As the Northeast winter’s chilliest days set in and flurries rule the forecast, there’s no better way to make the most of the weather than to retreat to one of the region’s premiere ski resorts. Whether your warm-up method of choice is to layer on your gear for an exhilarating run or sidle up by the fire with a hot toddy (or both), somehow, winter weekends feel a little cozier during a ski or snowboard getaway.
The best part? For those in the Northeast, these snowy wonderlands aren’t far off. Sure, high-profile resorts in the west get plenty of attention, but there’s a reason the phrase “ski the east” exists. Nestled in close proximity to major metropolitan hubs like New York City and Boston, the region’s ski destinations are accessible to escape to for just a couple of days, and many are surrounded by charming New England hamlets brimming with activities off the slopes, too.
Here are the best winter mountain playgrounds east of the Rockies (with plenty of après ski hotspots to boot) to consider for a memorable weekend getaway this season.
Situated on Vermont’s highest peak, Stowe Mountain Resort is one of the Northeast’s top ski destinations, and with good reason. With more mile-long lifts than any other resort in the east and 485 acres of skiable terrain between two gondola-connected mountains, Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, the resort is a veritable snow sport paradise surrounded by a picturesque winter village.
The town’s only ski-in, ski-out accommodations can be found at the rustic, luxurious Lodge at Spruce Peak, just steps away from the ice-skating rink in Spruce Peak Village Center if you’re looking for another idyllic winter activity. Or, reserve your stay at the highly regarded Top Notch Resort, a stylish mountain-inspired setting just minutes from the base.
When it comes to après, Stowe is well-known for its thriving brewery scene. With its welcoming woodwork interiors, “bierhall”-like atmosphere, and of course, expertly crafted lagers, von Trapp Brewery is a can’t-miss slice of Austria in Vermont. Another Stowe mainstay is The Alchemist. Their unfiltered IPAs are exclusive to the state, and almost worth the trip on their own (especially their local-favorite Heady Topper and Focal Banger). Can’t decide? Turn to 4 Points’ brewery tours for a sampling of the town’s top watering holes.
For dinner (plus another craft beverage, if you’re up for it), head to Idletyme Brewing Company for flavorful American bistro classics in a warm, inviting setting. And on the town’s Main Street, Harrison’s offers the mountain tavern setting you’d imagine in a ski town, with warming fare to match. Afterwards, there’s no better way to end the day than wandering under the twinkling lights strung throughout the town.
A day on the slopes feels especially sweet at Sugarbush — pun intended. Located in the town of Warren in central Vermont’s Mad River Valley, the resort offers more than 100 trails, three terrain parks, and access to Slide Brook Basin’s 2,000 acres of backcountry powder action (outside of resort boundaries). So, while the resort has plenty of beginner terrain, too, it’s particularly suited to skiers and snowboarders seeking serious adventure, especially in the trees (there are nearly 30 wooded areas).
For closest access to the slopes, stay at Clay Brook Hotel & Residences, the resort’s only ski-in, ski-out accommodations complete with in-room Jacuzzi tubs to ease tired legs, grocery delivery service, and ski and snowboard valet service, so your gear’s ready to go for first tracks. Also near the resort, the romantic Pitcher Inn blends the quaint charm of a New England B&B with refined Relais & Châteaux luxury. The hotel’s reputation for fine dining is particularly notable, as is its 500-bottle wine cellar and the roaring fireplace at the center of it all.
If you’re venturing into town for dinner, make a reservation at the iconic Chez Henri to discover the closest thing to Paris in the northeast. And if you’d prefer to spend your days and nights on the mountains, bundle up for a snowcat ride to Allyn’s Lodge Fireside Dining to enjoy a four-course, farm-to-table meal at Sugarbush’s mid-mountain lodge.
Not to be confused with Sugarbush, the almost-cult-like favorite Sugarloaf mountain is home to supreme snow sport opportunities in western Maine. Sure, its 1,240 acres are the perfect canvas for carving on a snowboard or pair of skis, and Sugarloaf’s Snowfields offer exceptional vantages as the only lift-serviced skiing above treeline in the East. But one of the things that makes this resort so special is its focus on other exciting snowy activities, including dogsledding, snow biking, cat skiing, and more.
The signature Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel is the perfect launching pad for your action-packed escape. Aesthetically inspired by classic New England farmhouses, the property is a welcoming mountain respite just steps from the lifts, featuring newly upgraded rooms and upscale dining at 45 North. They present live music to complement your après-ski cocktail here, scheduled on Saturdays from 3-5pm, as well as a refined-meets-rustic dinner experience that comes highly recommended (reservations are suggested). Another favorite for a post-slopes libation is the freshly revamped Widowmaker, also offering live music and mountain views from the top of the base lodge.
Looking for a more private lodging experience with a full kitchen of your own for a quiet night in? The slopeside Premier Properties purvey the area’s most luxurious accommodations outfitted with high-end finishes and upscale amenities.
Back in Vermont, Killington is the largest ski area in the East by acreage, clocking in at nearly 2,000 acres over seven mountain areas and earning it the nickname “the beast of the east.” With so much terrain to explore, it’s a good thing the resort is also known for having the longest ski season in the region, often staying open till early May thanks to a combination of 250 inches of natural snowfall each winter as well as diligent snowmaking that covers 600 skiable acres.
Beyond skiing and snowboarding, there are plenty of other thrills to be found at Killington — namely, its Beast Mountain Coaster, a 4,800-foot-long alpine coaster complete with tree-dodging sections and 360-degree corkscrews. The Killington Tubing Park is another family favorite, offering all the joy of sliding down the mountain without stepping into a pair of ski boots.
The area’s best digs can be found at the ski-in, ski-out Killington Grand Resort Hotel. There’s an on-site spa to soothe sore muscles after hitting the slopes, offering a relaxing complement to all of Killington’s opportunities for outdoor adventure. And, since Killington is known for its vibrant nightlife scene with live music around every corner, it’s no surprise that the area is also a hub for top-notch après hotspots and dining destinations. Head to the Wobbly Barn Steakhouse and Nightclub for prime cuts in a space that’s true to its name — it’s quite literally made from wobbly barns, piecing together remnants of 10 from across New England. Meanwhile, the Foundry at Summit Pond is also a destination in its own right, lined with outdoor string lights and presenting live entertainment, ice skating, and new American cuisine.
North of the border, Mont Tremblant’s proximity to Montreal gives it the old-world feel of a European ski resort without requiring a hop across the pond. At the mountain’s base is a French-style village of colorful chalet buildings, cobblestoned streets, street performers, and plenty of excellent dining and drinking opportunities — but on the mountain, things aren’t always so relaxed. Mont Tremblant has some of the steepest skiing in the east, including its famed Dynamite trail with a pitch of 42 degrees. Needless to say, that’s recommended for experts only, but there are plenty of options for less-advanced skiers among its 102 trails.
For prime access to the village, Hôtel Quintessence is perched along the serene Lake Tremblant and is just a few minutes walking distance from the town. Reminiscent of a European chalet, each of the 30 suites is equipped with a wood-burning fireplace, a deep soaking tub, and très magnifique views. To get closer to the action on the slopes, the Fairmont Tremblant boasts ski-in, ski-out access to the mountain, along with a luxuriously appointed guest rooms and suites and a can’t-miss spa.
Dining-wise, Mont Tremblant favorites include La Savoie, a Swiss-inspired eatery serving up the best fondue in town alongside expertly crafted cocktails. For something a bit more in line with the French surroundings, savor meats and fish uniquely cooked on a hot stone at Restaurant C’est La Vie. The name is fitting — a weekend in this charming Quebecois village really is the life.
Tradewind offers charter flights year-round to Morrisville-Stowe State Airport, Sugarloaf Regional Airport, Southern Vermont Regional Airport (Rutland), and Mont Tremblant International Airport. To reserve a charter, call us at 1-800-376-7922 or click here.