I used to detest the winter — the dark-at-five-o’clock, cold stinging my eyelashes during my early morning walks. And while the season is, by far, my least favorite (I am a summer girl through and through), I have learned not only to tolerate but, on occasion, embrace the frosty, snowy months. It took my cold-weather-loving sister to enlighten me. “If you dress properly (translation: cover your bare legs and arms; wear a hat and gloves) and embrace the outdoors differently — i.e. go skiing, ice-skating, snowshoeing — you may find that you like the winter more. Plus you can drive. No airports, security lines, train stations — just the open road and a full tank (or charge).” Over the years, I have come to realize that my sister was right. East coasters (like myself), have access to a plethora of easy driveable winter escapes: picturesque destinations of sea, mountain, river, farm — complete with roaring fire pits, cocooning spas, wine caves, and even enclosed heated swimming lagoons — all within a few hours of New York City. A few to know: 

In Rhode Island:

Ocean House, Westerly

Drive Time: 3 hours

gondola village at ocean house, westerly rhode island
Courtesy, Ocean House

We love a winter ocean scape, which is why we find Ocean House, Rhode Island (a.k.a. the Ocean state) a perfect getaway. Chilly, moody (in an eerily dreamy way), warm up in one of the vintage ski gondolas — part of the resort’s famed Gondola Village, laden with fire pits, heated blankets, and twinkling lights — for Veuve Clicquot Champagne and Apero French (before dinner) experience featuring sweet crepes such as cinnamon apples with brandy-soaked raisins and whipped cream, or savory ham and gruyere with a Dijon mustard cream. Continue the romantic ambience with an ocean-view room, where from your plush bed, you can watch the waves crash.

Weekapaug Inn, Westerly

weekapaug inn in westerly rhode island is surrounded by water
Courtesy, Weekapaug Inn

Just 15 minutes from Ocean House, find the 5-star, Relais and Chateaux decorated Weekapaug Inn. Star gaze New England’s inky skies with the hotel’s resident naturalist, watch the winter sunset from a jeep tour along the beach, and spend time honing your photography skills on a guided, water-surrounding photo shoot. Opt for a four-course tasting menu with Chef Andrew Brooks, or select from the menu local favorites like native oysters, littlenecks, Stonington scallops (with poached pear, parsnip, swiss chard, and uni butter), Rhode Island mushroom tagliatelle, or for meat lovers, classic filet mignon. 

New Jersey:

Crystal Springs Resort, Hamburg, NJ

Drive time: 1 hour

biosphere pool, crystal springs, new jersey
Courtesy, Crystal Springs Resort

New York City’s closest resort, Crystal Springs, set at the edge of the Appalachian Mountains, comes with two hotels and spas, ten dining venues (yes, ten), a stellar wine cellar, and stunning rooms and suites with mountain and valley views. Golf is a must here in the warmer months (choose from six premier courses, including the famous Ballyowen course), but in winter, we prefer cocooning into Grand Cascades Lodge. Dip into the heated tropical Biosphere Pool complex, reserve a crushed cabernet scrub (by Caudalie) and vinotherapy massage at  Reflections Spa, and dine at one of New Jersey’s top tables, the AAA Four Diamond Restaurant Latour before retiring to your sumptuous suite by Manhattan’s INC Architecture & Design.

Beach Plum Farm Cottages, Cape May

Drive time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Courtesy, Cape Resorts

Cape May, New Jersey, is known mostly for its wide beaches and colorful Victorian homes. But the seaside town — beautiful in winter — also has a farm side. Beach Plum Farm, the brainchild of Curtis Bashaw (of Congress Hall and Virginia Hotel and Cottages, among others), is just a few miles from the sand, and comes complete with Berkshire hogs, chickens, beehives, organic gardens, a farmers’ market, and kitchen that  hosts a vibey themed dinner series throughout the year. The 62-acre working farm includes six farm barns and cottages, including The Whaler’s Cottage, dating back to the 1700s and one of the oldest houses on the island; the Winona Cottage, one of the original Sears, Robuck, & Co mail-order homes; and newer-construction barns built by Lancaster, PA, Amish craftsmen. All are private and include fireplaces, porches, outdoor firepits and showers, golf carts, and bicycles.


The Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, PA

Drive Time: 2 hours, 15 min

water circuit at the lodge at woodloch, pennsylvania
Courtesy, The Lodge at Woodloch

When it comes to warming winter vibes (fireplaces, saunas, heated pools, hot-stone and heated-poultice massages to melt the stress), The Lodge at Woodloch is the perfect respite. The spa is home to fireplaces and fire pits, a dreamy warm hydromassage waterwall for instant relax, an extensive spa treatment menu, and cocooning rooms with forest and lake views. For those who actually want to immerse into the chill, there is snowshoeing, ice fishing, and in the spa, a hot-cold circuit of salt sauna, ice bucket shower and snow room.

River House at Odette’s, New Hope

Drive Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

We have mentioned bucolic New Hope (and Lambertville, NJ) before. That’s because the sister-river towns (connected by a walking bridge) are truly worth the road trip. Vibey restaurants, artsy boutiques (hello Foxy Reds), fun people watching, miles of towpath (for walking and biking), and a professional theater (where the late Grace Kelly cut her acting chops) are part of the appeal. One of the town’s most upscale hotels, the contemporary 38-room River House is located right on the Delaware. Named after the legendary 1960s cabaret star, Odette Myrtil, who once performed her cabaret show here (Chez Odette), the hotel has opulent odes to Myrtil everywhere — from the bold prints and patterns to the plush velvet textiles and leather couches in the piano lounge, to the signature dishes at the onsite restaurant. Most spectacular however, are the rooms with their tranquil river views, fireplaces, and small private terraces overlooking the water.

New York:

Troutbeck, Amenia

Drive Time: 2 hours

festive culinary art, troutbeck, New York
Photo by Jim Henkens, courtesy of Troutbeck

Skiers and outdoor enthusiasts will love a stay at the 38-room Troutbeck, as will those hoping to chill out with a book in front of a roaring fireplace. The stunning country house, set on 45  acres, was originally built in 1765 for a prominent New York family. It remained a private home (visited by literary greats Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Sinclair Lewis) until 2017 when it was transformed into a hotel under the artful eye of legendary Alexandra Champalimaud of Champalimaud Design (renowned for her work on such icons as the Dorchester). Guestrooms feature fireplaces, soaking tubs, Frette linens, and heated bathroom floors. Ski mountains (Catamount and Mohawk) are nearby.

Cover image courtesy, The Lodge at Woodloch