10 New England Winter Getaways for Families Who Don’t Like to Ski

You don't have to be a family of skiers to enjoy New England's winter charms.
Boy catching snow (Photo: @aveamig via Twenty20)
Photo: @aveamig via Twenty20

In New England, cold temperatures and outdoor fun go together like milk and cookies. While other parts of the country grudgingly tolerate frosty weather, hearty New Englanders actually celebrate their snowy wonderland. And that’s great news for families looking for New England winter getaways, because there’s no shortage of fun things to do in the colder months—even if you’re not a family of skiers. 

The Best New England Winter Getaways for Non-Skiers

From tried-and-true winter favorites like ice skating and sledding to more unusual activities like curling and snow biking, here are the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors during New England winter getaways. 

1. Snowshoeing – White Mountains, New Hampshire

Snowshoeing in the White Mountains (Photo: VisitNH)
Snowshoeing in the White Mountains (Photo: VisitNH)

Snowshoeing is a fine cold weather pastime. With no steep learning curve and not much in the way of cumbersome equipment, it’s an excellent choice for those without previous winter sport experience. And it’s easy to socially distance as you follow a winding trail through woods and meadows on racquet-like shoes surrounded by snow-draped pines. 

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In New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Wander the Whites will teach you snowshoe basics and beyond. Owner Lisa Holcomb has a master’s degree in education and shares her profound respect and stewardship of the land with guests. You’ll feel like you’re inside a snow globe as you traverse a blanket of alabaster powder past frozen waterfalls, ponds, and riverbanks. Guided trips start at $35 per person. 

2. Snow Biking – Woodstock, Vermont

Snowbiking in Woodstock is one of the best New England winter getaways for non-skiers (Photo: Woodstock Inn)
Snowbiking in Woodstock is one of the best New England winter getaways for non-skiers (Photo: Woodstock Inn)

If you can ride a bike, you can ride a bike in the snow. Fat bikes are fitted with extra-wide oversized tires and modified frames to give added stability and traction to grip deep snowpack, no training wheels necessary. Pedaling uphill can be exhausting; coasting downhill is exhilarating.

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The Nordic Center at the Woodstock Inn and Resort offers fat bike rentals and has miles of groomed and ungroomed terrain for riding. Trail fees for a full day start at $25 per adult, $20 for kids under 18. A private lesson costs $45 per hour.

3. Ice Bumper Cars – Providence, Rhode Island

Bumper cars on the ice in Providence (Photo: Go Providence)
Bumper cars on the ice in Providence (Photo: Go Providence)

New England winter getaways don’t get any more fun for non-skiers than steering a colorful bumper car forwards, backwards, and sideways over an outdoor ice surface. The Ice Bumper Cars at Bank Newport City Center’s outdoor skating rink provide Arctic fun in urban Providence. Slide, twirl and bump your fellow drivers during this 15-minute ride.

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The cost is $12 when a portion of the ice is reserved for bumper cars (the rest of the ice will be for skaters) and $15 for the full ice rink experience. You can reserve the entire rink for a private one-hour session for $500.

4. Tobogganing – Camden, Maine

Tobaggon finish line at the Camden Snow Bowl in Camden, Maine (Photo: Camden Snow Bowl)
Tobaggon finish line at the Camden Snow Bowl in Camden, Maine (Photo: Camden Snow Bowl)

The Camden Snow Bowl is a small ski area with a view of Maine’s stunning coastline from one of New England’s most charming seaside towns. Camden is home to the Jack Williams Toboggan Chute, a venerable handmade wood chute flooded with ice. Coast down on a long narrow sled at a daredevil speed of up to 40 miles per hour all the way onto frozen Hosmer Pond. The chute is open during the winter months on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, weather permitting. It costs $10 per person per hour. 

5. Curling – Boston, Massachusetts

Curling at the Liberty Hotel in Boston (Photo: The Liberty)
Curling at the Liberty Hotel in Boston (Photo: The Liberty)

Curling is an Olympic sport of finesse and strategy that some liken to chess on ice. Teams of players take turns sliding stones across the ice towards targets, using sweepers to slow or alter the direction of the stone. 

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At The Liberty, an imaginatively transformed jail-turned-hotel in Boston’s upscale Beacon Hill neighborhood, visitors can give curling a try on synthetic ice in the spacious courtyard. Reserve a private experience for $110, including a 45-minute lane reservation for up to six people, a short lesson, and tasty nibbles like roast beef sliders, chocolate-chip cookies, and beverages. 

6. Snow Tubing – Middlefield, Connecticut 

Snow tubing at Powder Ridge (Photo: Connecticut Office of Tourism)
Snow tubing at Powder Ridge (Photo: Connecticut Office of Tourism)

Snow tubing is the epitome of carefree fun. Your only job is to sit in a giant inflatable inner tube and enjoy the descent as gravity pulls and spins you to the bottom of the slope. At Connecticut’s Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort, there’s a large tubing park with day and night tubing. Sessions last for one-hour and forty-five minutes and cost $32 on weekdays, $37 on weekends. The resort supplies the tube and helmet. 

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And if you need ideas for vacations with teens, consider Interstellar Nights at Powder Ridge, when the high-speed, eight-lane tubing track is illuminated with colorful neon lights and pop music plays in the background. 

7. Winter Ziplining – Barron Mountain, New Hampshire

Winter ziplining in New Hampshire's White Mountains (Photo: Alpine Adventures)
Winter ziplining in New Hampshire’s White Mountains (Photo: Alpine Adventures)

It’s hard to imagine a more thrilling New England winter getaway for non-skiers than zipping across a series of cables suspended between snow-dusted treetops. Situated at the base of Barron Mountain, Alpine Adventure’s winter zipline tour is a real vertigo-inducing zinger. After an all-terrain vehicle whisks you to the summit, you’ll swing across six cables that vary in length and height, with bird’s-eye views of the pristine forest.

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The cost is $99 for this two- to three-hour aerial adventure. Seasoned guides lend a hand, spicing things up with tidbits of information on flora and fauna. Participants must weigh between 60 and 240 lbs., with a maximum height of 6’5″.

8. Snowmobiling – The Forks, Maine

Snowmobiling in Western Maine (Photo: Northern Outdoors)
Snowmobiling in Western Maine (Photo: Northern Outdoors)

Northern Outdoors is a rustic resort in a remote corner of Western Maine. With miles of trails traversing frozen rivers, snowy peaks, and forests of pine, spruce, and birch, it’s an ideal hub to try a snowmobiling getaway. 

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Northern Outdoors will help you rent a snowmobile and suggest trails that will have you coasting across snow-covered landscapes and spotting wildlife in its winter habitat. Snowmobile rentals cost $350 per day. The resort rents cozy cabins and has an onsite brewery where you can unwind with a draught beer at the end of an adventurous day.

9. Ice Skating – Boston

Ice skating at Boston's Frog Pond (Photo: Kyle Klein)
Ice skating at Boston’s Frog Pond (Photo: Kyle Klein)

The charming Frog Pond on historic Boston Common, America’s oldest public park, is a picturesque spot to twirl and glide for an afternoon or evening. Its central location makes it easy to squeeze in a few laps around the sparkling ice as you take a break from Boston’s many charms. 

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Daily public sessions, rentals, and lessons are available, plus creamy hot chocolate to warm you up when the cold wind blows. Admission is based on the skater’s height and might just be the best winter getaway bargain in New England—free for anyone under 58 inches, $6 for everyone else. 

10. Learning to Ski – Cranmore Mountain Resort, North Conway

Learning to ski at Cranmore Mountain (Photo: Cranmore)
Learning to ski at Cranmore Mountain (Photo: Cranmore)

New England is home to dozens of ski resorts, but North Conway’s Cranmore Mountain is special. This is the New England winter getaway where non-skiers can easily learn to become skiers thanks to its top-notch ski school and some of the gentlest of alpine terrain in the Granite State.

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Cranmore is known for its abundant natural snow, sunny south-facing slopes, and varied terrain. There are 54 trails—enough to keep any skiers in the family entertained—yet the mountain manages to feel intimate and friendly for those just starting out. And if you’re just not convinced to give skiing a try, Cranmore has a large snow tubing hill and alpine coaster to keep you occupied as well. 

Single day adult lift tickets start at $29 for children five and under, $59 for kids six to 12, $89 for teens, and $99 for adults. Discounts on multi-day tickets are available. 

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Allison Tibaldi
Allison Tibaldi is a travel and food writer based in New York City. She has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Australia, Toronto and Los Angeles. She writes for numerous publications including CNN, Business Insider, Travel Channel, HGTV, am New York, Emirates Open Skies Magazine, USA TODAY 10 Best, USA Today Go Escape, Shermans Travel, Family Traveller, Travel Squire and Travel Weekly. She is also a contributing editor at Family Travel Forum. She focuses on family, culinary and eco-friendly travel. A former early childhood educator, she studied child development in graduate school and believes that travel is the best education.

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