Yay for snow days! Well, yay if you’re a kid whose school was on the “closed” list (and not just a dreaded “delayed opening”) or a grownup who gets to stay home from work. Bonus points if the e-mail server is down and work can’t reach you. Here are some of fun, cozy places to get snowed in.
Coastal escape: Harraseeket Inn, Freeport, Maine
Coastal Maine doesn’t exactly scream “winter getaway” so that’s why this one’s such a nice surprise. This is their slow season, so the rates are low but the ambiance is top notch. The inn has 23 fireplaces, an indoor pool, and a friendly old-school pub, the Broad Arrow Tavern, that’s perfectly suited to chilly days. (Them: Huddling in a lift line, trying to stay warm. You: Cuddling around the fire with a warm beverage.) And there’s this: Lobster Sunday Brunch. Even in the off-season, that’s a hot ticket. If driving in snowdrifts is a concern, consider the Amtrak Downeaster — the folks at the Harraseeket will transport you back and forth from the station in Freeport.
Freeport’s outlet stores are open in winter, minus the crowds and plus some great off-season sales. Get inspired by all the outdoorsy gear at L.L. Bean (the “campus” is two blocks north of the inn) and sign up for an activity with Bean’s Outdoor Discovery program; activities take place at nearby Pineland Farms. Not to mention, there’s plenty of outdoor fun right in Freeport — winter hiking and snowshoeing — at Wolfe’s Neck State Park on Casco Bay. Rates from $150. Lobster Sunday brunch, $49.95; www.harraseeketinn.com.
Wet and wild with the kiddos, take one: Great Wolf Lodge, Fitchburg
Walk into Great Wolf Lodge you’ll immediately notice this: Everyone — man, woman, child, employee — is wearing furry wolf ears. Welcome to the closest thing we have to Walt Disney World. You’ve got your forest characters, dance parties, story hours, mini golf, arcade games, ice cream shop, restaurants, and the main attraction: a 68,000-square-foot water park. We’re talking 11 waterslides, a four-story water fort, a wave pool, a lazy river, and outdoor hot tubs, enough to keep the kids prune-y pawed for an entire weekend. The water temperature is a toasty 84 degrees.
Day passes are available, but most families stay overnight at the lodge, since waterpark passes are included in the room rate. Lodge rooms are modern and comfortable, and offer our favorite family-friendly amenity: a mini-fridge for BYO drinks and snacks. Room rates are highest on weekends, and as much as 50 percent less on weeknights, but be aware that there are extra charges for some activities, including mini golf, MagiQuest, bowling, and the ropes course. You can bundle these with attractions passes, but at $50 to $70 per kid, they’ll run up your tab. But there’s plenty of stuff to do for free all day, from bingo to mask making, especially for small fry. This one is a good choice if your kids range in age: Toddlers will have a great time in the splash-and-play pools, while older kids and teens squeal their way through the biggest water slides. If you’re looking for a vacation vibe, Great Wolf Lodge is a sure-fire cabin-fever buster. Room rates from $180; www.greatwolf.com.
Wet and wild with the kiddos, take two: Cape Codder Resort & Spa, Hyannis
We can pretty much guarantee you won’t hit traffic on the Sagamore Bridge this month — just one of the reasons to consider a quick visit to the Cape Codder Resort & Spa. The main event here: a 30,000-square-foot indoor waterpark. Walk in from the outdoors and the humidity hits you, hot and steamy, like South Florida in August. In a word, perfect. This is no glorified hotel pool, but the real deal, with water slides (including mini ones for the toddler set), a heated indoor-outdoor pool, and our favorite element, a lazy — make that stormy — river, complete with lightning, thunder, turbulence, and rain. Thankfully: no snow. Once the little ones are suitably waterlogged, they can plunge into activities like face-painting and craft projects. The Beach Plum Spa is a welcome indulgence for harried moms.
Stay overnight (waterpark passes are included in the room rate when reservations are booked through the hotel) or make it a day trip. There’s a Hearth ‘n Kettle restaurant on site at the resort, but you might want to venture out to Craigville Pizza & Mexican (www.craigvillepizza.com), in neighboring Centerville, voted best on Cape Cod. Since you’re heading that way, why not stretch your legs with a winter walk on Craigville Beach? No crowds, we promise, and as lovely as ever. Room rates from $159; waterpark: $40 per person; $30 for children under 48 inches tall; $20 for spectator (non-swimmer); www.capecodderresort.com
Bumper cars and howler monkeys: Providence
Why bring the kids to Providence in winter? Three words: ice bumper cars. You’ll find ‘em in Providence, the only city in New England (and one of only three places in the United States) to offer this attraction. You control your bumper car with a joystick, making 360-degree turns and going forward, backward, and sideways. Way more fun than the Southeast Expressway. Kids age 6 (if they’re 42 inches tall) and older can handle their own bumper car (www.theprovidencerink.com; $12).
And who knew you could go to the zoo in winter? For the entire month of February, the Roger Williams Park Zoo (www.rwpzoo.org; regular rates, adults $17.95; 2-12, $12.95) will host its annual “Winter Wonder Days”: half price admission for everyone from 10 to 4 daily. Last year, the Zoo unveiled a new $10 million, indoor rainforest section called Faces of the Rainforest, featuring naturalistic habitats. If you’re not into zoos, but love art, consider a visit to the RISD Museum of Art (www.risdmuseum.org). Collections range from Greek and Roman sculpture to contemporary art in every medium; currently on display is “Raid the Icebox Now,” the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol’s “Raid the Icebox 1.”
If you want to make it a mini-vacation, consider the Omni Providence Hotel. Connected to the Providence Place Mall, the hotel is within walking distance to the Ice Bumper Cars at the Alex and Ani City Center. At check-in, kids get an Omni Kids Crew amenity, a backpack filled with small gifts, plus milk and cookies delivered to their guest room on the first night. When booking the hotel, just tell them you’ll be bringing kids along. From $169; www.omnihotels.com.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com.