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.
Walking hand-in-hand on the beach has become a romantic cliché, but walking mitten-in-mitten in wintry woods is at least as lovely — or so you’ll think if you spend some time in this quintessential Vermont village, with gracious 18th- and 19th-century buildings tucked around a village green. There’s even a covered bridge. The mood is mellow and the offerings trend upscale; it’s unlikely you’ll ever see a zip-line course or a Whitesnake cover band here.
50 WAYS TO FREEZE YOUR LOVER
If being active together makes couples happier, Woodstock rocks. It’s home to a couple of easy-going peaks, Mount Tom and Mount Peg. For scenic beauty, you won’t do better than Mount Tom, located near the center of town. Don snowshoes or cross-country skis and meander through stands of white, Scotch, and red pine, some more than a century old. Take a gentle trail called Sleigh Ride to the Pogue Loop, where you’ll reach a pretty pond. Back on Sleigh Ride, head to the summit of Mount Tom for beautiful views of Woodstock and surrounding valleys. Trail fee $18 (free for Woodstock Inn guests). Woodstock Inn Nordic Center, www.woodstockinn.com
BEST PLACE TO KISS AND GET COZY
The garden maze at the Jackson House was voted “best place to kiss in Vermont” but even in winter, this bed-and-breakfast inn, set in a circa 1890s farmhouse, wins hearts with pampering touches like Frette linens and locally made bath products. Count on sumptuous breakfasts, perhaps savory grits with Vermont goat cheese and almond-pear brioche. Rooms from $185. www.jacksonhouse.com
LET’S GO FOR A SLEIGH RIDE
It doesn’t get cozier than a sleigh ride with your significant other. During Sleigh Ride Week, Feb. 15-23, Billings Farm and Museum offers horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides (depending on snowfall) at their restored circa 1871 working dairy farm. Also tour their restored 1890 farmhouse and sample past presidents’ favorite cookies (huge props to George W. Bush’s cowboy cookies) in honor of Presidents’ Week. $14 includes sleigh ride and tour. www.billingsfarm.org
DATE NIGHT PICK
Local nightspot Bentley’s offers dancing after dark with a D.J. on weekend nights, while Nashville troubadour Clay Canfield takes the stage most Sunday nights. www.bentleysrestaurant.com.
TABLE FOR TWO
Spice up a cold winter’s night with the inspired Caribbean-meets-Vermont cuisine at Melaza Bistro. Plus, what’s more cozy than sharing tapas? And there are 20 different rums at their rum bar. Order a mojito or a rum Cosmo and think sunny thoughts. www.melazabistro.com
GOT BOOTS? START WALKING
Woodstock is always fetching, but it’s even more so at dusk, when the air fills with woodsmoke and twinkling lights add sparkle to the snowscape. Bundle up for a late-day walk with your sweetie around Elm and Central streets and browse the shops and galleries. The lineup includes F. H. Gillingham & Sons (16 Elm St.), one of those sells-everything general stores that Vermont is famous for. www.woodstockvt.comDiane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .