“Do you ski or snowboard?” asks nearly every New Englander, with the tone that an answer of “neither, thanks” will be met with horror. Whatever your reason for saying nope to the slopes—the cost, the cold, a general fondness for your ACL—you can still loop over to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire for a quiet escape, all without hurling yourself down a mountain.
A two-hour drive from Boston and tucked a hair over two miles from the Loon Mountain ski resort, Lincoln’s RiverWalk Resort is an ideal base camp for a quick getaway, with reduced rates on midweek stays through the rest of the winter. The resort opened in 2016 at the site of an abandoned paper mill, but it’s hard to imagine the spot as anything other than a sprawling Swiss castle once you see its red roof peaks surrounded by the snow-capped White Mountains. Each of the 138 units—from studios to penthouse suites—exude a condo-like feel, with kitchens, balconies and fireplaces in living rooms. Wood and stone add cozy appeal to the traditional decor, with suites boasting soaking tubs meant for long lounges with a glass of wine.
Since a breather from Boston’s bustle is what you’re after, book a midweek stay when the grounds and surrounding wooded trails are so quiet you can hear the snow hitting the trees. Let the winter sports lovers in your party hop on one of the on-demand shuttles to Loon while you hang back. If you need a rush of adrenaline, hit the surprisingly stocked fitness center, or better yet, check out the Winter X Games-themed snowboarding and Snocross simulator games in the basement arcade for some alpine excitement minus the wind chill.
River Runs: Enjoy a winter escape at RiverWalk Resort.
Visit the resort’s Solstice North Day Spa to indulge in massages, facials and more. After hoofing it across icy sidewalks all winter, treat yourself to a Sole Revival foot soak with optional massage and nail-care add-ons. The spa offers several scent choices, but the White Mountains option—pine and fir—is especially fitting as you breathe in window views of South Mountain while your soles seek redemption in a tub of hot water.
Enjoy an après-spa trip to the onsite commercial winery, Seven Birches, helmed by owner and winemaker Mark LaClair. He and his vintners churn out 3,000 cases each year—making Seven Birches the fourth largest winery in the state—from a modest production room just off the resort’s main lobby. Offering a range from Chilean varietals to classic cabernet sauvignon, LaClair sources grapes from across the world, often adding fruits picked from the winery’s grove for a bit of local flavor. At the tasting room or the nearby Lincoln Village Shops, savor wines by the glass or buckle in for a flight of five 2-ounce samples. You can’t go wrong with any of the 10 options on the current tasting menu, but the signature blueberry wine that’s aged in oak barrels is a standout.
Come mealtime, RiverWalk’s onsite restaurant, La Vista, dishes out Italian comfort food such as arancini balls and pan-seared chicken Parmesan with a rich buttermilk batter. The spot also slings wood-fired pizzas—including the Boston hat-tipper Fenway North with sweet Italian sausage, roasted onions and red peppers—alongside breakfast classics such as bananas Foster French toast offered every day except Thursday.
If you’re hungry for more eclectic fare, venture to the casual Gypsy Cafe, where you’ll find globe-trotting eats like the Italian duck grilled cheese with fig jam. Try the flash-fired Egyptian Brussels sprouts coated with Aleppo honey, but a word of warning: You might need two rounds of the addictive salty-sweet bites.
Work off your meal by renting a pair of skates and figure-eight your way around the fire cauldron at the center of the resort’s skating rink—a frozen swimming pool—which is open through March. Weather permitting, horse-drawn sleigh rides offer a bit of magic. Be sure to save a soak in the heated outdoor pool until after dark, when the illuminated water and witch’s brew of steam floating toward the stars make for an almost otherworldly experience.
Continue the outdoor excursions the next day with a little advice from the resort’s adventure concierge, who can help you rent snowshoes and book snowmobile tours and ice-climbing lessons. Or keep it simple with a wander through the nearby J. E. Henry Trail, easily accessible from the rear of the resort and only a mile-long. Once there, breathe in the bracing cold. Alongside the silver thread of the Pemigewasset River and surrounded by snow-laden pines, you’ll feel miles away from the rest of the world. ◆
— Visit the Ice Castles in nearby North Woodstock to wander among massive LED-lit ice sculptures, tunnels and more.
—Tour the Woodstock Inn Brewery to sample exclusive beers, including the sweet and malty Red Rack amber ale.
Gypsy Cafe, gypsycaferestaurant.com; La Vista, lavistaitalian.com; RiverWalk Resort at Loon, riverwalkresortatloon.com; Seven Birches Winery, sevenbirches.com