Credit: @brittttttttt._ on Instagram

Winter is here and it's time to start planning your next adventure in New York State! Will you opt to head outdoors for snow-related activities like skiing the greatest vertical east of the Rockies or ziplining over snow-covered pines? For less extreme activities, explore world-famous museums, or get into the holiday spirit with a brilliant light show. Whatever you choose, take advantage of the winter wonderlands and check out these must-do winter activities throughout New York State! 

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.

1. Enjoy a Ski Getaway in New York State (Various Regions)

Whiteface Mountain 
Credit: Whiteface Mountain

With the most ski resorts of any other state in the nation, world-class skiing is always nearby in New York. The scenic Adirondacks region is home to Gore Mountain, which offers more skiable acreage than anywhere else in the state, and Whiteface Mountain, a 1980 Winter Olympics site with the greatest vertical drop east of the Rocky Mountains. Never been on the slopes? No problem. Resorts from Chautauqua-Allegheny’s Holiday Valley to Greek Peak in the Finger Lakes to Catamount Mountain the Hudson Valley will help you get your ski legs with lessons to help you feel more comfortable going downhill. There’s plenty of time to relax, play, and dine after skiing at the luxury spas, cozy lodges, and fine restaurants that you’ll find both at the resorts and the nearby friendly villages and towns.

2. Explore Enchanting Ice Castles (Adirondacks)

People walk through the towering frozen ice castles in Lake George
Credit: @brittttttttt._ on Instagram

Step into a frozen fairy tale world in Lake George as the enchanting Ice Castles return to Charles Wood Park’s Festival Space with a breathtaking display of sculptures, caverns, ice slides, and more. Meander through a village of snow igloos, stroll along a magical glowing path at the mystic light walk, belly up to the ice bar, and crawl through ice-carved tunnels. While a popular summertime destination, Lake George fully embraces winter with its annual Winter Carnival, held every Saturday and Sunday in February, and Winterfest, held mid-December to March.

3. Watch world-class winter competitions in Lake Placid (Adirondacks) 

Snow-covered mountains loom behind the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex in Lake Placid
Credit: @my_focal_points on Instagram

Love watching world-class athletes race? Well, you’re in luck cause winter in New York has a competitive side. The Adirondacks, home to Lake Placid, a two-time host of the Winter Olympic Games, is once again going to be the center of winter sports during the 2023 FISU World University Games. Collegiate athletes from more than 50 countries will descend on the alpine village to compete in 12 winter sporting events from skiing and ice hockey to figure skating and snowboarding, reigniting the celebrated history of the Olympic venues where the competitions will take place. Come catch all the action January 12-22 and enjoy all the great things there are to see and do in Lake Placid and nearby towns during this thrilling winter sporting event.

4. Go snowmobiling through winter wonderlands (Various Regions)

A group of people snowmobile through Tug Hill
Credit: @lprignon on Instagram

Discover glittering wintry landscapes on a snowmobile as you glide along the more than 8,000 miles of snowmobile corridor trails that crisscross New York State. Head to the Adirondacks’ Tug Hill area (pictured) for hundreds of miles of heavily forested trails, as well as trailside restaurants and hotels that cater to the winter snowmobiling community. Letchworth State Park has more than 25 miles of trails offering riders spectacular views of the gorge and waterfalls at this marvel known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Discover the endless miles of snowmobiling this winter in New York State.

5. Go Snow Tubing (Various Regions)

A family rides a tube down a lit up hill at Peek N Peak Resort
Credit: @tourchautauqua on Instagram

Looking for another way to experience the rush of hurtling downhill in winter? Just dress in your warmest and embark on an epic snow tubing adventure in New York State. Peek N Peak Resort in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region boasts a seven-lane tubing hill plus a “Magic Carpet” conveyor lift that takes you and your tube back uphill for another thrilling slide down. After dusk, enjoy the ride during Lunar Lights Tubing (pictured), complete with a mesmerizing light show and live DJ. You can slide down a mountain in a giant inflated tube all across the state from Titus Mountain in the Adirondacks to Plattekill Mountain in the Catskills.  

6. Experience Central Park in Winter (NYC)

Two people walking along a snow-covered bridge in Central Park
Credit: @throughkelseyslens on Instagram

New York City’s iconic Central Park is beautiful in every season, with winter being no exception. Snowshoe the wide-open meadows, see landmarks from Bethesda Foundation to Belvedere Castle sparkle in a dusting of snow, feed the penguins at the zoo, go ice skating at Wollman Rink, or admire the falling flakes from Bethesda Terrace Arcade while standing in the only place in the world that bears a Minton tile ceiling. Enjoy the snow-blanketed park from above with a meal at The Met Dining Room, the restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman, and Asiate — all of which overlook the park providing sweeping views of the wintry landscape.

7. Visit a Botanical Garden (Various Regions)

A photo of plants at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Credit: @koolkatsummer on Instagram

Escape the gripping cold and step into a warm tropical paradise at one of New York State’s beautiful botanical gardens. The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens (pictured) is full of exotic horticulture treasures from around the world. In winter, the magic of the holiday season comes to life at its Poinsettia & Railway Exhibit (through January 1) which becomes even more dazzling during Gardens after Dark, when the floral display is bathed in a soft, colorful glow. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Aquatic House is often warm and sunny, making it an inviting respite on a cold winter day. With colorful blooming orchids and tropical plants cascading from hanging pots and floating on garden pools, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to another world. New York Botanical Gardens also has palm trees, cacti, and other warm-weather plants from around the globe on display at the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

8. Go on a Wintry Wine Tasting Tour (Long Island)

Two glasses of red wine next to a small bowl of olives.
Credit: @myx.nation on Instagram

Think a visit to Long Island’s wine country is just a summertime thing? Think again. A peaceful calm settles over the North Fork as the winter chill moves in, leaving not even a whisper of the summer crowds and fall apple and pumpkin pickers. Experience the serenity of Long Island’s wine country amid the bare, snow-covered vineyards without the crowds at One Woman Wines and Vineyards, Suhru Wines, Coffee Pot Cellars, Sparkling Pointe, and Kontokosta (pictured), which is perched atop sweeping bluffs overlooking the Long Island Sound.

9. Experience a Winter Carnival (Various Locations)

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival  - Photo by NYS ESD

These are not so much once-in-a-lifetime experiences as they are traditions that are meant to be enjoyed every year. One of the crowning events of the season is a 10-day extravaganza in the Adirondacks, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival (pictured). Slated for February 3-12, this annual fete features fun for the whole family. Wander through the life-sized ice palace, see who can toss a cast-iron frying pan the farthest during the Women’s Fry Pan Toss, and enjoy nightly entertainment at several venues throughout town. Syracuse Winterfest is a party where all ages are invited. Enjoy dozens of indoor and outdoor events, cook-offs and tastings, as well as dazzling fireworks. The 11 days of fun kick off on February 16. Attend the month-long Lake George Winter Carnival every weekend in February, and discover the variety of festivals and events that help make winter fun! Visit an urban winter wonderland where you can learn how to ski, go sledding, and more in the big city as Central Park Winter Jam returns February 4. 

10. Pretend it’s summer at an indoor waterpark (Various Regions)

A group of people smiling as they lay in clear floating donuts along the water of the lazy river jungle-themed waterpark ride
Credit: The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark

Is the snow and cold getting old? How does a perfect 84-degree day sound? Get a taste of summer this winter at New York State’s indoor waterparks. The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark (pictured) provides a tropical escape in the heart of winter in the foothills of the Catskill mountains. Fun for all ages, New York’s largest indoor waterpark features five thrilling water rides for older kids and adults, a Jungle-themed lazy river, and plenty of attractions for little ones. The Kartrite Resort is also home to other indoor activities, such as the Playopolis Arcade, Van Winkle's bowling alley, the Scrapeskyer climbing wall, 3D gaming experiences, and more! Find 500 feet of waterslides and a wild wave pool at Cascades at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in the Finger Lakes and take a leisurely float along the lazy river at Lake George’s Six Flags Great Escape Lodge.

11. Go ice skating (Various Regions) 

Skate Rink at Empire State Plaza

It’s time to grab your skates and hit the ice! From December through March, the reflecting pools outside the grand New York State Capitol building in Empire State Plaza (pictured) transform into an ice skating rink, welcoming thousands of visitors every year to enjoy free skating, a full-service snack bar, and a variety of events including the New York State Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony. New York City is home to some of the most classic and iconic skating rinks at Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, and Wollman Rink. Have some winter fun in the snowiest city in America at the Clinton Square Ice Rink, which lies in the heart of downtown Syracuse amid some of the city’s oldest and most beautiful buildings. 

12. Mush across the ice and snow on a dogsled (Adirondacks)  

Dogs pulling a dog sled across the snow in the Adirondacks

Dogsledding is one of the most unique winter activities available in New York State. Feel like you’re soaring across the world when a team of specially-trained sled dogs carries you across the surface of a frozen lake or through snow-covered forested paths. Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours in the Adirondacks offer rides across the frozen surface of Mirror Lake in downtown Lake Placid. Mike Arnold Dog Sled Rides also races across Mirror Lake in the cold, crisp air of Lake Placid. The Lake George Winter Carnival, held on weekends in February, also features dog sled rides

13. Go Through the Looking Glass in Corning (Finger Lakes) 

A glassblower shaping glass at the Corning Museum of Glass
Credit: The Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass is a must-visit this winter. Offering live glass blowing demonstrations and make-your-own glass experiences, this hands-on museum brings the history of glass alive in exhibits such as Reused Restored Rethought: Glass after the 1972 Chemung River Flood, Dish It! Corelle’s Durable Legacy, and many more. Discover the 3,500-year-old history of glass right here in the Finger Lakes. After touring the exhibits, make your own special glassware to take home! 

14. Après-ski—even if you don’t ski—at these cozy locations (Various Regions)

Becks Inn

Luckily, there’s no prerequisite to participate in après-ski festivities. You don’t need to spend the day waiting in lift lines or hurling yourself down a steep slope in order to enjoy the atmosphere that prevails as the sun sets in ski towns across New York State. This winter, head to Becks Tavern (pictured) next to Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks for German-inspired fare. Holiday Valley Resort in Chautauqua-Allegheny, has a lively après scene. Zoom along a mountain coaster, relax at the spa, or unwind with a local craft beer at the nearby Ellicottville Brewing Company. Hunter Mountain in the Catskills has a reputation for being a hot spot for winter fun, and the Jagerberg Beer Hall and Alpine Tavern at the base of the ski resort is a favorite après-ski spot for locals and visitors. 

15. Fly over the landscape in a snow kite (Long Island)

Snowkiting on Long Island
Credit: @nykitecenter on Instagram

Snowkiting is winter’s most exciting adventure sport you may not have heard of yet. Use the power of the wind to fly across snow-covered fields. NY Kite Center on Long Island offers intro classes for $299.99 that covers learning how to read the wind and fly, how to rig your kit, and stay safe. All gear is included in the lesson. 

Speaking of learning how to fly, the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City is a must-visit. Discover the history of aviation and space flight in the place where so many airfields once stood that it became known as the “cradle of aviation.” See over 75 air and spacecraft, including a Blue Angels aircraft, hot air balloons, the 13th Lunar Module, and an extensive Apollo artifact collection featuring spacecraft and more. 

16. Enjoy a local craft beer (Various Regions) 

A can of Nirvana IPA stands next to a pint of beer on a snowy deck at Brewery Ommegang
Credit: @jencortellini on Instagram

Craft brewing is a proud tradition with a long-standing history in New York State. Renowned for its creative blends of seasonal fruits and local ingredients, you'll find unique flavors around every corner. Visit Brewery Ommegang (pictured) in Central New York for Belgian-inspired specialty and seasonal ales, such “Everything Nice,” a strong blonde ale with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other wintry spices. At The Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, you'll find its flagship microbrew coined the "Ubu Ale", adorably named after a regular customer's chocolate labrador. For more amazing brewery experiences in New York State, see our guide here.

17. Go ice fishing on a lake  (Various Regions)

Ice Fishing - Skaneateles Lake

As Lake Ontario freezes it becomes an ice fishing village with fishing huts dotting the horizon. Other shanties, as they're called, pop up throughout the Finger Lakes, such as on Skaneateles Lake (pictured). Ice fishing season opens in December, and anglers stake their patch of ice to fish for panfish, perch, and pike. If you have always wanted to go ice fishing but didn’t know where to start, book a trip with an ice fishing guide to walk you through the setup, tricks, and techniques you’ll need to know, as well as provide you with all the gear you need. You’ll still need to get a fishing permit yourself, however. 

18. Zipline over snow-covered trees (Finger Lakes)

A person ziplines among snow-covered trees

Ziplining is a favorite adrenaline junkie sport any time of the year. Get your thrills and chills at Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures (pictured) where zooming along seven ziplines measuring a total of over 5,000 feet will treat you to spectacular views of the Bristol Valley as you soar through the trees ($109 per person). Greek Peak Mountain Resort runs a two-line ziplining tour in the winter, which takes about two hours, for $60 per person.

19. Explore secrets of ancient Egypt, Native American traditions, and more at New York's museums (Various Regions)

Hyde Collection Art Museum and Historic House2

Dive into the rich culture and history, as well as interactive fun, offered at museums across New York State. From Old World masters found on museum walls in the Adirondacks to a 3,000-year-old mummy hiding out in the Capital Region, there are exciting exhibits to see this winter. Visit the Albany Institute of History and Art's Ancient Egypt exhibit to see artifacts including the mummy of Ankhefenmut, a priest and sculptor from the Ptolemaic Period. At the Hyde Collection Art Museum and Historic House (pictured) in the Adirondacks, the small-but-impressive permanent collection includes a Picasso, a Rubens, and a Rembrandt. 

20. Go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing (Various Regions)

A person in a blue park snowshoes across wintry terrain in the Adirondacks
Credit: @brittbritt499 on Instagram

There are nearly 200 well-maintained places to go cross-country skiing in New York State. From Allegany State Park in Chautauqua-Allegheny to The Fields Sculpture Park at Omi in the Hudson Valley, discover the thrilling joy of gliding over snow-covered fields on Nordic skis. If you’ve never been cross-country skiing before, sign up for a lesson! At Lake Placid’s Olympic Sports Complex, you can learn how to pace your skiing and chat with coaches who likely taught or skied with local Olympic biathletes. For a real New York State winter adventure, head to Central New York’s Osceola Tug Hill X-C Ski/Mtn Biking Center to experience over 20 miles of groomed trails. The Tug Hill State Forest offers ample cross-country skiing trails, as well as waterfall features.

Strap on your snowshoes to explore winter wonderlands not accessible by ski or snowmobile. Saratoga Spa State Park is a time of rare beauty in winter when the National Historic Landmark opens for snowshoe and cross-country skiing explorations on 12 miles of trails. Find equipment rentals at the Park Office and experience this summer destination when winter’s snow transforms the landscape. 

21. Coast or climb wintry landscapes (Various Regions)

An ice climber scaling an ice-covered rock in the 'Gunks
Credit: @basilt on Instagram 

Whether you’re looking for an ice climbing guide, or for new walls to conquer, there are plenty of destinations across New York State that offer climbing for all abilities. Book a guide and hit the ‘Gunks (pictured) for a winter climbing 101 course and master the basics. If scaling icy rocks outside doesn't sound appealing, head to Niagara Climbing Center or the Hudson Valley’s BC’s Climbing Gym for indoor rock climbing. Feel the need for speed? At Holiday Valley, you can ski or snowboard, sure, but for a unique experience, go for a ride on the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster! This rollercoaster-like ride through the woods is breathtaking in winter, first heading up the hill, then zigging and zagging down it on the rails, controlling the speed as you go.

22. Cozy up to the fire (Various Locations)

Fire pit at 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel in Clayton

If your idea of a perfect winter day involves basking in the warm orange glow of a fire with a book in hand or glass of wine, then you’re in luck. Thaw out in a room complete with a stone fireplace at the rustically elegant Lake Placid Lodge or warm up over a cocktail while listening to the crackling flames at the cozy Library Bar at The Inn at Erlowest. Keep the chill away by the huge fireplace inside the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel (pictured) or venture outdoors where the riverside patio is punctuated with roaring fire pits. Raise a toast while you get toasty at Albany Pump Station, home of C.H. Evans Brewing, which features a massive fireplace that stretches all the way to the ceiling or gather ‘round the blazing fire pits on the patio at Woodstock’s Tinker Street Tavern

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