saratoga Springs. West Mountain has skiing and snowboarding trails for all skill levels. Other fun winter activities to be found at West Mountain are snow tubing, alpine racing, and night skiing. Lessons are also available.
If visiting during New Year’s, put the First Night Celebration on your itinerary. The evening will start out with the annual 5K race and fireworks display in the early evening. During the event you can find live performances from local and touring groups throughout historic downtown Saratoga Springs. The evening will end with a digital display created by Saratoga Arts at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
When planning your Saratoga Springs getaway, you will find no shortage of winter and holiday festivals. In late November and throughout December the Holiday Lights Spectacular will take place in Round Lake, just 20 minutes outside of Saratoga Springs. If visiting in early December, the Saratoga Festival of Trees, with 250 uniquely decorated trees on display, takes place.
Starting in January, the Saratoga Farmers’ Market will take place indoors every Saturday through April. If visiting Saratoga Springs in February, be sure to check out the ice bars that can be found around Saratoga Springs for a unique evening out on the town.
After a day (or two, or three!) of exploring Saratoga’s outdoor wintery adventures, head inside to the National Racing Museum, head to the Saratoga Casino and Raceway for a night of betting or entertainment, or head to the Gideon Putnam Roosevelt Baths & Spa for a day of relaxation and rejuvenation.
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With the US border now open to Canadians, we might actually be able to consider a winter getaway to New York. Lake Placid, Lake George and the Catskills have both been on my list for a great snow escape. But then every year I shy away from a real winter trip. But New York City for Christmas brings such special memories back. We may need to do that again.
So many amazing recommendations! I’ve yet to visit Ellicottville and Lake Placid. I would love to try the Olympian Bobsled and the Cliffside Coaster. I can only imagine how terrifying and exhilarating they would be! Definitely saving your recommendations for a later trip. Thanks for sharing!
So much to do! And loving all the snowy pics. I always think of New York as just the city but there is so much more to it!
This is a fun list! I’ve never been to the Catskills but would love to visit one day.
We went to Niagara Falls after Christmas back in 2004. It was really cold, snow on the ground was as high as my thighs, but the falls still wasn’t frozen. But we still had amazing views and experience. The other people there was a couple taking their wedding pictures!
While doing the maid of the mist is fun, I bet Niagara is just stunning in the winter! What a great list, I haven’t been to most of these but would love to!
The city looks so white! I would love to see Lake George and do the snowshoeing trail. I would also like to see the winter carnivals, everything that makes the winter sound fun.
Wow look at those amazing winter wonderlands. So pretty. I recently saw a movie and came to know about Lake Placid and I wanted to visit it during Christmas. I am adding others too to my list. I would really love to see Niagara Falls during winter season when it is all frozen, it will be amazing.
What a picture perfect blog with some astonishing sites for winter getaway. I loved Lake Placid and NYC as these gives me the vibes of utmost romance. I would love to visit all of these 8 places in future.
I love NYC at Christmas! The Christmas markets, ice skating rinks and shop windows are the best. I would love to return and see the Dyker Heights lights in Brooklyn. I imagine the Toboggan Chute at Lake Placid is a lot of fun and the view from summit of Little Whiteface looks amazing.
We love spending winter in New York. There is so much to see and do. We are actually planning on visiting Lake George. We had no idea that they hold the carnival so, will suggest we visit in February. I believe it would be a nice experience for the kids.
Very detailed and helpful article to plan winter gateways in New York! I would love to visit New York City in December, as it looks fabulous during Christmas time. But I would also like to see Niagara Falls covered with snow. It’s so spectacular! And of course, Lake Placid is on my list, as it was home to Winter Olympics twice.
I wish I could say I look forward to seeing winter destinations but it looks so cold!!! I have been to NYC in the winter and watched the ice skaters at Bryant Park – so fun. But the best part was stepping into a bakery and getting a streaming mug of hot cocoa!