Since installing New York’s first chairlift in 1949, Belleayre Mountain ( has evolved from a small Catskill resort to a 171-acre snow park with 52 trails and a halfpipe. Which means that skiers and snowboarders will want to mark their calendars for the Winter Festival Week at Belleayre (January 25 to 29), where $20 buys you a lift ticket Monday through Friday. That’s $100 for five days on the slopes if you own your own gear and can avoid the office for that long. On your way back to the city, stop by the Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room ( in Big Indian for a dose of urban sophistication—Chef Devin Mills has spent time at Le Bernadin and Gramercy Tavern.

And then there's always the beach. Swimming isn't necessarily advisable in December, but on Saturday the 19th, a nature educator from the South Fork Natural History Museum ( will lead a beach walk at Montauk Point State Park. Besides winter bird watching, a trip out to Long Island offers the chance to observe up to four species of pinniped: Harbor Seals, Harp Seals, Hooded Seals, and Gray Seals. Dress in layers and remember to wear water proof shoes; wet feet will definitely spoil the experience. The Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island ( also leads weekend seal walks from Cupsogue Beach County Park.

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