As winter has settled upon us, the overwhelming urge to “Netflix and chill” has firmly taken hold. In the interest of breaking the winter doldrums, HIGH TIMES has compiled some of the most festive, fun, winter vacation ideas located on the East Coast. (Editor’s Note: Our West Coast edition is coming soon, but all you Cali stoners know you’re warmer than us over here!)
Canada is a winter wonderland that offers visitors a plethora of activities to experience, and 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary. To celebrate, Parks Canada is offering free entry, all year-long. If you’re a life-long city dweller who has never truly experienced the great outdoors, now is your chance to see how the other half lives. Frolic in the great outdoors and have some fun, while you stay active and healthy.
Learn to camp and paddle, or ride over nine miles of fat bike trails, groomed in the most beautiful winter setting of Kouchibouguac National Park, in New Brunswick. Fat bike rentals are available on the premises, while Fundy National Park in New Brunswick offers tobogganing.
Experience a night in the great outdoors—build a quinzhee almost anywhere in the park or rent one of five oTENTiks—a hybrid of a cabin and a tent—for winter camping in Riding Mountain National Park, in Manitoba.
Skiers, snowboarders and snowshoers, head towards Southwest Gulch and then unwind by the wood stove in a ski hut in Gros Morne National Park, in western Newfoundland, or cross-country ski with friends on the groomed trails of La Mauricie National Park in Quebec. The Chambly Canal National Historic Site, also in Quebec, offers ice skating on three skating rinks.
If you are up for a challenge, try ice climbing in Waterton Lakes National Park, located in southern Alberta. Don’t forget to bring your camera or binoculars because you will get the opportunity to see unique wildlife, such as herds of elk or bighorn sheep.
If you’re curious and patient, you can ice fish (or simply chill by the fire) and take in the spectacular scenery in an ice-fishing hut at Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area in northern Ontario.
And finally, relax and unwind from all your newfound winter athleticism with a dip in the Canadian Rockies’ Radium Hot Springs. Try the soothing mineral waters in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia. The juxtaposition of the crisp mountain air on your face and hot springs on your body feels amazing and refreshing.
Recreational use of marijuana is legal in Maine, so you don’t have to go as far as California or Colorado to puff, puff pass. Maine is situated just below the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec.
Maine’s first green certified, Earth-friendly retreat center, Nurture Through Nature (NTN), thrives on 33 mountainside, forested acres in the heart of western Maine’s Lakes and Mountains region. NTN is a solar-powered, off-the-grid lodging and recreational retreat facility. You can stay in a cabin or a yurt; however, if you can’t disconnect completely, the “Harmony” cabin is dog-friendly and has WiFi, while The “Robin’s Nest” is inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s one room cabin. It’s time to write that novel. A week-long package is $620, and other options are available, such as $256 for two for the weekend. You can even get 10 percent off your booking—just by mentioning this article!
Take advantage of private hiking trails along a spring-fed mountain brook, leading to long views of Mount Washington and the White Mountains.
You can design your own enriching retreat by adding specialized enhancements, such as holistic life coaching services, private or community yoga classes, guided meditation, a private sauna, massage therapy and healing arts classes.
If you don’t have time for the full-immersion, hippie experience, just drop by for their Super Sauna Saturday instead. Every Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., from October through March, their wood-fired sauna is open to the public as “a shared space for deep relaxation and community connection.” No appointment is necessary. The cost is $15 (or $10 for students). Bathing suits are required. No skinny dipping in the public sauna; however, private springs are accessible from the yurts.
If you don’t want to travel as far up North, visit New Hampshire.
New Hampshire’s license plates still read, “Live free or die,” which gives a clear indication of the mentality of this plucky New England state. Its ideals are reminiscent of the fiercely independent spirit of the settlers of the original 13 colonies. There is plenty to see for American history buffs (or people who are anxious over President Trump’s new anti-immigration policies), who need some reassurance that authentic America still exists.
New Hampshire has some of the largest ski mountains on the East Coast. Aside from skiing, its major recreational attractions include snowmobiling, hiking and mountaineering.
Some additional activities include Cannon Mountain’s 80-passenger aerial tramway, in Franconia Notch State Park. The tramway quickly ascends over 2,000 feet, above a horizontal distance of more than a mile, whisking you above the timberline to the 4,200-foot summit for spectacular views of the White Mountains, into Maine, Vermont and even Canada.
Walking trails leave from the summit station to an observation tower with panoramic views of the valleys and mountains.
Alpine Adventures offers the uniquely combined winter activities of off-roading and snowshoeing. Winter showcases the extreme off-road capabilities of the Pinzgauers—six-wheel drive, Swiss army transport vehicles that have been modified to accommodate 11 passengers (one rides shotgun). The overhead cages are padded for safety, and a stereo system ensures that you can hear the tour guides describe the terrain.
Snowshoe tours are an interesting way to enjoy a trek through the 300-acre Barron Mountain. Excursions can last up to two hours, including a 30 minute off-road tour, in the aforementioned Pinzgauers and about an hour of snowshoeing. You will explore the surrounding White Mountains National Forest from a unique and up close perspective, while learning about the local wildlife and logging history of northern New Hampshire.
Trip routes and activities are based on each group’s ability and individual goals. The guides will help you select the right level of adventure and exploration. Don’t worry, a cup of hot cocoa is waiting for you along the trail.
Touted as “New England’s Largest Winter Extravaganza,” the 29th annual Winter Festival will freeze your winter blues with many fun festivities. The festival takes place from February 17 – 26, 2017, throughout Newport and Newport County. Featuring over 150 events, the festival offers a unique winter experience, combining food, tours and music.
Highlighted events include the helicopter tour and vineyard packages. Fly over the vineyards and all of Newport in a “heated” helicopter.
There are vineyard tours and wine tastings galore. Almost any activity can be combined with a wine tasting, even a yoga class!
You can make your own perfume or snowflake soap. Learn to create aromatherapy perfume blends with healer and chemist, Cynthia LaBonte, at Newport Aromatherapy or create and design your own soap, while learning the art of soap making at Newport Sea Foam Trading Company.
Cruise through Newport Harbor into Narragansett Bay for 360° views of Rhode Island’s state marine mammal in their natural habitat. Harbor Seals migrate from the north into Narragansett Bay every winter to feed, delighting locals and tourists alike. See them from the perfect vantage point of an educational marine vessel.
Obviously, we love New York, even outside of the boroughs. There are so many great vacation destinations. Many are merely a train ride away.
Most potheads are foodies, and foodies love Hudson, New York, for its artisanal farm-to-table food scene. WM Farmer and Sons Boarding & Barroom is a charming, family-owned and operated, 14-room boutique hotel, featuring a scrumptious restaurant, whose chef is one of the Farmers. The menu boasts a winter citrus salad with chicories, Parmigiano-Reggiano and truffle vinaigrette and an entrée of Fazio Farms saddle of rabbit with stewed beluga lentils, porcini and rabbit jus. Every Tuesday through Saturday, the barroom features Oyster Happy Hour. An average night costs $199 for double occupancy. Visit before February 20, since the hotel will be closed for renovations for the following two months.
After a cozy evening at WM Farmer’s, head to Cafe Le Perche for fresh bread and pastries made in an authentic wood-fired French oven. Pastries and pot go together like two peas in a pod.
Buffalo is a city on the shores of Lake Erie, in upstate New York. Its fine neoclassical, beaux arts and art deco architecture displays its history as an industrial capital in the early 20th century. Its landmarks include the 398-ft art deco City Hall and the esteemed architect Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Darwin D. Martin House. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is a Greek Revival museum, featuring artwork by Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.
Lake Placid, located approximately nine unbelievably scenic miles from the foot of Whiteface Mountain, is an athlete’s town. Lake Placid has hosted two Winter Olympics. Athletes, both retired Olympians and Olympic hopefuls, are the backbone of the LP community.
While we don’t recommend skiing while stoned, there are many unique, off-mountain attractions, such as bobsledding down an international competition track at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg. It costs $95 for adults, which includes a professional driver and brakeman. This will probably be the most expensive minute of your life, but it should definitely be on the bucket list.
Speed and ice skating sessions are available on the Olympic Oval in the center of the picturesque Olympic village. It costs $6 for admission and $6 to rent skates. You can also skate on Mirror Lake.
The Lake Placid Olympic Museum features memorabilia and artifacts from every Winter Games, dating back to its origins in 1924, when local athlete Charles Jewtraw won the 1500 meter speed skate competition.
There is a free shuttle service during the winter season that runs between Lake Placid and Whiteface, with several stops in Lake Placid and Wilmington.
Accommodations range from five star resorts, to B&Bs, to vacation home rentals. Local couple Todd and Kim Ottenstein own 10 such properties, so give them a call at (518) 524-7335 or visit adirondack-vacation.com, to inquire about booking your stay.
When most people think of Pennsylvania, the Amish Village springs to mind. While visiting Dutch Country is a fun experience for some, it can be a snoozefest for others. They have no electricity. We get it. How quaint.
For those uninterested in Lancaster’s Amish scene, we’re inclined to reccommend the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Nemacolin’s sprawling 2000-acre (!) estate in Farmington, Pennsylvania, features 320 luxurious guest rooms, suites, townhouses, private homes and even tree houses for accommodation.
If you are an “animal person,” you will especially love Nemacolin. The grounds are home to over 100 animal species. The resort is open to the public. Going to see the animals on your own, either on foot or by car, is free. Their 1.5 hour guided safari tour is $90. The guided tour allows you to get up close and personal, and feed the animals. It requires a reservation; however, you do not need to be a guest of the resort. Zookeepers are on hand to provide an educational and entertaining experience as you learn about the featured animals’ habitat, diet and native home.
The Wildlife Habitats feature a petting zoo with enclosures for billy goats, red sheep, bears, bison, zebras, a Bengal tiger, lions, wolves and more.
Down the road, Nemacolin’s Wildlife Adventure offers a guided nursery tour of over 40 species of smaller exotic and domestic animals. Featured animals that may appear on any given day include the capuchin monkeys, Moluccan cockatoos, alligators, snakes, tegus and tortoises.
While traditional zoos have fallen from grace, due to overcrowding and unnatural, stressful habitats, Nemacolin prides itself on its commitment to the care and welfare of its Wildlife Academy. In fact, many of the animals on the property were rescued from failing zoos by the owner’s father. He believed that “making them part of the resort, would leave a lasting impression on our guests, provide an educational experience and foster the belief in conservation.”
After you’ve taken an animal safari, a dogsledding excursion will amp up your adrenaline, as you glide across the snow at speeds of up to 20 mph. Twenty-four adorable and athletic Alaskan Huskies power snowy treks across Pennsylvania’s gorgeous snow-carpeted landscapes, such as the Laurel Highlands countryside.
The unforgettable outing is enhanced with a kennel tour, where you will meet your sled dogs and visit with their musher. You will even learn the basics of dog sledding and how the musher maneuvers the sled while controlling the dogs with specific voice signals.
After you have had your fill of cute, fuzzy creatures, visit the chateau and adjacent lodge for dinner, play pool at the tavern or head to the full-service spa to fully relax and unwind. There are a handful of accommodations at Nemacolin. The Falling Rock Hotel has 24-hour butler-service, as does the Chateau Lafayette, which is inspired by The Ritz in Paris. The Garshak treehouse is a private house on stilts, where you can vape and commune with nature.
After you have had a luxurious night’s sleep, use the next day to try zip-lining, snowmobiling, horseback riding or snow-tubing. Backwoods trail riding on horseback for two miles is $75 per person. Snow-tubing is $20 for 2 hours. A rope pulley clips onto your tube and carries you right back up to the top of the hill, so you can slide right down again.
There is truly no shortage of seasonal entertainment. So what are you waiting for? Your East Coast winter playgrounds await!
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