Winter's in full swing, and once again, you're wondering how you've managed not to get to the mountains. Don't despair -- you can still head out skiing or snowboarding and be back by dinner having spent less than the price of a theater ticket. Many local sporting-goods shops arrange day trips to nearby resorts (all are about two and a half hours away). These aren't the meanest hills on the planet, but it sure beats staying home, and snow-making machines fill in when nature doesn't produce.
Paragon offers the widest selection of destinations. A bus will whisk you to Hunter Mountain on Wednesdays and Saturdays for $55, Mountain Creek on Thursdays for $50, or Windham on Sundays for $60 (all including lift ticket). An extra $20 covers equipment rental (stop by the store the day before the trip for fitting). Reserve your seat by phone three days ahead. Buses leave from the shop at 6:15 a.m. (at 7:30 a.m. for Mountain Creek).
Princeton Ski Shops' Saturday and Sunday day trips to Hunter are great for those whose form could use a little help. The $54.95 fee ($49.95 for students) includes a voucher for a group lesson as well as a lift ticket. Princeton doesn't offer equipment rental; just reserve your seat at least three days ahead. (Rentals at the mountain are $17 for skis, $23 for snowboards.) Buses leave at 6 a.m.
Scandinavian Ski Shop will take you to Hunter Mountain on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays for $58 or on Wednesdays for $53 (lift tickets included). The catch is that you need to reserve in person a few days ahead, even if you don't need skis. If you do, it'll cost you $19 (no snowboards, though they're available at the resort). Buses leave at 7 a.m. If your schedule permits, sign up for a three-day weekend with Scandinavian in Vermont (resort still to be determined). It'll cost you and a friend $449 each (double occupancy) for travel, tickets, and breakfasts and dinners.
Blades' $55 day trips to Hunter Mountain are popular with the twentysomething shredder set (as one salesperson said, "those weird people who still ski" are welcome as well). Book at least three days ahead, especially if you need to rent a board (an extra $20). Buses leave at 6:30 a.m. from the West Side location on Thursdays and Sundays and from the Village shop on Fridays and Sundays.
Paragon Sporting Goods, 867 Broadway, at 18th St. (212-255-8036); Princeton Ski Shops, 21 E. 22nd St. (212-228-4400); Scandinavian Ski Shop, 40 W. 57th St. (212-757-8524); Blades Board and Skate, 120 W. 72nd St. (212-787-3911), and 659 Broadway, near Bleecker St. (212-477-7350).
Picks of the Week
Inca, maker of those bright woven-plastic beach bags you had to have last summer, is now clearing out craftsy winter stuff at 50 to 80 percent off. The theme is chunky and knit with lots of mirrors and beads, including bags (from $40), wool ponchos (from $100), and shawls (from $75). Find Outlet, 361 W. 17th St. (212-243-3177); M.C., V.; Thurs.-Sun. noon-7; 2/3-2/6.
Barry Kieselstein-Cord's swank uptown accessories are about half off at the sale: Jewelry is $60-$300; handbags are $400-$1,000. Parsons School of Design, 560 Seventh Ave., at 40th Street (212-229-5364); A.E., M.C., V.; Tues. 1-6, Wed. 9-6, Thurs. 9-4; 2/1-2/3.
Nice House is taking up to 30 percent off a cool mix of new and vintage home accessories: vases ($32-$96), lamps ($112- $260), and a few furniture items (a baker's cabinet is $475). Newly made old-style candles, pillows, and barware are similarly reduced. 117 Perry St. (212-675-7509); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Sat. 11-7, Sun. noon-6; 1/31-2/6.
Joel Name Optique de Paris's sale means 20 to 70 percent off all eyeglasses, sunglasses, and accessories from designers like Armani, Helmut Lang, Persol, and Bada. Frames are $75-$300. No eye exams. 65 W. Houston St. (212-777-5888); A.E., M.C., V.; Mon.-Fri. 11-7, Sat. till 6, Sun. noon-5; 2/1-2/29.