Winter in New England is a long haul, lasting all the way from early November into late March or early April, with the occasional May snowstorm thrown in for good measure.
Surviving that stretch of cold is both a science and an art—a combination of down-alternative comforters and the old-fashioned stoicism that remains a part of the New England character.
But you can throw a little indulgence into that survival tool kit, too. There are things you can do and places you can go in the Upper Valley to escape the cold in grand style. By the time February rolls around, wouldn’t some time in a sauna or a hot tub do you good? How about a hot stone massage or a facial? Warmth! It’s what you long for, and it’s good for you, too. It may seem an extravagant form of medicine, but every one of these treatments relieves stress, improves circulation, and promotes sleep. Some also come with cardiovascular and weight loss benefits.
- Whether you are a member or just dropping in for a visit, you can sweat away your cares—and aches and pains—in a sauna at both the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, in White River Junction, Vermont, and the CCBA Witherell Recreation Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Day passes at UVAC are $15 for adults, but you can cut that cost in half Monday through Thursday after 7 p.m. The facility closes at 9 p.m., so that still gives you plenty of time in the sauna. Day passes at the CCBA are $16, and you can also purchase a 10-punch card for $114.
- Hot Tub. Bubbling pools of warm water are also available at the UVAC and the CCBA. Another option to consider is to treat yourself and your significant other to a warm and cozy “stay-cation” in a number of Upper Valley hotels that also have whirlpools. We didn’t check with every hotel in the area, but you’ll definitely find whirlpools at the Courtyard by Marriott in Lebanon and the Fireside Inn & Suites in West Lebanon, New Hampshire. There isn’t hot tub awaiting you at White River Inn & Suites in White River Junction, Vermont, but there is an indoor heated pool.
- Hot Stone Massage. If you’ve never indulged in a hot stone massage, this is the winter to give it a try. On a cold day in February, having smooth, flat stones heated to between 130 to 145 degrees expertly applied to your aching muscles might soothe away a world of stress, both physical and mental. Many local spas offer the treatment. Start your search on the New Hampshire side of the border with the Garden Spa in New London, Body Wisdom and the River Valley Club, both in Lebanon, and the European Face & Body Studio in Hanover. In Vermont, check out Strong House Spa in Quechee, and the Woodstock Inn & Resort, in Woodstock.
- Those same spas are also the place to treat yourself to a facial. The heat involved here is the deliciously warm and soothing steam treatment that is one of the preliminary steps in a professional facial. Some combination of masks, lotions, and oils will follow, and you’ll step back out into the cold with your skin glowing, repaired, and ready to face the weather once again.