Winter Road Trip Destinations in the Northeast
By Carly Eisley
Whether you’re visiting the Northeast and have an open weekend or live in the Northeast full-time, winter is the perfect time to take a weekend road trip by car or campervan. From downhill skiing, cross country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, to just cozying up and taking in the sights, there is a little something for everyone. Here are the top winter road trip destinations in the Northeast.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts – Skiing, Hiking and Museums
This mountain range in Western Massachusetts is home to a host of winter activities and just three hours from our New York camper van rental site. Skiers and snowboarders can hit the slopes at local mountains Jiminy Peak, Ski Butternut, Catamount, and Berkshire East. These mountains are all very family-friendly and some have other activities such as tubing, so there is a little something for everyone who wants to play in the snow.
Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will find a variety of groomed trails to choose from:
- Hilltop Orchards in Richmond (also home to a winery!)
- Maple Corner Farm in Granville
- Notchview in Windsor
- Canterbury Farm in Becket
All of these areas offer equipment rentals and some also have lessons – perfect opportunity to try something new!
Hiking is a great year-round activity in the Berkshires, and is a great way to enjoy the area with or without snow. The Appalachian Trail passes through the area and there are numerous state parks and forests with miles of trails to explore. One of the best hikes in the area is Mount Greylock, Massachusetts’ highest peak at 3,491 feet. There are numerous trail options to the summit, and backcountry skiers can ski down if there is enough snow.
There are plenty of indoor activities to help you warm up after some outdoor exploring. The area is home to numerous art museums, including the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams. For something a little different check out the Animagic Museum of Animation, Special Effects, and Art in Lee, or the very family-friendly Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield.
Make your base camp at Beartown State Forest or D.A.R. State forest campgrounds – both offer some year-round camping spots.
White Mountains, New Hampshire – Skiing, Snowmobiling, Hiking
The White Mountains region of New Hampshire is a winter outdoors-person’s paradise! There are numerous ski mountains for the downhill adventurers with a variety of terrain to suit all abilities including:
- Loon Mountain
- Bretton Woods
If alpine skiing isn’t your thing, there are numerous Nordic (cross-country) ski areas to choose from. The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation in Jackson and Great Glen trails in Pinkham Notch offers equipment rentals and groomed cross country ski/snowshoe trails. Great Glen also has tubing, fat biking (aka mountain bikes made for the snow) and a snow coach (think an Escape campervan-sized van with giant snowmobile tracks on it) that can take you up the Mount Washington auto road in the snow.
Want to try out something a bit more “high octane”? Rent a snowmobile in Bartlett and explore the (motorized) trails for the day.
Hiking in the White Mountains in Winter is a challenge, but there are winter hikes and walks in the area to suit all abilities. See some of our favorite winter hikes. There are several local guide services available in the North Conway area if you are looking for a challenge… but also a little help. Rental equipment is available at several locations in the region; for a good selection check out International Mountain Equipment (IME) or REI, both located in North Conway.
If you want to head inside and warm up, the towns of North Conway, Jackson, and Lincoln have plenty of shopping and dining options. Through the end of December, the Conway Scenic Railroad offers holiday-themed trips and Santa’s Village is open for some family-friendly fun.
There are a number of museums in the area. Check out the:
- Mount Washington Observatory’s Weather Discovery Center in North Conway to learn about how Mount Washington gets its crazy weather.
- New England Ski Museum, which is located at the base of Cannon mountain.
- Remick Country Doctor Museum and Farm in Tamworth for a trip back in time on a working farm.
There are several year-round campgrounds in the area; Hancock campground on the Kancamagus Highway, Cannon Mountain RV park, Barnes Field Campground in Pinkham Notch, Ammonoosuc Campground, and Branch Brook Campground are some options near the White Mountain region.
Adirondacks, New York – Olympics History, Cross-country Skiing, Fire Towers
This mountain region in upstate New York is full of beautiful places to visit all year round. Check out our Ultimate Guide to the Adirondacks for some ideas to get you started. There is some great hiking, including numerous fire tower hikes that offer incredible views of the surrounding area and (if you’re brave!) a chance to climb up into a historic lookout tower.
There are a number of downhill ski mountains in the area with a little something for everyone. Whiteface is the largest (and has the most vertical drop), but there are several other smaller mountains that are great for all abilities.
Interested in a little sports history or have a case of Olympic fever? The town of Lake Placid was home to the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympic Games. There are a number of Olympic sites to visit, including the ski jumps (you can take an elevator to the top!), Olympic museum, Olympic sports complex (where you can take a bobsled ride), and ice skating at the Olympic Oval (speed-skating oval).
After you’ve had your fill of winter sports history take a stroll along Main Street and check out the shops, restaurants, and views. The town overlooks Mirror Lake, which has a walking path circling it, and a 30 foot high toboggan chute for anyone looking for a little adrenaline-boosted sledding.
Saranac Lake is a fun Adirondacks town that fully embraces its Winters. There are a number of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing areas to explore, as well as shops and dining. Take in the festivities at their Winter Carnival, running from late January to early February – with the week of festivities including a parade, ice palace, concerts, and running/skiing/snowshoe races this town really goes all in for some Winter fun.
Check out the Old Forge Camping Resort for year-round camping in the region.
Green Mountains, Vermont – Snowboarding, Beer Trail, Trapp Family Lodge
There may not be a more “New England” experience than Vermont. The landscape is all rolling hills dotted with red barns and snow-capped mountains.
If skiing/snowboarding is your thing, you’re in luck! There are 20 alpine ski mountains and 30 cross country ski areas throughout the state. Smuggler’s Notch, Stratton, Killington, and Stowe are some of the larger mountains (with great apres-ski options as well). Mad River Glen is famed for its grassroots skiing vibe, with glades galore (sorry, no snowboarders allowed).
Non-skiers have plenty of snow sports to choose from. Try your hand at ice fishing, snowshoeing, or snowmobiling. There are several state parks accessible by foot in winter months that have miles of trails to choose from. Mountain bikers will love the miles of groomed fat biking trails at Kingdom Trails in East Burke.
One of Vermont’s claims to fame is its craft beer scene. The beer trail here is immensely popular, as are the never-ending selection of New England IPAs. Enjoy these responsibly by trying a sample and taking some cans to go – perfect for enjoying around your campfire in any weather!
The quaint town of Stowe and quirky Burlington are fun areas with lots to explore.
- Check out the Ben and Jerry’s factory for a behind-the-scenes tour of the ice cream giant.
- Warm up with some hot apple cider and donuts and shop the market at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Stowe.
- Visit the Trapp Family Lodge for a “Sound of Music” vibe (as well as snowshoe/cross country ski trails and a brewery).
- Head to Burlington to stroll the Church Street Marketplace (coffee shops, shopping, and holiday lights abound)
- Get your learn on at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center
- Hit up the bike path for views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack mountains in the distance.
The Shelburne Camping area in Shelburne or the Green Mountain Family Campground in Bristol are good options for your base camp.
Book Your Campervan for your Next Winter Road Trip In the Northeast
If you’re ready to hit the road when the temperature drops, don’t forget to book your campervan rental. You can drive up from the south at our Atlanta camper van rental location or start your road trip at our New York City depot.