Poor Cupid. It can’t be easy to zip around naked in February, shooting arrows of love at folks bundled up in thick layers of down and fleece. If you want to give the chubby cherub a helping hand, consider a romantic escape to the North Country. We’re talking lovely inns with crackling fires and woolen blankets, sleigh rides and snowshoe hikes, and spas with hot stones and sizzling saunas that will warm you to your bones — and maybe even create a few sparks. We’ve picked two wintertime charmers, Woodstock, Vt., and Lincoln, N.H.
This bustling mountain town, surrounded by White Mountain peaks and protected forests, makes the most of its outdoorsy location, and is perfect for couples who love to play together. That heart-thumping feeling you got when you first fell in love? That was your body releasing adrenaline and cortisol, the same hormones activated when you’re doing adventure activities. So, share the thrills — and the chills; the mountain air gives you more reason to snuggle.
BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
Walk arm-and-arm through the only Ice Castle on the East Coast, a 12,000-ton, nearly one-acre behemoth of glacier walls and corridors, with a waterfall, slide, and icy arches (above). You’ll be dazzled by the artisan-created latticework of icicles and growing ice walls. Best time to go is after dark when the castle, embedded with LED lights, is lighted like a fairyland. It opened in December and has been the site of several marriage proposals. If you’re thinking of popping the question, call ahead and they’ll have a photographer on hand, $5-$10. www.loonmtn.com
RAISE YOUR HEART RATE
Remember when your hearts raced simply by looking at each other? Keep your hearts pumping on the slopes of Loon Mountain. Ride the enclosed gondola to the Summit Lodge for sweeping mountain views, and then tackle some of the 61 trails spread across 370 skiable acres. Prefer snowboarding? Loon has some of the best in the East with seven terrain parks and a 425-foot superpipe, with 18-foot-high walls. Keep the adrenaline flowing with a 700-foot zip-line adventure, $26. www.loonmtn.com
Splurge for a suite at the Mountain Club on Loon with alpine views, king-size bed, and full kitchen. Swim in the indoor pool or soak in the outdoor whirlpool under a starlit sky and in the shadows of mountain peaks, $169-$499.
FLIGHTS OF FANCY
Heat things up at the Woodstock Inn, Station & Brewery, located in a 1800s train depot. Start with a sample flight of their craft micro brews (be sure to try the Wassail Winter Ale), then share a bowl of their award-winning chili. The local watering hole also offers daily brewery tours ($5) and has live entertainment Thursday to Saturday nights. www.woodstockinnnh.com
KICK IT UP A NOTCH
What could be more romantic than a walk through snowy woods? Rent snowshoes from Out Back Kayak; they have maps and plenty of suggestions on where to go. We like the hike to Greeley Ponds through Mad River Notch. The easy trek ends at a gorgeous set of mountain ponds, with views of Mount Osceola and Mount Kancamagus. www.outbackkayak.org
REJUVENATE YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Treat each other to an ultra-pampering session at the Viaggio Spa Downtown (there’s an additional location at the Mountain Club on Loon). February specials include the Couples Delight, an 80-minute indulgence that includes sparkling wine paired with cheese and fruit, a foot treatment, and 50-minute couples’ relaxation massage, $325.