During these cold, dreary days, a ray of color may be all the inspiration you need to board a train or bus on a little winter adventure.

Here are five bright ideas, from an atrium of pinks and greens at NYBG’s Tropical Paradise to a stunning rainbow-hued hotel in the heart of East Hampton, to help you start planning your own escape from the grey.

New York Botanical Garden | 2900 Southern Blvd. | Bronx | nybg.org

NYBG conservatoryInside the NYBG’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory it’s always colorful and warm. Year long, the park’s 50 gardens and 250 acres are pleasant for a stroll, but when the cold strikes, stick to the enclosed beauty of the conservatory. In addition to its vibrant collection of plants from around the world, the Tropical Paradise show (January 18-February 23, 2014) is a radiant respite from winter’s doldrums thanks to warm rain forest mists, palm trees, desert-inspired landscapes, orange-yellow crotons, fuchsia bromeliads, and more. Make it a Valentine’s Day date on February 14, 6:30–8:30 p.m. or February 15, 5–7 p.m. with chocolate and vanilla workshops, champagne, and plant-based aphrodisiacs. If you’re a flower child, be sure to view our list of the best upcoming flower shows near NYC.
How to get there: Make the quick trek up to the Bronx landmark on the Metro-North Harlem line to the Botanical Garden Station or take to the subway and ride the B, D, or 4 train to Bedford Park Blvd Station and then walk to the park or hope on the Bx26 bus east to the Garden’s Mosholu Gate entrance.

Mosaic House | 108 Wyckoff St. | Cobble Hill

Mosaic HouseYou might be surprised to discover there’s a house in Cobble Hill that can warm your soul. Wander down Wyckoff Street, between Hoyt and Smith, and you’ll see it, a facade studded with a spectacular mosaic created by artist Susan Gardner. Stay and marvel, instagram a photo (though it needs no filter), then walk ten minutes to The Chocolate Room pop-up for a hot chocolate brownie and vanilla ice cream.
How to get there: Take the F/G to Bergen.

National Cherry Blossom Festival | DC | nationalcherryblossomfestival.org

Who needs Punxsutawney Phil? Instead of some large rodent prophesying whether spring is going to come early or not, let D.C.’s cherry blossoms (March 20-April 13) show that the much-anticipated season is indeed on its way. Every year, the trees along the tidal basin and throughout the nation’s capital blaze pink and white, turning the city into a series of stunning photo-ops. Cruise under the beautiful boughs with a Blossoms by Bike tour or use the Capital Bike Share.

Bogota Latin Bistro | 141 5th Ave. | Park Slope | bogotabistro.com

bogota outdoor spaceGive winter the cold shoulder and salsa into this festive Colombian restaurant. Paintings and murals adorn all the walls, giving the place a bright and lively ambiance. House highlights include their arroz con pollo and aji, a spicy sauce found on every table. Their sprawling dinner menu is full of delicious options so plan to spend some time deliberating what to order. Wash down your meal with a mojito or a piña colada or enjoy them by themselves. We recommend going Monday-Wednesday when it’s happy hour all day and the crowds tend be to smaller.
How to get there: Take the B, D, M, N, Q, R, 2, 3, 4 or 5 train to Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street stop in Brooklyn. Transfer for the local R or M train to Union Street (1 stop). This will leave you on the corner of 4th Avenue and Union Street. Cross Fourth Avenue and walk towards Fifth Avenue. Take a left on Fifth Avenue and walk up 3 blocks.

c/o The Maidstone | 207 Main St. | East Hampton | careofhotels.com

the maidstone
We love winter when it’s snowing and we find ourselves cruising down a mountain and enjoying a rewarding drink by the fire in our Moon Boots. But for the non-skiing set, this season is bearable for other reasons, like affordable rates at luxurious hotels. If you don’t blink at $500/night, consider c/o The Maidstone your go-to summer retreat. But we’re more than happy to wait for winter deals like the one currently being offered at this very posh, vividly decorated hotel. Take advantage of the winter getaway ($235/night, valid through Feb. 28.) at this hot spot, where perks include a gourmet breakfast, pet-friendly policy, Wine Thursdays, free yoga, bikes, and a carbon-neutral goal. (Although the Living Room kitchen is closed for renovations until Feb. 28, the bar will be offering Happy Hour prices beginning at 4pm on cocktails and bar snacks.)
How to get there: The Hampton Jitney will drop you in front of The Palm Restaurant on Main Street (Montauk Hwy 27). From there head West (in the opposite direction whence you came) and the hotel will be on your right. (About a 10-minute walk.)

Photos: NYBG, Untapped New York, The Maidstone