Whether you want to play in the snow or find a warm winter vacation destination in the US, this list will help you plan your next adventure.
Winter holidays in the US are quite short, but we still want to make the most of it, right? We listened to travel bloggers to gather a list of the best destinations for your winter vacation in the US. Whether you would like to take some time to contemplate nature this time of the year, have fun in the snow with your kids, or getaway to a warm winter vacation destination in the US, find below where your next adventure is going to be:
The best nature spots for a winter vacation in the U.S.
By Geeves from Real Girl Review
When people think of Maine, images of the coastline and sunshine often come to mind. However, while Maine is a great summer destination and known for its beautiful beaches, lighthouses and lobster, it is a great winter destination as well.
Maine is the perfect place to come to in the winter because there’s something for everyone to enjoy whether you’re traveling with a significant other, friends, family or even just by yourself.
If you’re not afraid of a little cold, take a trip inland to the Lakes & Mountains region in Western Maine where you’ll find grand landscapes filled with wildlife, snowy mountains, icy lakes and towering green trees which winter breathes new life into when they’re sprinkled with snow.
Known as “Vacationland”, you can expect to find tons of fun winter activities in Maine, ranging from snowboarding, snowmobiling and snowshoeing to ice fishing, ice skating and dog sledding.
After a long, adventurous day, come inside to relax and get warm at one of the many breweries on Maine’s beer trail or at a local restaurant which will usually have a warm bonfire and a hot cup of cocoa waiting for you. Then head in for the night at your cozy cabin in the woods for the ultimate Maine Winter Wonderland experience. If you’re lucky, you might just spot a bear or a moose!
By Sierra Schmidt from Free To Travel Mama
Lake Tahoe is a beautiful alpine lake nestled in the basin of the Sierra Nevada Mountains between the states of California and Nevada. It is the largest alpine lake in the country and arguably the most beautiful with its clear blue water and quaint mountain towns. Winter brings the mountain towns alive with activity and it is perfect for individuals, couples and families.
Skiing and snowboarding top the charts as the most popular activities in winter in Tahoe, with two dozen ski resorts scattered around the lake. Heavenly and Northstar are two popular options for lessons, with plenty of runs for all skill levels, and cozy lodges for hot chocolate. Sledding is also a fun activity at either a ski resort or off the road in a quiet area, like Spooner Lake.
Dozens of hiking trails surround the lake, so invest in some crampons or snowshoes and check out Eagle Rock or Alpine Meadows.
The gondola that departs from Heavenly Village is a must-do for snow-capped vistas. Plenty of restaurants and outdoor fire pits offer a place to warm up in South Lake Tahoe.
Whether you spend your time adventuring or cozying up by the fire and watching the snow fall, winter in Lake Tahoe is sure to exceed your expectations!
By Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles
Palm Springs in Southern California is a wonderful winter getaway. With pleasant daytime temperatures in the winter months, there are many things to do in Palm Springs for all types of travelers, from couples to groups and families.
Since the city is considered the gateway to the California desert, winter is the perfect time to hike or explore the outdoors in Palm Springs. Do a day trip to the iconic Joshua Tree National Park, or hike in local palm oases.
Palm Springs is known for its resorts, especially the pools, and with the highs in the 70s, you can enjoy water activities or lounge in the sun in the afternoons. Kids will love the water slides and other fun water park features at many resort pools.
Downtown Palm Springs is always fun to stroll. Palm trees have lights winding up their trunks, and there are shops to browse and many excellent eateries to enjoy.
Whatever you choose to do in Palm Springs in the winter, you will enjoy your desert getaway!
Best winter vacations with snow in the United States
Mount Rainier National Park
By Lotte of Gezond Weekmenu
One of the best winter vacation destinations in the U.S. is Mount Rainier. This beautiful National Park located in Washington State is an amazing place to visit during winter because of the large amount of snowfall that allows for lots of fun winter activities.
There are several snowshoeing tracks in Mount Rainier National Park, you can do these independently or join a ranger-led tour (in which case snowshoes will be provided).
Alternatively, go snowmobiling along Westside Road or visit the Paradise snow play area, which is especially suitable for families with children. Have a snowball fight or go sledding, either way, you’re guaranteed an afternoon of fun for the entire family.
Please note that the only way to access the park during winter is via the Nisqually Entrance and the Carbon River Entrance.
Also, bring plenty of food and (hot) drinks as there are no restaurants open during the winter months. But if you prepare well, you’ll have an amazing winter trip to Mount Rainier NP.
By Paula from Paula Pins the Planet
Taking a winter vacation in Vermont is one of the best ways to spend the United State’s coldest season. Vermont is located within New England and is known for its breathtaking scenery, scenic hiking trails, and of course – maple syrup!
However, if you visit during the winter months then it’s a great spot for skiing and other snow activities including skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. You can also head out on some winter hikes to enjoy the scenery and of course, the snow. Some of the best hikes include the Robert Frost Wayside Trail and the Spruce Peak Trail, but the weather can change quickly so be prepared!
The best way to explore the state is by heading out on a road trip, as this way you can cover much more ground. For the ultimate winter vacation in Vermont, you’ll want to visit several places including Mad River Valley, Burlington, Montpellier, Stowe, and Woodstock. These places are great for foodies as you’ll get to go on a Ben & Jerry’s tour, try America’s famous grilled cheese sandwiches, and visit plenty of markets. Don’t forget the local breweries or maple farms either!
You’ll also get to visit Stowe Winter Carnival (if you head there in January), see Burlington lit up with Christmas lights, and warm yourself up by having a spa day.
Whether you’re traveling on your own, as a couple, or with your family – Vermont has something for everyone at this time of year!
Yellowstone National Park
By James Ian from Parks Collecting
In Wyoming State, we recommend you to visit Yellowstone National Park in winter since it is a completely different experience from visiting the rest of the year. From mid-December to March, most of the park is closed to regular vehicular traffic and open to oversnow travel only.
You can take a snowmobile tour to the Old Faithful area or the Canyon area. Seeing the geysers and colorful hot springs in the Upper Geyser Basin surrounded by snow is super cool. And seeing the Yellowstone Falls mostly frozen is a sight you’ll never forget. Snowmobiles are best suited to couples or solo travelers with a sense of adventure.
A more comfortable option is to take a snowcoach tour. These go to the same destinations. You can even overnight at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, which will give you more time to explore and enjoy the area. This is ideal for older couples or families.
There is also one road in the national park that is open to regular vehicular traffic. You can drive your own vehicle from the North Entrance to Mammoth Hot Springs and through the Lamar Valley, where you may see bison deep in the surrounding snow.
By Erin Holmes from Exploring With Erin
Also in Wyoming, Jackson Hole is a valley situated between the Gros Ventre and Teton mountain ranges. John Colter noticed a huge hole in 1807 as he peered down from the surrounding mountains. The entire valley, which is so named, is home to several ski resorts, the Elk Refuge, the town of Jackson, and a portion of Grand Teton National Park.
For ski enthusiasts and those like myself who have never skied a day in their lives, it is the ideal winter retreat.
Of course, the most popular activity in Jackson Hole is skiing. Every year, the village receives 500,000 visitors. They all ski a lot.
Go on a safari tour with Wild Things of Wyoming if you’re traveling with children. To witness bighorn sheep, bald eagles, elk, bison, coyotes, badgers, and moose, our guide led us through the Grand Teton. The excursion is really educational for the youngsters, and they even got to touch some horns and antlers.
The National Museum of Wildlife Art is the largest in the nation and contains an incredible assortment of animal paintings, photographs, and sculptures, so you don’t just have to view wildlife on a tour. To keep the kids occupied, it even offers a Children’s Discovery Gallery.
By Kate from Kate Abroad
The State of Colorado is one of the best winter destinations in America because of the regular snowfall in the mountains allowing for lots of snow activities and making all the small mountain towns look extra cute. Colorado towns like Boulder and Durango are especially good in winter.
This is the ideal winter destination for outdoorsy travelers and families as many of the things to do revolve around winter sports. There are plenty of ski resorts, like Purgatory Mountain, Hesperus Ski Area, and Chapman Hill which hundreds of trails for beginner skiers and snowboarders up to experts.
As Colorado has a deep history of mining, you can take a step back in time with a ride on one of the scenic railways like the Historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The train trip takes you through the spectacular Cascade Canyon and San Juan Forest, which you can enjoy while staying cozy inside.
Salt Lake City
By Lisa from Planning Away
Salt Lake City, Utah is definitely one of the best places for a winter vacation in the US. Salt Lake City is surrounded by mountains and yes, it does have the best snow on earth (according to a study at the University of Utah), so planning a Salt Lake City ski trip is a must!
January and February are the best times to visit if you want to enjoy the winter activities around the Salt Lake City area. Skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, ice skating, and even visiting an ice castle are all options of fun things to do in winter in Utah!
There are eight ski resorts located within an hour of the SLC Airport. Getting transportation to the resorts is easy! Being so close to Salt Lake City makes a skiing vacation very convenient.
Park City is one of the more prestigious and well-known resorts. There are also amazing accommodations in Park City making it a great place for a winter vacation destination. But if you ask the locals, Alta Ski resort has the best snow and some of the best terrain in the entire country.
Most iconic place to visit in December
New York City
By James Ian from Travel Collecting
New York City is a great winter destination. There’s a reason so many holiday movies and TV shows are set there.
First of all, New York is one of the best places in the U.S. to visit for Christmas celebrations. The whole family will enjoy watching the Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, seeing all the holiday windows, and admiring the enormous live Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
There are also several skating rinks set up around the city, including Bryant Park, where you can skate for free with your own skates; the iconic rink at the base of the Rockefeller tree; and the rink in Central Park, with beautiful views of the park and midtown Manhattan.
Central Park is especially lovely in the snow, and you can easily spend a day wandering around the park and enjoying all it has to offer. Plus, of course, there is so much shopping to do – from the holiday markets to the flagship stores in Soho.
You will love a winter trip to the “City That Never Sleeps”!
Sunny and warm winter vacation destinations in the USA
By Sharon Gourlay from Dive Into Germany
Want to escape the snow in winter and head to a sunnier climate? Consider New Orleans! The largest city in Louisiana is packed full of fun things to do here and the weather is much milder than most of the States with temperatures ranging from the mid 40s to mid 60s and plenty of sunny days.
The highlight is walking around the French Quarter, taking in the stunning architecture and beautiful streets. It’s also worth wandering through Treme which is an area right next to the French Quarter and making your way to St Louis Cemetery.
There are also many other attractions like taking a walk around the fancy Garden District, going on a swamp tour or visiting the Louisiana State Museum to learn more about the history of this area including the devastating impacts of Hurricane Katrina.
Of course, if you can visit in February, you can visit New Orleans when it’s most alive at Mardi Gras. Celebrations for this are concentrated in the two weeks leading up to and including Shrove Tuesday with parades, balls and more. It’s a fabulous time to visit.
A New Orleans trip can work for any type of traveler, there are many family specific attractions like the Louisiana Children’s Museum while singles, friends and couples can enjoy a night out on the infamous Bourbon Street.
Anna Maria Island
By Charles McCool from US Gulf Coast Travel
The cleanest and softest sugar sand beaches, impeccable winter weather, magnificent sunsets, and fresh seafood make Anna Maria Island a phenomenal warm winter vacation destination on the US Gulf Coast. Located between St Pete and Sarasota, between the hectic Clearwater Beach and Siesta Key, Anna Maria Island makes up for the lack of big city amenities with superior beaches to its neighbors.
Make no mistake, the winter climate is the primary reason most snowbirds flock to Anna Maria Island from northern destinations. On sunny days in the 70s (approximately 20 Celcius degrees), people can do plenty of beach walking, fishing, water activities, tennis, pickleball, and golf. And enjoy fresh Gulf seafood while sitting outdoors.
Anna Maria Island sunsets are spectacular and a focus of daily activities for most visitors. Seven miles of pristine beaches face directly west and dozens of convenient beach entry points (almost all with parking spots and benches) support your sunset watching addiction. This is a great winter destination for families, couples, and groups of all ages.
By Marcie Cheung from Hawaii Travel with Kids
If you’re thinking about a Hawaiian vacation, it’s hard to beat Maui in the winter. That’s because you can witness the humpback whale migration! The whales love visiting Maui and there are so many that you’re almost guaranteed to see at least one from November through March. There are tons of Maui whale watching tours and experiences that will blow your mind.
Another cool thing to do on Maui during a warm winter vacation is checking out the sunrise from Haleakala Crater. It’s seriously the best sunrise you’ll see in Hawaii because the sunlight dances across the crater as well as the ocean for a spectacular view. The sun rises later in the winter than it does in the summer, which means you can sleep in a little longer.
People love visiting this Hawaiian island in the winter because it’s a great escape from the gloomy winter weather on the Mainland. And the best part is that Maui is perfect for families, couples, and even solo travelers.
US Virgin Islands
By Kristin from Snorkel and Hike
If you’re looking to escape the cold this winter, the US Virgin Islands is the perfect spot. From amazing snorkeling and hiking to beautiful white sand beaches, the Virgin Islands have it all.
St. Thomas is the travel hub of the US Virgin Islands, so there’s plenty to do on this lively island. Swimming with sea turtles at Brewer’s Bay, enjoy the view from the Paradise Point cable car, surf at Hull Bay, or relax on one of the best beaches on St. Thomas, Magen’s Bay.
To really get away from it all, take the ferry to the smaller island of St. John where over half the island is within the Virgin Islands National Park. Swim at the world famous Trunk Bay, snorkel Waterlemon Cay, and hike the reef bay trail.
The US Virgin Islands is one of the best places for a warm winter vacation in the US since it is a paradise with no passport requirements for Americans. Whether you’re looking for an active adventure or relaxation, you’ll find it here.
Tips to make the most of your winter vacation
1) Make sure you are well prepared for your winter holidays! Here are some lifesaver items that you should pack:
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2) It is better to be safe than sorry! While choosing your travel insurance check if they cover the winter sports and activities you are planing to do. Here we use and recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance because they have a better cover for adventure sports.
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FAQ – Snowy and Warm Winter Vacation in the US
Winter in the US starts between December 21 and December 22.
One or two weeks.
For some, winter vacation is better than summer vacation because in this season people seem to dress up better, you can play and practice sports in the snow, hangout with friends and family around a bonfire or a fireplace, because it is also Christmas season, and the list goes on…
Some of the best warm winter vacation destinations in the US are Hawaii, Florida, southern California and the US Virgin Islands.
So, after getting to know all of these places, where are you heading to on your next snow or warm winter vacation in the U.S.A.?