Although you may think of Upstate New York as a summer hiking destination or place to peep fall foliage, you’ll be surprised how many amazing winter activities it offers. Those who aren’t afraid of a little cold will be rewarded with many options for Upstate New York winter getaways that make a memorable trip.
For outdoor enthusiasts, winter in Upstate New York means incredible mountains and trails for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. For those who prefer being indoors, Upstate New York offers romantic winter getaways, cabin rentals, and seasonal festivals.
Because Upstate New York is a large region with mountains, lakes, small cities, and even smaller towns, we’ve put together this guide of our favorite winter getaways in Upstate NY to help you decide what destination is best for you.
Relevant Tips: Winter Getaways Upstate New York
- Transportation is limited in Upstate New York. While the Metro North runs as far north as Albany, to visit the Adirondack Park or Finger Lakes, you’ll need a car.
- Weather can be unpredictable throughout the winter season in Upstate New York. Check the forecast and make sure you are prepared for significant winter storms – snow in Upstate New York can mean literally feet of snow!
- Packing the right clothing can make all the difference in your Upstate NY getaway – bring lots of layers, warm outerwear including hats and gloves, and appropriate boots for snow and cold.
- Driving in winter in Upstate NY can be a challenge if you aren’t accustomed to driving in inches of snow and ice – check the weather and plan extra time for traveling.
Things to Do in Upstate New York in the Winter
I. THE ADIRONDACKS
1. Lake Clear, NY
This hidden gem town is just a short drive from Lake Placid. Lake Clear is surrounded by deep nature and quiet, making it a lovely destination for a romantic Upstate NY winter vacation.
- Lake Clear Lodge: This lodge is home to a 1920s speakeasy featuring a 3-course dinner experience, which can be enjoyed with a lantern-lit horse-drawn sleigh ride. Your stay includes cross country skis and snowshoes to enjoy the trails all over the 25-acre property.
- Snowmobiling: If you find yourself in Lake Clear in the winter months, try the thrill of snowmobiling! With Farmhouse Snowmobiling, you can rent snowmobiles and go on a guided tour through farm fields and forested trails. Or, stop by Charlie’s Inn in Lake Clear for a bite to eat in their 120-year old Adirondack structure – they even offer snowmobile parking!
Cute Lodges in Lake Clear, NY
- Lake Clear Lodge ($$$$): Offering so much more than just a place to sleep, this lodge is a winter Upstate NY destination on its own, with sleigh rides, a speakeasy, and incredible Adirondack-style property.
- White Pine Camp ($$): Located in nearby Paul Smith’s, this guest house is the perfect Upstate New York cabin rental, with stunning views from their secluded, romantic private cabins.
2. Lake George, NY
Lake George is a small resort town in the southern Adirondack Park. Traditionally a summertime destination, Lake George has plenty to do during winter, both for outdoor adventurers and those who like to cozy up by the fire.
- Lake George’s Winter Carnival: This is one of the most popular Upstate NY winter activities, lasting a whole month during February, including ATV races, polar plunges, s’mores making, fireworks, and chowder, chili, and chicken wing cook-offs!
- Winter’s Dream: This will transform Fort William Henry into a winter paradise with immersive light shows, open six days a week (closed Tuesdays) from December through March. New this year!
- Winter’s Realm: This is also new this year and will feature ice sculptures, live entertainment, and an ice skating rink, at the Lake George Festival Commons
- Polar Plunge: Looking for an exciting way to start the New Year off? Join the New Year’s Day Lake George Polar Plunge fundraiser, where hundreds people jump into the freezing cold lake!
- Adirondack Winery Tasting Room: For a fun indoor activity, sample local wines at either their Lake George or nearby Queensbury location.
- Adirondack Salt Cave: Relax after all the winter activities at this spa, which is housed in a Himalayan Salt Environment and offers halotherapy, massage, reiki, and other services.
- Winter Sports: Get outside as part of your Upstate New York winter vacation!
- Snowshoeing: Try it as part of your Upstate NY winter getaway and you’ll be hooked. Natural Stone Bridge and Caves rents snowshoes, and has miles of trails, caves, and other natural features to explore.
- Snow Tubing: This can be done for free in the area at the Lake George Recreation Center, but West Mountain offers tubing trails and a magic carpet to get you to the top.
- Cross-Country Skiing: The Warren County Hiking & Nordic Ski, just 7 miles from downtown Lake George offers several trails
- Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding: Gore Mountain, about 30 miles west of Lake George, is the largest ski resort in NY!
- Ice Skating on the Lake: Head to Crandall Park, or if the weather permits, you can go ice skating right on frozen Lake George.
- Snowmobiling: Fly nearly 100 mph across the top of the snow! C+C Adirondack Snowmobile Tours offers a guided tour along with providing the snowmobile and helmets, so you only need to pack warm clothes!
Where to Stay in Lake George, NY
- The Inn at Erlowest ($$$): An elegant inn set in a stone castle on the shores of Lake George, this 21-and-over accommodation features beautiful private suites, with an on-site restaurant serving in outdoor heated igloos for winter!
- The Lodges at Cresthaven ($$): For a rustic-meets-luxury stay, consider this lodge, which offers a gas fireplace in each of the suites on their 11-acre lakefront property.
3. Lake Placid, NY
Lake Placid is the quintessential winter town in New York State and makes a perfect winter weekend getaway. The home of two Winter Olympics, and one of the most famous Lakes in New York, this tiny village in the high peaks of the Adirondack mountains is a perfect destination for winter sports enthusiasts, and offers resorts, spas, fabulous restaurants, and breathtaking scenery.
- Winter Sports: Lake Placid has world-renowned winter sports facilities, and it one of the best places to enjoy these:
- Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: Mt. Van Hoevenberg has over 55 km of trails, including 4km of world championship trails used for Olympic competition. The Cascade X-C Ski Center, part of the Adirondack Mountain Club, also offers 20 km of groomed trails and a cozy bunkhouse.
- Tobogganing: The Lake Placid Toboggan Chute sends you down a thrilling 30 foot-high ramp out onto the frozen Mirror Lake.
- Ice Skating: Check out the Jack Shea Arena and Herb Brooks Arena in the Olympic Center, or skate outside at the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval!
- Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding: For Olympic-level skiing and snowboarding, Whiteface Mountain boasts the greatest vertical of any lift-serviced mountain in the Northeast and miles of groomed trails. Real winter enthusiasts also cross-country ski uphill on the Whiteface Toll Road.
- Watch Exciting Winter Events: These include the annual Empire State Winter Games, and featured this year: the North American Bobsled & Luge Cup, the FIL World Cup Luge and the Ski Jumping World Cup.
- Spa: After all the outdoor adventures and sports, check out one of the many spas in Lake Placid: the Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid Lodge, Whiteface Lodge, Adirondack Foot Sanctuary, and High Peaks Resort all offer luxury spa services, including massages, and facials.
Where to Stay in Lake Placid, NY
- Whiteface Lodge ($$$$): Designed to look like an Adirondack Great Camp, this lodge mixes rustic details (think antlers and massive log columns) with luxury accommodations, making it truly one of the best Upstate New York winter resorts.
- Lake Placid Lodge ($$$$): Offering perhaps the most luxurious winter getaway in the Adirondacks, this property has stone fireplaces, hard-carved wooden beds, and stunning views from their thirty suites.
- Stage Coach Inn ($$): For an authentic Adirondack experience, this charming boutique bed-and-breakfast from the 1700s makes the perfect home base for your winter Upstate NY vacation.
4. Saranac Lake, NY
A smaller village with a sleepier vibe, Saranac Lake is a great Upstate New York winter village. Only twenty-five miles from Whiteface Mountain, and even closer to Adirondack destinations like Lake Placid (10 miles away) and Lake Clear (9 miles away), it’s an ideal stop for your Upstate New York winter getaway.
- Saranac Lake Winter Carnival: This is one of the highlights of winter in the Adirondack region, with the world-famous ice castle built from ice blocks pulled right from Lake Flower.
- Winter Sports: Saranac Lake is an excellent location to try out all the winter sports that Upstate NY has to offer:
- Ice Fishing: You can enjoy this winter activity on Lake Colby, which is located just outside the village, or if you aren’t comfortable going on your own, book a guided trip through Battle Fish Charters or Matt Burnett Guiding.
- Hiking and XC-Skiing: The nearby Paul Smith’s VIC Center has miles of trails with epic views for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
- Downhill Skiing: If the large ski resorts are too busy for you, check out Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center for skiing and snowboarding.
- Breweries: After all the outdoor activities, kick back with a drink at awesome craft breweries around Saranac Lake, including the Raybrook Brewhouse and Hex and Hop Brewery in nearby Bloomington.
- Saranac Lake Laboratory: For a dose of history during your winter weekend getaway, stop by this museum, which was originally built to treat tuberculosis patients and now houses exhibits of the area’s history.
Where to Stay in Saranac Lake, NY
- The Point ($$$$$): A luxury 5-star hotel with Adirondack charm, this resort is an all-inclusive experience that’s so amazing, it makes it hard to go back to everyday life.
- Hotel Saranac ($$): For a more affordable but still exceptional experience during your Upstate NY winter vacation, this historic hotel in downtown Saranac Lake offers 1920’s architectural charm and mountain views.
5. Tupper Lake, NY
Tupper Lake, New York, a short drive from Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, is a perfect getaway destination if you are looking for winter sports or winter hiking in Upstate NY.
- Hiking: The Tupper Lake Triad consists of three peaks that aren’t too challenging: Mt. Arab, Coney Mountain, and Goodman Mountain are a great place to try winter hiking on snowshoes. The Deer Pond Loop is also a favorite trail for local snowshoers.
- Sledding, Skiing, and Skating: Try the groomed sledding hill at Tupper Lake Golf Course, cross-country skiing at the groomed Frenette Recreational Trails, or ice skating at the Tupper Lake Memorial Civic Center (indoor rink) or the Tupper Lake Municipal Park (outdoor rink).
- The Wild Center: This natural history center in Tupper Lake is open on Fridays through Sundays during winter months, and is one of my favorite Adirondack places to visit year-round.
- Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory: You won’t believe how many stars you can see from here during winter in Upstate NY. This observatory is open on the first and third Fridays of the month.
II. CATSKILLS & HUDSON VALLEY
6. Urban Cowboy Lodge
The Urban Cowboy Lodge, located in the Catskill Mountains, is a perfect destination for an Upstate New York winter weekend getaway, only a few hours from New York City. The boutique hotel is nestled on 68 acres and offers guests luxury experiences like forest bathing in soaking tubs, an Estonian sauna, and reserved spaces for 18+ guests.
- Skiing and Tubing: If you’re into winter sports, the lodge is just 15 minutes away from Belleayre Mountain, one of Upstate New York’s best ski resorts, and only a 35 minute drive from Hunter Mountain, which offers snow tubing as well as downhill skiing and snowboarding.
- Woodstock, NY: A short drive will take you to this charming town with cute shops and restaurants, including the adorable Tinker Taco, which uses local ingredients and makes fresh tortillas every day.
- Karma Triyana Dharmachakra: Located in Woodstock, this Buddhist monastery offers tours through its grounds, including sacred shrines, artwork, and architecture – visitors can also learn from and practice with Buddhist monks.
- Breweries: Be sure to check out some of the best breweries in the Catskills while visiting the area: our favorites are Russian Mule Brewing, Catskill Brewery, and Upward Brewing.
7. Saratoga Springs, NY
Known for horse racing in the warmer months, Saratoga Springs, NY, is a perfect Upstate NY winter destination, offering plenty of indoor experiences at their famous spas and restaurants and winter outdoor activities in the surrounding area.
- Roosevelt Baths and Spa: Warm up at one of Saratoga Springs’ world-famous spas. This one offers soaks in the mineral waters that that area is known for, as well as massages, facials, and other treatments.
- Ice Bars: During winter months, you can enjoy a cocktail at one of the ice bars that pop up in the area. Although the dates and locations change due to the weather, look for ice bars this winter at Bailey’s, The Mill on Round Lake, and possibly even the Adelphi.
- Outdoor Activities: There are miles of trails around Saratoga Springs to explore on snowshoes and cross-country skis. Try winter hiking at the Bog Meadow Brook Trail, which follows an old railroad, or the Palmerton Conservation Area, a massive system of trails just outside Saratoga Springs.
Best Hotels in Saratoga Springs, NY
- Adelphi Hotel ($$$): This upscale boutique hotel serves as a historic centerpiece of downtown Saratoga Springs, with its grand entrance, impressive architecture, and beautiful bar.
- Bluebird Spa City Motor Lodge ($$): For a unique stay that blends modern and vintage, this hotel makes a great base for your Upstate NY winter weekend getaway, with its central location in the middle of downtown on Broadway.
8. New Paltz, NY
Perched between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River is New Paltz, NY, a perfect destination for your winter Upstate New York weekend getaway. This charming village with farm-to-table restaurants and a vibrant music scene is just a short drive from New York City but feels like a whole different world.
- Catskill Mountain Railroad’s Polar Express: If you’re looking for more traditional winter things to do in Upstate New York, this train ride is a magical experience you won’t forget. Located 20 minutes away in Kingston, NY, you’ll be greeted by Santa and his elves before boarding a train that travels through the book’s story.
- Ice Climbing: For an adrenaline rush, try this winter activity with Alpine Endeavors, which offers customized guided trips based on your skill level and experience.
- Mohonk Mountain House Spa: If you’re looking for a break from the outdoors, this incredible spa offers massage, yoga, an outdoor sanctuary, and was recently voted the Best Eco-Friendly Spa.
- Minnewaska State Park Preserve: This is an ideal setting for winter hikes, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The wintry weather turns it into a winter wonderland, and if it’s cold enough, Awosting Falls even freezes over!
- Breweries: While in the area, don’t miss the local breweries and cideries that have been popping up in recent years. Bad Seed Cider Co is a fun place to take a break from your travels, with incredible outdoor views and pizza and snacks to go with your craft beer or cider. Another favorite in the area is Clemson Bros Brewery, which offers their own beer, local wines and spirits, and locally-sourced food to accompany it.
Best Hotels in New Paltz, NY
- Mohonk Mountain House ($$$$): If you can, include a stay at this iconic resort, a historic Victorian castle set on a cliffside above Lake Mohonk, as part of your Hudson Valley winter getaway – you will be guaranteed an unforgettable experience!
- Minnewaska Lodge ($$$): A picturesque bed-and-breakfast located about six miles from downtown New Paltz, this is perfect for a romantic getaway – with its stunning views of the Shawangunk Mountains. For active vacationers, note that it’s just next door to the Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School!
III. THE FINGER LAKES
9. Ithaca, NY & Watkins Glen, NY
Two impressive towns about 30 minutes from each other, Ithaca and Watkins Glen are both known for incredible gorges and some of the most impressive Waterfalls in New York State, all easily accessible during your winter getaway. Visiting the area in winter means seeing frozen waterfalls and stunning landscapes.
- Hiking Waterfalls: Our favorite parks to visit for winter hiking are Buttermilk Falls State Park, which has wide cascading falls, and Taughannock Falls State Park, which features a 215-foot-high waterfall. Finger Lakes National Forest, north of Watkins Glen, is perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing as well.
- Dining: Ithaca is known for its farm-to-table restaurants, and one of the most famous is Moosewood, a vegetarian staple in the area for over 50 years and has a world-famous cookbook.
- Breweries: Stop by some craft breweries famous to the area, including Ithaca Beer Company and Grist Iron Brewing Company, located just north of Watkins Glen. If wine is more your style, try some Finger Lakes wines at nearby Wagner Vineyards, which offers tastings, or Glenora Wine Cellars, home to Veraisons Restaurant.
- Watkins Glen State Park: A visit to Watkins Glen is not complete without seeing the breathtaking views of waterfalls and gorges here. Although the Gorge Trail is closed for winter months, you can still see the frozen waterfalls from the Suspension Bridge.
Where to Stay in Ithaca, NY & Watkins Glen, NY
- Argos Inn ($$): To make your Upstate NY winter weekend getaway a little more special, consider booking this place in Ithaca, a boutique hotel set in a neoclassical mansion, with stunning artwork, a zinc cocktail bar, and well-appointed guest rooms.
- Hotel Ithaca ($$): In the heart of downtown Ithaca, this hotel is a perfect base for your Finger Lakes getaway. This is walkable to all the downtown destinations, including Ithaca Commons and the breathtaking gorges.
- Idlwilde Inn ($$): This romantic bed-and-breakfast is on the southern tip of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen. The 1890s Victorian mansion features charming fireplaces and a wraparound porch; you can even stay in the turret room!
10. Canandaigua, NY
At the north end of Canandaigua Lake is a charming historic town, Canandaigua, NY. With cute shops, unique galleries, and locally focused restaurants, make this a stop on your Upstate New York winter getaway through the Finger Lakes region.
- Finger Lakes Winter Carnival: This relatively new event brings food, live music, ice sculptures, and fireworks to the shores of Canandaigua Lake.
- Letchworth State Park: Also called the Grand Canyon of the East for its impressive gorges and cliffs, this state park is less than an hour away. The Genesee River flows through three sets of massive waterfalls, and in the winter months, the park is open for snow tubing and cross-country skiing.
- Ontario Mall Antiques: For an indoor adventure any time of year, you can spend hours treasure hunting at this store, which has over 5,000 square feet of vintage and antique finds – you’ll surely find a souvenir from your Upstate NY winter trip!
- Bristol Mountain: Just a short drive away, you’ll find this place, tucked between Canandaigua Lake and Honeoye Lake, and one of the only ski resorts in the Finger Lakes. Bristol has thirty-nine trails, ranging from beginner to double black diamond (advanced).
Where to Stay in Canandaigua, NY
- The Lake House on Canandaigua ($$$): One of the most extravagant resorts in the Finger Lakes region and featuring impressive guest rooms, amazing views, and a luxurious spa, the Lake House will make your Upstate New York getaway unforgettable.
- Sutherland House Victorian Bed and Breakfast ($$): Set in a charming Victorian-era home, this bed and breakfast has stunning grounds, well-appointed rooms, and has been voted one the most romantic inns multiple times.
Other New York Blog Posts
- 42 Unique Things to Do in Upstate New York
- 27 Charming Lakes in New York for a Lakeside Vacation
- 35 Gorgeous Waterfalls in New York State
- 14 Special Beaches in Upstate New York
About the Writer
Born and raised in Upstate New York, Cori Wilhelm is a librarian, beer snob, and aspiring baker who has traveled extensively throughout the state and beyond, always on the lookout for the best local food, IPAs, and ice cream. She currently lives near the Adirondack Mountains with her partner and two Texan rescue dogs, Neko and Lola, who are learning to love hiking and Upstate NY winters.