The Best Winter Destinations in the United States
For the winter wanderer in all of us, there are a number of destinations in the United States whose beauty will fill you with joy and wonder. If you don’t mind bundling up, consider taking a train North to the Future of Alaska’s winter wonderland. The Alaska railroad connects Fairbanks and Anchorage, allowing daytime views of the bluest skies you may ever see, paired with the deep emerald glow of the aurora borealis seen from Fairbanks.
If you are looking for adventure, you can take part in cross-country skiing, dogsledding and ice climbing, all the while looking for a glimpse of the elusive moose. The Fairbanks Aurora Ice Museum is the largest year-round ice environment in the world, complete with an in-house bar which serves an apple martini in an ice glass. This train ride through Alaska is truly a one-of-a-kind destination that you will never forget.
Looking for Something Warmer?
If you want to get away from the snow and ice, consider a trip to the San Antonio River Walk. Beginning at the end of November, you can witness millions of twinkling lights illuminating the iconic River Walk. If you want to catch every single detail of the River Walk, hop in a riverboat and let the folk singers, Latino ensembles and bell choirs serenade you—Christmas carols can be heard throughout the River Walk between the end of November and Christmas.
Once back on land, you can explore the cypress-lined shops, cozy cafés, and San Antonio Missions. Don’t forget the historic Alamo, just a short walk from the River Walk, and if you are planning your winter trip with your partner, remember that San Antonio was named the most romantic city in the U.S. in 2014.
Soak Up the Warmth in the Natural Hot Springs of New Mexico
If you want to combine winter sports with rejuvenating hot mineral springs, consider taking a trip to the southwest cities of Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico. Many find Taos a delightful throwback to the 1970’s—a place where tie-dye and Volkswagen vans are common sights. There are nine downhill ski areas in the state of New Mexico, covering 4,000 acres of snowy terrain. You can hit two of them—Taos Ski Valley and Ski Santa Fe—then immerse yourself in the waters at Ojo Caliente—the only hot springs in the world with four different types of sulfur-free, healing mineral waters.
The Ojo Caliente resort is about an hour north of Santa Fe; while there you can take advantage of a number of spa treatments, including a massage and the famous Milagro wrap. If you prefer Santa Fe, try the Sunrise Springs, a Wellness Oasis, and Ojo Caliente’s sister resort in Santa Fe. If you are a fan of luminarias, you can see thousands of them during the holiday season in Santa Fe, Taos, and Albuquerque, adorning the downtown squares, roofs, benches, and windows.
For Those Looking for a Really Tropical Winter Vacation—Consider Hawaii
Imagine the thrill of seeing a humpback whale jumping out of the waters surrounding Kauai, Hawaii; the migration period for the whales is between December and May, when breeding and nursing the young whales in the warm, shallow waters takes place. Between Molokai, Lanai and West Maui, in the Auau Channel is considered one of the best viewing spots in the world for seeing the humpback whales. In addition to indulging in some of the freshest seafood in the world, you may want to visit Haleakala Nationals Park, where, once you make to the top of the 10,023 ft. summit, the breathtaking Haleakala Crater awaits.
If you are a surer, Oahu’s legendary North Shore offers gigantic swells which are upwards of 40 feet. If you are in Hawaii during the holidays, you will witness the Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade on Kauai, and the Lighted Boat Parade on Hawaii Islands. For the super-athletic, you may want to check out the Honolulu Marathon and the Xterra Trail Run World Championship, both held in December.
Consider Cleveland for a Winter Getaway
While this fact may surprise you, Cleveland, Ohio is considered an up-and-coming craft beer and foodie city, offering stunning lakefront views, as well as a myriad of museums when the weather outside is colder than you’d like. Not only can you score highly affordable airplane tickets through Cleveland Hopkins Airport, but you can also find a four-star hotel in Cleveland for less than $150 per night. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Museum of Art are just two of the many museums in the area you can choose from.
If you prefer outside activities, head on over to Cuyahoga Valley National Park where winter sports opportunities abound. You can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or snowboarding in the morning, and finish with a round of golf in the afternoon. If you are in Cleveland during December, make it a point to attend Holiday CircleFest, or if your vacation finds you in Cleveland during January, you might enjoy Cleveland Winter Beerfest.
More Winter Destinations in the United States
Other winter destinations in the United States to consider include a 363-mile stretch of coastline in Oregon, the famous Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C., the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, or the annual Mummers Parade and world-renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. If you are looking for an amazing winter destination, let your imagination run wild!
Author bio: Dianne Sawaya, author of “The Best Winter Destinations in the United States” is a personal injury lawyer and founder of The Law Offices of Dianne Sawaya. Dianne founded her law firm in 2005 in order to bring a more personal approach to the law for her personal injury clients.
In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with her family.
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