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New York doesn’t go into hibernation during wintertime. As temperatures drop and snow falls, the Empire State transforms into a glistening winter wonderland with loads of fun to be had both indoors and out. Spend the day at a museum or share a meal at a beloved local restaurant. Feeling adventurous? Bundle up and head to an outdoor festival or onto snowy slopes and trails. No matter your idea of a good time, we’ve got all your weekends planned for a memorable winter in New York State from holiday lights on Long Island to ice adventures in Buffalo to magical winter realms in Lake George, and more!
Masks are encouraged, but optional in most settings per New York State guidelines. Individual businesses or attractions may require mask wearing. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions and amenities are open and available.
Originally published: 12/15/2022
JUMP TO: Long Island | NYC | Capital-Saratoga | Thousand Islands | Adirondacks | Greater Niagara | Finger Lakes | Central New York | More Adirondacks | Chautauqua-Allegheny | Catskills | Hudson Valley | More Capital-Saratoga | More Greater Niagara
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WHAT TO DO: A former Air Force base in Uniondale is home to Long Island’s famed “Museum Row,” an ideal spot for a weekend of learning and exploration. Dive into the region’s legacy with flight at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, featuring 75 air and spacecraft from a hot air balloon to an actual Apollo Lunar Module. The neighboring Nassau County Firefighters Museum is dedicated to teaching fire safety and the Long Island Children’s Museum is a “learning laboratory” all about the productivity of play with exhibits and programs designed to spark creativity. Choose from a number of enchanting holiday light shows to brighten up your evening ranging from drive-thru experiences at Jones Beach State Park’s Magic of Lights to the walkable wonderlands of LuminoCity in Eisenhower Park. Take care of any last-minute holiday shopping needs at Roosevelt Field, Long Island’s largest shopping mall.
WHERE TO EAT: Get a taste of Havana amid a lively atmosphere at The Cuban, bite into a juicy dry-aged Angus beef burger in a casual setting at Black Label Burgers, warm up with a steaming pot of mussels in a sweet Thai sauce or savory farmhouse broth at Waterzooi, or bite into a Brooklyn pizza at Grimaldi’s.
WHERE TO STAY: Experience a luxury retreat at the elegant Garden City Hotel, conveniently located across the street from the Long Island Railroad providing easy access to Manhattan and JFK Airport. It’s also home to the Red Salt Room, where “Iron Chef” star David Burke’s whimsical menu has made this one of the most sought-after reservations in town. Hampton Inn and Hyatt Place are also good options if you want to be close to the action in Garden City.
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WHAT TO DO: There’s nothing quite like NYC during the holidays. Take a peek at the elaborately decorated windows of Manhattan’s top department stores, including Macy’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Bloomingdale’s, snap a selfie at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree or skate across the iconic ice rink, catch the world famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular, and have your own Home Alone 2 moment strolling through Central Park. Some Broadway matinee performances are even happening on Christmas Eve (December 24), including “Moulin Rouge,” “The Lion King,” and “Aladdin.” When the sun sets, venture out to Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights, where residents decorate their homes to the max. Also see the world’s largest menorahs shine bright at the Grand Army Plaza in both Central Park and in Brooklyn after their official lighting celebrations (the nights of December 7-14) during Hanukkah.
WHERE TO EAT: The holidays are all about friends and family so what better way to spend it than with a festive and unforgettable dinner. French bistro Benoit, Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe, and Harlem’s comfort food spot Red Rooster are just some of the many NYC restaurants serving up delicious Christmas eve and day feasts. Carmine’s is a Times Square favorite for their heaping portions of classic Italian fare. Make your reservations now before they fill up.
WHERE TO STAY: While you may want to shop around for accommodations that best suit your needs, some options to consider include Chelsea’s chic High Line Hotel, The Westin New York at Times Square, and W New York—Times Square. The Peninsula New York goes all out with its holiday decor and even has a “Nights Before Christmas” package that includes an in-room Christmas tree, gingerbread cookie decorating kit, candy cane scavenger hunt, and more.
WHAT TO DO: Saratoga Springs can make for a fresh new destination for ringing in the new year. Start off the weekend browsing shops along Broadway, Saratoga’s award-winning main street, or scope out a museum dedicated to cars and thoroughbred racing (open December 30, closed New Year’s Eve and Day). Then it’s time for the big countdown. Saratoga New Year’s Fest, touted as “New York’s Biggest New Year’s Party North of Times Square, features a musical lineup that’s rockin’, family-friendly activities, and fireworks. Kick off 2024 with a delightful New Year’s Day brunch at Saratoga Winery or refresh and recharge in the “Spa City” at Roosevelt Baths & Spa, a historic wellness spot known for hydrotherapy. New year, new you.
WHERE TO EAT: Raise a pint to the new year at Druthers Brewing Company, taste the flavors of Tuscany at the cool and cozy Forno Bistro, and feel the comforts of Southern home cooking with some of the country’s best fried chicken at Hattie’s Restaurant, a Saratoga Springs staple since 1938.
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WHAT TO DO: Embark on craft tastings and head off on snowy adventures in the Thousand Islands. Get a “taste of the Cape” at Cape Vincent Brewing Company, near the banks of the St. Lawrence River, for a pint and some poutine made with local cheese curds. Speaking of cheese, view the cheese-making process and then take some to go at Bechaz Riverdale Cheese in Clayton. Thousand Islands has activities for the younger set, too. In Oswego, you’ll find the Splash Indoor Waterpark Resort with thrilling water slides for the kids and relaxing hot tubs for parents. Kids are bound to have a blast learning and playing at the Children’s Museum of Oswego. You can also play outside at the Dry Hill Ski Area in Watertown, a top spot for skiing and snowboarding with nine trails for varying skill levels, plus a tubing park for a fun-filled day sliding down the slopes.
WHERE TO EAT: Koffee Kove has been a favorite spot for breakfast for 50 years, The Coal Docks has comforting homestyle meals with gluten-free and vegan options, and Windows on the Bay offers a casual dining atmosphere with water views on three sides and magnificent Boldt Castle as a backdrop.
WHERE TO STAY: With unbeatable views of the St. Lawrence River, luxurious suites, and thoughtful touches like warming fire pits on the waterside patio, you can’t go wrong with a stay at Clayton’s 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel. Watertown’s Hilton Garden Inn and Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites are budget-friendly options conveniently located to help you experience all of the best of the region.
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WHAT TO DO: Step into the shoes of Olympic athletes in the home of two winter Olympic Games and last year’s FISU World University Games. Pay a visit to the sites used during the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics including the “Miracle on Ice” skating rink at The Lake Placid Olympic Center, Olympic Jumping Complex, Mt. Van Hoevenberg, and Whiteface Mountain. The Lake Placid Olympic Museum showcases memorabilia related to the games. This winter wonderland has even more to offer with a main street packed with local shops and restaurants, and all the seasonal splendor. Experience sledding in a different way with Thunder Dog Mountain Sled Tours on Mirror Lake or a horse-drawn sleigh ride with Country Dreams Farms at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site. About 40 minutes away in Tupper Lake, take in the Wild Lights at The Wild Center as you wander along the outdoor Wild Walk or go snowshoeing across the sparkling campus.
WHERE TO EAT: Big Slide and Lake Placid Pub & Brewery make for casual hangout spots for a bite to eat and a brew. Head over to Salt of the Earth Bistro to find out why this women-run, dinner-only eatery is one of the most talked about spots in Lake Placid. Caffe Rustica serves up classic Mediterranean fare prepared by Culinary Institute of America-trained chefs.
WHERE TO STAY: A stay in Lake Placid can range from cozy lakefront escapes at the Mirror Lake Inn or Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort to getaways steeped in rustic elegance and Adirondack charm at Lake Placid Lodge and Whiteface Lodge. The Best Western Adirondack Inn, a casual, family-oriented hotel with a cozy ambiance, puts you right across the street from the Olympic Center.
WHAT TO DO: Buffalo is all about winter and its waterfront at Canalside is a year round attraction where you can skate the day away on an outdoor rink four times the size of the one at Rockefeller Center or try a totally new way to ride the ice with Ice Bikes of Buffalo. Curling is making a big comeback in Buffalo, where you can try this classic winter sport at Canalside and the grain silo-turned-entertainment complex RiverWorks. Spend the afternoon at The Explore & More – The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum where youngsters get hands-on with interactive exhibits that make learning feel like playing. Lake effect snow means the downhills are prime for action at nearby Kissing Bridge Ski Resort, which has 39 slopes spread out over 700 acres and nine lifts ideal for a wintry morning of fun.
WHERE TO EAT: Having Buffalo style wings is a must. Follow along the self-guided Buffalo Wing Trail, which lists around 13 eateries known for their traditional takes and twists on this pub menu staple. Noteworthy stops include Anchor Bar, which made these wings a household name.
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WHAT TO DO: There’s no better way to start off your weekend in the “Crystal City” than at the Corning Museum of Glass, where things really heat up with hot glass demos featuring the pros shaping molten glass into beautiful vases, bowls and other objects. Stroll along Corning’s vibrant Gaffer District to find great shopping and dining, as well as the Rockwell Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate housed in the old City Hall which tells the story of the American experience through fine art. Venture over to wine country to sample ice wines, a specialty dessert wine produced from frozen grapes during the winter season. The Finger Lakes has three distinct wine trails to choose from—Cayuga Lake, Keuka Lake, and Seneca Lake.
WHERE TO EAT: Go on a culinary adventure along Market Street where choices can accommodate your tastes and whims, ranging from the Thai restaurant Nine Elephants, to Soul Full Cup coffeehouse, to The Maillard Club, a refined steakhouse.
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WHAT TO DO: If the winter blues have you dreaming of spring and you’re counting down the days to MLB Opening Day, then you’ve come to the right place. Celebrate America’s pastime by learning about today’s heavy hitters and beloved old timers at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and get connected with your favorite team on a Custom Tour Experience. You can also purchase a custom engraved bat in town from Cooperstown Bat Company for the ultimate souvenir. Spend your morning or afternoon exploring American folk and fine art at the Fenimore Art Museum, nestled on the pristine shores of Otsego Lake on property once owned by novelist James Fenimore Cooper. Looking to spend time outside? There’s ice skating on Otsego Lake (weather permitting) and tubing at Glimmerglass State Park. Keep the cold-weather fun going at the Cooperstown Winter Carnival (February 1-4), featuring a hot cocoa kick off, sledding party, quilt show, and more.
WHERE TO EAT: Cooperstown Beverage Trail follows along a 37-mile route of breweries, wineries, and more with Brewery Ommegang among the standouts. Mel’s at 22 offers up classic American cuisine alongside vegetarian options. Near the Baseball Hall of Fame, Stagecoach Coffee can provide a pick-me-up with freshly-roasted coffee, daily-baked pastries, and breakfast and lunch orders. Cooperstown Diner, a local favorite, serves up classic hearty fare.
WHERE TO STAY: A 2022 finalist for best historic hotel, experience the charm of a bygone era at the Otesaga Resort Hotel, situated in a stunning lakeside setting. The Landmark Inn greets guests with a glass of Finger Lakes riesling as they arrive for their stay at the warm and elegant bed and breakfast. There’s also a Holiday Inn Express & Suites located just minutes from the historic village.
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WHAT TO DO: Venture into a land of arctic magic and wonder in Lake George’s Winter Realm. This immersive winter experience will feature a mesmerizing collection of trails, sculptures, whimsical winter characters, an ice bar serving winter-themed alcoholic beverages, and more. Take a stroll along the Mystic Light Walk, and opt to book a separate VIP experience within a private Arctic Alcove within the castle. The Lake George Winter Carnival is set to return in February with four activity-packed weekends featuring dog sled rides, chili and BBQ cook-offs, bonfires on the beach, and more! Create magical memories at Lake George Winter’s Dream where you’ll get to explore fantastical dreamlands under the starry night sky.
WHERE TO EAT: Enjoy some of the best views of the southern end of Lake George while dining on specialty thin crust, wood-fired brick oven pizza at The Lagoon. The cozy Adirondack atmosphere of The Olde Log Inn combined with comfort classics and pub fare will make you never want to leave. Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen is also a village favorite offering steak, seafood, and international cuisine in woodsy digs.
WHERE TO STAY: A luxury resort overlooking the “Queen of American Lakes” The Inn at Erlowest is a mansion built in 1898 offering 10 unique suites, with breakfast included in your stay. Courtyard Marriott located in the center of Lake George village features a beautiful mountain view of the Adirondack region and ideal proximity to shopping, dining, and outdoor excursions.
WHAT TO DO: As they say, laughter is good for the soul. Head to Jamestown to tap into your funny bone at the National Comedy Center, which celebrates the art of humor through Comedy Karaoke, Make a Meme, and other interactive exhibits. Keep the laughs going at the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, where “I Love Lucy” fans will find costumes, recreations of the First Couple of Comedy’s New York City apartment, an interactive Vitamatavegamin set, and other memorabilia. You can even see two statues dedicated to Jamestown’s hometown darling at Lucille Ball Memorial Park in Celoron. Celebrate the season at the Mayville Winter Festival (February 17-19) which returns for Presidents’ Day Weekend with an ice castle made of ice blocks from Chautauqua Lake, a kids’ activity tent, a beer and wine tent for the adults, food trucks, and more.
WHERE TO EAT: Brazil Lounge in downtown Jamestown serves vegan and vegetarian dishes alongside an ever-changing list of craft beers and wines. Landmark Restaurant is a homey spot for classic comfort foods. Pearl City Hops offers a Southern twist on classics and exceptional beverages to pair with your meal.
WHERE TO STAY: The Hampton Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, and Double Tree are all conveniently located near Jamestown’s world-class attractions. Just outside Jamestown you’ll find the glorious Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, a nine-acre resort located on the shores of beautiful Chautauqua Lake.
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WHAT TO DO: The Catskills is home to some of New York’s top ski resorts, with much to do on and off the slopes. There’s plenty of snowy fun to be had skiing, snowboarding, and even tubing at Windham Mountain Club, which has a top elevation of 3,100 feet, 54 trails, 11 lifts, and six terrain parks. Indulge in delicious bites at one of the club’s four new dining options like Cin!Cin!, offering elegant Italian dishes or Seasons which serves Lebanese-Mediterranean cuisine. No matter where you decide to dine your meal will be paired with breathtaking mountain scenery. Once you’ve refueled, try your hand at cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the Windham Multi-Use Path, a 1.5-mile loop along the Batavia Kill corridor, or head out on a hike at North-South Lake State Campground to the Overlook at the Catskill Mountain House site provides beautiful views from above in winter.
WHERE TO EAT: The Phoenicia Diner welcomes residents, weekenders, and visitors alike to relish in the fresh eats offered at this Catskill staple, which focuses on using fresh, seasonal ingredients from Catskill and Hudson Valley farms. Millrock Restaurant has quickly become a go-to for the après-ski crowd. Hearty pastas, fresh seafood, savory meats, and locally sourced ingredients are on the menu. For homemade comfort food served in a rustic log cabin restaurant, head to the Chicken Run in Windham.
WHERE TO STAY: Stay close to the mountain at Winwood Inn, which is also just a short walk from the antique shops, galleries, movie theater, and restaurants of the bustling Main Street. Scribner’s Catskill Lodge was founded to welcome a new generation of urban explorers to the beautiful year-round destination which features stunning mountain views and 20-acres of mountainside to explore, making this a winter oasis.
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WHAT TO DO: Explore presidential history in Hyde Park where you can visit both the FDR Home & Museum and Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, with a bonus stop at Vanderbilt Mansion, a Gilded Age estate. After working up an appetite, head over to the Culinary Institute of America, where you can savor a wow-worthy meal made by chefs in training at American Bounty or grab a take-away treat from Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. Drive to nearby Rhinebeck, which has a cute downtown that’s great for dining and browsing boutique shops. Be sure to make a stop at Samuel’s Sweet Shop, a candy store that’s partly co-owned by Paul Rudd, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Hilarie Burton. Spend the morning exploring the grounds of Mohonk Mountain House, which has ice skating and winter trails, with passes for day hiking and winter sports. Head to the Skytop Tower Trail, a popular round trip hike.
WHERE TO EAT: Feel the vintage vibes of the 1950s era at Eveready Diner with its selection of tried and true favorites. Coppola’s provides lunch and dinner servings of classic Italian favorites. The farm-to-fork cuisine at Terrapin Restaurant is just as stunning as the outside of this former church-turned-New American eatery.
WHERE TO STAY: Beekman Arms, America’s oldest operating inn, makes for a nice place to stay in Rhinebeck. The Journey Inn Bed and Breakfast, located directly across from the Vanderbilt Mansion, has seven cozy themed rooms ranging from Japanese to an English country house.
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WHAT TO DO: Albany has a ton of winter activity both indoors and out. Go skating at the Empire State Plaza Ice Rink or head inside to the New York State Museum, which delves into the state’s natural and cultural diversity, beginning with its past and arriving at its present with exhibits on the Adirondacks, an Iroquois longhouse, two antique fire engines, and rock minerals. The nearby Albany Institute of History & Art is a repository of works capturing the Upper Hudson Valley region from the late 17th century to today. Head outside the capital city to explore the underground at Howe Caverns, where you descend 156-feet below and along a path of galleries, limestone caverns, and grottos. For outdoor adventuring, Willard Mountain Ski Area has nighttime skiing and a tubing park. The serene Albany Pine Bush Preserve offers more self-reflection amid its 20 miles of trails.
WHERE TO EAT: Find your favorite craft beer and innovative farm-to-table cuisine at Lost & Found, in the heart of New York’s capital. Southern comfort favorites like chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits can be found up north at The Cuckoo’s Nest. Savor the flavor at Saratoga’s Hamlet & Ghost, serving upscale new American dishes. Generations of Southern Italian chefs scratch cook fresh pasta and authentic Italian dishes daily at Solevo Kitchen.
WHERE TO STAY: The Renaissance Albany Hotel is a lifestyle brand hotel that sits in the center of downtown Albany, with soaring views from every window. Enjoy dinner with a view of the bustling downtown and high-end American fare at Wellington’s Restaurant, right inside the hotel. The Adelphi Hotel focuses on luxury and modern design while carrying on the spirit of a historic and charming retreat that has made The Adelphi an iconic place to stay in upstate New York.
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WHAT TO DO: Niagara Falls State Park has a beautiful winter perspective with snow-covered trees and the falls getting frosty. There are many indoor spots for staying warm while doing something fun. Get a history lesson at The World Changed Here Pavilion at Cave of the Winds, get sparked by learning about the electronic power of the falls at the Niagara Power Vista, or pay a visit to the penguins living at Aquarium of Niagara. Press your luck or unwind at the spa at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino. Taste the sweetness of ice wines along the Niagara Wine Trail at Schulze Vineyards & Winery and Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.
WHERE TO EAT: Student chefs from the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute show off their skills at Savor, treating guests to a unique fine dining experience. For something more casual, Spot Cafe has sandwiches, pizza, and handcrafted drinks including a butter rum and caramel creation served in a specialty mug that pays nod to the first person to ride over the Falls in a barrel.
WHERE TO STAY: The posh, Tudor-style Red Coach Inn and charming Butler House Bed and Breakfast make for cozy home bases within walking distance of the majestic falls. Wyndham Garden is a convenient and comfortable option with a heated indoor pool, 24-hour marketplace, fitness center, and more.