When Winter Comes A-Callin'

As the mercury plunges in the Empire State, don't huddle indoors—these top ten cold-weather attractions will keep your body warm, and your wanderlust satisfied.
By Stefani Jackenthal
  |  Gorp.com
Lake Placid Olympic bobsledding
#10: Bobsledding in Lake Placid (Mark Kurtz/courtesy, ORDA)

If New York City is the city that never sleeps, than New York state is the state that never rests, even in the hibernation-friendly months of winter. With nearly 55,000 square miles of rolling farmland, snow-dusted forests, craggy mountains, fish-stocked lakes, and sleepy towns, life outside of New York's titular city offers more outdoor activities than you're likely to accomplish in a lifetime—never mind a single season. The Adirondacks' granite rock faces shimmering with a thick coat of climbable ice, pristine cross-country and snowshoeing over the snow-covered Tugg Hill Plateau, over half a dozen ice rinks that keep city and suburban dwellers gliding straight through March, Lake Placid's Winter Olympics allure… The list really is infinite, which is why we've honed in on the state's ten best—and included honorable mentions as well (just to widen your options).

10. Bobsledding in Lake Placid
Fulfill both your need for speed and any lingering Olympic ambitions by bobsledding down the official competition track at the Lake Placid Olympic Sports Complex. Host of the 1980 Winter Games, Lake Placid has created a mini-Olympic village with activities that include biathlon and luge, but bobsledding is what'll get the adrenaline surging. The STORM Ride bobsled program starts riders at the half-mile marker on the official track before ripping through infamous turns like the Heart, Labyrinth, and Shady, a 150-degree turn with a 36-foot drop. The custom-built sleds are expertly managed by a professional driver and brakeman, while passengers scream through the ride's insane velocity. (Open Wed-Sun, mid-October thru April; $75 for adult, $70 for ages 13-19, $65 for 12 and under with a minimum height requirement of 48 inches)
Honorable Mention: The only other Olympic bobsled track in the United States is in Park City, Utah. So, the closest you'll get within New York would be to find a steep mountain and go sledding. Here's a community-driven list of sledding sites throughout New York state, but prepare yourself for a pale approximation of the real deal.
Lake Placid Vacation Guide

9. Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding at Hunter Mountain (The Catskills)
Drop into fresh powder, power through steep bumps, and carve across the groomers at this small-ish ski resort nestled in the heart of the Catskills. It's not the state's most challenging resort, or the one boasting the most stats (for that, see our Honorable Mention), but Hunter's proximity to Albany (an hour north) and NYC (two hours south) assures festive crowds on its 240 skiable acres and 55 runs. The greens are gentle and wide enough to keep newbies calm, intermediates can cruise and carve to their delight, and experts can find a few mogul-dense double blacks across the resort's three mountains. Better still, Hunter has been making snow since 1967, with 100 percent coverage since 1980, so even if the snowfall has been thin, the mountain will still boast a solid base. Other allures include a terrain park, halfpipe, snow tubing, ski shops, ski school, and a mountainside resort with a luxe spa and plenty of après spots.
Honorable Mention: Whiteface Mountain Resort in Wilmington (just outside of Lake Placid).
Hunter Mountain Resort Profile
Whiteface Mountain Resort Profile

Published: 9 Feb 2009 | Last Updated: 19 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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