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Well Intentioned: A Winter Wellness Guide to Upstate New York

Stay warm this winter with some time at Hotel Kinsley in Upstate New York
Stay warm this winter with some time at Hotel Kinsley in Upstate New York | © Studio Robert McKinley
Photo of Emma Sparks
17 November 2021
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Artsy towns blend with steamy spas, hot tubs and hunker-down hotels when you hit the road and head to the Hudson Valley and beyond.

Slushy sidewalks. Biting winds. Looming blizzards. The Big Apple might have a certain romance in winter, but the cold season can be stressful. Upstate, it’s a different story. North of NYC is the Hudson Valley, packed with laid-back hotels, cozy restaurants and sparkling, snow-capped mountains. It’s dream road-trip territory. If feeling small helps you put everyday worries into perspective, mighty Niagara Falls and Letchworth State Park – the so-called Grand Canyon of the east – await further west. Ready to relax? Here’s where to find winter wellness in Upstate New York.

Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

Natural Feature
A young girl looks closely at a leaf amid crops at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, Tarrytown, Upstate New York
© Lori Berkowitz / Courtesy of Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture
Once part of the Rockefeller Estate, today this 1930s farm is a non-profit education center and a shining example of slow, sustainable food culture. Visitors can tour the farm (including the greenhouse and innovation labs) to learn all about low-impact agricultural practices and seasonal eating, before settling in for an unforgettable meal at farm-to-table fine-dining restaurant, Blue Hill.

The Roundhouse

A lounge with seats by a fireplace at the Roundhouse hotel in Beacon, Upstate New York
© Pat Furey Photography
Located in a former textile factory, the Roundhouse hotel was part of Beacon’s transformation from post-industrial town to trendy artist enclave. Rooms are chic and minimalist – with some featuring exposed brick walls and vaulted ceilings. But the star of the show is the restaurant, which treats diners to uninterrupted views of a tree-lined creek and waterfall from its floor-to-ceiling windows. The food is good, too: try the salmon with beurre blanc. Don’t miss nearby DIA Beacon, a modern art museum that was once a box factory.

Hotel Kinsley

A double bed behind two soft seats in a room at Hotel Kinsley, Kingston, Upstate New York
Courtesy of Hotel Kinsley / Expedia.com
This design-centric hotel is spread across four historic buildings, each featuring rooms decked with bold colors, vintage prints, snow-white Frette bedding and mini Smeg fridges. There are plenty of yoga and pilates studios around town if that’s your thing (try the Yoga House), while cross-country skiers will love winter birdspotting along the nearby Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. At the end of the day, hunker down in the cozy wood-paneled bar, or relax in the petite infrared sauna.

Windham Mountain

Ski Resort
A view overlooking the valley as two skiers go downhill at Windham Mountain, Upstate New York
© Don Landwehrle / Alamy Stock Photo
Want to carve some slopes in the Catskills? With 54 trails and almost 100-percent snowmaking coverage, there’s plenty to keep powder fans and total novices entertained at Windham Mountain ski resort. Save time in the adventure park for snow tubing and mini-snowmobiles (the latter are for kids only, sadly). For some European-style après ski, head to Ze Windham Wine Bar for cheese boards and expertly paired wines.

The Salt Den

Spa

Halotherapy – which involves spending time in a Himalayan salt cave, breathing in briny air – is said to reduce inflammation and soothe respiratory and skin conditions. But even if you take these claims with a large pinch of the proverbial, chances are you’ll still find a sense of calm at this wellness center on the outskirts of Albany. Ocean sounds, warm blankets and twinkly lights make for a meditative 45 minutes.

Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa

A room containing a bed, sofa and fireplace opens out through glass doors towards a lakeside porch with mountain views at Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa, Lake Placid, Upstate New York
Courtesy of Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa / Expedia.com | Courtesy of Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa / Expedia.com
If your ideal winter getaway features worn leather armchairs, log fires and mountain views, this lakeside hotel will leave you smitten. It’s a cozy place to return after a day spent skiing at nearby Whiteface Mountain, of 1980 Winter Olympics fame. Keen skiers can even take a lesson with an Olympic medalist. Off the slopes, warm up in the spa’s hot tub and sauna, or treat yourself to a CBD massage or reiki treatment.

Letchworth State Park

Park
A walker crosses a railroad trestle bridge over the Upper Falls at Letchworth State Park, Upstate New York
© Chaoss / Depositphotos.com
Dream of walking in a winter wonderland? Keep your eyes on the weather forecast and make your way to Letchworth State Park after a fresh sheet of snow. This 14,000-acre (5,700ha) expanse of land – split in two by a deep gorge – is littered with waterfalls and forested walking trails. Wrap up warm, grab your snowshoes (or rent some at Humphrey Nature Center in town), and breathe in that crisp, clean air.

Niagara Falls

Natural Feature
A couple admire the frozen American Falls from the bank of Niagara River in Canada (not Upstate New York)
© CharlineXia Ontario Canada Collection / Alamy Stock Photo
Frozen fan? Channel your inner Elsa at Niagara Falls State Park after a flurry of snow. Sure, it’s pretty darn cold, but there are benefits to braving the sub-zero temperatures – fewer tourists, for starters. The immense cascades look incredible surrounded by glittering ice – head to Prospect Point for prime views of the American Falls. If you have time, cross into Canada for an evening at the Winter Festival of Lights where, from November to February, you’ll get the best views of the illuminated falls.

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