Winters in New England can be less than kind — that chill in the air, the icy wind whipping in from the ocean and days when the sun sets unthinkably early. The winter blues start to set in, and everyone could use a pick-me-up. Some warmth, comfort and coziness. Good food. A little adventure. A remedy for those wintertime woes.
We’ve found five antidotes for you in the form of luxurious family-friendly getaways. While many of the top resorts in New England are only open late spring through early fall, these five stunners — all of which provide extraordinary family activities — have plenty to offer year-round. It’s time to plan a winter getaway that will raise your spirits and beat back those wintertime blues.
Historic and charming, the White Barn Inn, an Auberge Resort, beckons you to coastal Kennebunkport, just a 90-minute drive from Boston. Enjoy snow-covered walks through the forest, followed by warm cocktails or hot chocolate by the fire, and crafts classes in the barn for kids and adults that include candle making, wreath creating and buoy painting. Combined with out-of-this-world dining at the White Barn Inn Restaurant, they’re the icing on the cake of a phenomenal winter getaway.
Over the holidays, the inn offers afternoon tea with Old Saint Nick, a Christmas cookies and eggnog event, a jingle bell hike and more. If you want to get to know Maine‘s backcountry, the staff will put together a winter outing in which you will meet a crew of sled dogs, learn the basics of dogsledding and take a ride on Maine’s snow-covered trails. Prefer the water to the snow? White Barn Inn can also facilitate a cold-water surfing lesson with the local Aquaholics surf school. Jump into a wetsuit, grab a specialty surfboard and learn to catch those wintery waves in the Atlantic with pros. Follow that up with a hot soak or massage at the White Barn Inn Spa, frequently named one of the best spas in Maine. Perhaps more intriguing for the younger members of your traveling party, the inn offers a visit to Spring Creek Farm in Lyman, Maine (less than 30 minutes away), for a seasonal ecology walk or an equine wellness experience no matter the season.
A petite property with 26 accommodations, the White Barn Inn offers beautifully restored guest rooms and suites in its historical main building, plus five standalone cottages that offer more space and the utmost sense of privacy.
Treat your family to a weekend away in the heart of Woodstock, Vermont, at the historic Woodstock Inn & Resort. After an adventurous day of snowshoeing, hiking, snowboarding or cross-country skiing, you can warm up by the outdoor fire with a cup of hot cocoa and s’mores. Surrounded by the Green Mountains, Woodstock lends itself to a number of awesome activities in every season. The inn boasts a world-class ski and ride school, which is great when traveling with a family. Guests also can rent alpine skis, Nordic skis, snowboards, snowshoes or fat-tire bikes onsite, then hit the nearby slopes and trails. Or explore the nearby trails with a knowledgeable Woodstock Inn guide.
Younger kids will delight in visiting Billings Farm & Museum, a short stroll from the inn, to experience a working turn-of-the-20th-century dairy farm. In the winter months, embark on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snowy farm fields — now that’s a treat (entry to the farm is included if you are a Woodstock Inn guest)! The Woodstock Inn has several special holiday activities, including the chance to learn about a Victorian Christmas, dip candles and judge the staff gingerbread house display. Families will enjoy the opportunity to indulge in fresh baked goods, tea and coffee every day at 4pm in the Conservatory — a Woodstock Inn tradition. During certain holiday weeks, the culinary team offers family cooking classes for everyone to enjoy.
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The Woodstock Inn is also home to a 41,000 square-foot racquet and fitness club that offers a large indoor pool and tennis lessons at the indoor courts. Furthermore, while parents relax by the fireplace with a glass of wine or seek out a massage, older kids and teens will love visiting the retro game room, outfitted with cozy furniture, a fireplace, pinball, pool, life-size Scrabble, foosball and more.
Woodstock is in central Vermont near the New Hampshire border, and guests can experience the town by browsing charming boutiques, restaurants and art installations. The Inn has 142 guest rooms with a variety of options to accommodate families, from a superior room with two queen beds to suites. Room decor is traditional Vermont-style with modern touches.
If it’s grandeur and ultimate hospitality you seek in the thick of winter, the meticulously restored Ocean House — one of only 12 triple Forbes Five-Star properties in the world — is your spot. This haven on the Atlantic coast, about an hour south of Providence, has been welcoming guests since 1868, and from the minute you arrive until the minute you depart you will be treated like family.
Because of its seaside location, Ocean House is a very popular summer destination, but it has an array of wonderful holiday happenings that will bring joy to your whole crew. From brunch and Christmas parties with Santa to truffle-tree making, cookie and cupcake decorating classes, gingerbread house workshops and ornament-making, a stay at Ocean House over the holidays is supremely festive. In addition to those seasonal activities, the Ocean House offers culinary classes (child- and family-friendly), a heated saltwater indoor pool, movies in its awesome Below Deck screening room and multiple restaurants. In cooperation with its sister property, the Weekapaug Inn (only 6 miles away), guests can partake in stargazing, nature crafts, evening s’mores at the fire pit and naturalist-led outings and beach walks any time of year. In fall and winter, you can even opt for a boat excursion to spot seals.
Ocean House includes 49 rooms and 20 suites, all of which have sweeping views of the sea or the hotel’s manicured gardens.
Incredible adventures await your crew at The Sagamore Resort. With 70 acres of space in the beautiful, pristine Adirondack Mountains, the Sagamore offers skiing, tubing, hiking, outdoor igloos to keep warm, bonfires, an epic ice bar, holiday fireworks and a 10,000-square-foot indoor rec center that has everything from mini-golf to a movie theater, wiffleball, table tennis, basketball, tennis, board games and more. Boredom and winter blues be gone!
Skiing at nearby Gore Mountain, West Mountain and Crandall Park are popular winter activities, and snow tubing is in full swing at West Mountain — a thrill for the whole family. When you’re ready to warm up, head to the Sagamore’s 33,000-gallon indoor pool, which overlooks Lake George, or relax in the outdoor hot tub no matter the weather.
When it comes to the culinary side of things, the Sagamore boasts eight dining venues, including some of best restaurants on Lake George. Are you feeling like authentic Italian at La Bella Vita or a mouthwatering steak at the New York-style Club Grill Steakhouse? Would you like to dine by the lake or in a heated outdoor igloo? Why not try all four? And let’s not forget the epic Ice Bar … this one’s not just for adults; it’s an artistic phenomenon that the whole family will enjoy. The elaborate yearly display, which has a new theme each year, starts with between 60 and 100 massive blocks of ice and a multi-person sculpting team. Those blocks are magically transformed into amazing pieces like a piano with working keys, polar bears that stand 16 feet tall and more. This year the theme is Arctic Wild — igloos, penguins and polar bears, oh my!
And the best part of hitting the road to the Sagamore during the winter? Lake George Village, where the resort is located, features a monthlong winter carnival each February with polar plunges, fireworks, ATV races, pony rides, toasting marshmallows on the beach and more.
Modeled after a Victorian-era Adirondack great camp, the historic and magnificent property features nearly 400 rooms and suites. The original 1883 structure is home to standard rooms; other options include lodges, standalone houses, residential-style condos and bi-level luxury suites. Each accommodation is outfitted in modern luxury and celebrates the Sagamore’s rich history. Tucked amid the Adirondack Mountains, the resort is only a 1-hour drive from Albany, New York; a 4-hour drive from New York City; and 4 hours northwest of Boston.
The stunning Omni Mount Washington Resort is a getaway indulgence for the whole family. Located in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest, the Omni Mount Washington packs a punch with the perfect location for skiing (Bretton Woods was named the No. 2 top overall ski resort in the East this year). Its variety of room arrangements are fantastic for families, on top of the luxurious elegance that the Omni brand consistently delivers and an abundance of wonderful activities no matter the time of year.
With more than 450 acres of skiing and snowboarding on 63 trails and 35 glades, Bretton Woods (about a 2 1/2-hour drive from Boston) is a winter delight for families. You can elect to take a private ski and snowboard lesson or a semi-private lesson for family and friends. On Fridays and Saturdays, the resort offers morning and afternoon half-day group lessons for children 4 to 10 years old, which is a huge plus. Across the grounds from the Omni Mount Washington, the Bretton Woods Nordic Center is one of the largest cross-country ski areas on the East Coast, with more than 60 miles of trails that pass through open fields, spruce and fir forests.
For a truly thrilling experience, guests can zipline year-round on the slopes of Bretton Woods. The activity includes a network of platforms high up in the ancient hemlock trees connected by nine ziplines, two sky bridges and three rappels. How is that for a wintertime adventure? There are also opportunities to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, enjoy a trip on the Bretton Woods Skyway Gondola, snowshoe or zoom down the resort’s sculpted tubing run for an adrenaline-filled ride.
Room arrangements at the Omni Mount Washington are fantastic for families. The Family Room offers two rooms that can accommodate up to six guests. The luxury family suite offers a master king suite with an adjoining bath, plus two separate twin bedrooms, a separate living room with fireplace, a half bath and beautiful views of the mountains.
TIP: A bonus when staying at Omni Mount Washington is that Santa’s Village, one of the top 25 amusement parks in the U.S., is just 20 miles northwest in Jefferson, New Hampshire.
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Editor’s note: Photos courtesy of the individual properties pictured, except where noted.
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