It’s that time of year when many people in the Northeast head south in hopes of finding better weather. But if you enjoy the outdoors there is no better time to head north. One of my favorite areas to visit is Woodstock, Vermont. At just over two hours from Boston it’s a great escape from the hustle of the city. You can spend a week in this area and still not have enough time to enjoy all the activities winter offers.
The activity this area is best known for, of course, is downhill skiing. If you enjoy skiing there are options for all levels. New England’s largest ski area, Killington Resort, is just minutes away and offers trails for beginners and experts alike. It typically opens around Thanksgiving and most years you can ski until mid-May. There are also Suicide Six & Quechee Ski Area that offer a smaller, more intimate experience that are great for families and beginners. Stop by Long Trail Brewery or Worthy Kitchen for some great food and craft beers after your long day on the mountain.
If downhill skiing isn’t for you there are still plenty of other options. Try traditional cross country or skate-style skiing on one of the many close trail areas. My favorite spot in the area is Green Woodlands in Dorchester, New Hampshire. There are over 30 miles of groomed tracks that are all completely free. They even have warming huts along the way with complimentary hot chocolate. It’s a perfect way to spend a chilly Sunday morning. Feel free to bring your dog along for the trip as well. Don’t have skis? Don’t worry! They have a selection of donated cross country and skate skis you can use while you visit. A little bit further north in Fairlee, Vermont you can visit Lake Morey. In the winter they clear a 4-mile path around the perimeter of the lake. Bring your ice skates and do a lap or two. Or you can head to the center of the lake and join a pickup ice hockey game. The Lake Morey Resort has a shop that offers rentals of ice skates as well as cross country & skate skis (their nearby golf course also has groomed trails).
Other outdoor winter activities the area offers include snow shoeing or skinning (for a minimal cost most ski resorts offer an ‘uphill’ pass which allows you access to snowshoe or skin up some of their trails), hiking (put some Yaktrax on your boots and hike Mt. Tom in Woodstock for an incredible view of the town!), ski touring, sledding, platform tennis (one of my new favorite winter sports), and others.
After any of this you’ll be exhausted. But you won’t feel guilty treating yourself to one of the great local craft beers or great restaurants. Max’s Tavern at the Barnard Inn (Barnard, VT), Skunk Hollow Tavern (South Woodstock, VT), Arianna’s (Lyme, NH) and, of course, Simon Pearce (Quechee, VT) are some spots that won’t disappoint.