In these up/down/up again economic times and with the crisp chill of winter looming in the air, why not choose a local ski getaway when planning your next vacation? The Northeast is stocked with ski areas. With so many options at your beck and call, any direction you drive will bring you right smack in the middle of a winter wonderland. Here is a list of top-notch nearby ski-trip destinations.
(1) The Pocono Mountains
Just a Hop, Skip, and a Ski Jump Away
The Pocono Mountains sit statuesque and sprawling, about 100 miles away from Westchester. This region offers a postcard-perfect backdrop, with more than 2,000 square miles of rolling mountain terrain, natural waterfalls, earthy woodlands, and winding rivers. Back in 1934, Poconos resident Dick Smith penned the lyrics to the classic song Winter Wonderland—with good reason: it is just that. Winter visitors are coaxed with opportunities to ski their way through 150 trails of those famous wonderlands.
Reverse Psychology Hits the Slopes
SKI Big Bear at Masthope Mountain
Ski Big Bear is laden with adventure for the intrepid skier.
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While most slopes have you skiing down to the lodge at the bottom, Big Bear playfully pulls the old switcheroo. Skiers here enjoy instead a grand lodge complete with dining, shopping, and people-watching opportunities, all way up at the very top of this mountain. Here’s how it works: Big Bear’s two Magic Carpets glide you seamlessly to the edge of the mountain, much like an airport passenger transporter does. Just strap your skis on, and immediately upon your arrival, ski down. More time spent at the top optimizes the taking in of breathtaking natural views. Big Bear offers 18 trails in total, and night skiing excursions are available, too.
The Family Who Skis Together Stays Together
With 33 trails all well lit for night skiing, Camelback offers a full resort experience custom-fit for family ski trips to the Poconos. Camelback Mountain Resort has ski packages for purchase, snowmaking capability, a ski school, and a children’s daycare center, too.
The Giant Snowman
SKI Jack Frost Big Boulder
The resort lives up to its namesake. The premier commercial ski resort in Pennsylvania, whose claim to fame is having generated the very first artificial snow, the resort earns the reputation of having the best manmade terrain around. Jack Frost has six parks on site and, after many years in the industry, these folks clearly have winter sports down to a science.
The Lodge at Woodloch’s myriad amenities are quietly tucked in the woods.
This quintessential respite sits like a magical secret, unexpectedly nestled in the woods, offering a vast array of award-winning destination-spa amenities, including fabulous treatments, superb organic cuisine, classes, and unique accouterments such as heated hydro-massage water walls at its ever-cascading Aqua Gardens.
Hawley, PA (570) 685-8500. *Cost: $299—$600
Settlers Inn illuminated at dusk.
Back in the 1980s, innkeepers Grant and Jeanne Genzlinger took their green-before-their-time vision and brought it to life via this beautifully restored Arts and Crafts lodge. Their 21 mission-style rooms, complete with good old-fashioned feather beds and European-style linens beg you to succumb to heartwarming comforts. Meander through the herb and flower gardens, sit by a toasty fire, and sip a brandy or soak in your own private whirlpool tub, or dine at the Chestnut Tavern and Terrace, all ideal after a day of great skiing.
Hawley, PA (800) 833-8527. Cost: $160—$250
Owned by the Kiesendahl family since 1958, this all-inclusive family resort exudes retro-style warmth and hospitality. Set on thickly wooded grounds, this multi-generational haven offers recreation, such as ice-skating and snow tubing, on the premises. Woodloch showcases a surprisingly professional revue on Saturday nights, on par with some of New York City’s best Broadway musicals. Its Ski & Stay package links guests to ski Big Bear at Masthope Mountain. Your Woodloch VIP pass eliminates long lines and gets you the royal treatment
Hawley, PA (800) 966-3562. Cost: $119—$500
This Dutch Colonial-style manor house overlooks Skytop Lake, with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding region. The placement of this rustic lodge at the base of West Mountain in the northern Poconos seamlessly connects it to all of nature’s splendors with 30 miles of cross-country ski trails weaving through its 5,500 acres. The lodge itself has charming accommodations, gourmet dining, and a high-end spa. Its motto is: “All meals included—all adventures met.”
Skytop, PA (800) 345-7759. Cost: $398 (includes meal and winter-sport fees)
The French Manor is a magical four-diamond rated stone château, sitting regally atop Huckleberry Mountain. Enjoy views of the northern Pocono Mountains from its spa resort addition, Le Spa Forêt, offering five more fireplace- and Jacuzzi-appointed suites, all with private balconies. An indoor pool and hot tub as well as a fitness room infuse amenities into your stay. Guests can opt for a full-day VIP lift ticket to nearby Camelback Mountain. Just start your day with one of their gourmet country breakfasts and allow the resort to pack you a tote bag of goodies for later.
South Sterling, PA (877) 720-6090. Cost: $175—$375
(2) LAKE PLACID
Getting High on the Adirondacks’
High Peaks Region
The Alpine Village of Lake Placid is situated within the six-million-acre Adirondack Park, one of the largest wilderness parks on earth, with an impressive 3,000 lakes and 2,000 miles of hiking trails. It sits on crystal-clear Mirror Lake, within one of the most ancient mountain systems on the planet.
The Big Plunge
Surrounded by thousands of acres of Adirondack forest, Whiteface Mountain boasts the greatest vertical drop in the East at 3,430 feet, making for some of the best alpine skiing in North America. Nevertheless, beginners can rest assured that this mountain has an easy-does-it side for them as well, complete with a sheltered trail system. A huge mountain with more than 225 skiable acres, Whiteface has five ski areas, and the onsite heated Cloudsplitter Gondola carries skiers to the top of Little Whiteface in less than eight minutes.
Former Olympic Lucier Joe Barile opened this sprawling property in June 2005, having long envisioned a lodge reminiscent of the grandeur of the “Great Camps” of the historic Adirondacks. Much of the timber for this Lake Placid resort was hand-milled on site and handcrafted Adirondack furnishings are found throughout. Enjoy its heated indoor-outdoor swimming pool, an ice-skating rink, a large surround-sound movie theater, the rustic Kanu Restaurant, a cigar and cognac lounge; even an imported two 10-pin bowling lane circa 1963!
Lake Placid, NY (800) 903-4045. Cost: $400—$500
Chocolate cookies await at snowy Mirror Lake Inn.
Feel your senses pique as you approach this charming lakefront resort inn, where a grand row of color-changing twinkling lit trees beckon you to enter. The inn’s famous chocolate-chip cookies await your arrival at the front desk where you can check in to stay in one of its charming rooms or suites. Offering three dining spots, a high-end spa on the premises, yoga classes, and cross-country ski lessons, this inn is a one-stop winter getaway treasure.
Lake Placid, NY (518) 523-2544. Cost: Starting at $245
(3) Vernon New Jersey/Warwick New York
The City Cat and the Country Mouse
Vernon is a winter resort town located in the New Jersey Appalachians. It seamlessly connects to Warwick, New York, a collection of villages and hamlets, tucked in the rolling hills of the Shawangunk Mountains, with outdoor sports, fine dining, galleries, and quality shops. The old dairy farms peppered throughout this region, once the dwellings of farm families, are now the homes of five-star restaurants, quaint bed & breakfasts, art galleries, and specialty shops. Playboy icon Hugh Heffner built his famous club in Vernon in the early ‘70s. Around the same time, both the Vernon Valley and Great Gorge ski areas were conceived. This has since become Mountain Creek, a huge ski and recreational area.
Ski Mountain Creek
Situated in Vernon Valley in Northern New Jersey, this ski resort offers fabulous skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing, with 46 trails to carve your way down, 11 lifts, and seven snow-tubing lanes on a dedicated hill. Ski down a 1,040-foot vertical, featuring one high-speed, eight-passenger Cabriolet gondola and two high-speed quads, plus bunny slopes accessed by its two Magic Carpets.
Ski the Hidden Valley Club
The Hidden Valley Club is one of the oldest and most respected ski destinations on the East Coast. Founded as a private ski area in 1975 by the same visionary who developed the Great Gorge Ski Resort (now Mountain Creek), Hidden Valley has been the destination of choice for seasoned skiers who love the variety of trails as well as the excellent conditions.
Crystal Springs Resorts
Twin brand-new New Jersey luxury resorts sit nestled in the Kittatinny Mountains. Together, they boast seven championship golf courses, award-winning spas, and world-class gourmet dining. Whether you spend your time at the elegant four-star Grand Cascades Lodge or the family-friendly Minerals Resort & Spa, these lovely properties are top-notch and perfect for those who wish to have the best of both worlds. The Grand Cascades Lodge is a lavish revival of the classic Adirondack-style lodges. The large tropical biosphere pool complex with a free-form indoor pool, water slide, hot tub, and steam room is perfect for après-ski unwinding, followed by a drink from Restaurant Latour’s on-site wine cellar, which houses an impressive 64,000 varietal bottles. Enjoy its Reflections Spa which has a crystal ceiling, fire-inspired art glass throughout the interior and exterior, and an impressive menu of treatments.
The Apple Valley Inn B&B is a Colonial mansion built in 1831 in scenic Pochuck Valley, New Jersey. Here you can find wraparound porches, allowing for perfect views of the countryside. The bountiful gardens lead directly to their very own Candy Apple Shoppe right on the grounds, where signature chocolate-covered apples and other such confections are made fresh daily. Year-round antiquing and visits to local wineries provide yet another adventure, and the Appalachian Trail, less then one mile from Apple Valley, offers great cross-country skiing.
Glenwood, NJ (973) 764-3735. Cost: $145—$160
(4) The Catskill Mountains
More Ski Belt than Borscht Belt
There are several ski areas in this spectacular New York State region, most within an hour’s drive of Westchester, including Hunter Mountain and Bellayre Mountain, among several others. All offer top-notch trails.
Let It Snow
Ski Hunter Mountain
Hunter is located in the spectacular mountaintop region of the Northern Catskills, unmatched for their beauty. More than 1,000 snow guns quickly blanket the entire mountain, making Hunter renowned for its snow conditions. Miles of state hiking trails lead to breathtaking views of the Hudson Valley and the surrounding peaks.
Reach the Heights
Ski Belleayre Mountain and Plattekill Mountain
Belleayre Mountain in Highmount, New York, hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1949. Early on, skiers would sidestep or hike their way more than 3,000 feet to be the first to make tracks down un-named and woody trails. It would eventually become the center for winter sports in the region, with a 3,429-foot summit and 171 skiable acres. It is the highest skiable peak and boasts the longest skiable trail in the Catskills. Skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts love Plattekill for its long and challenging runs.
That Big-Mountain Feel
Ski Windham Mountain
Since it opened in 1960, Windham Mountain has enjoyed a world class reputation by offering a wide variety of top-notch terrain for all ages and abilities. Located in New York’s Northern Catskills and with more vertical drops than the Berkshires, Windham allows for an authentic big mountain ski experience within a two-hour drive of Westchester County. Over the past three years, three new trails and four new lifts have been added to the facility as well as the Windham Mountain Adventure Park complete with a thrill seekers bungee trampoline, a rock climbing wall, and an ice skating center. Guest can take full advantage of amenities such as valet parking and direct-to-lift ski passes. The onsite ski lodge includes a Starbucks coffee, the Yokahama Mama Sushi Bar, and services such as a ski school and the Windham Mountain Sports retail shop. Its restaurant Trail’s End Tavern & Grill invites après skiers to a feast within its beautiful timber, stone, and copper space.
Originally a boarding house in the mid 1800s, this sweet little French-flavored B&B lies hidden like a secret wedding cake in the central Catskills. It’s now owned by a French chef and his young family, and the charm of this place is immediately visible, thanks to Victorian décor. Appointed like a collector’s dollhouse, La Duchesse Anne offers a lovely grand dining room, where generous portions of authentic French fare are served nightly. Après skiing, warm up here as you dance till the wee hours. Retire to one of eight charming rooms, enjoy a continental breakfast, and get back out there all over again.
Mount Tremper, NY (845) 688-5260. Cost: $70—$220
This resort has 53 exceptional guestrooms and suites, all appointed with choice furnishings and lush, jewel-toned fabrics. Enjoy inventive cuisine at The Phoenix Restaurant or indulge in one of the varietal spa treatments at its four-star spa. An onsite country store showcases locally inspired items and gifts from the Hudson Valley in a restored 19th-century barn. Featured here is the world’s largest kaleidoscope, a multi-media experience to enjoy before heading off to ski the mountains.
Mount Tremper, NY (877) 688-2828. Cost: $139—$563
The Roxbury is a new boutique motel, hugged by the Catskill Mountains in the historic village of Roxbury. Its bright, colorful whimsical, rooms (décor veers from kitschy to cosmic) manage without effort and fancy wrappings to put a contemporary spin on an old country lodging experience. “Theme” rooms inspired by famous TV series, films, or cartoons of the 1960s and ’70s are this motel’s claim to fame, and it manages to pull this off without being corny.
Roxbury, NY (607) 326-7200. Cost: $125—$335
In honor of the 140th anniversary of Mohonk Mountain, on certain select days you can stay there for $186.90 and get all the fixings—charming rooms, bountiful buffets, and four-course formal dinners, along with afternoon tea and an abundance of resort activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, ice-skating in their open-air Pavilion, fitness and yoga classes, or swimming in the indoor heated pool. The House, less than an hour from Westchester, has 35 miles of cross-country ski trails throughout its 2,000-plus acres of resort property. Use its complimentary ski equipment and take a lesson.
New Paltz, NY (845) 255-1000. Cost: Starting at $510 (includes three meals, resort activities, and afternoon tea and cookies).
Afraid of heights, Karen Holly Berliner used her assignment to challenge herself to suit up and hit the slopes (albeit the bunny slopes). Her hope was to finally rise the victor of this lifelong battle with acrophobia. She did.