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Surviving Winter: A “Spirited” Guide to Upstate New York

Don’t let winter stop you from getting outside and enjoying the charm of Upstate New York. The chilly weather yields some unique and exciting activities of its own, specifically for those looking for something with a little kick to chase away the winter blues.

Forget the snow! Watkins Glen has “the hottest party in the coolest town,” also known as Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel’s Ice Bar. The bar is open for one weekend – February 2-4 – and serves cold brews and cocktails amid icy sculptures at their literal “ice bar.” You can also book a room at the hotel and stay right on site, in case you feel the need to head inside and warm up between beverages.

Or skip the ice and go straight for the ice wine at the NY Ice Wine & Culinary Festival at Casa Larga Vineyards. The daylong festival on February 11th has ice wine samples from New York wineries, paired with an ice wine infused menu (prepare your sweet tooth). The festival is largely held indoors, but bring your winter gear! The vineyard offers horse-drawn wagon rides and Ice Luge Cocktails outdoors.

Skip the festival scene and head straight for the beer, at Brew Central in Central New York – a collection of craft beverage makers and attractions that have come together to celebrate (and enjoy) craft beer, hard cider, spirits, and wine. You don’t have to set aside a specific date to visit these locations. The breweries are open year-round, so just pick a day, pick a location, and enjoy!

Pro Tip: For a true beer-lovers’ getaway, take advantage of the Bed & Brew Package with Brewery Ommegang and The Inn at Cooperstown. The deal includes a two-night stay, transportation to/from the brewery, a VIP guided tour and tasting, a multi-course gourmet beer and food pairing dinner, and rare bottled beer and merchandise from Ommegang. You won’t have to lift a finger (except to drink your beer) for the entire trip.

And to end with one (or rather two) of my favorites, I can’t forget to mention the amazing Wine and Chocolate Weekend in Lake Erie Wine Country. Taking place on February 17, 18, and 19, the weekend includes flights paired with specialty chocolates, a recipe book, an official Lake Erie Wine Country wine glass, and a $5 voucher good for several local restaurants and wineries.

Even if the cold makes you bundle up to your eyeballs – there are still plenty of ways to warm up and enjoy the winter weather. The hardest part is choosing where to go!