A tropical vacation may be high on your list as the temps begin to plunge, but if that’s not in the cards take heart: There are so many adventure-filled winter getaways that are within just a few hours of New York City. If you’re looking to book a fun long weekend getaway with the family, here’s all you need to know about 13 of the most fun spots that are just a quick drive away.

photo: Hershey Lodge

For a Taste of the Sweet Life: Hershey Lodge, Pennsylvania

Oh, chocolate. This #1 favorite treat has its headquarters in Hershey and, while many families only think to visit Hershey in the warmer months (when it’s not just open on weekends), Hershey Lodge, which is part of Hersheypark, is our idea of a perfect winter getaway. Here, kids can catch a sugar rush at Hershey’s Chocolate World, where they get to see, smell, and of course taste chocolate before heading into the kitchen to create their own custom candy bar. Then at the hotel, which features an indoor water park, kids get to feel like grownups when they check in at the kids’ concierge—before enjoying a game of Chocolate Bingo, of course.

Driving time from NYC: 3 hours

325 University Drive
Hershey, PA
Online: hersheylodge.com


For a New and Improved Water Park: Great Wolf Lodge

Have a splashing good time at this indoor water park resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. With slides, chutes, a wave pool, water fort tree house and hot springs, you'll feel like it’s summer! When everyone's worn out by all that swimming and sliding, there's a bowling alley just for toddlers plus story times, rope courses, and game centers. For the ultimate in indulgence, unwind with your little one at the ice-cream-themed spa, designed especially for kids. Decked out in a tiara and candy pink robe, the princess in your life can enjoy a flavored manicure and pedicure with a sherbet scrub. Then escape to the lodge’s Element Spa Salon for some much needed R&R and time for yourself! Win, win.

Driving time from NYC: 2 hours

1 Great Wolf Drive
Scotrun, PA
Online: greatwolf.com

For a Trip Back in Time: Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

If you're going to leave the city, why not go all out and leave this century, too? The Mystic Seaport Museum allows you to step back in time to a recreated 19th century seafaring village and a working shipyard in this quaint seaport town. You and your little sailors can climb aboard and explore historic wooden vessels dating all the way back to 1841. At the Children's Museum designed for kids seven and under, visitors can experience the life of a sailor. Show your little seafarers what real chores are by having them swab the decks, move cargo, cook in the galley, and sleep in sailor bunks. Additional family activities are offered seasonally and your kids will love staying at Hyatt Place featuring new, regionally inspired breakfast menus and rooms with separate living and sleeping areas so parents can have some alone time after the little ones finally fall asleep. NYC will feel like a lifetime away!

Driving time from NYC: 2.5 hours

75 Greenmanville Ave.
Mystic, CT
Online: mysticseaport.org

photo: Belleayre Facebook page

For an Immersive Ski Experience: Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, New York

Sure, there are tons of slopes in the Tristate area, but Belleayre Mountain’s Kidscamp teaches little ones ages 4 to 12 how to ski or snowboard in a no-pressure group setting (kids 4 to 6 $102, 7 to 12 $112). The camp includes four hours of lessons, rentals, a lift ticket, and a filling lunch. Need to brush up on your slope stylings? Lessons for adults—group or private—are available as well. Once everyone is up to speed, there are 50 trails to choose from, as well as a terrain park, and six miles of cross-country skiing trails. If making the trek back to the city seems like too daunting of a task after such an action-packed day, there are Ski and Stay packages available for nearby lodging.

Driving time from NYC: 2.5 hours

181 Galli Curci Rd.
Highmount, Ny
Online: belleayre.com

photo: Palisades Climb

To Reach New Heights: Palisades Climb

With ropes looming as high as 85 feet, this indoor climbing park boasts being the highest in the world and caters to monkeys young and old.  Everyone is secured with a harness and safety wires so your little ones can be as adventurous as they like, enjoying the thrills of tightropes, rope bridges and balance beams as well as a tremor bridge and a three-line lumber rope crossing. For the youngest of climbers, the park offers a Sky Tykes ropes course with 10 obstacles and heights that are a little less hair-raising.

Driving time from NYC: 30 minutes

Open 365 days a year, check here for hours

4590 Palisades Center Dr., 4th Fl.
West Nyack, NY
Online: palisadesclimb.com


For a Walk Back in Time: Philadelphia

A true getaway awaits in the City of Brotherly Love. That’s because you’ll get everything here—culture, history, Greenwich Village-like shops, boutique hotels and a burgeoning food scene. And, yes, you could spend your entire time at tourist spots like the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross House, the Benjamin Franklin Museum and Independence Hall, but that’s just the one facet of this awesome city to our south. No trip is quite complete without eating a cheesesteak—the overstuffed local faves—‘wit’ onions and Cheez Whiz—at Pat’s King of Steaks are a great place to start—and then you’ve got to watch as your kids run the 72 steps brought to life in the Rocky films right outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. For an overnight in as walkable location as you’ll find anywhere in our city consider booking an overnight at the Loews Philadelphia, which features a sweet indoor swimming pool and is just a hop skip and a jump from the Reading Terminal Market, where you’ll find even more local fare to nosh on.

Driving time: 2 hours

1200 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA
Online: loewshotels.com

photo: Howe Caverns

To Go Spelunking: Howe Caverns

Stay warm exploring the underground attractions at the stunning Howe Caverns. Here, visitors go 156 feet underground for an adventure through a six-million-year-old cave. The Flashlight Tour is a favorite with families: Kids are given souvenir helmets and headlamps and get to travel through a living limestone cave, which finishes with a boat ride on an underground river. The Howe Caverns Motel on the estate has rooms and once you've graduated as a pro spelunker, there's plenty more entertainment above ground including zip wires, climbing, rope courses, and bungie fun.

Driving time from NYC: 3 hours

255 Discovery Drive
Howes Cave, New York
Online: www.howecaverns.com

For a LEGOs and Luxury: Legoland Discovery Center and The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester

Something for them, something for you: Head just 30 minutes from Manhattan to Westchester, where the kids can get their brick on at Legoland Discovery Center and you can relax in style at the Ritz-Carlton. The hotel—about a 2o minute drive from Legoland—offers a variety of five-star services and amenities, and most importantly, an indoor rooftop pool. Another fun feature for budding young cooks: Junior Chefs Academy, where on certain dates (as posted online) kids ages 11 to 18 can participate in a series of seasonal baking workshops with Ritz-Carlton pastry chefs. An added plus: Classes take place in the hotel’s pastry kitchen and kids will learn everything from kitchen safety to technique.

Driving time from NYC: 30 minutes

3 Renaissance Square
White Plains, NY
Online: ritzcarlton.com

For a Little of Everything: Skytop Lodge, Pennsylvania

If you’re not sure if you want a relaxing (with kids?) getaway or rowdy family fun, Skytop is your best bet. Little ones can ride a toboggan, while older kids (10 and up) can check out the Tree Top Adventure Course. For a family activity, get everyone together for ice skating, snowshoeing, or of course, skiing—and then unwind from it all with High Tea at 4 p.m. each day.

Driving time from NYC: 2 hours

1 Skytop Lodge Rd.
Skytop, Pa
Online: skytop.com

For a Rural Getaway: Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa

At this gorgeous 75-acre inn, your kids will go bananas checking out the organic farm that’s home to an ever-expanding collection of rescued alpacas and llamas (and a family of mini donkeys, too). But that’s not all: At Buttermilk Falls, you can book a large suite or freestanding guest house (with a gas or wood fireplace) and really feel like you’ve had a country weekend. Kids will love the daily afternoon tea and hearty-farm fresh breakfast and you’ll pretty much want to move into the spa and stay there for a week.

Driving time from NYC: 90 minutes

20 North Road
Milton, NY
Online: buttermilkfallsinn.com

photo: Woodloch Pines Resort

For Non-Stop Action: Woodloch Pines Resort, Pennsylvania

To say that Woodloch Pines Resort boasts an impressive roster of family-friendly activities would be an understatement. You and your little ones will be busy from morning ‘til night at this all-inclusive Poconos retreat. Anything from pony rides at the petting zoo to wiffle ball to family bake-offs to go-karting is at your disposal when you stay here. And of course, there’s an indoor pool if you’re not up for the winter sports available here. We’re talking endless trails for skiing, sledding and tubing. Sweetening the deal, Woodloch offers all-inclusive packages, and on certain days, kids even stay for free. The evening entertainment is packed with themed characters, jugglers, comedians, music and magic. Just make sure to make time for your own R&R at the spa down the road at The Lodge at Woodloch.

Driving time from NYC: 2.5 hours

731 Welcome Lake Road
Hawley, Pennsylvania
Online: woodloch.com

photo: The Porches

For a Cool Overnight Stay and Access to Art: The Porches Inn, Massachusetts

For cultural enrichment and cool digs, consider booking a room at The Porches, a Berkshires boutique inn with retro-industrial architecture and modern comforts. The revamped mill workers' homes are connected by (you guessed it) porches, and have all the comforts of home as well as an all-season pool with a heated deck, hot tubs, saunas and a fire-pit for s'mores.  A big draw is the inn's proximity to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art which is right across the street. And don't miss The Eric Carle Museum in nearby Amherst. Dedicated to the author and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, this art center has three galleries, a hands-on studio, films, lectures and live theatre running in the auditorium and a library full of favorites.

Driving time from NYC: 3 hours

231 River St.
North Adams, MA
Online: porches.com

For a Breath of Fresh Air: Mohonk Mountain House, New York

While kids will get a kick out of Mohonk’s uncanny resemblance to a castle, adults will be impressed with the fact that five U.S. Presidents have stayed here since it opened its doors in 1869. Perched by a mountain lake and surrounded by acres of nature, little ones and grown-ups alike will instantly relax and sigh with relief at the beauty and openness the area has to offer. Of course, if exploring and wandering around aimlessly for hours on end isn’t your family’s thing, there’s also skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, and ice skating. And making your life easier, two to three meals and most activities are included in the cost of an overnight stay.

Driving time from NYC: 2 hours

1000 Mountain Rest Rd.
New Paltz, NY
Online: mohonk.com

photo: Rocking Horse Ranch

For Horsing Around: Rocking Horse Ranch Resort, New York

Giddy up to this all-inclusive dude ranch. Junior wranglers can visit the resort’s pony ride area while kids 7 and up can take part in the year-round trail-riding program. There’s so much to do on thie 500-acre spread in the heart of the scenic Hudson River Valley so, if you'd rather a professional take the reins, there are horse-drawn sleigh rides, and for those who prefer two legs over four, ski lessons and ice skating—or put your feet up entirely with some tubing action. A favorite spot at the resort is the fun barn, decked out with climbing walls, a bounce structure, and air-powered Nerf Cannons. After a full day of fun, the evenings are packed with entertainment from jugglers, magicians, Wild West shows, and circus acts. It’s ideal for cooped-up kiddos looking to get the wiggles out.

Driving time from NYC: 1.5 hours

600 State Route 44/55
Highland, NY
Online: rockinghorseranch.com

—Emily Myers & Lambeth Hochwald


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