Spas, Shopping, and Skiing: New York State Winter Girlfriend Getaways

From shopping at one of the world’s largest malls to getting a taste of Olympic speed in Lake Placid, winter in New York State offers plenty of ways for female friends and family to spend quality time together and have fun.  Whether you’re celebrating a milestone birthday or new job, need to recharge, or just want to relax and reconnect, you’re sure to find the perfect getaway in New York State.  Continue reading below for some ideas to get you started.

Sunset on the St. Lawrence River 1000 Islands Region

photo courtesy Angel Rock waterfront cottages

From New York State Tourism’s Press Release

Ready for Adventure. There’s probably no better way of putting everyday stress into perspective than pushing your limits on a wilderness adventure with close friends.  The professional guides at Alpine Endeavors, based in Rosendale in the Hudson Valley region, can lead you through awe-inspiring ice-climbs and snowshoe treks that require total focus. And there’s nothing more empowering than learning wilderness navigation and other survival skills.  Afterwards, share your tales in the cozy reading room or tavern at the restored 1850 House Inn in Rosendale, just minutes from vibrant New Paltz.

Up for an even more remote outing?  How about ice fishing, river skating or snowmobiling through the untrammeled Thousand Islands-Seaway region, then returning to a cozy, heated cabin at Angel Rock Waterfront Cottages in Cape Vincent, whose staff can arrange for guides and equipment to be used during your excursion.

Bobsled Experience

Bobsled Experience © ORDA


Adventure takes a more social form in Lake Placid.  Two-time host of the Winter Olympics, this lively mountain town in the Adirondacks region offers a chance to skate on an Olympic ice rink and feel the adrenaline rush of going at breakneck speeds on its Bobsled Experience.  Here, guided by professionals, you’ll feel the rumble of the sled’s blades as you race down the half-mile track at speeds of 60 miles per hour or more.

For a little indoor adventure in Long Island, the brave can scuba dive with sharks and swim with rays at the Long Island Aquarium.

Sip on new brews. Why sip beer in your local bar when you and your BFFs can earn bragging rights by tasting cutting edge craft brews-and maybe make some new friends in the process?  The Tasting Room at the Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Elmsford, in the Hudson Valley, invites gals (and guys) to pull up to its 30-foot long oak bar, or gather around the barrels, and sample experimental beers that are not sold in bars, restaurants or stores.

Destiny USA, Syracuse, NY

Destiny USA, Syracuse, NY © Destiny USA


Shop ‘til you drop. When you’re in need of some retail therapy, head for The Westchester, a luxury mall in nearby White Plains.  Here, you’ll find Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and other upscale brands in a sophisticated setting with bronze sculptures, skylights, valet parking and its own Red Door Spa.  Bargain hunters can cross the Tappan Zee bridge to shop the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. And for a potentially marathon shopping experience, pop over to the nearby  Palisades Center, one of the country’s largest malls, complete with its own ice rink and theater.

Two great area hotels for girlfriend gatherings are the historic  Doubletree by Hilton Tarrytown, where you can chat beside a grand fireplace in the stone and wood lodge-style lobby and relax at the spa, sauna or indoor pool; and the posh Ritz Carlton Westchester, with an elegant spa along with panoramic views of the Hudson, Long Island Sound and New York City, gourmet dining and a lovely rooftop indoor pool.

Family Ski Lessons at Whiteface Mountain

Family Ski Lessons at Whiteface Mountain © ORDA/Dave Schmidt


Schussing and après-ski. For bonding and reconnecting, there’s nothing like the exhilaration of speeding down the slopes together on skis or snowboards and reminiscing over hot cocoa around a blazing fire.  New York has over 50 ski areas, more than any other state in the U.S.  Powerhouse snowmaking and grooming on its 58 slopes and three cozy base lodges make Holiday Valley Ski Resort a fun choice for winter action on and off the slopes.  And novices will find excellent lessons to get them up to speed.  Located in the Village of Ellicottville in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region, the resort has lovely condo and lodge accommodations with indoor/outdoor pools and hot tubs to luxuriate in.  Weekdays, nearby HoliMont, one of the largest private ski areas on the continent, is open to non-members as well as members.

Après-ski options include a choice of more than 30 spa treatments at The Ellicottville Oasis Spa, set in a historic Ellicottville home, and gaming at the Seneca Allegany Casino & Hotel, which also has its own spa.  Ski/spa enthusiasts will also enjoy Peak’n Peak, about a 1 ¼ hour drive away.  Here, they’ll find day and night skiing on 27 groomed slopes and trails served by eight chairlifts, along with condo and inn accommodations, an indoor pool, spa and other indulgences.

And of course, not to be forgotten is Whiteface Mountain of Winter Olympics fame, located near Lake Placid in the Adirondacks region.

Welcome to Whiteface

Welcome to Whiteface © ORDA/Dave Schmidt


Historic resorts with gentle sports. Gliding across the snow-muffled meadows and through forests under your own power on cross-country skis and then warming up by the fire at a historic lodge can provide the perfect backdrop for intimate conversations with old friends.

In the Catskills region, Mohonk Mountain House provides more than 30 miles of groomed cross-country trails for skiing and snowshoeing.  The 259-room historic grand hotel, just named the Number One Resort Spa in the Country by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, has its own signature spa.  Its all-inclusive pricing means there’s no grabbing for checks at the end of a meal or activity.

Mohonk Mountain House

Monhonk Mountain House © 2013 DC CAP Hotelier LLC. All rights reserved.


Groomed cross-country ski and snowshoe trails also begin at the doorstep of the historic Gideon Putnam Resort, which sits in the middle of the 2,200-acre Saratoga Spa State Park in the Capital-Saratoga region.  Trails lead to a natural geyser, and best of all, the effervescent natural mineral spring waters of the Roosevelt Baths and Spa.  What could be better than a warming hydrotherapy soak in a fizzy mineral bath after a workout in the snow?  The spa offers a diverse menu of baths, massages, body wraps and other treatments.  The historic 120-room resort also offers a free shuttle to downtown for shopping, theater and dining.

Focus on wellness. For many women, a weekend with friends at a spa is the top choice for a getaway. All across the state, there are incredible spas; many feature some unusually appealing treatments.  For example, the Ska:ná: Spa at Turning Stone puts a modern, pampering twist on Native American cultural traditions.  Part of the Oneida Indian Nation’s 1,200-acre, AAA Four-Diamond Lodge at Turning Stone Resort, the spa uses fresh herbs such as sweet grass, cedar and sage as well as all-natural/organic products from three leading skincare brands: Kerstin Florian, Naturopathica and Eminence. Herbal and mineral wraps, warm stone therapy, and reviving soaks are designed to restore balance and harmony to the body, mind and spirit.  The resort, located in Verona in the Central New York region, also has a fitness center and indoor pool. Restaurant choices include the gourmet Wildflowers and the Asian-inspired Peach Blossom.  And later in the evening, the casino and dance club offer friends a reason to dress up and feel glamorous.

A second Central New York spa, located at the Traditions at the Glen Resort and Conference Center in Johnson City in the Greater Binghamton area, takes its inspiration from a very different source.  Nestled atop a wooded hillside overlooking the Susquehanna River Valley, the spa includes a relaxing, temperature controlled Himalayan salt cave.  This “Salt Sanctuary” is thought to have salutatory effects on the lungs, skin and overall wellness as guests spend 50 minutes relaxing in an anti-gravity chair.

Pole Position Raceway at Destiny USA, Syracuse, NY

Race and retreat. Fashionista friends who want to mix some pampering and adrenaline pumping fun into a shopping getaway will enjoy Syracuse’s new Destiny USA mall in the Finger Lakes, one of the world’s largest. The fun might start with strapping into go-carts and racing each other at hair-raising speeds of up to 45 miles per hour around a quarter mile indoor racetrack at Pole Position Raceway.  Then indulge in a manicure and pedicure at BV Nails Salon & Spa and settle back with margaritas, chips and guacamole at Cantina Laredo.  All that without ever leaving the mall.  Plus, nearby, more than 100 area wineries beckon with tastings and tours.

Cantina Laredo, Destiny USA, Syracuse, NY

Later, your group can retreat to Mirbeau Inn & Spa, a 34-room AAA Four Diamond French country-style inn in nearby Skaneateles. Here you’ll find award-winning gourmet cuisine and a luxury spa. If you time your visit during one of the hotel’s monthly Thursday trunk shows, you can squeeze in some more shopping, along with spa treatments, wine and chocolate tastings and more with “Girlfriends’ Trunk,” which showcases an eclectic group of companies and services from around the country.

Cozy up at intimate inns. Imagine having a whole inn-or a suite–to yourselves: playing the music you like in the drawing room, having a pajama party by the fireplace, enjoying massages and being served gourmet breakfasts.  One of the many New York inns that caters to girls’ getaways is 10 Fitch, which has three lovely 3-bedroom suites with king or queen size beds, a DVD library and a snack station.  Its Spoiled Girls’ Getaway Package provides 60- minute Swedish massages and a chauffeured luxury limo for a customized day in the Finger Lakes region, visiting the charming village of Skaneateles, MacKenzie-Childs farmhouse and shops, local wineries, and antiquing through the countryside.

View of Niagara Falls from Sheraton Fallsview Restaurant

Gone fishing. The Greater Niagara region, best known for its wonder-of-the-world Falls, is also known for its world class trout-fishing waters.  Experience the thrill of fighting a Steelhead on the Oak Orchard River, rated among the top ten Big Trout Waters in North America by Salmon, Trout & Steelheader magazine.  And for elegance, it’s hard to beat The Pillars Estate B&B in nearby Albion.  This Victorian mansion, restored in Queen Anne décor, features antiques in every room, from 12-foot ebony doors to Victorian chandeliers and authentic art. After a day on the icy river, it’s nice to gather around the inn’s home theater, with its wall-sized screen, crimson colored velvet curtains and leather recliners.  The next morning, after a delicious breakfast, shoppers can head for the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA, about an hour away, while wine lovers can take a tasting tour of local wineries.

Feeling Lucky? Less than 15 minutes from the outlet stores is the Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel.  This Vegas Style Casino offers gaming from penny slots to table games, plus a AAA Four Diamond hotel and a spa that features a desert-heat body wrap and signature caviar and pearls facial.

Bring on the Wine. Wine tastings are a wonderful way to enjoy some relaxing together time. And winery trails crisscross New York, from the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes, to Greater Niagara and the Chautauqua-Allegheny region.  Among New York’s more surprising  wine regions is  Long Island, whose wine country  has grown from one small vineyard to more than 40 vineyards and wineries.  Today, it is among the most diverse wine regions in the country, producing high quality wines in nearly every style.  Throughout the winter, there are public and private tastings and tours.  Many, such as Clovis Point and Martha Clara Vineyard, create a festive ambiance with live music.  Friends can also share unique experiences such as the blindfolded tastings at Jamesport Vineyard and Trivia Fridays  at the Peconic Bay Winery.

Finger Lakes Wine

A favorite place to stay in the heart of the North Fork winery area is the Hyatt Place East End, where a modern fitness center and indoor pool make it easy to stay in shape.  The hotel is also right next to the Long Island Aquarium and its new 5,000 square foot Butterfly and Birds exhibition.  And for those seeking an outlet for their shopping needs, Tangier Outlet mall in Riverhead is just minutes away.

And more. For more ideas on girlfriend getaways, check out the sections on skiing, shopping, adventure, spas and wellness, and more at Whatever your idea of the perfect girl’s getaway, you’ll enjoy winter indoors and out in New York State.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.