Great places to get snowed in: Simsbury, CT & Newport, RI

Simsbury Inn -- Staircase

The grand staircase at the Simsbury Inn.

Yesterday was the first day of spring and we still can’t get away from the snow. Last week the temperature topped out in the low 50’s and we had a string of sunny days. The crusty snowbanks had almost disappeared from the streets, even in Boston.

Then, all of a sudden, winter was back with 5 inches of snow. I’m hoping this is the last snow we see this year, but I’m not optimistic. Fall is my favorite season and winter used to be a close runner up, but this winter has really tested my patience. Growing up in the Midwest, I know bad winters: sub-zero temperatures, blizzard conditions and piles of snow are nothing new to me. But I think living in Southern Indiana, where winters tend to be more mild, for 6 years prior to moving to Connecticut spoiled me.

This winter has been especially bad, even by New England standards. February 2015 was the coldest month ever in Connecticut. Massachusetts broke snowfall records for the season and for the month of February.

Needless to say, I didn’t do a lot of traveling this winter. Before all the trouble started I made it to Boston to do Christmas with Peter’s family, and back to the motherland to do a quick New Year’s with my family. And then … a solid month of being cooped up. If I was outside during January, it was probably to shovel snow off my car.

By mid-February we needed to break the monotony, so we did the really cliche thing and booked a nice hotel for Valentine’s Day. And then we did it again for our anniversary in March. When I think of my fondest vacation memories, I never think of the hotels. But after this winter I will never underestimate the appeal of blowing a couple hundred bucks to watch from the comfort of a hot-tub as another nor’easter dumps 15 inches of snow outside.

Where to go:

Newport Beach Hotel and Suites
Newport, RI
$99-$129/night, off-season

This was the first time I’d been to Rhode Island that wasn’t just driving through. We spent almost the entire weekend inside the hotel, since another winter storm decided to unexpectedly blow through Saturday night and last all day Sunday.

That was fine though, since the hotel has a glass-enclosed indoor pool and hot-tub. There’s also a rooftop hot-tub that is open year-round and very refreshing in below-freezing temperatures. Blowing snow and high winds kept it closed most of the time we were there, but if you luck out and have a sunny, cold day it’s quite nice.

The hotel restaurant is closed during the off-season (the trade-off for half-price rooms, I guess). The Atlantic Beach Club serves a prix-fixe brunch for $15.95, drinks not included, and it’s right across the street. The Atlantic Grille, which boasts the best breakfast in Newport, is also within walking distance.

Simsbury Inn
Simsbury, CT
$169/night, off-season
(Pictured at top)

Originally we were going to the Cape for our anniversary, but the snowfall was so high on Cape Cod this year that everything was still buried in early March. So we stayed closer to home and spent a night at the Simsbury Inn.

The Simsbury Inn is one of the few hotels in Connecticut with a traditional dry sauna. Peter did a semester abroad in Finland, so he was eager to test it out and compare it to the real thing. We weren’t able to throw ourselves into the snow afterward, but other than that it did not disappoint. I should note that the saunas are not co-ed (blame our American culture’s puritanical bent), but if the place is empty and you’re a lady who’s not shy you can make the men’s sauna a co-ed sauna.

The Simsbury Inn has three great restaurants, all at varying price levels, on the premises, so you shouldn’t need to leave to scavenge for food if you find yourself snowed in. If you eat at the Twigs Lounge order the wings. They’re a little more upscale than you’d expect from pub food but not priced that way.

And if you’re not snowed in when you go be sure to check out the Heublein Tower in nearby Talcott Mountain State Park. The summit has great views of the Farmington River Valley and it’s an easy hike, even in a foot of snow.


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