Sometimes you just want to drive. No airports, security lines, train stations — just you, the open road, and a full tank (or charge). East coasters looking for a driveable winter escape will find a number of picturesque, cozy destinations — sea, mountain, river, farm — all within a few hours of New York City. A few we love:
In New Jersey:
Crystal Springs Resort, Hamburg, NJ
Drive time: 1 hour
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
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 through 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.
Lodge at Woodloch, Hawley, PA
Drive Time: 2 hours, 15 min
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.
The 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. The town’s most upscale hotel, 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.
Drive Time: 2 hours
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.
Urban Cowboy Lodge, The Catskills
Drive Time: 2.5. hours
Forewarning: there’s no cell phone service on this 68-acre property in the Big Indian Wilderness bordering Catskills National Park. But the 28-room Urban Cowboy Lodge Catskills does offer the ultimate winter escape: deep-soaking (one bronze and cedar) tubs with a view of the mountain and fir forest, an Estonian sauna, bar adorned in branches, and gourmet restaurant featuring wood-fired cooking. A taste of Montana without the trek.
Ocean House, Westerly, Rhode Island
Drive Time: 3 hours
We love a winter ocean scape, which is why we find Rhode Island (aka Ocean state) a perfect getaway. Chilly, moody (in an eerily dreamy way), warm up with hot clam chowder and fresh lobster bisque. For a truly cocooning stay, book an ocean-view room at Ocean House and watch the waves crash from your plush bed.