Once the snow turns different colors, it's time to go.
In winter, when weeks can disappear in the slog, back and forth, from home to work, a weekend getaway is a vital window to the outside world—especially if you're in the compact streets of New York. Get out of your comfort zone (and maybe into some skis), and explore the surrounding terrain with these ideal escapes.
Hudson River Valley
Book a room in the historic and lovely Bear Mountain Inn, nestled between the eponymous mountain and the Hudson River, and only about an hour north of New York City. The monumental and rustic 1915 hotel's satisfying restaurant has a fireplace large enough to walk inside and, hanging next to it, a length of chain from a Revolutionary War blockade of the Hudson. Bear Mountain is also the perfect jumping off point for side trips to Beacon (where Dia reigns supreme), the Culinary Institute of America (where delicious food happens), and Hyde Park (where you can tour FDR's home as well as a Vanderbilt "cottage"). The Hyde Park Antique Center is a particularly rewarding stop for those who also want to shop.
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Take the LIRR out to Long Island's northwest corner and find a room with a view. Gurney's, an 11-acre oceanfront resort and "seawater spa," is the perfect (indoor) spot to curl up with a book and a view of the surf. If the weather holds, nature walks through Montauk Point State Park or up its lighthouse will reward visitors with gorgeous views of the bay, ocean, and local wildlife. Don't forget your binoculars.
Take a page from Judy Garland's book and spend a night in Boston's charming Lenox Hotel, an early 20th century skyscraper. (It's only 11 stories—buildings have since gotten bigger.) Hold your own cannoli taste-test with samples from Mike's Pastry and Maria's Pastry, two North End staples, before you head over for a seafood dinner at Neptune Oyster. Don't leave without a visit to the intimate and deeply personal Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which is as transportive as it is lovely.
With two Winter Olympics to its name, Lake Placid calls itself—with good reason—the winter sports capital of the world. Take a chairlift to the top of the highest vertical drop east of the Rocky Mountains on Whiteface, or sign up for a cross-country skiing lesson at the Olympic Sports Complex. Downtown Lake Placid offers its own charms: a restored 1926 movie theater, the rustic bar at Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood (featuring their own delicious craft beer and lots—lots—of decorative snowshoes), and the small-plates restaurant Top of the Park. The Arts and Crafts-style Lake Placid Lodge, a short drive from town, is reliably luxurious, and the sleek 1960s-era Lake House overlooks the Mirror Lake on Lake Placid's main drag.
Montreal has many of the charms of New York—it's got bagels, Jewish delis, and a central city park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead—and it speaks French, too. Whether you choose a Mile End-adjacent B&B (the charming University Bed & Breakfast) or a downtown five star hotel (the luxurious Ritz-Carlton), there's much to explore in winter, from the recently redesigned Museum of Fine Arts to the mouth-watering Jean-Talon Market to the city's stunning churches. Did we mention poutine? We should mention poutine. (La Banquise's many takes on the local comfort food, just off Park La Fontaine, are especially good.)
An hour and a half's Amtrak ride from Penn Station, Philadelphia is packed to the brim with world-class cultural institutions and outstanding restaurants. Take a break from cheesesteak (though we won't blame you if you don't) with Han Dynasty's to-die-for dan dan noodles or a multi-course meal at Talula's Garden. When you are done Rocky-running up the stairs to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Duchamp's shifting and fractured Nude Descending a Staircase is a must-see), check out Eastern State, one of the first penitentiaries in the U.S. and now a historic site that makes a moving case against mass incarceration. Before you go, pop into Reading Terminal Market for some treats from Pennsylvania Dutch country and elsewhere.
You can count on milder temperatures in DC over the winter, and no seasonal slow-down. While there's a million-and-one museums to see, don't forget to take a break sampling the city's burgeoning food and drink scene: sample a little bit of everything at Union Market next to Galluadet University in Northwest. Take advantage of a warmer day by biking along Rock Creek Park or walking through the National Arboretum. The Tabard Inn, in Dupont Circle, will have a roaring fire waiting for you afterwards.
Make like Bloomberg and splurge on a short plane ride to this mild, mid-Atlantic island. Grab a room at perennial favorite the Reefs for a boutique oceanfront experience and start exploring. It's not all pink-sand beaches (though those are great, too): check out the Crystal & Fantasy Caves or historic Fort St. Catherine. Regardless of what you do, soak up that sunshine.
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Molly McArdle is a native Washingtonian and a writer based in Brooklyn. You can find her on both Twitter and Instagram at @mollitudo.