Need a vacation? Visit upstate New York venues keeping doors open year-round

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Thanksgiving by Zoom is over. Christmas gifts have been bought. And, post holidays, a pall sets in, intensified by the persistent and growing danger lurking in crowded restaurants and bars, in Broadway and movie theaters, in gatherings with friends and family. The walls are closing in, you’ve watched every single Netflix series, and those “Guides to your Kitchen and Living Room” posts aren’t funny anymore.

You’re going stir crazy. What to do?

Well, if you live in New York State, opportunities abound to get away for a change of scene within its vast borders — without the need to quarantine. (Just do not leave home if you feel ill, have tested positive for asymptomatic COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who has).

In fact, some upstate destinations, with reassuring Covid protocols, plan to stay open through the darkest of winter days, including the village most known for its “Boys of Summer” — Cooperstown.

For the first time in its 111-year history, Cooperstown’s venerable Otesaga Hotel will stay open after Thanksgiving and throughout the winter season. According to a news release, “Visitors should be prepared to experience the snowy serenity of the village of Cooperstown, which offers a warm winter welcome and a certain stillness that might truly be appreciated this year.”

Other small towns from the Hudson Valley to the Adirondacks are likewise offering a snowy serenity and warm winter welcome during this pandemic. Hotels and attractions sited below adhere to sanitizing, social distancing, masking, and other health and safety protocols. (No housekeeping service after check-in, no minibars or magazines, all bedding, including comforters/duvets, laundered after each guest leaves, staff wear masks, guests must wear masks in common areas).

As of this writing, all destinations, attractions, and hotels recommended are open and in compliance with health and safety standards. Of course, things can change now day to day, so please double-check before you leave home.

Cooperstown, New York

The Otesaga Hotel

4 1/2 hours from mid-LI

As mentioned above, the lakeside Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown plans to stay open for the winter for the first time in its 111-year history. There are abundant snowshoeing trails on its 18-hole Leatherstocking Golf Course, and the Baseball Hall of Fame Museum, in town, plans to remain open this winter. Special Package: Curl Up and Unwind Jan. 1 through March 31, 2021, from $149, includes accommodations, breakfast, signature hot chocolate mix kit (handcrafted by The Otesaga’s culinary team), Wi-Fi, parking, no resort fees.

Beacon, New York

Roundhouse @ Beacon Falls

2 hours from LI

Beacon is a favorite getaway for Manhattanites, as Metro-North trains come right to town. And, it’s close — just a two-hour drive — for Long Islanders as well. The venerable large-installation art museum, DIA: Beacon, is open year-round (guests must purchase tickets online to avoid crowding, as per Covid protocols). So far, some main street shops and breweries/distilleries remain open. And if weather allows, hikers can climb Mount Beacon — a popular, exhilarating trail with bewitching Hudson River views at the summit.

The waterfall-set Roundhouse @ Beacon Falls just opened a new restaurant, Smoke on the Water/Steak, in their now unused event space -providing lots of social distance seating in a larger room. The hotel itself adheres to the latest COVID-19 sanitizing protocols, including frequent cleaning of high-contact surfaces, and “contactless Continental Breakfast” delivered to your guest room door. After New Year’s in winter, rooms in The Mill from $199 midweek, $229 weekends. Main building suites, $309 to $369 midweek, and $529 weekends.

Kingston, New York

Forsyth B&B

Hotel Kinsley

2 ½ hours from LI

Kingston, a Hudson River city in Ulster County, is divided into Upper, Middle, and Lower Kingston (aka, Rondout). As a whole, Kingston has seen an onslaught of trend-seekers to its galleries, boutiques, studios, and, even to its historic sites, of late.

Book a biofeedback, infrared, electromagnetic, or other technologically enhanced treatment at Spa21, a hands-free “wellness center” with futuristic therapies.

Purchase a wrinkle-free Karina Dress, sold all over the country, straight from the designer’s showroom in Upper Kingston’s Stockade District.

Don’t miss the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Lower Kingston — a hidden gem highlighting the nautical history of the Hudson River in general and Kingston — then called Rondout — in particular. Most captivating are exhibits about the D & H canal coal barges, loaded 108 miles away in Pennsylvania, and the posh Hudson River Day Line.

Nearby, the newly developed Ashokan Rail Trail offers 11.5 miles of ADA compliant paved trail on the north bank of the Ashokan Reservoir for outdoor walking and biking. Add to that indoor tennis at Total Tennis, indoor rock climbing at BC’s New Paltz Climbing Gym, and indoor biking at Indoor Cycling Center at The Bicycle Rack.

Where to stay? Choose from a series of indie lodgings, now and in the near future.

The chic six-room Forsyth B&B in Rondout (Lower Kingston) was touted in Vogue Magazine for its décor, service, and ambience. Owner Tamara Ehlin made last-minute plans to stay open through the winter. The Forsyth prioritizes the well-being and safety of guests with rigorous enhanced cleaning, physical distancing, requirement of masks in common areas, and individually plated breakfasts to take outside or to your room. Ehlin’s complimentary cocktails and breakfasts are legendary. Rates from $209-$259 include cocktail, baked treats, and three course gourmet breakfast.

Upper Kingston boutique Hotel Kinsely, situated in a renovated main street bank, offers a couple of packages. A midweek “Work From Hotel” package includes access to a co-working space across the street. And the “Relax and Reset” package includes a bottle of sparkling wine, State Park passes, and treatments at the local “techno-spa,” Spa21. Room rates from $225 — $350 midweek in winter.

Hotel Kinsley has just expanded into 41 Pearl St.–a magnificent 1770 Georgian stone structure, a block away opening mid-December. And the Salt Hotel Group (Asbury Hotel NJ) plans to open the high-end Hutton Brickworks hilltop resort here in spring 2021.

Lake Placid, New York

Mirror Lake Inn, Lake Placid Lodge, Whiteface Lodge

5 hours 45 minutes

Lake Placid excels in wintertime pursuits. After all, it was the site of both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. But even non-sports minded folks will love the town’s warmly illuminated main street, especially in snow. Join dog walkers and chatty friends on the flat 2.7-mile loop trail that encircles frozen Mirror Lake.

For a true Olympic experience, visit the Mt. Van Hoevenberg with more than 30 miles of cross-country ski trails and multiple snowshoe paths. Or travel alongside the 1980 Olympic bobsled track on the Cliffside Coaster. The new SkyRide Experience at the Olympic Jumping Complex allows you to fly over the length of a football field in a new, state-of-the-art pulse gondola. Walk through the Olympic Center and visit The Lake Placid Olympic Museum to learn more about the Olympic legacy of Lake Placid.

Adventure seekers can take an ice-climbing lesson with a licensed guide. For ultimate sledding, the 30-foot tall Lake Placid Toboggan Chute “shoots” toboggans out up to 1,000 feet on frozen Mirror Lake.

Looking for a splurgey Lake Placid stay? These three fit the bill.

In town, the luxury Mirror Lake Inn offers several unique packages. “Work or Study Remotely” packages begin at $344 per night and include “To-Go Breakfast” and a $50 resort credit per day. Guests only can book a “Nordic Ski Excursion With four-time Olympic Medal Winner Andrea Henkel Burke” ($120 per hour, $20 extra per addition person), or “Downhill Ski With 2-Time Olympic Medalist, Andrew Weibrecht” ($125 per hour, $50 for each additional person in party, 2-hour minimum, does not include lift tickets or room cost). Room rates from $229 midweek off season.

At Lake Placid Lodge, you can isolate in style in your own free-standing lakeside cottage, or book an exceptional room in the main lodge. All this Adirondack opulence does not come cheap, however. Midweek-winter rooms start at $650 per night (with “Book Ahead” discount), lakeside cabins start at $1,000 per night. The Lodge also offers a 5% “Good Neighbor Discount” for New York residents.

The swanky Whiteface Lodge, a fantasia of stone and timber seemingly fashioned from the melded minds of Teddy Roosevelt and Ralph Lauren, will keep its fine spa and restaurants open through winter. Midweek room rates January-February from $435 per night, $560 weekends, includes Whiteface Lodge’s two-lane bowling alley, seasonal ice-skating rink, indoor/outdoor pool, fitness center, and nightly bonfires with s’mores, complimentary daily breakfast.

Saratoga Springs, New York

The Adelphi Hotel

3 ¾ hours from LI

Known as “America’s First Spa Town,” and for the Saratoga Race Track (made famous in Carly Simon’s song, ‘You’re So Vain”), Saratoga Springs is open for exploration this winter. A New Deal project under FDR, the Saratoga Spa State Park features museums, a performance center, pure spring water spigots (where locals in the know fill up their 5-gallon water bottles), and the affordable Roosevelt Baths and Spa. These private mineral baths have been compared to an immersion in warm, bubbly Champagne, and cost just $45 for 40 minutes. In addition, you can join a free Guided Nature Hike at 1 p.m. on weekends that leaves from the Creekside Classroom (RSVP a must — call 518-584-2535).

Although the ponies aren’t running this time of year, the enjoyable and engaging National Museum of Racing has reopened after a multimillion-dollar renovation, with a fantastic new film in the Horse-Racing Hall of Fame gallery. Both the surprisingly poignant Saratoga Automobile Museum, and the purportedly haunted Saratoga Springs History Museum (Open Friday-Sunday) are also open at this writing.

Stay in town at the ultra-luxurious Adelphi Hotel. The hotel entices guests who book midweek with an “add on” treatment credit at Complexions Spa a block away. Rates start at $350 for room and spa credit (midweek).

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