Come snow season, there are a few choices: Run from it (hello, Florida), hide from it (hello, hibernation) or run to it. East Coast mountains and trails offer skiers a chance to experience both novice and white-knuckle slopes — not to mention cool accommodations and boisterous taverns. Who needs the Alps? Hit these closer-to-home slopes this winter break.
Jay Peak, Vermont
Many consider Jay Peak, which sits close to the U.S.-Canadian border, the snowiest in Vermont. Locals swear the weather phenomenon known as “Jay Cloud” brings snow to the mountain even when the rest of the state remains dry. It results in deep powder, which, when combined with snowmaking, keeps the mountain covered from November to May (Pro Tip: Maple sugaring season usually starts in February). There are 385 skiable acres, and more than 100 are glades, making it a fun spot for tree skiing. The glades are best left to intermediates and experts, but there are about 15 trails aimed at novices. Because of its remote location, Jay Peak tends to be a place to go to escape the crowds at other Vermont resorts.
Turn in at the Tram Haus Lodge, which suites boast mountain or valley views. The ski-in, ski-out accommodations are convenient, and the onsite spa gives people a spot to warm up and relax. Alice’s Table Restaurant on site offers a fine dining experience. Families will feel at home at Hotel Jay & Conference Center, where they can enjoy an indoor arcade, pizza joint and casual pub and grill. The Tower Bar is also an ideal spot for a post-ski sip.
Well off the beaten path (as in a four-hour drive from Boston), Sugarloaf allows skiers to make a great escape and hit the slopes well into April. The area gets about 200 feet of snow per year and has already accumulated more than 90 feet this season. Sugarloaf’s summit is 4,237 feet, making it the second highest peak in Maine, and visitors can ski 1,240 acres, 162 trails and glades. Those traveling but not skiing with children can drop them at day or evening care.
This area is more about ski than luxury, so expect few frills.Sugarloaf Inn’s digs are modest but snug. Rooms are small but provide enough space to store skis and rest tired legs. Perhaps one of the biggest perks: the on-site Shipyard Brew Haus that has a menu full of Maine craft brews, as well as a boisterous live music and bar scene. Seven miles north, Spillover Motel has a common area with a fridge and stove, ideal for people who brought their own grub.
Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, New Hampshire
Bretton Woods tends to draw an affluent crowd unafraid to pull out the plastic for a full range of spa, ski and fine dining options. But many gravitate towards it simply because it has some of the most reliable snow conditions in the northeast and has safe, pristine slopes. (SKI Magazine recently honored Bretton Woodsfor having the “Best Grooming in the East.”) At 464 acres, it’s New Hampshire’s largest ski and snowboard area. Sixty-two trails range from beginner to expert, and 10 lifts, including four high-speed quads, offer phenomenal views. Visitors can ski under the stars on five trails during weekends and holidays this winter.
Omni Mount Washington is a place for indulgence. The hotel, built in Spanish Renaissance architecture, sits in a valley facing the trails. Guests can unwind in one of the 200 luxury rooms and suites, which have furnishings that evoke historical charm and amenities that are decidedly modern. There are multiple options for food and drink, including the family-friendly main dining room and The Cave, a speakeasy that transports guests to the Prohibition-era. At the 25,000-square-foot salon and spa, guests can get anything from a basic manicure to Mountain Mu-Xing Therapy (a deep tissue massage performed with bamboo and rosewood).
Gore Mountain, New York
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There’s no place like your home (state) for a weekend getaway — less driving means more time on the slopes. Part of New York’s largest ski area, which spans four mountains in the Adirondacks (Little Gore, Burnt Ridge and Bear Mountain are the others), Gore has 110 trails and is home to the most skiable acreage in New York. But much of it is not for the faint of heart: 90 percent are for intermediate or advanced (with 40 percent tabbed black diamond). Still, there are enough beginner trails to keep all levels happy and plenty of nearby accommodations for snow bunnies to hop inside.
Located on North Creek’s Main Street, The Copperfield Inn Resort can be a hideaway or a place to drop bags and get a few hours of shuteye. Guests have easy access to the nightlife and shopping if they choose. Inside, there’s a relaxed, country charm. The lobby has pink Victorian-style curtains and a chandelier, and one two-room suite includes a cozy fireplace. It’s also pet-friendly. Nearby, the rustic Alpine Lodge offers in-room massage treatments. Some rooms have gas wood stoves and Jacuzzis.
Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
Crowds flock to Stowe each year for big-mountain skiing. The resort sits at the base of Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont. It’s also home to the famous Front Four: Liftline, Starr, National and Goat. The double black diamonds start from the top of the Fourrunner Quad chairlift, and skiing them is a bumpy, white-knuckle trip. Those who get to the bottom on two skis earn some serious street cred.
Spruce Peak (formerly Stowe Mountain Lodge) is the destination’s lone slope-side hotel. Guests can stay in vistas with floor to ceiling windows, putting Vermont’s natural beauty on full display. A fleet of Mercedes gives people the chance to take in Stowe on their own time, and if the spa beckons, perhaps it’s best to forget time exists at all.