Winter just ended in the USA. Did you get to enjoy and explore the wonders of winter as you wished? If you didn’t, it’s time to plan against the next one, and this article is here to guide you.
Winter vacations in the USA can be fun-filled and memorable, depending on how well you plan them. No matter what you want; a fun time in the snow, a warm winter resort, extended playtime with the kids, or some time spent exploring the beauty of nature, there’s a place that offers it in perfection.
We have curated a list of ten of the best winter vacation spots in the USA. You can never run out of options, from the cool pools in Palm Springs to the untethered beauty of Lake Tahoe to the vast expanse of Mount Rainier. Each of these spots has activities that are best suited to them, like sledding, snowboarding, and hiking, depending on the landscape, temperature, and other factors. In Maine, you may decide to huddle up and sleep the winter away while stealing glances at your impeccable surroundings. However, Lake Tahoe’s wildness may compel you to put on your shoes and go outside.
So, please stick with us and ensure you pick a vacation spot from this list for your next unforgettable winter experience.
Best Winter Vacations USA
Palm Springs, California
If you know anything about Hollywood, you would know that Palm Springs is one of the most common places where their stars choose to settle down. You are about to find out why.
The appeal of this desert resort town is endless. One of the best things about Palm Springs is its pleasantly warm temperature all year round. The temperatures can be quite high when summer is at its peak, but it is never something unbearable. The warmness of Palm Springs makes it a perfect place to visit during winter because, despite the season, daytime temperatures remain reasonably pleasant. But that’s not all.
Palm Springs in Coachella valley is a lively community bursting with different restaurants, tourist centers, shops, hotels, and even festivals like the January Palm Springs International Film Festival. So what can you do in this city during your winter vacation?
One of the most common activities in Palm Springs during winter is hiking and exploration. The Tree National Park is a good starting point, after which you can move on to the hot springs. If you are on vacation as a family with kids, you may want to spend some time in the water during the daytime. Apart from swimming, there are many fun water-related activities that you can enjoy at the resorts as a group, including water slides. Your kids would thank you for that one.
Winter is considered a “high season” in Palm Springs because businesses are often busier and the streets rowdier. Spend your day eating, strolling, sightseeing, swimming, and hiking. At night, relax at one of the many high-end hotels in the city. You should check out Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa-Rancho Mirage for a luxurious overnight stay.
Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts, Sierra Nevada
You may want to bring out your snowshoes for this one. Lake Tahoe is special for so many reasons, not the least because of its size. It is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada and the largest Alpine lake in North America.
Apart from its size, this lake is also known for its magnificent sceneries, high-end resorts, and the unending number of outdoor recreational activities you can engage in. Hanging between the states of Nevada in California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe has beautiful clear blue water. It is surrounded by picturesque mountain towns that may be snow-capped in the winter.
Winter at Lake Tahoe does not stop you from going out; rather, it presents you with a wave of fresh activities best suited to that clime. They include snowboarding and skiing as the most common ones; it’s not called a ski resort for nothing. If you are not yet a pro at either of these activities, you can lodge at either Northstar or Heavenly, which have suitable terrain for all levels of skiers. These two are some of the most popular resorts around here, with impeccable and luxurious service.
There are several hiking trails around the lake, so put on your snowshoes and start exploring. Remember that it’s large, so try not to get lost; you can even go with a group to be safer. If you are more of a sled person, Spooner Lake is the perfect place for you to go and show off all your skills.
What if your goal for winter vacation wasn’t to show off all these skills that require manpower? What if you just want to sightsee? Well, fear not because Tahoe presents you with many ethereal sceneries to take in. What more could anyone ask for than the snow-capped mountains, little villages, lake, tree-lined trails, aesthetic restaurants, and resorts?
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
You haven’t seen true beauty if you haven’t seen this park in Wyoming. Yellowstone is a wondrous sight year-round, but like each season, winter has a special appeal. By this time, between December and March, the majority of the park is closed to other types of vehicle movement that aren’t over-snow travel.
Tours are given by snowmobiles or snow coaches. Even if you spend less than a day at Yellowstone National Park, we can assure you that it is one day you won’t forget in a hurry. During other seasons, you can see the beautiful sights of the falls in the park- Mystic Falls, Yosemite Falls, and others, but it is only in winter that you will get to see them almost frozen, and we assure you it is an awe-inspiring sight.
A snowmobile tour, suitable for just one or two people, can take you around to see the snow-dusted trees, the Canyon area, and the hot springs. Imagine seeing the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring surrounded by snow; your jaw may very well drop because the sight is otherworldly. For larger groups, you can take a snow coach.
If you want more time to explore the beauty of this park, you can lodge overnight at one of the nearby hotels. The Old Faithful Snow Lodge is a great option at just thirty miles to the west entrance of Yellowstone. Apart from the beautiful cabins and rooms, the good thing about staying here is that it ensures your adventure never stops. There are other sights to see and things to do around Old Faithful. You can go skiing, snowshoeing, or plain sightseeing at the Grand Geyser. With all these settings in place for you to have an enjoyable time, a winter vacation at Yellowstone National Park will be one of the best vacations of your life.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Who doesn’t want to visit an ice castle at least once in their life? It is a premium experience you should enjoy and keep framed on your living room wall. You may only get to experience it if you visit Salt Lake City in Utah during winter. Utah is also said to have some of the best snow on earth. If these aren’t enough reasons to pack your bags right now and make a reservation at any lodge nearest Salt Lake City, what is? If you still aren’t convinced, don’t worry because there’s more.
If you don’t like the idea of an ice castle, your kids will. And if you don’t have kids, there are other activities for you to engage in. There’s snowboarding, snow tubing, skiing, and ice skating for you to enjoy. You will enjoy these snow-related activities better if you visit Utah between January and February.
More than eight resorts are less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City Airport. This makes it easy for you to access the city’s wonders and find a place to spend the night if you plan on staying overnight. And what is a vacation without ease?
Alta Ski resort is one of the lodges that locals will swear by, especially because of its amazing terrain for winter activities. Park City, a driving distance from Salt Lake City, also has some of the more famous and luxurious resorts where you can lodge for a longer vacation.
New Orleans, Louisiana
While some of us go on winter vacations to enjoy time in the snow and bundle up against the cold, others would still love to have a warm, sunny climate, even in December. If you fall in this category, consider New Orleans.
If a place is nicknamed “Big Easy,” it only stands to reason that you expect only to have a relaxing fun time there. You wouldn’t be wrong if you did. New Orleans has mild winters that encourage outdoor activities at almost any time of the day. It also won’t be dark or gloomy as some places tend to be around December. The temperatures range from the 40s to the 60s.
So, what can you enjoy during your winter vacation in New Orleans? The list is endless, so stick with us. Of course, because the skies are often clear, it is an amazing time to stroll the streets and take in sights. Enter different restaurants and try out delectable meals. New Orleans is known for their gumbo which they are always experimenting with. The meal is a rich stew of chicken, seafood, and sauce served over rice or potato salad. This vacation may be your chance to try out gumbo varieties and boast that you have tasted several of Louisiana’s local dishes.
Now that you’ve sated your taste buds, it’s time to bless your eyes and present your mind with unforgettable moments. You may want to start at the Roosevelt Hotel, step into the lobby and watch your breath get stolen. The lobby is often decorated during the winter holidays. Trust us when we say you’d have never seen anything like it.
To further improve the quality of this experience, you could go in January when the Mardi gras cultural festival is set to kick off. This is your chance to absorb Louisiana culture through music, dance, and art.
Maui Island, Hawaii
Still speaking of places that allow you to escape the doom and gloom of winter, we present to you Maui Island. Not only will you be happy and at ease here, but you will also be ecstatic! Why? Because you will witness one of the most magnificent sights of your life- the humpback whale migration!
Is there anything more heartwarming and exciting than watching a whole community move from one place to another in unison? There is almost no way you won’t see at least one humpback whale if you decide to visit Maui during the winter. The island doesn’t waste this opportunity as several tours, like the Maui Channel Whale-Watching Catamaran Cruise, are organized to give you a premium whale-sighting experience. There are also turtle-watching tours if you’d rather have that. Join a group, and be sure to take pictures!
If you missed it during summer or spring, Maui island is the perfect place to visit for a Hawaiian vacation. It doesn’t matter if you travel alone, with your partner, or as a family; there’s always something to do.
Speaking of which, have you ever considered what it must be like to enjoy a fantastic dinner while watching the sunset magnificently? Grab this chance to stop imagining and start experiencing. You can have your moment at Chang’s beach or Kapalua Bay. Otherwise, book a sunrise and breakfast tour of Haleakala National Park. It’s a scenic view. Take a picture; you’d want to have that memory forever.
Maine, the state of lobsters, beaches, and rocky coastlines- is also called Vacationland, and it’s not hard to see why. When you think of Maine, you may conjure up a beautiful summer where everything is bright and sunny. But have you ever imagined what Maine might be like in the winter? A hint, it’s just as beautiful.
This is the best place to go on vacation if you feel a bit adventurous. There’s always something for you to do at every point in time, partly thanks to the magnificent and widely varying landscapes. During winter, you will see snowcapped mountains, snow-dusted trees, frozen lakes, and fairytale-like hills. These structures make it perfect for winter-related activities like sledding, snowshoeing, and snowboarding. You can also go ice-fishing in the frozen ground or ice skating at any nearby rink. You can go cross-country skiing at Aroostook County, best known for this activity.
It is not expected that you will spend all your time sledding or skiing. On days when the snow is light, you can stroll down the streets to check out shops and galleries, your chance to pick up souvenirs. Grab a cup of coffee or brew in the middle of your tour. Freeport is an excellent place to start your stroll. There are many winter festivals in the state to promote the spirit of festivities; Christmas by the Sea and Rangeley’s Sondeo, which is all about movement, snow, and fun, are some of the common ones.
If you will prefer to be guided on your vacation, sign up for a winter tour and have an expert lead you. A Maine Foodie Tour, for instance, will have you trying out the infamous Maine lobster dishes.
After a day of exploring the city, return to your cabin and sit in front of the fireplace as you watch the snowfall. You can make a reservation at the Maine Glades; they have cozy rooms with mountain views. It doesn’t get better than that.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
If you love skiing or want to try it out in one of the best places, Jackson Hole is the perfect place. Your enthusiasm to ski or learn how to can never fizz out here when thousands of ski enthusiasts surround you.
In Jackson Hole, a valley between Gros Ventre and Teton mountain ranges, you will find Jackson Town, Elk Refuge, and a part of Grand Teton National Park. It also houses countless ski resorts. Apart from being the perfect place for a winter vacation full of skiing lessons, it is also the ideal holiday spot for traveling with children. There’s so much for them to do while learning and having fun.
If you visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art, you can have your kids explore the Children’s Discovery Gallery. Trust us; there’s a lot for them to marvel at there. After all, it only takes a little to keep kids occupied. Meanwhile, you can get the time off to do some exploration of your own in the main space. You will find magnificent paintings, timeless photos, and impeccable sculptures, majorly of animals.
If you would rather have the real thing, you can sign up for a safari tour. You can do this with Wild Things. You will learn a lot and have fun watching bald eagles, elks, moose, badgers, and coyotes. Other things you can do in Jackson Hole in winter include snowboarding, snow tubing, shopping, dog sledding, and taking tram rides.
Where can you stay in Jackson Hole for a longer vacation? You can make a reservation at a resort in Teton Village; there are many options. Otherwise, you can stay in the Town of Jackson itself. There’s a lot of fun that comes with each option. The nightlife of Jackson Town, for example, or the many other scenic views it presents.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
The scenery of Mount Rainier National Park during winter is exquisite. This is thanks to the abundant snowfall covering almost every mountain top or track and giving it a fairytale feel. The amount of snow can also be held accountable for the variety of winter activities you can engage in at this park.
Your first option is snowshoeing. There are so many snowshoe tracks that it’s almost overwhelming. You can join a park ranger to improve the quality of your snowshoeing experience. Take the trip with your team, mix with locals and foreigners, and learn how different organisms adapt to their environment during winter. You can bring your snowshoes along or use the ones the park provides.
What about winter camping? You can do that at Mount Rainier as well. However, you have to follow certain rules before you commence this activity. There must be at least five feet of snow in the Paradise Area before you can camp there. In other areas like Mazama Ridge, you need only two feet. You must get a wildlife permit at the Longmire Museum or Longmire Wilderness Information Center for overnight camping. Lastly, you have to be conscious of how you store your food out in the wild to prevent wild animals from claiming ownership of them.
You can also go snowmobiling, especially if you are on vacation as a group. Do this at Paradise Area or Westside Area for the best experience. If you get tired, you can just snowball or make snow angels, especially if there are kids in your group. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Vehicles are not allowed in the park in winter, and you can only access it through the Nisqually Entrance or Carbon River Entrance. Also, note that restaurants don’t often open at this time, so stock up on food and drinks. There seem to be many restrictions to vacationing at Mount Rainier, but the pros outweigh the cons for sure.
New York City
It would be blasphemous to end this list without mentioning the city of yellow cabs, skyscrapers that almost scrape the clouds off the sky, and positive energy. None of that wildlife or tree vibe in New York; it’s all modern, shining, and bubbly. You could never have any downtime here, no matter what season.
New York City is the perfect place for a winter vacation in the USA and not in the least because of the Christmas movies and holiday TV shows at every corner. During the holiday season, businesses would have set up elaborate decorations. You could spend all your time wandering the streets and never run out of sights to see; Central Park is a good place to start. If this isn’t enough reason to spend your time here, don’t worry; there’s even more.
If you travel only hoping to take something back, you have chosen the right place. Many shops are open in the winter in New York City; you will have your fill, no doubt. You will find whatever you want, from clothes to shoes to antiques and oddities. You can also watch the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall, alone or with a group; you are bound to have an unforgettable time either way.
That’s not all; not in the city that never sleeps. There are skating rinks in different spots around the city for you to go ice skating. Bryant Park and Central Park offer spacious rinks with beautiful views. When you get tired, branch into any restaurant near you (you will always find one) and enjoy a little fine dining. After that, go back out to continue your winter adventure.
What You Need to Have A Memorable Winter Vacation in the USA
Now that you know all the hotspots for a winter vacation in the USA, here’s a list of things you need to do and take to make the most out of your vacation.
- Better Safe than Sorry
You may need a passport or visa, depending on where you are traveling from. Barring that, you will always need your credit card and some cash. Even if you have made all reservations in advance, something may catch your eye at a random shop. Also, emergencies may pop up at unprecedented times, so always come fully prepared financially. Also, have travel insurance in case of accidents. Here’s to hoping that it never happens, but you always want to ensure you have a safety net to fall back on.
- On Staying Warm
We’re talking about winter here; clothing has never mattered more. You will need coats, thick long-sleeved tops, comfortable but cozy pants, and boots. You may even have to bring along scarves, sweaters, gloves, and earmuffs. It all depends on the temperature of your desired destination. To be safer, however, have a bit of everything because the temperature in winter can be a bit of a yoyo.
- This or That
Are you going on an adventurous winter vacation, or do you just want to cuddle up in a warm cabin in front of the fire? This will largely determine what gear you need to pack for your trip. If you are going to a place that’s filled with snow and plan to move around, you will want to pack your snowshoes, skis, snowblades, etc.
- Be Prepared
Before you leave your house, research your desired destination; the pros and cons, the hotels they have, the restaurant, and anything you think will affect your stay. This will help to prevent regret or other distasteful feelings on arrival. It will make things easier for you when you get there. Since you’ve gone through this list, you don’t have much else to do.
- Immortalize the moments
Bring your camera along and take pictures whenever you think it’s called for. For what are beautiful moments if you don’t remember them?
That’s all. You know the where, the what, and the why. It’s time to book a reservation and experience the gloriousness of a winter vacation in the USA for yourself.