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. 

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1. Guided Snowshoeing Tours with Wander the Whites

White Mountains, New Hampshire

Snowshoeing in the White Mountains (Photo: VisitNH)
Snowshoeing is a popular family activity in New Hampshire’s 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 at the Woodstock Inn’s Nordic Center

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 has miles of groomed and ungroomed terrain for riding. Trail fees for a full day start at $30 per adult, $20 for kids under 18.

3. Ice Bumper Cars at Bank Newport City Center’s Outdoor Skating Rink

Providence, Rhode Island

Bumper cars on the ice in Providence (Photo: Go Providence)
Take to the ice in bumper cars 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 30-minute session for $250.

4. Tobogganing at the Camden Snow Bowl

Camden, Maine

Tobaggon finish line at the Camden Snow Bowl in Camden, Maine (Photo: Camden Snow Bowl)
The Camden Snow Bowl has an old-fashioned wooden toboggan chute (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. 

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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 at the Liberty Hotel

Boston, Massachusetts

Curling at the Liberty Hotel in Boston (Photo: The Liberty)
Give curling a try at the Liberty Hotel in Boston’s posh Beacon Hill neighborhood (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 $170, including a 45-minute lane reservation for up to six people, a short lesson, and tasty nibbles like warm soft pretzels, freshly baked cookies, and select alcoholic beverages. 

6. Snow Tubing at Powder Ridge Mountain Park and Resort

Middlefield, Connecticut 

Snow tubing at Powder Ridge (Photo: Connecticut Office of Tourism)
Snow tubing is a kid-friendly winter activity at Connecticut’s Powder Ridge Mountain Park (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 45 minutes and cost $32 on weekdays, $37 on weekends. The resort supplies the tube and helmet. Reservations are recommended.

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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 with Alpine Adventures

Lincoln, New Hampshire

Winter ziplining in New Hampshire's White Mountains (Photo: Alpine Adventures)
Winter ziplining is a thrilling way to spend a day 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 $109 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. Guided Snowmobiling Tours with Northern Outdoors

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. Guided snowmobile tours cost $200 for a half day with a group of up to five riders; full day tours are $300. 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. Skating at the Frog Pond on the Boston Common

Boston, Massachusetts

Ice skating at Boston's Frog Pond (Photo: Kyle Klein)
Ice skating is a winter tradition at Boston’s Frog Pond (Photo: Kyle Klein)

The charming Frog Pond at the 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, $8 for everyone else. If you need to rent skates, those cost $15 for adults and $10 for kids.

10. Learning to Ski at Cranmore Mountain Resort

North Conway, New Hampshire

Learning to ski at Cranmore Mountain (Photo: Cranmore)
Cranmore Mountain has some of the gentlest alpine terrain in the northeast (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 lift tickets start at $69 for kids and seniors and $89 for adults. Discounts on multi-day tickets are available. 

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Allison Tibaldi
Allison Tibaldi has written for publications including CNN, Business Insider, FamilyVacationist, HGTV, USA TODAY, and Travel Weekly. contributing editor at Family Travel Forum. As a former early childhood educator, she is interested in the way kids experience the world, and thinks that travel is the best education for young minds. Tibaldi is based in New York City.

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