We’ve rounded up the best spots along the East Coast to help keep you and your family occupied and sane. Whether you’d like to enjoy the great outdoors, seek new thrills or simply chill out, our list has something for everyone.
Before your adventure begins: be sure to check your destination’s website for COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including advance-ticket-purchase requirements, social distancing and wearing face coverings.
1. Experience the World’s Largest Indoor Ropes Course, New Haven
When it’s too bleak to stay outdoors, head to Jordan’s Furniture. Walk past the massive selection of furniture and mattresses, where you’ll find It Adventure Ropes Course, jam packed with more than 100 thrilling activities. Favorite state-of-the-art attractions include a liquid firework show, crisscross angled rope ladders, a double catwalk, zig-zag swinging beams, cargo nets, bridges and much more. There’s even a ropes course for kids under 48″, as well as a pizza stand and ice cream shop. Book your next birthday party or corporate event for an experience unlike any other.
2. Float Your COVID Cares Away, various locations
Try float therapy for the ultimate experience in relaxation. A floatation tank, also known as a sensory deprivation tank or isolation tank, is a zero-gravity environment filled with an Epsom salt solution and kept at a temperature mimicking that of your skin. Free from all external stimuli, the dark soundproof tank is designed to help your mind and body relax, recover and reset. Effortlessly float your troubles away at Imagine Float in Avon, or Surrender Wellness Spa in Guilford.
3. Have a Book-Hunting Adventure, various locations
Warm up while strolling the shelves of some of the state’s best bookstores. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” author Jeff Kinney opened An Unlikely Story bookstore and café in his hometown, Plainville, as a unique destination to browse books, grab a healthy bite, meet authors and attend community events. Dating back to 1825, Boston’s Brattle Book Shop is one of the country’s oldest and largest bookstores, with three floors and an impressive selection of rare and out-of-print editions. Mom-and-pop bookshop, Belmont Books in beautiful Belmont boasts over 4,000 square feet of book lovers’ paradise. Before you leave, grab a latte and pastry at the Black Bear Café, now open for curbside pickup.
4. Hit the Slopes, Princeton
Drive an hour and a half from Boston to one of Massachusetts’ tallest and most-popular mountains. Wachusett Mountain features magical city skyline views along a 1,000-foot vertical drop, 2,000-foot elevation and 25 trails. Check out their event calendar for the season’s latest happenings, including races, a wildly entertaining magic act and more. Stop by the Waffle Cabin and the Bullock Lodge Cider House to find out why Wachusett consistently receives high rankings in the East for on-mountain food.
5. Explore a Historic Seaport, Portsmouth
We get it: Not everyone loves to ski or board — some New Englanders included. But there’s no need to book a tropical getaway this winter. Instead, bundle up and take an off-season escape to this charming seacoast city near the Maine border. Feel as though you’ve been transported back to colonial times on a self-guided history tour downtown, or take a scenic stroll along the Piscataqua River. Choose from more than 100 local restaurants that offer everything from fresh seafood to farm-to-table selections. Other highlights include ice skating at Puddle Dock Pond, shopping in Market Square and catching the Music Hall’s latest act.
6. To Ski or Not to Ski? North Conway
Each year, visitors flock to North Conway for an endless array of winter activities. Winter sports enthusiasts of all levels can hit Cranmore Mountain for skiing, snowboarding and tubing. While there, be sure to check out the Settlers’ Green outlets, boasting bargains from 70 retail stores and boutiques. Other family-friendly options include ice skating or hitting up Kahuna Laguna, an awesome indoor water park with 40,000 square feet of slides, pools, tubes, tree houses, fountains and more.
7. Ice Skating in Palmer Square, Princeton
Grab your family, bundle up and head to Palmer Square in downtown Princeton for some fun on the ice under the twinkling lights. While you’re there, enjoy the historic college town’s fine or casual dining and lively arts scene. Best of all, because the rink is made from eco-friendly synthetic ice, you can enjoy making new memories in warmer temperatures until March 28, 2021.
8. Experience the Wonder of Science, Jersey City
Year round, kids and kids at heart can find something new to explore at Liberty Science Center, complete with endless exhibits and hands-on learning experiences. Catch a show at the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. Or explore an exhilarating exhibition, including Wild About Animals, Infinity Climber, Energy Quest and Bees to Bots, to name a few. Back by popular demand: kids and grownups can kick off their shoes and try Sock Skating on a super-slippery rink made from a high-tech synthetic polymer surface.
9. Observe Adorable Seals, Long Island
Seals flock to Long Island’s relatively safe waters to breed, making winter a prime time for seal watching. Bundle up, grab a camera and binoculars and head to Cupsogue Beach County Park at Fire Island’s east end for a guided seal walk. Suitable for children, walks are just over a mile roundtrip and last about an hour and a half. Or view winter harbor seal populations on a seal-watching cruise from Freeport. An onboard naturalist will discuss the biology and behavior of seals and other marine life. Consider staying for a relaxing weekend, where you can rent a lovely home, minus the peak summer prices and crowds.
10. Ski, Ride and More at Hunter Mountain, Hunter
Drive two hours north of the big city to the Northern Catskill Mountains for the ultimate winter excursion. Hunter Mountain ski resort has been coined the “snowmaking capital of the world,” with three separate mountains that offer a wide range of terrain and snow-sports programs for skiers and riders of all levels. The state’s largest snow tubing park is fun for all ages, and the country’s highest and longest zipline canopy tour, New York Zipline Adventure Tours, is the perfect year-round destination for adrenaline junkies. Other attractions include the Mountain Club Spa, as well as grab-and-go, casual and fine dining options.
11. Plan a Winter Escape at Laurel Mountain, Champion
With 285 skiable areas and seven terrain parks accessed by 10 chairlifts, Seven Springs Mountain Resort is the perfect retreat for winter sports enthusiasts, offering downhill and uphill skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snow tubing and sleigh rides. Head indoors for swimming, bowling, mini golf, roller skating, the Bear Trap Fun Zone game room, Trillium Spa, plus an array of restaurants at every price point. Staying the whole weekend? Nearby attractions include Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and the 60 Minute Missions Escape Room.
12. Laugh and Splash in the Pocono Mountains, Scotrun
Set at a balmy 84 degrees year-round, the 79,000-square-foot Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park makes the perfect winter destination for families. The Hydro Plunge is a thrilling water roller coaster with a 52-foot vertical drop for more adventurous family members, while Cub Paw Pool features tiny slides and jet skis with an 18-inch “deep end” for little ones. Fort Mackenzie, an interactive water fort treehouse, is fun for the entire family. You’ll also find many attractions out of the water, including Howl at the Moon glow-in-the-dark mini golf and Ten Paw Alley mini bowling. You can even reserve a private Northwoods-inspired suite.
There’s certainly no shortage of ways to have fun this winter. So gather your famliy, load up the car and pack your appetite for adventure. For even more ways to beat cabin fever, check out these Snow Day Survival Tips That Are Borderline Genius.