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The Best Winter Road Trips in the Northeast

The Northeast doesn't go into hibernation during the winter. Here are just a few of the top destinations to visit during the cold months.

lake placid

"Lake Placid - New York ~ Adirondack Mountains ~ Historical" by Onasill ~ Bill is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Winter vacations are going to look much different this year. While many people opt to escape the cold temperatures by flying off to a tropical destination, most will likely have to stay much closer to home this time around.

For those in the Northeast, that means embracing the region’s winter transformation. Fortunately, the area is one of the best locales to enjoy the season, with ample outdoor activities and attractions open year-round.

Here are five Northeast winter road trips to take this year.

Note: Due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please check official websites before visiting to check for restrictions or closures.

The Green Mountains

It’s difficult to find a scene anywhere in Vermont that doesn’t look like it was lifted straight from a postcard. But if we had to pick one area to visit during the winter, it would be the Green Mountains.

The Green Mountains span the length of Vermont, running along its eastern edge. There are plenty of routes to travel but we highly recommend taking the Scenic Route 100 Byway. Not only does it provide picturesque views, it’s the main thoroughfare to many of Vermont’s best-known resort towns, including Killington and Stowe. If you choose to travel the length of the byway, you’ll likely want to stop over at some of these destinations. Route 100 is nearly 150 miles long, after all. Here, you’ll find great food and drink, handmade arts and furniture and some of the best skiing in the country.

And if you make it all the way to Waterbury, make sure to schedule a trip to the Ben and Jerry’s factory.

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Lake Placid

This small village nestled amongst the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York is, of course, most famous for being the host city of the 1980 winter Olympics. If you’re a history buff, sports fan or just an outdoor enthusiast, a winter trip to this town is a must.

Many of the sites that hosted events four decades ago are open to the public. You can ice skate at the same arena that hosted the “Miracle On Ice” game, ski down Whiteface Mountain and, if you’re brave enough, even take a trip down the state-of-the-art combined skeleton and bobsled track.

But Lake Placid is more than just a one-trick pony. The town is also well known for its restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients and its host of outlets selling unique arts, crafts and keepsakes.

The Hudson Valley

Technically, the Hudson Valley is just north of Manhattan. Yet, once you’re there, you’ll feel 1,000 miles away from the hustle and bustle of New York City. This 150-mile valley along the Hudson River has been designated a National Heritage Area. It perfectly combines history, culture and recreation.

Some highlights include the Dia: Beacon art museum, as well as a visit to the town of Sleepy Hollow and author Washington Irving’s estate Sunnyside. Farther north, in the town of Poughkeepsie, is Walkway Over the Hudson. This pedestrian bridge offers walkers, hikers and bicyclists unparalleled views of the river. At 1.28 miles long, it is the longest such elevated bridge in the world. For those who simply want to kick back and enjoy their trip, the area is dotted with numerous wineries, distilleries, cideries and breweries.

berkshires

“Cycling in the Winter” by Len Radin is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Berkshires

The mountain chain known as the Green Mountains goes by a different name when it crosses the Massachusetts state line: the Berkshires.

The drive alone is worth the trip to the Berkshires. Crisscrossing the forest-lined rolling hills is a sightseer’s dream. While an autumn trip through the region is a feast for the eyes, the Berkshires may be at its best during the winter. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to the rolling hills for ample opportunities at skiing and snowmobiling. Popular hiking locations include Mount Greylock, the highest point in the state, and along the Appalachian Trail.

But those who want to get out of the cold are just as likely to enjoy western Massachusetts, as the Berkshires are one of the Northeast’s great cultural hubs. The area is home to several art museums, including the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Cape Cod

While it’s common thought to head to “winter” destinations during the cold months, visiting an area during its off-season allows you to fully enjoy everything it has to offer minus the crowds and exorbitant price tags. Cape Cod, of course, is known as a summer hotspot. But the miles of beaches and New England charm that define the area are still there after the temperatures drop. There’s something different, but equally enjoyable about a walk along a snow-covered beach.

There are enough museums, antique shops and attractions (the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, maybe?) to keep you busy. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory in Hyannis.

Since you’ll likely find discounted hotel rates, you can even upgrade your accommodations. Find an ocean cottage, warm up next to the fireside and enjoy everything that is winter in the Northeast.

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