It’s probably too cold to visit Coney Island or the Hamptons these days, but there are places where you can get away from New York City without a car. These winter day trips are perfect ways to get out of town even when the weather’s less desirable, whether that means embracing the cold by getting out on a ski slope or burrowing indoors with a good book and a spa treatment. And best of all, these spots are accessible without a car—because the last thing you need is the extra stress of renting one of those in New York.Read More
6 NYC-area winter day trips you can get to without a car
Escape New York City at one of these winter-friendly sites outside of the city
1. Thunder Ridge Ski Area
Near the Connecticut state line, this ski area is about an hour and a half from the city, making it ideal for novice skiiers who need to get in some practice runs before committing to a whole winter in Utah. Activities, from ski school to paintball, make Thunder Ridge a good choice for families where each member wants something different, and several nearby hotels offer ski-and-stay packages if you want to sneak in a few more runs before heading home.
How to get there: Metro North’s “Thunder Ski” package includes train tickets to Patterson, tickets on the shuttle from Patterson to Thunder Ridge, and a day ski lift pass.
2. Mohonk Mountain House
Odds are good that you need to get 2016 detoxed out of your system. Get the best of both indoor and outdoor activities at this legendary spa resort about an hour and a half north of the city in New Paltz (the property’s name comes from Lake Mohonk, which it borders). Outside, partake in hiking and forest bathing; inside, meditation, yoga, and spa treatments. Plus, the building’s not bad to look at: the hotel was designed by Napoleon LeBrun, who was best known for his architectural work on churches—the wooden arches above the pool will give you a sense of his style.
How to get there: Take Metro-North to Poughkeepsie; Mohonk will send someone to pick you up from the station.
3. Hunter Mountain Ski Resort
If you can’t commit to spending the weekend at a Vermont resort, or don’t want to spend your entire vacation in a car, Hunter Mountain is a solid option that keeps you soundly in New York state and able to sleep in your own bed at night. About three hours east of the city in the Catskills, Hunter has a dramatic drop that is well-suited for skiing or (gulp) ziplining, for the truly adventurous. If you’re not adventurous, that’s okay, too—there are classes for all levels.
How to get there: For ease, it’s tough to beat the NYC Ski Bus’s all-inclusive package; get round-trip transit, lift passes, gear rental, and/or a lesson as needed.
4. Olana State Historic Site
If you’ve admired paintings like Asher Brown Durand’s “Thanatopsis” at The Met, head to Olana, which was a center stage for the Hudson River School of artists. Olana was a mixed-use group of artist homes and workspaces with breathtaking views of the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains that make it pretty easy to see why so many painters were inspired here; it has since been given National Landmark status. You can take a 90-minute tour of the main house where painter Frederic Church and his family lived, and the grounds are free to explore in nice weather.
How to get there: Take Amtrak to Hudson; from there cab it to Olana.
5. Gideon Putnam Resort & Spa
Saratoga is known for its restorative sulfur-infused mineral water, and no less than Franklin Delano Roosevelt went there to “take the waters” during his presidency—in fact, when he was governor of New York, Roosevelt originally signed off on the development of a health spa facility in Saratoga Springs, hence the name. Unlike some spas, where you lie on a massage table or sit in a plush chair, here you’ll be escorted to a private bathroom to float gently in a bathtub filled with reddish-tinted water—and the experience is extra special and restorative in the winter. Book in for a long weekend at the Gideon Putnam, then reserve a spot at the Roosevelt Baths & Spa on-site.
How to get there: Take Amtrak to Saratoga Springs; the resort has a shuttle that will pick you up.
6. Mashomack Preserve
Shelter Island, NY 11964
About one-third of Shelter Island is dedicated to the Mashomack Preserve, a protected natural area where you’re as likely to find oak trees as you are to find marsh reeds. The Preserve is a habitat for several rare plant species and birds, including ospreys—that means you won’t be able to bring in pets or outside food when you hike, bird-watch, or take photos. Because of the delicate ecosystem, there’s no biking or horseback riding, so Mashomack is more the kind of place you go for a meditative walk, not outdoor sports. Note: while the area is open year-round, in January you can only visit on weekends. There are nature and bird-focused tours periodically, but you’ll need to book ahead.
How to get there: Uber/Lyft from either of Shelter Island’s ferry dropoffs—North Haven/South Ferry is closer.