Best Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC for Families

Connecticut's Mohawk Mountain Ski Area offers endless opportunities for fun in the snow. Photo courtesy of the Mohawk Mountain
Connecticut's Mohawk Mountain Ski Area offers endless opportunities for fun in the snow. Photo courtesy of the Mohawk Mountain
12/7/23 - By Allison Tibaldi

Falling temperatures don’t necessarily translate to falling prices when it comes to family vacations. Luckily, we’ve rounded up 14 well-priced weekend getaways from NYC that are all within driving distance. Whether you’re in the mood for New England's seaside views, craving winter sports, small-town charm, or big-city culture, we've got a winter weekend getaway destination for you.

Read on for our top picks and bookmark our Guide to Weekend Getaways for more family travel destinations.


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Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC: Belleayre Mountain
Belleayre provides a budget-friendly winter sports fix. Photo courtesy of the resort

1. Catskills, New York

You don't need to leave the state to enjoy a mountain getaway. New York's Catskills region spans 600,000 acres of wide-open space in Sullivan, Delaware, Green, and Schoharie counties. You'll find two of our favorite ski mountains nearby, Hunter and Belleayre, which offer plenty of winter sports fun. Art and nature lovers can appreciate a visit to Opus 40, an outdoor art park with 60 acres of walkable trails, and Art Omi, one of my family's favorite sculpture parks. Animal lovers can get up close with the alpacas at Buck Brook Alpacas and even book an alpaca walk.

If you plan to travel before Christmas, seasonal picks include a ride aboard the Catskill Mountain Christmas Train or a visit to Bethel Woods Peace, Love & Lights show.

Stay at Hunter Lodge, a Bluebird by Lark, which puts skiing and plenty more fun things to do in Hunter with kids at your doorstep.

Another lovely option is The Eldred Preserve, just down the road from Bethel Woods. It's nestled on a private lake and strikes the right balance of rustic charm, wide-open views from picture windows, and understated luxury. All rooms here sleep at least four, making it a great family-friendly find.

RELATED: 35 Things To Do with Kids in Beacon on a Hudson Valley Day Trip

Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC: Adirondack Sleigh Rides
Take a family sleigh ride for a festive vacation treat. Photo courtesy of Adirondack Sleigh Rides

2. Adirondacks, New York

At more than 6 million acres, the Adirondack Mountains definitely can't be covered in one weekend, but you can find plenty of winter adventure here. Lake Placid is a good jumping-off point for first-time visitors. You'll definitely want to visit the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

There are plenty of other activities to choose from, too. Ski at Whiteface Mountain, explore the Wild Center's outdoor attractions, and hike the trails at the Ausable Chasm. For an all-new experience, hit the Winter Realms experience in Lake George, with ice skating, an ice sculpture garden, picturesque winter walks, and plenty of snow to play in. We've got tons more picks for Adirondacks fun in Lake Placid and beyond.

While you're in the region, book a room at the Mirror Lake Inn, which offers a selection of family-sized suites in a luxurious lakeside retreat. Well-known for its breakfast of Adirondack Flapjacks and hot maple syrup, we can't think of a better way to start a vacation day.

RELATED: Sleep in a Lighthouse and More Hudson Valley Family Resorts and Hotels

nyc inexpensive getaways The Strong National Museum of Play.
One day might not be enough to explore all the interactive exhibits at The Strong National Museum of Play. Photo courtesy of the museum

3. Rochester, New York

If you can get over the fact it is located in a snow belt, Rochester rolls out the red carpet for kids. The city’s top activities are indoors, so really, it doesn't matter if the weather outside is frightful! The Strong National Museum of Play is a mecca of interactive learning and the only museum in the world completely devoted to the importance of play. Fan favorites include dozens of pinball machines and the National Toy Hall of Fame. One day here may not be enough to explore the 150,000 feet of engaging exhibit space. Fresh off an expansion, there's more to see than ever, so we suggest arriving early enough to take advantage of its half-price Friday evening deal for a fun jump-start to your weekend getaway.

The Rochester Museum & Science Center is another worthy stop, and the George Eastman Museum’s Discovery Room lets kids create animation strips and handle iconic early cameras. Plan to book your tickets to both venues in advance.

The Hilton Garden Inn is in the center of downtown. It benefits from a heated indoor pool, spacious rooms, and fair prices.

RELATED: 9 Favorite Upstate New York Getaways for Families

Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC: Winter Festival of Lights
Enjoy the magic of the winter season when you visit the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls. Photo courtesy of the Winter Festival of Lights

4. Niagara Falls, New York

Avoid summer crowds by visiting Niagara Falls in the winter. The falls are especially beautiful with ice-coated leaves and sparkling trees. It's like a winter wonderland come to life. The falls only partially freeze and while a few attractions are closed, like Maid of the Mist, there's still a ton to do, including exploring Niagara Falls State Park, Goat Island, and reveling in the Winter Lights Festival, which runs annually from November through February.

The Giacomo is a historic hotel right in the downtown area, with tons of charm and plenty of amenities, including fresh cookie deliveries nightly. It's great for families because you can book a suite with multiple bedrooms and full-size kitchens.

RELATED: 20 Family-Friendly Winter Day Trips in New Jersey

Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from New York City: Palmer Square
Start a new tradition this holiday season at Palmer Square’s “eco-friendly” synthetic ice skating rink. Photo courtesy of Palmer Square

5. Princeton, New Jersey

This Ivy League town is a pedestrian’s delight, only an hour from New York City and Philadelphia. It may not be far from home, but this quintessential college town feels miles away from urban stress. Tour the pretty Palmer Square and glide across the synthetic ice skating rink. Let little ones pop into jaZams, an indie but modern children's toy store. Show the kids what vinyl looks like at the Princeton Record Exchange before browsing the kids' section at Labyrinth Books. Fuel up on ice cream or sweets like chocolate-covered Oreos at Thomas Sweet. Let tots enjoy playtime at the 5,000-square-foot indoor playground Princeton Playspace, which currently requires reservations for visits.

Spend the night, and you’ll see that while there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there is free breakfast at the Sonesta ES Suites Princeton. It caters to extended-stay travelers, but families appreciate the oversized suites and daily grab-and-go breakfast. Families should enjoy hanging out in The Nest, the property’s common space that’s a twist on a family living room, with plenty of board games, books, and puzzles.

RELATED: 100 Things To Do in New Jersey with Kids Before They Grow Up

Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC: Cape May Lighthouse
Climb to the top of the Cape May lighthouse for a view, or at least a mild, windy thrill! Photo by Rose Gordon Sala

6. Cape May, New Jersey

Quaint Cape May is an all-American resort town bursting with old-fashioned delights. Its visual splendors include an architectural tiara of Victorian gingerbread homes in candy colors, shops selling saltwater taffy and fudge, and the magnificent Atlantic Ocean. Sure, summer rules, but there’s enough winter charm to make it more than destination-worthy. Bird observers have been flocking to Cape May for centuries. Enjoy nature’s spectacle as you hike one of the peaceful trails at the Cape May Bird Observatory, open and maintained year-round. Check the program requirements before visiting—some require reservations. You can also visit the nearby—and FREE—Cape May County Park and Zoo.

Families who enjoy pedaling will find miles of flat roads, some with designated bike lanes. Cape May is 160 miles south of New York City, so keep your fingers crossed for slightly warmer temps. The stately Congress Hall is the oldest seaside hotel in America. Guest rooms here offer soothing nautical-inspired décor and are loaded with amenities, so you’ll feel pampered and relaxed at the same time. Check the website for significant offseason discounts and festive holiday events.

RELATED: Best Pennsylvania State Parks with Kid-friendly Hikes and Attractions

Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC: Peddlar's Village Christmas lights
Peddler's Village is aglow this holiday season. Photo courtesy of Visit Bucks County

7. Bucks County, Pennsylvania

This Pennsylvania countryside county offers plenty of family-friendly entertainment no matter your children's ages or interests. Our Bucks County travel guide features four family-friendly itineraries. Whether you crave toddler-friendly action, historical haunts, outdoor adventures, or transportation-themed outings, we've got some ideas for you.

At less than two hours away from NYC, it's an easy weekend trip. Consider a stay at the Golden Plough Inn, located within Peddler's Village in Lahaska, which has a jam-packed calendar year-round.

8. The Poconos, Pennsylvania

At about two hours from the city, the Pocono Mountains offer plenty of natural beauty and family-friendly adventure for a weekend getaway. An all-seasons playground, you can hit the slopes (on skis or snow tubes) at various mountains, like Jack Frost Big Boulder, Camelback Mountain, and Shawnee Mountain. Indoor water parks are big business here, too, with Kalahari, Camelback, and Great Wolf Lodge offering gigantic indoor water play areas, in addition to plush, resort amenities.

The Delaware Water Gap offers beautiful hiking trails, or opt to visit the Pocono Snake & Animal Farm for some wild encounters. We've got tons more picks for Poconos family fun in our Poconos Family Travel Guide, which includes this list of 70+ things to do in the region and these picks for the best Poconos resorts for families.

RELATED: Family-Friendly Bed and Breakfasts near NYC for a Cozy Weekend Getaway

Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC: Christmas Candylane attractions are in full effect at Hersheypark.
Christmas Candylane attractions are in full effect at Hersheypark. Photo courtesy of Hersheypark

9. Hershey, Pennsylvania

A factory town built by the chocolate empire of Milton Hershey, they don't call this charming central Pennsylvania town the sweetest place on earth for nothing. The sprawling theme park, Hersheypark is an all-seasons draw, and wintertime means its Christmas Candylane attractions are in full effect. Visit before year's end to see Santa, meet his reindeer, and see a shimmering array of lights twinkling across the park. Zoo America is a year-round attraction and introduces guests to the animals of North America.

Other top picks for things to do in Hershey with kids include the informative and indulgent Hershey's Trolley Works Tours, which depart from Hershey's Chocolate World, where you can don hair nets and DIY a custom chocolate bar.

Book a room at the Tru by Hilton Hershey Chocolate Avenue, where we had a blast staging foosball battles in the lobby, splashing in the saltwater pool, and topping our pancakes with (what else?) Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. If you're still craving sweets, there's a Duck Donuts within walking distance!

RELATED: New England Family Travel Guide

Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC: Olde Mistick Village
Olde Mistick Village has created an old-fashioned Holiday Light Spectacular for families to enjoy. Photo courtesy of Olde Mistick Village

10. Mystic, Connecticut

This seaside village may seem like a summer destination but don't discount all the family-friendly fun to be found in other seasons. No visit would be complete without a stop at the Mystic Aquarium for face time with its adorable belugas (and countless other sea creatures). Directly across the street, find Olde Mistick Village, with its open-air shops, historic colonial village, and (through late January!) a Holiday Lights Spectacular. For dinner, grab a pie from the famed Mystic Pizza; for a morning pick-me-up, though, we implore you to stop at Vault Coffee for some delectable Deviant Donuts.

Book your weekend stay at the Taber Inn & Suites, which offers proximity to the fun in the downtown area, friendly staff, and most importantly (for kids!) an indoor pool.

11. Litchfield County, Connecticut

Connecticut's largest county, located in the northwestern corner of the state, overflows with New England charm. It's also got plenty of open spaces. You'll find winter sports like skating at local rinks and skiing at Mohawk Mountain. Enjoy the state's natural beauty with a visit to the Sharon Audubon Center, White Mountain Nature Center, or Kent Fall State Park, where a hike to the namesake falls takes you across a covered bridge. Our list of the best things to do in Litchfield County, Connecticut, has plenty more family-friendly picks for this scenic county.

The Litchfield Inn is a charming boutique hotel that's been recently renovated. Choose from one of its 12 custom rooms—like the cabin, bohemian, or garden room—or opt for the well-appointed standard rooms. Breakfast awaits in the mornings, and you can borrow a bike to explore on two wheels nearby, weather permitting.

12. Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Nestled in the heart of The Berkshires, find the charming town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. There's lots of outdoor fun to explore here. Hit the slopes at the charming Bosquet Ski Area, which recently welcomed a new lodge. You can skip the slopes and drop a line in the Pontoosuc Lake, which is well known among ice fishermen for the prize-sized tiger muskies lurking in the freezing depths. There's plenty of hiking, too, and a walkable main street is filled with charming shops and home to the wide-ranging collections of the Berkshire Museum, which houses fossils, an aquarium, and much more. There's more history to be studied at the nearby Hancock Shaker Village or Herman Melville's Arrowhead estate, where you can gaze out at Mount Greylock and determine if you—like the author—see a whale in its snow-covered profile!

Book a room at the Hotel on North, which is packed with old-timey charm, but has plenty of modern amenities!

13. Boston, Massachusetts

An easy 4-hour ride by train or car, Boston offers plenty of family-friendly things to do. So much, in fact, we've got an entire Mommy Poppins Boston site dedicated to family fun there. Make the Boston Seaport your home away from home for a winter getaway at The Envoy Hotel, which offers unobstructed views of downtown Boston and the Harbor.

Save plenty of time to explore the winter wonderland that is Snowport at the Seaport, complete with a holiday market through the year's end, plus season-long fun like curling lessons and photo-ops with Betty the Yeti on select dates. Round out your stay by visiting some of Boston's top family-friendly attractions and checking off a few of these 100 things to do in Boston with kids.

RELATED: United States Family Travel Guide

Inexpensive Winter Weekend Getaways from NYC: National Aquarium.
Meet fascinating sea creatures at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

14. Baltimore, Maryland

An easy Amtrak ride away, Baltimore is a delightful urban destination. Its Inner Harbor district is chock-full of family-friendly spots. We adore the quirky American Visionary Art Museum, which boasts funky finds at every turn. The National Aquarium sits right on the waterfront and is home to more than 20,000 animals. Nearby you'll find the Maryland Science Center and Port Discovery Children's Museum. Another Inner Harbor attraction is the collection of historic ships that call its waters home, including the USS Constitution, the last all-sail warship built by the US Navy.

Book your room at the Staybridge Suites Inner Harbor Baltimore, located in a historic 1907 building, just steps away from all the Inner Harbor attractions. Once a bank, the vaults are still visible in the breakfast nook, where you can grab your free morning meals.

Originally published in 2016.

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Places featured in this article:

Cape May, NJ

Rochester, NY

Princeton, NJ

National Harbor Maryland


Bucks County