Most people crave sun and sand when thinking of a vacation.
However, why not escape the crowds and experience some of the best winter vacations in cities you’ve never visited before? Try new adventures and enjoy different sceneries. In this article, we’re exploring some of the best vacations in the United States for the entire family.
The Best Winter Vacations to Cure Your Blues
There are some amazing and romantic places in the United States for a romantic scenery. It’s so cozy when it’s cold outside but you’re tucked up inside with the fire on and a hot cup of cocoa. Instead of fighting the cold, why not embrace it? Make it an exciting and fun opportunity by venturing somewhere you’ve never been before. Indulge in outdoor sports in the snow, curl up in a warm environment or participate in local activities with the locals.
If this sounds like something you’d love to be a part of, then here are some incredible regions for the best winter vacations ever.
Alaska makes one of the best winter vacations for many reasons. There are plenty of activities, and residents love this season. As a result, the atmosphere is energetic and positive. Instead of complaining about the cold, people embrace it. Understandably, withstanding their extreme weather conditions might seem anything but fun, but that’s completely not the case. As they’re prepared for it each year, they provide many things to do. Firstly, it’s difficult to talk about Alaska during the winter without referencing the northern lights. With the sky radiating brilliant yellows and greens, and red and purple patterns, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. These happen around 70 miles above the earth’s surface.
Another reason Alaska makes one of the best winter vacations is for dog mushing. This is a sport where spectators watch sled dog races. This is an incredible opportunity to learn about the sport as well as watching it before your eyes. We also recommend heli-skiing. You don’t need to have experience in skiing or snowboarding to participate in this. Running from February through April, this time period offers the safest flying conditions. Also, there’s increased daylight hours to increase your visibility.
You can’t visit Alaska without at least trying ice-fishing, which is why it makes one of the best winter vacations. This activity involves sitting by frozen lakes and ponds. Bring your best gear to make the fishing experience fun, comfortable and of course, possible. If temperatures reach an unbearable point and you want to head for some warmth, there are also many things to participate in indoors. For example, there are many exhibits, museums and galleries filled with Alaska objects, science and artwork. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to catch a performance, many musicians, actors and comedians visit Alaska to entertain audiences.
2. New York
New York makes one of the best winter vacations in the United States. It’s also one of the most festive places in the entire world to spend the holidays. If you wrap up warm and avoid the open-top buses, the weather isn’t so unbearable that you can’t experience the city’s amazing opportunities of things to do. In fact, winter is probably one of the best times of the year to visit New York. Ice skating is one of the most popular winter activities in the city. Skating outdoors in The City That Never Sleeps has become a classic experience. The Rockefeller Centre is often packed with visitors around the world eager to get on the ice. January is the cheapest month to skate outdoors, and if you book online, you can often find discounts.
You can’t head to New York without stopping off at a rooftop bar. These amazing places offer stunning views of the city’s skyline which makes it one of the best winter vacations in the United States. Enjoy a delectable cocktail and absorb the breath-taking views in front of you. Head to these spots early enough before crowds of people do, and you can even receive a huge discount on drinks with amazing deals.
Alternatively, if you’d like to escape the cold weather altogether, then make the most of world-class spas inside hotels. They offer everything from pampering sessions, facials and couple massages to indoor swimming pools. There are plenty of indoor activities too. Head to the American Museum of Natural History for a learning experience. On the other hand, there are numerous music venues – both small and big – for a day/night experience. New York also has some of the world’s best movie theatres. Watch movies which aren’t released elsewhere in the world yet.
3. Yosemite National Park, California
If you’re looking for the best winter vacations, then we have to recommend Yosemite National Park in California. It’s truly a beautiful place and comes to life during the colder months. As a result, it makes a romantic getaway for you and a loved one. If you’re an adrenaline-junkie and hoping to venture in some incredible adventures, then add Yosemite National Park to your bucket list. For example, it offers beautiful plunging waterfalls. As a result, around 4 million people visit this Park each year to embark in this breath-taking environment. Featuring natural beauty, it’s hard to compete with its unbelievable sceneries at this time of the year.
Another fantastic activity to make the most of in this part of the world is ice skating. With hundreds of miles to experience, it’s obvious why ice skating is popular in this region. There are professionals on-hand if you’re looking for lessons or support; this is especially useful if you’re travelling with children. Experiencing Yosemite National Park’s potential doesn’t cost a dime. Watch the Horsetail Fall light up during the sunset, and see frozen waterfalls towards the beginning of January.
For a truly romantic experience, explore the darkness to watch the winter sky light up with beautiful, bright stars. Alternatively, you can attend outdoor night events with other visitors. The best winter vacations offer plenty of things for all of the family to do. If you’re aiming to avoid the crowds, head to museums during the winter. Unlike other places around the world, the Yosemite National Park offers indoor and outdoor mesmerizing experiences. Visit the Navel Museum, History Center and the Indian Culture Museum for educational purposes.
4. Half Moon Bay, California
Half Moon Bay in California is another of the best winter vacations for couples and families. It’s a sensational destination to visit, and offers so many things to do. This region boasts plenty of activities for the entire family during the festive season too. For example, experience breakfast with Santa, attend a Christmas fair and so much more. The fairs are typically filled with musicians playing live music, free food and drink for visitors, and more. On the other hand, winter calls for high waves in the area which makes it an ideal destination for avid surfers. During the winter season, there can even be sunny days, but ensure you take a jacket for those unpredictable days.
However, even when it’s chilly in Half Moon Bay, the party doesn’t stop. Spend time with loved ones eating s’mores amongst outdoor fire pits. As a result, it’s the perfect location and environment for a romantic time with a loved one. Whilst you’re experiencing this, stay the night and enjoy magical views of the clear skies. When you’ve had enough of chilling out, head out for a paddle around the harbor. Don’t worry, as this comes as part of an organized tour. You can rent a paddle board, wet suit and equipment if you’re more comfortable completely this on your own.
Sometimes it’s the free, small things in life which make the most amazing memories. For example, head outdoors to witness some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen in your life. Unbelievably, the winter season is one of the best times of the year for the clearest skies. Also, head to the streets to see some independently owned shops, little restaurants and many galleries. You can even stop off for some food and a drink along the way.
5. New Orleans
We absolutely love New Orleans during the winter season. In fact, it’s one of the best places in the world to visit during December. Firstly, there are many places for you to ice skate with friends, loved ones, and even children. For example, the Convention Center costs $20 for a ticket and you receive more than the opportunity to ice skate. In particular, children can take photos with Santa, play with giant inflatable toys and enjoy some adrenaline-encouraging rides. If you’re eager to support local businesses, then New Orleans is a great place to shop for holiday gifts. If you’re searching for unique gifts, then New Orleans is the ideal place to capture your imagination.
The New Orleans Ballet hold multiple performances of the Nutcracker throughout December. There are many theatres in the area showing this performance between December 15 and December 26. We suggest purchasing your tickets in advance, because they do sell out quickly. If you love lights, make sure you head to the Oaks. This area is great for all ages as it’s decorated beautifully during the winter. Afterwards, head to the amusement park for some fun rides to let off some steam. Again, make sure you get your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
Lastly, make sure you save some time on your vacation to visit the hotels downtown. During December, many hotels beautifully decorate their lobbies with festive decorations for visitors all around the world to see. With twinkling lights and mesmerizing displays, it’s a delightful sight for adults and children. Then, put up your feet at a nearby bar to warm up with a hot, tasty drink. Alternatively, order a special cocktail – there are many deals during the day, so make the most of these.
6. Las Vegas
There’s not really any time of the year that there’s nothing to do in Las Vegas. It's beautiful in the summer, but makes one of the best winter vacations towards the end of the year too. There are so many attractions, festivals and activities in winter for tourists and residents to enjoy. The LINQ is a quaint spot in Las Vegas with retail, dining, restaurants and entertainments places for everyone. Also, it features the world’s tallest observation wheel called the High Roller. Explore some beautiful views of the city from high above, whilst being tucked inside your own personal pod. Depending on your budget and the number of people in your party, you can have your own bar in the pod.
Alternatively, if you’re hoping to spread some goodwill cheer, then the Las Vegas Great Santa Run might be an option for you. This is the largest gathering of Santas in the world. Each year, there are nearly 10,000 people running together. You can either walk or run 5k or 1k. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is a great place to visit to get into the festive spirit. The hotel offers an ice skating rink from November 20 to January 10. There’s also a menu with seasonal treats and hot chocolate. For $10-20, this includes access to the skating venue, plus renting skates.
Finally, spend some time walking around the high-end, luxury hotels to observe some amazing festive decorations. The Bellagio has a beautiful indoor garden display which is unique each year. The staff add stunning animals and artistic details for tourists to capture with their eyes and cameras. Visit early to avoid the crowds and get the clearest views. Las Vegas is filled with luxury stores, which makes it a great place to visit for gifts for loved ones.
7. Crystal River, Florida
Crystal River is one of the best winter vacations for families and individuals. There are so many unique and pleasurable things to do here which isn’t possible to do anywhere else in the world. Firstly, we highly recommend renting a boat or kayak and leisurely floating through their natural spring. Drown out the rest of the world and leave behind your worries. This is such a beautiful and peaceful thing to do and you won’t believe it’s during your winter season too. The air is filled with crisp freshness, and peace and serenity fills your mind and body. Whilst you’re on this beautiful journey across the water, you may even catch a beautiful sunset.
With so much natural beauty surrounding you, it’s impossible to see all of it during your stay. However, we do suggest making this a major part of your vacation. Crystal River and King’s Bay offers over 600 acres of water activities. There’s the option of snorkeling, boating, canoeing, boating and more. If you’re unsure of doing this for the first time along, the nature tour can assist and guide you along the way.
We also recommend heading to the wildlife park. You can spend many hours to an entire day at this park, making memories for life. For example, the temperatures allow you to enjoy plenty of educational programs outside to learn about the park’s history and the animals which live there. With manatees and hippos in the area, you’ll see some amazing sightings unlike anywhere else in the world. Finally, the last thing you thought you’d be doing during winter is heading to the beach. But if you visit the Gulf Beach, you won’t regret stepping on the soft, sandy beach. Also, it’s family-friendly and ideal for some peace and quiet.
8. Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville makes one of the best winter vacations for the entire family. Firstly, if you’re looking for a weekend where you can relax and escape stress and unhappiness at home, then you’ll love it here. Also, it makes a great place for a romantic couple’s vacation as it’s set in the mountains. Visit plenty of spas and focus on your wellness like never before. With natural mineral waters in Hot Springs heating up to 100 degrees, these are ideal to expose toxins and help you to feel at your best.
On the other hand, if you’re hoping for a more adventurous vacation, then Asheville is still a great place for you. Beech Mountain is the region’s highest town and a popular spot for skiing. It’s also an easy drive up there – whether you choose to rent a car or take public transport. North Carolina is a popular destination for people who love art and crafts. Downtown offers more than 100 art galleries – including the respected River Arts District. Alternatively, if you’re hoping to spend more time outdoors, then take a hike for some breath-taking views of nature. Winter is especially one of the best times of the year to capture your imagination. You may also wish to invest in a hiking guide with other travelers, and you can all witness some spectacular waterfalls together.
Asheville is also extremely family-friendly. There are numerous pinball machines and classic video games throughout many of their entertainment venues. For example, the Asheville Pinball Museum is a great place to keep the whole family all day. On the other hand, you may wish to experience the town by hopping on a tour bus. Running through all of winter, this an informative and exciting way to get a tour of the city.
9. Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky in Montana is another of the best winter vacations for many. It’s an ideal destination for adrenaline-junkies or if you’re looking to expand your horizons. For example, ride up and down the region’s tallest zipline. If you have a need for speed, you’ll love the amazing feeling this zipline offers. Get your blood pumping 150ft above the floor and for 1500 feet. Alternatively, Big Sky is a great place to embark on a bungee trampoline. You won’t regret this amazing experience, and it’s even an ideal adventure for young children too.
Not everyone plans to go fishing during the winter season. However, Big Sky is a great place to do that and have fun too. Check in with a local fly shop before heading to go fishing. Grab your rod, and you’re ready to go. In addition, it’s like Big Sky comes alive in winter, so there’s always something to do here. For example, nearly every night, there’s always some live entertainment – whether that’s indoors or outdoors. This includes musical festivals, trivia nights, classic music events and much more. With such a diversity of music and entertainment, it’s a suitable place for people with many tastes.
Filled with plenty of hills, Big Sky is an ideal place for sledding and ice skating any time of the year. However, winter is the best time of the year for these activities. Yellowstone is just a short drive away and a must-see place for the winter season. Enquire about a snowmobile tour and live your best life. To help you make this one of the best winter vacations you’ve ever been on, ensure you plan in advance. If you’re interested in a tour/guide, then book your tickets online before heading to the destination.
Winter Miami feels like summer. During December, there are plenty of food festivals which are one of the biggest in the world. Many celebrity chefs head to these events to entice crowds of people to visit. Try your favourite foods in huge batches. Alternatively, try foods you’ve never had before. Prepare yourself in advance by not eating before heading here. Towards January, head outdoor to some beautiful botanic gardens. There are some amazing natural and man-made things to see that you’ll have never seen before.
Miami has some of the most amazing hotels in the world which helps to make it one of the best winter vacations in America. Invest in an ultra-luxury Penthouse in the winter for a NYC-inspired experience. Their top hotels offer plenty of things to do to inspire each guest which walks through their doors. Typically, they offer pools and clubs in their beach area for a glamorous vacation. If you’re heading to Miami with children, don’t forget to visit Santa’s Enchanted Forest. This is the world’s largest holiday theme park with many experiences for the entire family. For example, hit the game booths or simply soak in the festive decorations.
To get you in a festive, cheery mood, we recommend visiting a classic movie theater. These places are stacked with the most famous and popular Christmas movies. This includes Home Alone and many more. Escape the cold and get in the Christmas spirit. Tickets cost no more than $10, and you can make a real day of watching festive movies. Finally, you can’t visit Miami without dining at a waterfront restaurant. Eat and drink near a fire pit and watch the sun set right before your eyes.
What Are the Best Winter Vacations You’ve Ever Visited?
We hope you enjoyed reading about some of the best vacations in the United States – including what makes them so great. Sometimes, people don’t take into account the season when they visit a new city/town. However, being cold doesn’t always mean it’s a negative factor; many places in the United States come alive during the winter.
Aside from the regions above, what are the best winter vacations you’ve ever visited? Share your advice and thoughts in the comments to help others searching for the best winter vacations.
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