February school break getaways: Tubing in New Jersey, offseason Gettysburg or winter in NYC

If your kids are free from classes over Presidents’ Day week, and you’ve been confined to your home and climbing the walls, it may be time to take a break for a few days. The following nearby weekend getaways offer outdoor, socially distant attractions, including a deep dive into the conflict that led to President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a Manhattan staycation and a ski trip without the long drive. You’ll want to check the latest guidelines and coronavirus testing requirements before crossing state lines — Pennsylvania, for example, is currently requiring visitors to have a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of entering the state for leisure travel.


In a city typically overrun with tourists, it’s quite surprising to find partially empty sidewalks. Most hotels have remained open, with COVID protocols in place. And the good news — some at the higher end are offering packages below their normally extravagant rates.

Of course, Broadway is dark, and museums and attractions, if open, require advanced timed tickets. But there’s plenty to do outside in Manhattan, and it’s still a hot city, even when temps are freezing.

STAY The following two luxury hotels — one downtown, one midtown — offer Presidents Day Family Getaway Packages: The high-end Hilton Conrad New York Downtown has one of the grooviest lobbies in the city: a 13-story Sol Witt art installation in a soaring atrium awash in a rotating rainbow of colors after dark. Across from the Hudson River promenade, the Conrad is steps from the 9/11 Memorial, the Statue of Liberty ferry, the Oculus and the Hudson Riverfront. Newly refreshed suites start at 430 square feet and feature separate living and sleeping quarters. Regarding COVID safety, new standards for Hilton CleanStay include a seal to indicate that a room has not been accessed since being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, contactless check-in, extra disinfection on the most frequently touched spots in-room, and more. Rates for the Park and Stay package start at $335 over Presidents’ Day weekend.

The ulta-chic Langham New York Hotel stands just a few blocks from the new glass-roofed Moynihan Train Hall at Penn Station and the Bryant Park ice-skating rink — always a hit in winter. The Langham Family Getaway offer includes a special Langham Pink in-room tent with goodies. Younger kids will thrill to a “carpet camp-out,” complete with a complimentary in-room movie and popcorn, and a kids backpack to take home. “Getaway” rooms are large enough for a family-sized party, and cost $774 per room per night for the package. The Safe Smart Stay offer includes parking and up to $100 in hotel credits to be used at the hotel during your stay. This deal is a real perk for Long Islanders who drive in to the city. Large room, hotel credit, and parking is $635 plus tax per night.


What better place to visit over Presidents’ Weekend than one associated with one of history’s most notable presidents, Abraham Lincoln? In the aftermath of the Civil War’s deadliest three-day battle, Lincoln attempted to unify the country with his Gettysburg Address. If your family consists of preteens or teens, trek to this Pennsylvania town and battlefield for a “being there” immersion into one of the most important events in American history.

While many historic sites are closed due to COVID-19, the most important, Gettysburg National Military Park and Gettysburg National Cemetery/Evergreen Cemetery (where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address), can be accessed even if their respective Visitor’s Centers are closed. From the kiosk outside the Military Park Visitor’s Center (if closed), grab a brochure and driving map of a 16-stop, self-guided Auto Tour, and be on your way.

Before it was known as a Civil War battlefield, Gettysburg was a town, and remained so even as war raged in and around it. Join a town walking tour with Gettysburg Licensed Town Guides. This group offers several themed tours, including a town overview, Black History, Off the Beaten Track, and Lincoln and Eisenhower tours.

For a real treat, and if weather and staffing cooperate, Gettysburg Segway Tours offer a socially distanced zip through the battlefield with a licensed guide. Although considered offseason, if it is at least 50 degrees, not raining, and guides are available, try to call ahead to book a reservation.

Restaurants are (for now) back to offering indoor dining up to 50% capacity, if certified. Most popular include Garryowen Irish Pub, Mela Kitchen at Jack’s Hard Cider, and Dobbin House Tavern.

STAY The Best Western Gettysburg, Comfort Suites, Gettysburg Hampton Inn, Country Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn Express all have indoor pools and free breakfasts, and are COVID-compliant. Rates from $65-$115 per night over Presidents’ Day weekend.


Families have been daytripping to this hilly region of Sussex County, New Jersey year-round for decades. More than 300,000 people practice their ski and snowboard moves at Mountain Creek Ski Resort, encompassing 46 trails, four peaks, nine lifts (servicing 1,040 vertical feet) on 170 acres. An additional 30,000 come for the snow-tubing park alone (timed entry by advance reservation). New to the Mountain Creek — Snow-Go bikes, which are hybrid ski-like bicycles that can be rented for about $60 a day. For all activities, you must purchase tickets well in advance.

STAY At the foot of the ski mountain, The Appalachian at Mountain Creek costs $199 — $279 per night for studio to two-bedroom suites. Families can also choose between two hotels just 2.5 miles away at Crystal Springs Resort: the more family-friendly Minerals, or upscale Grand Cascades Lodge.

Minerals appeals to young families, with more activities than you’ll be able to fit in a weekend. It’s known for its massive indoor pool with plenty of exotic features including an underground aquarium and waterfall cave. The water extends outside to the misty, heated “snow pool,” which puts one in mind of European ski resorts.

For Presidents’ Day weekend, rooms at Minerals start at $305 a night Feb. 15 and 16. Rooms for a family of four at the Grand Cascades Lodge at Crystal Springs are $415-$440 a night. Both Grand Cascades and Minerals Presidents Weekend Package also includes a $100 resort credit, which can be applied to activities such as a jewelry workshop ($19 a person), ice skating ($30), and even goat yoga ($45).

For budget-minded folks, the Quality Inn at Mountain Creek (3 miles away) has rooms over the long weekend starting at $150 per night, plus tax. Those willing to drive 17 miles will find the highly rated Holiday Inn Express, $110 — $125 for two beds to suite with king bed and pullout sofa.