Winter is coming. (I promise, that will be the only time I make that GoT joke.) And with it, many people are starting to plan up their winter vacations, if not, printing out their tickets already. But for those of us who still have no idea what to do come Christmas time, here are 15 of the best winter vacations to have in the US.
1. SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS
Not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of winter vacations, but hear me out. Like a lot of places that will show up on this list, South Padre Island is very popular during the spring and summer months, but during the winter, tourism shrinks a little, as do the prices for rentals. A beautiful island, South Padre would be the perfect place for those wanting for some quiet fun in the sun, without enormous crowds of beachgoers.
2. STOWE, VERMONT
For those looking for a chill (pun intended) winter vacation, Stowe should definitely be on your radar. Located neat Mt. Mansfield, this quiet, New England town offers not only stylish colonial houses draped in ice and snow, but a slew of snow-based activities, including dog sledding, sleigh riding, and skiing.
3. YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING
Frozen lakes, snow covered trees, steaming geysers; Yellowstone National Park is remarkably different in the winter compared to the summer. A perfect winter vacation if you like to hold yourself up in a cabin. And, if you’re willing to take an hour long drive, you can head to another locale that will show up later on in this list.
4. ASHEVEILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
Want a vacation in the mountains but don’t want any heavy snowfall? This winter vacation is the choice to make! Especially if you’re a big fan of the outdoors, as there are plenty of opportunities for outside activities like hiking and foraging. and if the weather isn’t bad, you can get a nice view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
5. NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
This is a winter vacation that people should go on once in their lives, as there’s nothing quite like New York City in the wintertime. While the hotel rates may be expensive, they would be worth, as there’s plenty to do within the city. Ellis Island, Broadway, Times Square, M&M’s World, F.A.O. Schwarz for the kids, hot dogs from carts. This is a trip you’ll always remember.
6. CLEARWATER BEACH, FLORIDA
Like Texas, Florida may not be the first winter vacation locale to come to mind, but it has a few things going in its favor. Like other summer-centric states, the rates for rentals during the winter months are cheaper than their more popular months, and with Clearwater, you get a beach that’s almost as white as actual snow! With some sun, sand, and surf, not to mention a fun nightlife scene, this would be great vacation to spice things up during the winter months.
7. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Like New York City, Las Vegas experiences a heavy amount of tourism nearly year-round. However, from mid-January to February, the prices on hotel rooms go down to their most affordable levels, making this place a great winter vacation for looking for big fun. Casinos, magic shows, Cirque Du Soleil, you could even (gasp!) go outside the strip and hike toward Red Rock Canyon. Just be careful, as Christmas and New Year’s attract some extreme partiers.
8. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
Yosemite is one of the few parks that looks great in both the winter and summer. The trees look like something out of storybooks when blanketed with snow, snow blanketing everything in sight, clear night skies, and waterfalls frozen in ice. Saying the place looks picturesque is an understatement. Add affordable prices, few, if any, crowds, and a slew of activities from skiing to zip-lining, and you got yourself a winter vacation.
9. ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
Really, the only reason I feel like I need to put Anchorage on here is because of the Northern Lights. That should be your main reason to make this vacation, and anything else is a fringe benefit. To be fair; train rides filled with gorgeous scenery, ice museums, tours by dogsledding, hiking actual glaciers – those are pretty great fringe benefits.
10. SNOWMASS, COLORADO
Looking for a calmer, quieter, family oriented winter vacation with an emphasis on skiing? Snowmass is the place for you! There’s even a school for skiing. Also, you can enjoy the scenery either by snowshoes or dog sled. So there’s that.
11. BIG SKY, MONTANA
One of the biggest skiing areas within the country, settled within the Northern Rockies Mountains, Big Sky has close to 6,000 acres that you can ski. Not your speed? Well, there’s also biplane tours, sleigh riding, ice skating. And remember that locale I talked about in Yellowstone? This is it. Two winter vacations within driving distance of each other.
12. HANOVER, NEW HAMPSHIRE
One of the more traditional choices on this list, Hanover earns its place thanks to Dartmouth College, and it’s more than century-long tradition of hosting a winter carnival for three days in February. A sophisticated winter vacation in a traditional New England town. Also, polar bear races. Having an event called ‘Polar Bear Races’ deserves an honorable mention at the very least. This is one of the best spots for winter vacations!
13. MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA
Family-focused winter parties, ice-sculpture making contests, and of course, hockey tournaments; these are some the things you can find during the ten-day long Great Northern festival in Minneapolis. Yes, the cold is extreme, but I like to think it’s worth it for what’s basically a carnival in the snow. Think of this as a casual alternative if you don’t want to go to New Hampshire.
Yes, Hawaii. What many people may not know is that the rates for going to Hawaii are lot cheaper in the winter time than the summer ones, much like Florida. Scuba-diving, Sandman (the sandy version of a snowman), pristine beaches that aren’t packed with tourists. What are you waiting for?
15. SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
Another locale that doesn’t make a lot of people’s lists, the capital of New Mexico is no less a viable choice for a winter vacation. While a nice, quiet vacation would be what you would find here, there are other activities you can pursue, such as touring art museums and galleries, trying the local food, and even do some skiing and hiking, preferably the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.