North Conway, NH | Top 5 New England Winter GetawaysPhoto Credit : Dick Pollock
Where better to escape the stresses of modern life than in the northern reaches of New England? Especially in the middle of winter, when the snow is thick on the ski mountains and the hot cocoa is on hand, New England is the perfect destination for getting away from the hustle and bustle. With that in mind, here are our picks for the top five New England winter getaways that offer skiing, relaxation, and more.
All of our best New England winter getaways picks originally appeared in the 2016 cover feature 10 Best Winter Towns in New England.
Located mere miles from the towering Mount Mansfield, Stowe is the epitome of a “cozy Vermont ski town.” The downtown area mixes top-notch eateries (Plate) with charming shops (Stowe Mercantile and the Country Store on Main), and the town’s eponymous ski area, Stowe Mountain Resort, is one of the premier resorts not only in the state, but in the entire region. The resort offers a huge variety of easy, intermediate, and expert downhill trails, and for those who prefer gentler grades, there are a number of cross-country trails in the area too.
When it comes to lodging, it’s hard to beat the luxurious Spruce Peak (formerly Stowe Mountain Lodge) and the Austrian-inspired Trapp Family Lodge, which also boasts the Von Trapp Brewery. All things considered, Stowe makes for one of the best winter weekend getaways in New England.
SEE MORE:A Holiday Visit to Stowe, Vermont
Home to some of the best cross-country skiing trails in Maine, Bethel is a must-visit destination for those looking to get outside and active during the winter months. Two nearby ski areas, Sunday River and Mount Abram, offer downhill skiers and snowboarders a chance to let loose on their various slopes, and activities like snowmobiling, dogsledding, and ice-fishing are not far away.
The town isn’t exclusively for outdoorsy types; with the artistic and laid-back scene that permeates the area, Bethel beckons to all. Restaurants like Brian’s, 22 Broad Street, and ChoSun are part of Bethel’s diverse culinary scene and will satisfy any palate. For an overnight, the Bethel InnResort is the place to stay — and the perfect place to relax after a hard day’s skiing.
The popular winter resort town of Jackson rests only miles from Mount Washington and offers unrivaled views of the Presidential Range’s snowy peaks. It’s easy to get lost in the natural beauty of Jackson while alpine skiing at Wildcat or Black Mountain, or cross-country skiing on the more than 150 kilometers of trails of the Jackson Ski Touring Foundation. These features combine to give Jackson some of New Hampshire’s most scenic skiing locations.
SEE MORE:Favorite Things to Do in Jackson, NH
Since one of the first tow ropes was installed on the slopes of the Suicide Six ski area in 1936, which was subsequently bought by Laurence Rockefeller in 1961, this small ski town has become one of the most charming places in New England. The town is home to the beloved 143-room Woodstock Inn, which is just steps to the beautiful and quaint downtown and town green. There you’ll find great places to eat, like The Prince & The Pauper, and F.H. Gillingham & Sons, one of the state’s oldest general stores.
Besides Suicide Six, there’s great cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails at the Woodstock Inn or the Marsh–Billings–Rockefeller National Historical Park. Giant Killington Ski Resort is just a 30-minute drive away, or opt for a sleigh ride at Billings Farm & Museum.
Whether you like to shop or ski, or both, you’ll love North Conway in the wintertime. Year-round, shoppers flock to the Settlers’ Green outlets in search of bargains from beloved brands like L.L. Bean. Downtown, Zeb’s General Store is the place to check out for knick-knacks of every variety, or a bagful of penny candy. Skiers can enjoy a day on the slopes at the 57-trail Cranmore Mountain Resort, while non-skiers can try out the zipline course, Giant Swing, or 10 lanes of tubing.
Not interested in shopping or skiing? Hop aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad to take in some mountain views from the comfort of your train seat, or grab your skates and head to the outdoor rink at Schouler Park. Then top the day off with some tasty après-ski fare and microbrews from Moat Mountain Smokehouse.
Nothing seems to change here, and that’s the way locals like it, especially when it comes to their two ski areas, Mad River Glen and Sugarbush. Mad River Glen is truly a place where skiing seems little removed from the mountain’s gnarled, primal state. It still relies almost entirely on MotherNature’s snow and refuses to open its trails to snowboarders; it also boasts the only single chairlift in America. Sugarbush features the New England skiing of yore, a time when trails were cut by hand so they weren’t much wider than a hiking path. On the best trails, like Castlerock, you’re immersed in the woods as you whiz by a rolling tapestry of maples, oaks, birches, spruce, pine, and balsams. Add the 30 miles of trails at Ole’s Cross Country Center, set on a 1,500-foot plateau that looks across at Sugarbush, plus one of the few round barns still in existence—now home to an indoor swimming pool at the aptly named Inn at Round Barn Farm—and you understand why we love Waitsfield.
It’s a winter wonderland of spruces and pines top-heavy with snow and dotted with iced-over lakes and rising ridges. In winter this vast wilderness is yours to snowmobile, snowshoe, or ice-fish. Skiers are hopeful that Rangeley’s big-boy mountain, Saddleback, finds funding soon to stay open—but if not, famed Sugarloaf is only 26 miles north.
The grande dame of these woods, the Rangeley Inn, offers rooms year-round, just down the block from the heavenly chili found at RedOnion. You can walk the small town in minutes, or simply grab one of those cozy couches at the inn and while away the day with a good book.
Best known for its picture-perfect harbor and historic windjammers, Camden casts a magic spell come winter. A stroll along the waterfront atHarbor Park is perfect at any time of the year. Then warm up in the adjacent Camden Public Library, another beauty, which originated in 1796 with a donation of 200 books (present building constructed in 1928).
Yet the most intriguing perk here come winter is that this is the only locale in America where you can ski downhill and peer out at an expanse of ocean. Who can resist the salty smell of the sea while riding the double chair to the top of Camden Snow Bowl? One of the smallest peaks in New England, this ski area still has a mom-and-pop appeal, attracting many local families on the weekends. It’s also home to a 440-foot-long ice-coated toboggan chute, where a steep track lets toboggans drop off the side of Ragged Mountain at speeds exceeding 30 miles per hour.
Afterwards, you’ve earned a cup of chowder and a seat in front of a fireplace at one of the many inns that stay open year-round.
Home to stately college-building façades and the circa-1827 Middlebury Inn, Middlebury has a lot in common with Hanover, New Hampshire. After class, students at Middlebury and Dartmouth can carve perfect turns at those retro ski areas, the Middlebury Snow Bowl and the Dartmouth Skiway.
The kicker for Middlebury is that less than a 15-minute drive away are the western slopes of Green Mountain National Forest, where you’ll find a classic cross-country skiing inn, Blueberry Hill. Grab your skis and snowshoes and head out on more than 50 kilometers of backcountry trails through snowed-over pines. Then return to the cozy lodge to fill up on sublime chocolate-chip cookies in front of the fireplace.
For those who grew up (or watched their children grow up) skiing at Okemo Mountain Resort, the community-run ski hill that eventually morphed into a top-tier four-season destination, the southern Vermont town of Ludlow remains an eternal winter getaway favorite. Along with the resort’s Jackson Gore Inn, easily one of the top three ski-in/ski-out properties in New England, you’ll find old-school accommodations with a polished sheen at the hip boutique motel Main + Mountain. When you’re not hitting the slopes or cozying up to a crackling fire, you can treat yourself to the “Vermonter’s Omelette” (apple, bacon, and cheddar) at The Hatchery, seafood gumbo and tacos at Mojo Café, and an après-ski burger and local brew on tap at Tom’s Loft Tavern for the ultimate Ludlow foodie experience.