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10 Amazing Vacation Ideas During the Winter in America

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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Winter is the perfect time to get away from it all and enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation. Whether you're looking for a cozy cabin in the woods or an exotic beach abroad, there are plenty of vacation ideas to choose from during wintertime. The US has plenty of exciting and unique destinations to enjoy during these colder months, from great outdoor activities to sights on both familiar and off-the-beaten paths.

Here are 10 ideas that will make you want to pack your bags and go!

1. Skiing or Snowboarding in Boulder, Colorado

Skiing and Snowboarding Activities at Ski Resort Town in the Colorado Rockies

Winter in Boulder, Colorado is the perfect time to take up skiing or snowboarding. With its breathtaking Rocky Mountain backdrop, stunning vistas, and plenty of fresh powder on the slopes, it's no wonder that skiing and snowboarding are two of the most popular activities in this part of the world.

The Boulder area has an abundance of ski resorts that offer a variety of terrain for all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner looking to try your hand at skiing or an experienced rider looking for more challenging runs, there is something for everyone. Most spots even have night skiing and terrain parks offering jumps, rails, and boxes to practice your tricks.

Snowboarders Ride a Ski Lift at Eldora Ski Resort near Boulder, Colorado

When it comes to après-ski activities, Boulder doesn't disappoint either. The lively downtown area offers plenty of bars and restaurants where visitors can warm up after a long day on the slopes. Plus, with so many outdoor activities available year-round, like biking and hiking trails in summertime and snowshoeing and ice skating in wintertime, there are plenty of other things to do when you're done hitting the slopes!


2. A Trip to the Grand Canyon of Arizona

Grand Canyon West, Arizona

A trip to the Grand Canyon of Arizona is an experience like no other. Located in Northern Arizona, this stunning natural wonder stretches for more than 277 miles and is over a mile deep in some places. The Grand Canyon is also home to the Colorado River, which flows through it and provides visitors with a unique view of the canyon walls.

Visitors can explore the canyon by taking a guided tour or going on their own adventure. There are multiple ways to experience the Grand Canyon, including hiking, rafting, biking, helicopter rides, and more. For those looking for a more leisurely experience, there are plenty of lodging options available near the canyon's rim.

Grand Canyon National Park

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is one of the most popular destinations for visitors due to its easy accessibility and breathtaking views. Visitors can take in panoramic views from Mather Point or explore Bright Angel Trail for a closer look at the canyon's depths. Other popular activities include visiting historic sites such as Desert View Watchtower or exploring Havasu Falls on the Hualapai Reservation at Grand Canyon West.

From its majestic beauty to its rich history and culture, there's something for everyone at this incredible national park.

3. Surfing Along Hawaii's North Shore

Big wave surfing at Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore. The North Shore is famous for big waves in the winter surf season.

Surfing along Hawaii's North Shore is an experience of a lifetime - especially during winter when the waves are stronger. This activity is best suited to skilled surfers. However, relaxing on the beach in Hawaii is open to anyone!

The North Shore of Oahu is home to some of the best surfing spots in the world, including Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline, and Sunset Beach. With its warm waters and consistent swells, it's no wonder why so many people flock to this area every year.

4. Explore New York City During Winter

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

With its snow-covered streets, festive decorations, and holiday cheer, it's the perfect place to spend a cold winter day. From ice skating at Rockefeller Center to shopping at the holiday markets, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy.

The iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is a must-see during the winter months. The tree lighting ceremony takes place in late November and is followed by weeks of festivities and entertainment. Visitors can also enjoy ice skating on the rink or take a tour of the Top of the Rock Observation Deck for stunning views of Manhattan. There's so many options in NYC we recommend checking out our full guide to the city here.

Central Park Zoo in NYC

For those looking for something more active, Central Park has plenty to offer in winter. There are miles of trails that are perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, as well as sledding hills and ice skating rinks scattered throughout the park. For those who prefer indoor activities, there are numerous museums and galleries to explore in Midtown Manhattan.

New York City also has some great seasonal events that take place during the winter months. The Winter Jazzfest brings together some of the best jazz musicians from around the world while FrostFest offers outdoor activities such as ice sculpting and marshmallow roasting. There's also Smorgasburg Winter Market which features local vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry to artisanal food items.

5. Visit the Ice Castles in Wisconsin

Lake Geneva Ice Castles in Wisconsin

Located at Geneva National Resort and Club on the north shore of Lake Como, these incredible castles are made with thousands of lit-up icicles and offer an interactive experience that's sure to delight all ages.

The Ice Castles are open from mid-January to late February each year, offering visitors a chance to explore the ice sculptures and race down an ice-carved slide. You can also squeeze through crawl spaces and slot canyons to discover new experiences around every corner. The castles are illuminated at night, making them even more magical.

In addition to exploring the castles themselves, visitors can take part in a variety of activities such as sleigh rides along a scenic, illuminated trail before dropping off near the castle. For those who want to make a day out of it, there are plenty of nearby restaurants and shops to explore as well.

6. Enjoy a Magical Winter Vacation in Glacier National Park

Two men on early winter climb of Summit Mountain in south part of Glacier National Park, Montana

From the snow-covered forests to the majestic mountains, it's a winter wonderland that will take your breath away. Whether you're looking for a peaceful getaway or an adventure-filled vacation, Glacier National Park has something for everyone.

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular activities during the winter months. With closed roads and trails, visitors can explore the park at their own pace while taking in the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. For those looking for a more leisurely experience, there are plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife in their natural habitat.

Whitetail Buck on the Shore of Lake Macdonald in Glacier National Park

The Apgar Village area is also a great place to explore during your winter vacation. Enjoy calm forests blanketed in white and take part in guided snowshoe trips if they are available. There are also plenty of other activities such as sledding and ice fishing that you can enjoy while visiting Glacier National Park in winter.

If you're planning on visiting Glacier National Park during the holidays, you'll be treated to a winter wonderland filled with magical snow and ice. You can go on guided tours to see some of the most beautiful sights in the park or just relax and take in the scenery around you.

7. Head to Florida for Some Fun in the Sun

Aerial View of the South Florida Coastline

With nearly 100 million travelers visiting each year, it's no wonder why Florida is known as the Sunshine State. From lounging on white-sand beaches to exploring vibrant cities, there is no shortage of activities and places to explore. Whether you're looking for a romantic getaway or an adventure with your family, you'll find something to do in Florida that will make your vacation unforgettable.

Start your trip off in Miami, where you can soak up the sun while taking a stroll along South Beach or take a boat tour of Biscayne Bay. If you're looking for more of an adrenaline rush, check out one of Miami's many water parks or go parasailing over the city skyline. For those who prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, visit one of the many art galleries and museums located throughout the city.

Take a drive down to Key West and experience some of Florida's most beautiful beaches. Relax on Smathers Beach or take a dip in the crystal clear waters at Bahia Honda State Park. Afterward, explore Old Town Key West and discover its unique culture and history through its colorful buildings and cobblestone streets.

Head north to St Petersburg for some fun in the sun at The Palladium theater where Dailey & Vincent perform their Fun In The Sun tour every Monday night. Or if you're looking for something more low-key, take a stroll along St Pete Beach or visit one of its many art galleries and museums.

8. Relax at a Spa Resort in California

Santa Monica beach California

Relaxing at a spa resort in California is the perfect way to unwind and recharge. With its stunning landscapes, world-class cuisine, and endless activities, California has something for everyone. From luxurious resorts with breathtaking views to cozy spas tucked away in the mountains, there are plenty of options for a relaxing getaway.

The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows in Santa Monica is one of the best spa resorts in California. This five-star hotel offers guests a tranquil oasis with its lush gardens, outdoor pool, and private beach access. The hotel also features an award-winning spa where guests can enjoy massages, facials, body treatments, and more.

San Diego's Mission Beach Aerial View

For those looking for a more rustic experience, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in San Diego is a perfect choice. Located on Mission Bay, this resort offers guests stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from their rooms as well as access to a variety of amenities including two outdoor pools and hot tubs. The onsite spa features massage therapy, body wraps, facials, and other treatments that will help you relax and rejuvenate during your stay.

California Vineyard at Dusk with mountains, Temecula Valley

For an unforgettable experience in Southern California's wine country, visit Cal-a-Vie Health Spa near Temecula Valley. This luxurious retreat offers guests luxurious accommodations along with an impressive array of spa services such as yoga classes, fitness classes, nutrition counseling sessions, and much more. Guests can also take advantage of the resort's private vineyard tours or enjoy a relaxing day at the onsite pool or hot tubs.

9. Go on a Dog Sledding Adventure in Alaska

Dogsledding on a mountain peak in Alaska

Dog sledding is a unique way to explore the Alaskan wilderness and experience the beauty of this majestic state. From thrilling rides across glaciers to relaxing tours through forests, there are plenty of options for all types of adventurers.

One of the most popular destinations for dog sledding is Talkeetna, Alaska. Here, you can join Susitna Sled Dog Adventures and their team of 30 happy huskies and their humans, Rohn and Alyssa Buser. On your tour, you'll get up close with the dogs as they take you on an exciting ride through some of Alaska's most beautiful scenery.

Helicopter is landing on Mendenhall Glacier located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau in the southeast area of the U.S. state of Alaska.

If you're looking for something a bit more adventurous, Juneau Dog Sledding & Glacier Helicopter Tour offers an incredible combination of dog sledding and aerial sightseeing. You'll be able to take in breathtaking views from above while also enjoying a thrilling ride on a dog sled below.

For those who want to learn more about the history behind dog sledding in Alaska, Trail Breaker Kennel is the perfect place to visit. Founded by Susan Butcher (4-time Iditarod champion), this iconic piece of Alaskan culture provides visitors with one-on-one time with the dogs and a crash course in dog mushing.

10. Spend Time at Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park

Woman visiting Yellowstone hot spring in winter

Spending time at hot springs in Yellowstone National Park is a great way to relax and unwind. From the breathtaking Grand Prismatic Spring to the more secluded Canary Hot Springs, there are plenty of options for soaking up the natural beauty of this incredible place.

Yellowstone Hot Springs near the North Entrance of the park is one of the most popular spots for visitors. This geothermal pool is surrounded by lush vegetation and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Chico Hot Springs Resort and Day Spa is another great option, featuring mineral-rich pools and a full spa experience.

For those looking for something a bit more adventurous, Abyss Pool in West Thumb Geyser Basin is an excellent choice. This 53-foot-deep hot spring is one of the deepest in Yellowstone Park, with mesmerizing crystal-clear waters that are perfect for swimming or just taking in the view.

Astoria Hot Springs Park near Jackson Hole, Wyoming also has a rich history that dates back centuries before Yellowstone was established as a national park. These hot springs have been used by Native Americans for centuries and offer a unique experience for visitors today.

We hope that this post has helped provide you with some incredible vacation ideas during winter. No matter what type of activities or locations you're looking for, there is something out there to fit your needs and make your holiday season even more special. Whether it's skiing down the slopes, relaxing by a campfire, or exploring an icy wonderland - winter vacations can be both exciting and rewarding!

Happy travels! We wish you all the best on your next trip, have fun, and take care!

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