Travel Tips

Best Winter Vacations to Take This Year

This big list of only the best winter vacations with snow is perfect for anyone who wants to embrace everything winter has to offer.

Have you been deprived of powdery-white snow for years and want to travel up north to experience a proper winter snow vacation?

Are you looking for the best spot for snowshoeing? Or experience something new like dog sledding?

Will you be going on a trip with your kids? Or escaping to a romantic winter getaway with your partner?

I’ve rounded up some of the best winter vacation ideas below!

Best Winter Vacations for Snow Activities

What winter activities have you been itching to try?

Are you excited to ski?

Here are some of the best snow activities you can do on a winter vacation.

1. Dogsledding

Best Winter Vacations - Dogsledding

Aside from Alaska where dog sledding is actually a mode of transportation, there are other places that offer non-stop dog sledding fun.

Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge (at Ely, Minnesota) isn’t called the “Sled Dog Capital of the US” for nothing, so check this place out if you want the best of the best.

Alaska too far from you?

Check if you’re near these dog sledding tours:

2. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing

If you want to enjoy the snow, but you’re not a fan of adrenaline-rushing ski activities, or you don’t have much money to rent ski gear, your next bet is to go snowshoeing.

Snowshoes are specially designed footwear that lets you hike all over the snow. It doesn’t sound as particularly exciting as skiing, but if you like hiking, snowshoeing can still be as fun as other snow activities. Here are some of the best spots to go snowshoeing:

  • Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah) – Spend from 1 to 3 hours going up along the canyon rim, giving you a spectacular view of red-orange rock formations that dramatically contrasts the thick white snow. Snowshoeing trips are available for beginners and experts.
  • Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center (Idaho) – This all-inclusive resort offers a great experience when it comes to snowshoeing and all other types of skiing. Prices are steep, though; this is a celebrity getaway destination, after all.
  • Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (Wisconsin) – Probably my favorite snowshoeing destination of all. In fact, it’s on our list of the best midwest national parks to visit. The mile-long Lakeshore Trail from Meyers Beach leads you to the magical winter sea caves with chandelier-like hanging icicles you won’t see anywhere else.

3. Snow Tubing

The good news is that you don’t need to learn anything to go snow tubing.

As long you have proper winter clothes on and a heart open for some thrill, you can go snow tubing in one of these places:

  • Camelback Ski Resort (Tannersville, PA) – It is the largest snow sled tube park in America with 42 lanes designated especially for snow tubing.
  • Mad River Ski Resort (Zanesfield, OH) – The resort’s Avalanche Tubing Park is Ohio’s largest tubing park has 10 ribbon-styled lanes
  • Wintergreen Resort (Wintergreen, VA) – The go-to destination for night tubing, The Plunge Tubing Park at Wintergreen Resort is ten stories high and you can go as fast as 30 mph. No wonder known people call it the “scream machine.”

4. Sledding

Perfect for kids and families, sledding lets you ride down the slopes with your loved ones and still enjoy the ride. 

  • Old Powderhorn (Grand Junction, CO) – Ideal for those looking for a more intense sledding experience, this area receives an average of 250 inches of snow each year. Located just off the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, Old Powderhorn is also called the old Mesa Creek Ski Area after the ski resort that used to be located here.
  • Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University (Boston, MA) – Peters Hill on the southern tip of the park is one of the highest and longest slopes for sledding in all of Boston, while Weld Hill is one of the steepest, suited for daredevils and pros.
  • Pioneers Park – (Lincoln, NE) – The so-called “Choo-Choo Hill” at Pioneers Park is a popular site for sledding, owing to the wooden sled run that’s like a giant push down the hill. USA Today once named this spot as one of the top 10 sledding spots in America.

5. Ice Fishing

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is a time-honored sport and will probably be one of the most memorable winter vacations you’ll ever take. Whether it’s a solo endeavor, couples getaway, or a family outing, an ice fishing trip may be one of the most memorable winter vacations you’ll ever take.

Here are some of the best places in the US to go ice fishing.

  • Lake Gogebic (Michigan) – This is Michigan’s largest inland lake in the Upper Peninsula, lying entirely within the Ottawa National Forest. The waters in front of resorts and parks get pretty deep, giving anglers plenty of chances to catch jumbo perch and walleye, as well as smallmouth bass and northern pike.
  • Lake of the Woods (Minnesota) – Lake of the Woods is consistently top-rated on lists of ice fishing destinations in the US. It’s known as the walleye capital of the world, but you can also catch muskie, northern pike, saugers, whitefish, and crappies, among others.
  • Devils Lake (North Dakota) – Any list of the best ice fishing destinations in the country will be incomplete without this huge lake, where there’s enough space and fish for everyone from first-timers to pros. There are plenty of trophy perch, walleye, white bass, and even freshwater shrimp, if you’re lucky.
  • Lake Michigan (Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan) – Lake Michigan is one of the largest lakes in the country and is popular among ice fishing enthusiasts because it’s accessible from 4 different states. The bays are overflowing with walleye, as well as whitefish, salmon, trout, perch, and many other species depending on the bay or harbor you’re fishing at.
  • Lake Champlain (Vermont) – Vermont takes ice fishing seriously. In fact, Vermont Fish & Wildlife has held ice fishing festivals on the fourth Saturday of January since 2014 on different Vermont lakes to educate people on ice fishing. Of these lakes, Lake Champlain is Vermont’s premier ice fishing destination, offering quality fishing for salmon, trout, northern pike, perch, and walleye.

6. Skiing

For those who dream of hitting the slopes, check out our guide to the best ski resorts in the US.

National Park Winter Trips

Rocky Mountain National Park

For those who have been dreaming of snowy mountain escapes, there’s no better way to experience the full intensity of nature’s winter wonderland than to visit some of the best national parks during winter.

Here are my favorite national parks that are the best winter vacations with snow:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) – It’s a national park packed with wildlife and natural attractions that attract millions of visitors each year. It’s a lot less crowded during winter, so it’s a perfect time to explore the park’s spectacular 415 square miles of alpine and other environments.
  • Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) – Vehicle access in some areas is limited during winter, but it’s a park ideal for any skill level. Imagine the dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, hot springs, and gushing geysers, including its most famous, Old Faithful – all covered in thick snow.
  • Great Smoky Mountains Park (Tennessee and North Carolina) – The park is shared by two states, so enter whichever is nearer to you. With  550 miles of hiking trails and an eerily snow-covered forest with tons of wildlife, you’re up for an adventure.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah) – Snow cloaks the Grand Staircase, a series of high-desert mesas, and the park’s famous red hoodoos (largest on the planet). Expect crisp, clean air thanks to its high altitude of about 8,000 to 9,000 feet.

Romantic Winter Getaways

If you’re looking to rent a warm cozy cabin and have a romantic getaway with your partner without really having to go out and explore too much, these destinations will surely fit the bill:

  • Field Guide Lodge (Stowe, VT) – Designed with a “rustic luxe” vibe, the Field Guide Lodge is young but it’s proving to be a favorite spot for couples wanting to get cozy indoors. Most of the 30 rooms (with wide-angle window views) have gas fireplaces and big bathtubs.
  • The Ranch at Rock Creek (Philipsburg, MT) – If you want to splurge for popping the question, celebrating an anniversary, or eloping (believe it or not, they have an elopement package), this resort is probably the most luxurious getaway in the West. It’s the first Forbes Travel Guide 5-Star dude ranch offering ranch experiences year-round. Visit here in the winter and enjoy a romantic snow vacation with copper bathtubs and Indian blankets to cuddle up.
  • Lake Placid Lodge (New York) – Enjoy a candlelit dinner for two and a private wine cellar in one of Lake Placid’s super-romantic freestanding cottages. It looks phenomenal during winter, surely it could be one of the most memorable winter getaways you and your partner will share.

Best Winter Vacations for Families with Kids

When choosing the best winter vacations for families, I considered only the destinations that would make both skiers and non-skiers happy, with plenty of things to do for young kids too.

  • Omni Mount Washington Resort (Bretton Woods, NH) – At the base of the resorts, young kids have their own fun in the snow with specially-designed tiny snowmobiles. There are also spots for snow tubing, a playground, a mini zip line, and miles of snow-covered space.
  • Woodloch Pine Resort (Hawley, PA) – Home to the snowy scavenger hunt, outdoor family Olympics, winter archery tag, extreme tubing, and other snow activities beyond skiing, this resort is a fun winter destination for families with older kids.
  • Planet Kids at Soda Springs Resort (Soda Springs, CA) – Planet Kids, which is exclusive to kids, features the 20-lane “Tube Town,” a ski learning area, tubing carousels, and a wide stretch of play areas for non-stop snow angels and snow fights.
  • Vista Verde Guest Ranch (Steamboat Springs, CO) – This luxury dude ranch turns into a magical snow-covered place during the winter months. They have winter programs for kids aged 6 to 12 years old, including tubing, horseback riding (this is one of the best horseback riding resorts in the country), snowshoeing, and just plain frolicking in the snow.

Urban Winter Destinations

Rockefeller Center

If the best winter vacations for you involve exploring new cities, then you can skip these national parks, mountains, and ski resorts in favor of cities that are big on Christmas celebrations.

  • Chicago, IL – The Winter Wonderfest, Millennium Park ice skating,  Magnificent Mile Christmas shopping, a ton of glowing city lights from ZooLights to Christmas Around the World at the Museum of Science and Industry.
  • New York City, NY – Watch out for the fancy Christmas decorations all over the city, such as Rockefeller Center’s big Christmas tree. Stroll snowy Central Park and chill at one of the hundreds of cafes that would gladly serve you hot chocolate.
  • Washington, DC – Snow covering the city is a sight to behold. Winters here aren’t as bright as those in NYC, but the National Christmas Tree, the pop-up ice skating rinks, and the sight of white monuments against gray skies will definitely make for an unforgettable experience. Check out our list of free things to do in Washington, D.C.
  • Elkhart Lake, WisconsinWhen it comes to Old World Christmas Market, Elkhart Lake locals and their all-out Christmas-time celebrations surely make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
  • Atlanta, Georgia – It’s one of the cheapest places to fly during winters, plus you can enjoy many outdoor parks like the Centennial Olympic Park and the Botanical Garden.

Where are Your Best Winter Vacations Ever? 

I hope you got an idea from our list of where to go for your upcoming winter trip.

You see, the best winter vacations can be a subjective topic. My favorite winter destination now, with two small children in tow, can change in a few years when my son is ready to hit the slopes.

Care to share where your favorite cold winter destinations are? We’d love to know! Tell us in the comments!

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