Alpine adventurers from New York and Boston have some of the best ski resorts in the Northeast right in their own backyard. An easy drive north leads to postcard-worthy mountain towns filled with cozy lodges with popular ski resorts and plenty of high-end dining options for the perfect winter weekend getaway.
Right now, many of the best ski resorts in the Northeast are operating at limited capacity, so with a little planning, you can take advantage of having runs mostly to yourself and indulge in socially distant apres ski in heated outdoor cabanas.
Hunter Mountain, New York
The most popular ski destination in the Catskills is Hunter Mountain. Easily accessible for even a day trip from NYC, the mountain has an Alpine ski resort with great runs and the area boasts a quaint small-town vibe with picturesque scenery, plenty of hiking trails and cozy restaurants.
The Mountain: Hunter Mountain has 67 trails, 13 lifts, and over 320 skiable acres. There are three main sections; Hunter One, where you’ll find the best beginner runs, Hunter West, for the steepest double black diamonds in the Catskills and the Main Face, for a good mix of all levels. Affectionately dubbed the “Snow Making Capital of the World”, Hunter Mountain can produce snow on 100% of their skiable terrain. So unless it’s raining you’ll be able to get on the slopes throughout the season.
Driving Distance from NYC: A simple 2.5-hour drive from New York City.
Best Place to Stay in Hunter Mountain: Scribner’s Catskills Lodge exudes nostalgic rustic ski lodge charm with a healthy dose of New York cool. The chic 1960’s alpine white property situated across the road from Hunter Mountain was given a modern makeover to transform into a luxe yet intimate 38-room boutique inn style lodge. High-peaked lofted ceilings, skylight windows and plenty of indoor-outdoor spaces honor the property’s mountain surroundings, set on 20 hilly acres. The chalet-style lobby and lounge room are perfect for relaxing with a pinot by the fire after a long day on the slopes, while the all-white loft-style rooms are an exercise in sleek Scandi minimalism with sleep lofts, sunken seating, maple floors, local artworks and loomed tapestries, and a private deck with Adirondack chairs to enjoy the spectacular view.
Apres Ski: The dining room at The Prospect has floor to ceiling picture windows with great views of Hunter Mountain. Classic white oak tabletops, wood-paneled walls trimmed in a deep black give a sense of a sleek but classic ski lodge perfect for apres ski. The gourmet menu features many local Hudson Valley ingredients like the Autumn Grain bowl with local mushrooms and the favorite Prospect burger smothered in local cheddar. Plan to go for a before or after dinner drinks out on the large heated deck around the cozy fire pit.
East Killington, Vermont
The largest ski resort in Vermont is in Killington, a small town located in the Green Mountains surrounded by apple orchards and artisanal cheesemakers. Come evening the town comes alive with a buzzy nightlife scene. You can also take a quick drive to neighboring Rutland to sip hot cider, shop for vintage records and wander through streets of restored 19th-century buildings.
The Mountain: The terrain at the Killington Ski Resort is diverse, with gentle areas ideal for learning, steep slopes, mogul runs, and excellent terrain parks. Killington Peak summit sits at 4,241 feet with a base elevation of 1,165 feet, giving it the largest vertical drop in New England. With 212 trails and 1,509 miles of skiable acres, it will take a long time to run out of options. This also a great ski resort for people traveling with non-skiers in their party. They have excellent snowshoeing, gondola rides, snowcat-drawn sleighs, and of course apres ski options.
Driving Distance from NYC: 4.5 Hours from New York and under 3 from Boston with plenty of fun little towns like Woodstock for a pit stop along the way.
Best Places to Stay in East Killington: One of the most elegant hotels in Vermont, The Woodstock Inn and Resort, was built by the Rockefeller family in the 1960s. The interior’s simple design maintains that 1960’s style in a modern elevated way. Rooms are decorated in a neutral color palette with floral upholstered armchairs and wooden floors. There is an onsite organic garden, an award-winning spa, and one of the best upscale dining experiences in the region, The Red Rooster. For the ski enthusiast, the hotel also owns the Suicide Six Ski Resort where guests have full access. We also recommend the Mountain Top Inn & Resort and The Jackson House Inn.
Apres Ski: No trip to Killington is complete without visiting the legendary Wobbly Barn Steakhouse. One part steakhouse, one part nightclub the Wobbly Barn has been a local institution since 1963. The incredible food and fun atmosphere helped it land at number four on US Today’s list of Best Apres Ski Bars. The menu is seasonal rich comfort foods including unique North American game meats. Try the pan-roasted venison with mushroom polenta or house roasted prime rib.
Nestled in the heart of Maine’s western mountains you’ll find the picturesque town of Carrabassett Valley. Surrounded by mountains and dense forest the town thrives on outdoor activities like hiking, snowmobiling, fishing, mountain biking, and of course, skiing. The area happens to be home to the largest ski area east of the Rockies but Sugarloaf Mountain’s remote location makes it a bit of a best-kept secret. The extra time in the car or plane (the closest major airport is Portland) quickly pays off with smaller crowds and a more classic Northeastern feel.
The Mountain: 1240 skiable acres, a top elevation of 4,273 feet, 162 runs, and 4 terrain parks, Sugarloaf Mountain is the largest ski area east of the Rockies. The Snowfields at Sugarloaf have some of the best-rugged expert terrains in the east along with 20 gentle greens and an amazing amount of intermediate trails. You can also jump on more than 60 miles of nordic trails if you need a break from the downhill.
Driving Distance from NYC: It’s a full 7 hours and 25 minutes minute drive but manageable especially with an overnight stop in Boston.
Best Places to Stay in Sugarloaf: The most luxurious place to stay during a Sugarloaf vacation is the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel. It’s right at the base of the mountain so the views are epic. The rooms are simple and cozy with an upscale rustic feel. Many of the rooms come with full-size refrigerators and stoves. There is an onsite steam room, sauna, and a 30 person hot tub, but the ski-in/ski-out accessibility is the hotel’s biggest highlight. We also recommend the Herbert Grand Hotel and the Inn on Winters Hill.
Apres Ski: A beautiful fine dining restaurant located right at the hotel is 45 North. The rustic feel of the hotel has been carried into the dining room with colorful wormwood tables and chairs filling the space. The vibe is casual but the food is exquisite. The 45N Burger, one of those burgers you keep thinking about long after it’s gone, features local beef, maple-candied bacon, and onion jam made using a Maine IPA. The focus on local ingredients is impossible to overstate so try any and everything maple – Sugarloaf has its very own Sugar Shack making fresh maple syrup. For cocktails, a bloody mary in the Adirondack chairs at Bullwinkle’s up on the mountain is a can’t miss.
Stowe has great skiing but also happens to be the best of the bunch when it comes to things to do in town other than ski. One of the oldest New England ski towns, Stowe is a photo-worthy Vermont clap-board village known for its hospitality. Located at the foot of Smugglers Notch State Park and Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, the town itself is filled with small family-owned business-like breweries, cideries, and a 126-year-old general store. Plus the Ben and Jerry’s factory is only 15 minutes away and they offer tours, yum.
The Mountain: Stowe Mountain Resort is made up of two separate mountains Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak. With 116 runs, 12 lifts, and a vertical drop of 2,360 feet, 485 skiable acres and 90% snowmaking coverage, Stowe can be rugged and often a little icy, but skiers of all levels will find what they are looking for here.
Driving Distance from NYC: A leisurely 5.5 hours with plenty of gorgeous tree-lined highways.
Best Places to Stay in Stowe: Floor to ceiling windows, large stone fireplaces, and panoramic mountain views are the order of the day at The Lodge at Spruce Peak. Just steps from the gondola that whizzes you up to the slopes the lodge even has its very own ski and snowboard valet. The rooms are luxe with thick cozy robes, deep bathtubs and floor to ceiling windows with gorgeous mountain views. The delicious on-site restaurant Solstice features farm to table New England comfort food. In Stowe, we also recommend Field Guide Lodge and Topnotch Resort
Apres Ski: Apres Ski in Stowe has to begin with The Matterhorn, often regarded as one of the World’s Best Apres-Ski Bars i. You have to travel a bit down the road from the mountain but you’ll be rewarded with the insanely delicious combo of brick oven pizza and made to order sushi. The vibe is just happy, there’s almost always live music and the crowd is a mix of locals and visitors. If you’re in the mood for a more elevated fine dining option, make a reservation at Plate. This chic Stowe hotspot has a rotating seasonal menu that blends California favorites with local Vermont ingredients. Extra points because there’s also a massive selection of vegan and vegetarian offerings like Vegan Pad Thai. Their cocktail list is just as impressive as the food, try the Apple Cider Sparkler with prosecco and a cinnamon sugar rim.
Bousquet Ski Area, Berkshires, Massachusetts
Narrow winding roads, historic villages, and a densely wooded area make the Berkshires the go-to rural destination for New Yorkers looking to escape the city. It is a year-round destination but in the fall and winter is when its quaint New England charm shines the brightest. Along with outdoor activities, the great shopping and museum options also set the Berkshires apart.
The Mountain: With just 23 runs and one terrain park Bousquet Ski Resort is smaller than the others on this list, but it’s an incredible place to try skiing for the first time. They have great beginner runs and because of its size, the lines and the traffic are much easier to navigate while getting your ski legs. Night skiing, where floodlights are attached to the lifts poles, was invented here, so make sure to give it a go.
Driving Distance from NYC: A 2 hr 45 minutes drive from both New York and Boston, but you’ll feel much further from the city than that in your mind.
Best Places to Stay in the Bousquet Ski Area: You can expect the extraordinary during your stay at Blantyre County Resort and Estate, a Tudor-style Mansion and estate built-in 1902. An elegant spa, full-service Dom Perignon Salon, and gourmet dining just scratch the surface of the property’s highlights. The estate offers three distinctly different types of guest rooms; The Manor House, The Cottages, and the Carriage House. Each feature period furniture, modern conveniences, boldly colored walls, and fireplaces. While the in-house restaurant Café Boulud at Blantyre is home to Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud who is set to unveil a new menu in 2021. In an area filled with great hotels, we also recommend Wheatleigh, Hotel on North, and The Porches Inn.
Apres Ski: Alta Restaurant and Wine Bar is one of the hottest restaurants in the Berkshires and for good reason. The trendy Mediterranean restaurant in Lenox has elevated comfort food and dishes like the hearty pan-roasted trout and braised pork cheeks perfectly tick the box after a full day on the slopes. The space feels warm and inviting with wood floors, antique chandeliers, and an exposed shelf bar made of iron and distressed wood. Given its allure, don’t expect to get in without a reservation and don’t leave without sampling their curated wine list.