37 Best Winter Destinations in USA for every traveler
Looking for the best winter destinations in USA? Excellent!
The United States of America is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse countries in the world. A country of 50 states, the USA offers a great variety of winter getaways.
There is snow, there are sunny and warm beaches, city lights and music, shopping, history, and more. We have compiled the 37 best places to visit in winter in USA in this post.
Best Winter Destinations in USA – 37 Best places to visit in winter in USA
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There is something for every traveler. You can escape the winter blues and head to beaches (in Miami or Key West), or if you love activities like skiing and snowboarding there opt for a winter wonderland getaway (like Colorado, New York, Vermont, or any state in New England region).
Also don’t forget the glamorous big cities and their Christmas lights (in Washington DC, Chicago, and Seattle). Whatever your travel style is in winter – we got you covered. So, here’s the list of the best places to visit in winter in the USA.
New York – Winter Activities in NYC
By Allison Green from Eternal Arrival
Activities: Snow and metro city vacation, ice-skating, culture and museums, New Year and Christmas celebrations
If you’re looking for an unforgettable winter vacation in the United States, look no further than its biggest city – New York City, of course!
The Big Apple is positively delightful in the winter, despite the often sub-freezing temperatures. New York is at its best immediately after Thanksgiving and before Christmas when the entire city gets into the holiday spirit.
You can’t miss seeing the enormous tree at Rockefeller Center, decked out in all the Christmas bling. Don’t forget to stop by the gorgeous window displays at Saks – they’re famous for a reason.
You can also ice skate at Rockefeller Center or the relatively new ice rink at Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
If in Brooklyn, head a bit off the beaten path and check out Dyker Heights at night, which are some of the most decked-out houses in all of New York.
But even after the winter holidays have come and gone, New York is still fantastic in the winter because there is so much excellent culture to find indoors.
The city offers countless incredible museums that it would truly take an entire year to visit all – and one of my best NYC tips is that these museums often have free admission on some days as well!
New York is also famous for its shopping, from designer shops on 5th Avenue to funky thrift shops in Brooklyn. And on a snowy day, you can’t beat spending some time strolling around in one of New York’s gorgeous parks – my three favorites are Central Park, Prospect Park, and Gantry Plaza State Park.
Click here to find the best hotel deals in New York
Washington DC in the Winter – Best Places to Visit in Winter in USA
Activities: Snow and metro city vacation, Christmas markets and light events, culture and museum, the capital city of USA. Take a road trip – East Coast trip planner
The capital city of the United States should not be missed in winter. Washington is all lit up for the holiday season. There are tons of free activities to choose from in Washington.
Definitely don’t miss the Christmas tree and the lights at the Capitol. The free movie screening is scheduled at the Library of Congress.
If you like to skate, head to the rink at the Washington Harbour, Georgetown. (Views here are for free, skating $10 USD).
The city also has a ton of Christmas lights events like the ZooLights at the national zoo, Georgetown Glow, the Union Station Lights, or winter decorations at the City Centre.
There are Holiday Markets and Christmas bazaars are set up in the month of December. The holiday boat parade of lights (from Alexandria to Wharf) is another stunning lights event, and also free.
Once you have explored all the winter and Christmas activities in town, don’t forget to visit a museum or two, to acquaint yourself with Washington history. Or take a city tour of Washington.
Click here to find the best hotel deals in Washington
San Francisco Winters in California – Perfect City Break
Activities: Warm temperatures, perfect for city exploration, wine tours, New Year and Christmas celebrations, film festivals. Join in a Christmas theme cable car ride.
The holiday season in San Francisco is one of the best times of the year. You can explore Christmas markets and lights at the City Hall, Union Square, Pier 39, or Ghirardelli Square. So you get the best sightseeing advantage.
Don’t miss out on the NYE lights, if you are visiting on December 31st.
San Francisco is also home to film festivals, music concerts, and live theater. Other activities worth considering in winter in San Francisco include a whale watching tour and wine tasting at the Fisherman’s wharf. You can also head to the nearby Napa Valley or Sonoma County too for a wine experience.
San Francisco doesn’t experience low temperatures in winter, so you can access all the sightseeing attractions all year round, except for Christmas day in December. Take a city tour and explore more of San Francisco- and head to Golden Gate Bridge or China Town.
Tickets to Alcatraz, SFMoMA – Museum of Modern Art, Aquarium of the Bay, Academy of Sciences sell out really fast during the festive session.
Read: San Francisco road trip ideas
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Joshua Tree National Park, California – Stargazing & Outdoors
Activities: Stargazing, hikes, camping, warm winter vacations
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best warm winter destinations in the USA. Located in southeastern California, this park is between two deserts, where the Mojave Desert makes up most of it.
The park’s name comes from the unique Joshua trees that only grow in this region. More than 8,000 Joshua trees dot the land among other interesting plants and geologic features including caves, mountains, boulders, sand dunes, and rocky plains.
The park offers several attractions like rock climbing, hiking, cycling, and camping that are popular with tourists during the winter.
Other activities include bird watching, viewing wildlife, exploring slot canyons, stargazing at night, and star photography during the day.
The best time to visit the park is from November through May when the landscape is optimal for outdoor activities. The average winter temperatures range from 37 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit or 3 to 19 degrees Celcius.
The best way to explore Joshua Tree National Park is by car so do not forget to rent one when booking your hotel. You can stay in Airbnbs in Joshua Tree or visit from Palm Springs.
Click to view hotel deals for Joshua Tree National Park
Lake Tahoe California – Ski & more winter vacation spot
Activities: Snow and skiing-related activities
Lake Tahoe in California makes for an amazing winter weekend escape from cities like San Francisco. Home to over 10 ski resorts in both Lake Tahoe South and North, it is a haven for winter sports lovers.
Sugarbowl and Heavenly are the most popular in the area and they do get a lot of crowds in the winter – thanks to the 1960 Winter Olympics which led to excellent and world-class ski facilities.
Apart from skiing, you can have a relaxed time at a family-friendly resort, go shopping, and dine in the area. There are also winter hiking trails, ice skating rinks (Heavenly), snowshoeing (Emerald Bay), and more!
Stay at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel for the perfect winter getaway. It is located within walking distance from Heavenly Ski Resort Gondola as well as the Heavenly Village. Echo Restaurant offers a lovely seasonal lunch and dinner menu featuring locally grown organic products.
Book your stay at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel or Holiday Inn Express South Lake Tahoe
Orlando, Florida – Disneyland and Warm Winter Vacations
Activities: City break, warm winter, Disneyland
Orlando is well known as a popular tourist destination but there is so much more to the city than just amusement parks. In fact, Orlando is home to some of the best historic attractions in Florida.
Disney World and Universal Studios are the most visited theme parks in America and for good reason: they both offer world-class entertainment and fun activities. However, it is also home to the Harry P. Leu Gardens situated on 19 acres of land which invite you to enjoy lush surroundings with lakes, fountains, bridges, and wildlife like birds and alligators.
The John F Kennedy Space Center located an hour away from Orlando presents an opportunity for space enthusiasts to explore the city’s role in the USA’s space exploration.
Another great thing about Orlando is that it has balmy winter weather, making it an ideal choice for a warm winter getaway. If you are thinking of heading here during your holiday season, take advantage of Disney World’s special offers to save even more on rooms and tickets.
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Maui, Hawaii – For Sun And Sand Getaway
Activities: Romantic getaway, sun, and sand, water activities
A trip to Hawaii is never complete without visiting its most popular island, Maui. With gorgeous white-sand beaches and dramatic cliffs, this Hawaiian Island is perfect for romantic winter getaways or family vacations.
Located on the western side of Maui lies Wailea which consists of many wonderful resorts surrounded by lush gardens and lagoons that look like they are straight out of a postcard.
Wailea is the best place to start if you are planning on enjoying some of Maui’s most popular activities in wintertime, such as golfing and kayaking. Other sports like surfing and shopping will also make your trip fun and memorable.
There are many special deals for hotels and resorts here during the wintertime so do not miss out on these opportunities to save on your holiday.
Phoenix, Arizona – Largest Lantern Festival in Winter USA
Activities: Lantern festival, mild winters, city & culture
Phoenix is perfect for winter getaways, even more so if you are looking for a place to relax on the beach or go skiing. Some of the best Phoenix attractions include Desert Botanical Garden, Pueblo Grande Museum & Archaeological Park, and Art Museum.
As far as things to do in Phoenix go, you can head to the Heard Museum, a major center for Native American art and history. The museum is open year-round and has many guided tours of the campus that you can sign up for at their visitor center or website.
Phoenix Zoo is another top attraction here. This zoo features more than 300 animal species from around the world – all in natural settings suitable for these animals.
As far as festivities go, you will love their lantern festival that happens from November to New Year! It is the largest light and lantern festival in North America and it brightens the Downtown Phoenix skies in the winters! (held at the Arizona State Fairgrounds).
Search for hotels in Phoenix here
Bryce National Park Winter, Utah – Winter Hikes & Outdoors
By Michelle from The Wandering Queen
Activities: Snow covered national park, off-season travel, hiking, snowshoeing
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the five national parks located in Utah. It has become popular due to social media, and for good reason. The orange-brown spires protruding out of the ground make for beautiful photos.
The park is also relatively small compared to other national parks. Visiting this park on the weekend is an easy-going time.
Because of its popularity, the national park is typically crowded in the summertime. To avoid the crowds, Bryce Canyon in the winter is the perfect time to visit. Bryce becomes a winter wonderland. The bright orange formations look magnificent blanketed with snow.
Most activities the park offers cease during winter, but many new services like snowshoeing are available.
The Bryce Canyon Snowshoe Program is designed for all levels of experience, from beginner to expert. The snowshoes and the poles are free of charge if you join the park ranger on an expedition.
Hiking inside the amphitheaters is another fun activity. Since the crowds are gone, you might have all the popular hikes to yourself. It is recommended to bring hiking or snow boots and yak tracks to hike.
Visiting this national park during the winter is underrated. The park becomes more impressive and stunning, and with minimal crowds. Being able to experience Bryce National Park in the wintertime is a must and should be added to everyone’s bucket list.
Click here to find the best hotel deals in Bryce Canyon National Park
Charleston, South Carolina – Prettiest Winter City Break
Activities: City break, history & culture, beach
Charleston is without a doubt one of the best winter destinations in the USA thanks to its proximity to the ocean, mild winters, and charming historic district.
Due to these features, visitors come here throughout the year for various things like romantic getaways, family vacations with kids, history-based tours, or cruises on historic ships.
For those who want to enjoy a beach vacation, you will love Charleston. It has several fantastic beaches for sunbathing and swimming during the warmer winter days.
Among the best things to do in Charleston is a tour of the French Quarter, and to take in the cobblestone lanes, get on horse-drawn carriages or walk the Battery districts. The Battery promenade overlooks the Charleston Harbor and makes for a picturesque and romantic evening setting.
If you love culture and history visit one of the Charleston Museum and Fort Sumter during your trip, they are open in the winters as well.
Lastly don’t leave without visiting the Charleston City Market – it is a good place to get souvenirs unique to the area. Stop by this landmark when in Charleston where you can check out all sorts of trinkets, traditional Southern cuisines, and different kinds of local art.
View hotel deals in Charleston today
Sedona, Arizona – Mild Winters for City & Nature Lovers
Activities: Mild winters, outdoors, spa & relaxation
Another great winter vacation idea in USA is a trip to Sedona. It’s known as Arizona’s most romantic getaway thanks to its awe-inspiring red rock formations, gorgeous vistas, and countless opportunities for outdoor activities.
When visiting here you can enjoy some of the best hiking trails or biking trails during your stay in mid-winter when the weather is cold but sunny.
Take an afternoon drive to Oak Creek Canyon where you can enjoy the scenery and see waterfalls, creeks, and cliffs. You can go on a relaxing boat tour of Lake Powell or explore by air via a scenic hot air balloon ride.
You should also plan on going to some of the festivals that take place here in the winter. Check out the festive decorations and collections at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. They feature art exhibits, live entertainment performances, and fine cuisine to go with your coffee or wine tasting.
Winter also offers a great advantage for nature lovers in Sedona. You can take advantage of the crisp and clear days to explore some of the most beautiful places in the area like Boynton Canyon.
Winter is a great time to visit Sedona because nights are mild and during mid-day, it’s warm enough for you to enjoy the outdoors but not too hot so you can still tour the city and do outdoor activities.
Check out hotel deals in Sedona
Oahu, Hawaii – Whale watching, Sun & Sand USA Warm Winter Getaway
Activities: Whale watching, scuba diving, beaches
One of the best places to visit in winter in USA is Oahu which offers warm weather and a lot of sunshine. The island of Oahu, better known as Honolulu, has a tropical climate with temperatures averaging 80 degrees F (25 degrees C) throughout the year. It is an ideal destination for those who prefer warm climates with plenty of sunny days.
Honolulu, Oahu is the most populous city in Hawaii and its top attractions include Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head Crater, Ala Moana Center which is a major shopping center and fun place for kids, Polynesian Cultural Center (a living museum that has replicas of traditional Polynesian villages of Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji).
If you are visiting here between December and March don’t miss the chance to go whale watching. It is a popular activity in Oahu so keep your eyes peeled for these magnificent sea mammals during your visit.
If you want to relax or find some inner peace head over to one of the many yoga centers in Honolulu which can be found all over the city.
Lastly, if you are visiting Oahu during winter, then try out scuba diving and snorkeling to see some truly breathtaking views of Hawaii’s reefs, turtles, eels, and tropical fishes.
Seattle, Washington – Things to do in Seattle in Winter
By Henar from Wander Wings.
Activities: Snow and city, skiing and related snow activities, culture and museum, foodie paradise
Seattle, in the continental Northwestern US, is one of those cities you’ll fall in love with, instantly. In spite of its rainy reputation, Seattle has a winter charm that few other places have.
Maybe it is the friendliness of the locals or its diversity, Seattle is like that stranger that makes you feel as if you had known them your whole life.
Full of history, you can stop by the Klondike Gold Rush Museum and learn about Seattle’s role in the life-changing event. What about taking a ride on one of the 1910s manually operated elevators of the first “skyscraper” on the West Coast?
Maybe taking in the peace amongst the bustle of the city at Waterfall Garden park or maybe exploring the Pinball museum for a trip down memory lane.
There truly is something for everyone. And if that wasn’t enough, during the ski season, you have plenty of chances of squeezing in a day on the slopes, with many resorts in the area. Find things to do in Seattle in a day.
But Seattle is so much more than stunning views, history, and nature. Another perk of visiting the Northwestern city is their undying love and support for local products, which aren’t few.
Some of the local foodie highlights include warming yourself up with some of the delicious local organic apple cider while wandering around the city. Trying some of the famous Mac ‘n’ Cheese from Beecher’s handmade cheese with views over the Olympic Peninsula.
And, of course, the public’s favorite, the somewhat odd-looking yet surprisingly delicious Seattle hot dog from Taxi Dogs.
Whether you want a city escapade, a foodie adventure, or a relaxing ski retreat, Seattle has you covered.
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Stowe Vermont Winter – Best Winter Vacations in the US
Activities: Snow getaway, winter sports, resort stay-cation, hiking, cross country skiing, sleigh rides, romantic getaway, ice skating rinks
If you are looking for epic snow-covered mountain views and outdoor winter activities like skiing, snowboarding dog sledding, then head to Stowe in Vermont.
Stowe is a picturesque town all year round, but winters here are special. Stowe Mountain Resort welcomes visitors during winters for ice skating, snowboarding, skiing and pretty much enjoying all the lights and glitter (and snowfall) of the holiday season.
In Stowe, you can also check out Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Wiessner Woods in Stowe is perfect for short winter hikes. Trails are properly marked and have varying sections, so you can pick your trail duration and difficulty level.
Another attraction is called the Smugglers North Park, which was originally used as a smuggling route to Canada. Now a state park where you can bike, hike, or picnic. During winters, the day area access is closed.
And the state park is only open for recreational winter activities like hiking and cross country skiing.
Moss Glen Falls is another spot where you can enjoy a winter hike. But be careful, as hiking is quite challenging on snowy days (good idea to stick to flat land),
Not a skier, well, opt for a great stay-cation at Stowe Mountain Lodge or at Edson Hill Country Hill, relax by a fireplace, book a spa day, and just get rejuvenated. Or Enjoy sleigh rides in style in Stowe Vermont.
Click here to find the best hotel deals in Stowe Vermont
Santa Monica, California – Sun & Relaxation For Winters in USA
Activities: Sun, beaches, festive ambiance
Santa Monica is an excellent winter getaway for those looking for some sun and relaxation. The city features some of the best beaches in California and you can go swimming, surfing or sunbathing here.
Another thing for those who love the beach is that Santa Monica has mild winter temperatures and sunny days overall. Take advantage of these weather conditions and visit the Santa Monica Pier – a famous landmark of the city. While there check out some shops and grab a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, many of which offer fantastic views of the ocean.
For those who are looking for an impressive golfing experience during their stay in Santa Monica, head to The Westin at Playa Vista where you can enjoy amazing views on a course that will challenge your skills.
If you want to know some more about Santa Monica’s history and culture, visit the Santa Monica History Museum. The museum holds rare artifacts, and historical exhibits highlighting the region’s past.
New Orleans, Louisana Winter Getaway – Best places to visit in winter in USA
By Sharon from Paid Surveys Fanatic
Activities: Warm and sunny winter getaway, explore culture, visit museums, relish the food. Find more things to do in New Orleans
New Orleans is the perfect city to visit in the US in winter if you prefer sunshine to snow and fun cities with a fascinating history. The temperatures in winter are rarely cold.
January is the coldest month and the average maximum is still 62 degrees F. We found lovely sunny days when we visited.
New Orleans has a great vibe and winter is perhaps the best time to experience this. Mardi Gras is HUGE in New Orleans and incredibly popular. This takes place in February and it’s a great time to visit (but book far ahead).
There are other parades as well in the lead-up to the main event. Even outside of Mardi Gras, New Orleans still has a great vibe and it’s fun to visit Bourbon Street at any time of year. A jazz show is compulsory.
The French Quarter in New Orleans, founded in 1718, is a great place to walk around and enjoy. It’s lively in parts but it’s also not hard to get sections to yourself. It’s home to many shops, restaurants, bars and a few museums and the architecture is gorgeous.
Of course, a trip to New Orleans isn’t complete without trying some of the great food – make sure you have a po’boy followed by a beignet.
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Austin, Texas – Mild Weather – USA winter destination
Activities: City break, music, and culture lovers
Austin is another wonderful destination to plan your winter vacation. It has mild weather during the winters with little or no rainfall, great for outdoor activities like hiking or cycling around Lady Bird Lake.
For those who want to check out the Texas Hill Country, come here in winter because this place receives much less rain than other areas of the state.
Take a photo tour of the state’s most beautiful spots and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some Texas wildlife.
Austin also has an incredible music scene that attracts visitors all year round thanks to its many live music venues that feature many local upcoming talents as well as international stars.
Many of the city’s attractions like Sixth Street, Zilker Park, and Congress Avenue Bridge are open year-long as well. So you don’t miss out on those either if your schedule does not allow for a trip during winter.
Chicago Winter Activities, Illinois – Best Winter Vacations in the US
By Patti from Savy Globetrotter and Maritza from Travel Notes and Things
Activities: Christmas market, perfect for a winter city break – here is a 2 day Chicago itinerary, culinary, landmarks
Chicago is a great place for a winter vacation in the US, especially for those that do not mind cold weather. The beginning of winter is a fun time to visit as Chicago is one of the best US cities for Christmas and holiday festivities, events, and shopping.
Highlights include Christkindlmarket, a large free traditional Christmas market, and Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier for family-friendly fun. After the holiday season is over, the rest of the winter is off-season with fewer tourists so you will likely be able to find cheaper than usual prices for accommodation.
Another reason to visit Chicago in the winter is that the popular tourist attractions are significantly less crowded than they are the rest of the year which means less time waiting in lines or people getting in your photos.
If you are not a fan of cold weather or snow, you can still enjoy Chicago in the winter and stay warm by focusing on the city’s many indoor attractions including its many museums and cultural institutions.
Other things to do in Chicago indoors include going to the theatre or a comedy club, listening to live music, enjoying the view from two of the tallest buildings in the world, or eating at one of Chicago’s many restaurants.
While foodies will love Chicago year-round, they might want to visit during Chicago Restaurant Week which takes place every winter.
Be sure to check out one of our world-famous museums while you’re visiting Chicago. The city has everything from the Field Museum which showcases a journey throughout time in human history to the Adler Planetarium which showcases the findings and depth of our solar system and astrophysics.
Chicago has everything from Greek-town to Little Mexico, Little Italy, and more. Other than a dose of culture, you’ll also be able to explore more in-depth the history of different immigrants in Chicago when you visit the museums in these different museums; definitely very cool and not to be missed!
The Maggie Daley Park always has something going on related to sports, culture, and youth, and adult programs, no matter the season or the occasion.
In the winter, make sure that you come and partake in the winter celebrations such as the Ugly Sweater Skate and Skating with Santa. Admission into the rink is free, all you have to pay for are the actual skate rentals.
Get your laughter on at one of Chicago’s popular Comedy Shows as Chicago is known for many things. And one of those things on a national and international level would have to be a comedy!
Some of the biggest comedy stars you see dazzling your TV and movie theater screens had their start here in the Second City (one of our many nicknames) such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell, and Stephen Colbert!
You cannot leave Chicago before checking out an amazing comedy show (this and deep-dish pizza kind are a few things).
Don’t forget to layer up and check out winter festivals and other city events. Chicago doesn’t like to stay indoors all winter long, so when you come to visit, be sure to pack in your warmest layers and jacket to attend the many winter festivals.
Some of the most popular winter festivals are the Christkindle Market, Lincoln Park Zoo Lights, Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier, and the West Town Winterfest (these are most popular to attend before the holidays as they display beautiful light shows and are all holiday-themed).
Don’t forget that in January, you can also check out events such as Chicago Restaurant Week, a week that highlights some of Chicago’s best dining at special rates, or Winter Beer Festival, a beer festival that offers and showcases the best of locally brewed Chicago beer and much more.
Speaking of food, Chicago arguably has some of the best food to offer, at every budget, for every one’s craving, as well as local and traditional favorites.
Now, we couldn’t just end the list without mentioning the coveted deep-dish pizza and Chicago dog. These are two food items that you cannot just leave Chicago without trying.
So if you’re visiting Chicago, just know that this is just a small list of all the things you can do while visiting! What we will recommend again however is that if you do plan on visiting during the winter months, prepare a warm wardrobe with the works; a warm puffer jacket, thermals, hats, gloves, scarves, and warm shoes (with traction for snowy days!).
Enjoy the Windy City!
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Salt Lake City in Winter with Ice Castles Display
By Melissa from Parenthood and Passports
Activities: Snow getaway, Christmas celebrations and festive – seasonal events, ski resorts
Utah may be best known for its red rocks, slot canyons, and incredible national parks. But in winter, Utah becomes a playground for snow seekers!
The Salt Lake City area is one of the most convenient cities to visit if you are looking to hit the ski slopes. There are numerous world-class ski resorts within a short, 30-minute drive from the city.
Park City Mountain Resort is perhaps the most famous and popular resort in Utah for snowbirds. As the largest ski resort in the United States, Park City offers skiers and snowboarders more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain.
Also, within driving distance, the charming town of Midway will make you feel like you are visiting the Swiss Alps rather than the Rocky Mountains.
Nestled in a picturesque valley at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, the quiet town is also home to one of several Ice Castles in the United States. The acre-sized attraction built entirely from ice is a frozen playground for kids and adults alike.
With ice slides, fountains, crawl spaces, caves, and tunnels that are all illuminated at night with color-changing lights, this icy wonderland offers its visitors one of the most unique winter experiences you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Finally, if you prefer city life, to mountains and frozen fortresses, downtown Salt Lake City is beautiful any time of year.
Be sure to visit Temple Square, home to the largest Mormon temple in the world. Although touring the temple is not permitted for anyone who is not a member of the LDS church, the castle-like exterior, and the surrounding gardens and plazas are equally impressive.
Death Valley National Park, California – Stargazing & outdoors
Activities: Outdoors, stargazing, hikes, great warm winter vacation ideas for the whole family
Death Valley National Park is a perfect warm winter getaway for the outdoor and nature lover. Located on the California/Nevada border, this desert park is North America’s lowest and hottest area.
Its name stems from a deadly mistake that has been recorded since 1849 when a group of travelers lost one of their members after they got stranded in an extremely hot stretch of valley.
In winter, Death Valley still reaches highs of 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This is still a hot summer season for this desert, but much more pleasant than the temperatures during summer which can reach as high as 57 degrees Celsius or 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
In winter, the area looks even more surreal with its bright yellow hills and snowy salt flats. The unique landscape offers a lot of attractions for tourists to enjoy all year long.
You can go on a jeep tour, drive along the scenic roads, take a walk through Badwater Basin salt flats, hike the Gower Gulch Loop Trail and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Trail, or go on a hot air balloon ride.
Death Valley National Park is one of the largest national parks in the USA so you will need few days to explore it properly. You can either stay at Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells Village, and Scotty’s Castle Guest Ranch inside the park, or do as many day trips as you can.
If you are looking for a heavenly view of stars at night, visit Death Valley National Park during winter because it is one of the best places to stargaze.
View hotels in and around Death Valley National Park
Asheville Winter Guide, North Carolina – Best Winter destinations in USA
By Rachel from Grateful Gypsies
Activities: Snow getaway, Christmas celebrations, relax and unwind at resorts, skiing, ice tubing
Asheville, NC is a fantastic winter destination. The surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains create the perfect backdrop for cozy mountain cabins and ski lodges.
Museums abound and the vibrant art scene provides a multitude of galleries to wander through. If it’s live music you crave, there are legendary venues hosting groups big and small.
Try rich and delicious IPA or Porter from one of the many breweries on the South Slope in downtown.
The best place to start your Asheville winter vacation is at the largest privately owned estate in America – the Biltmore Estate. They really go all out of the holiday season.
From the end of November to the beginning of January, the house is decked out in festive holiday lights with over 65 hand-decorated trees and a 35-foot Christmas tree gleaming in the Banquet Hall.
At night during the holiday season, Biltmore lights all the candles and dozens of fireplaces in the house. To top it all off they have live music creating a very special ambiance.
For outdoor lovers, there are some fantastic ski resorts in the mountains around Asheville. Wolf Ridge Ski Resort to the north in nearby Mars Hill, NC has something for every skill level, offering over 22 runs and trails and 4 ski lifts. There’s even a dedicated area for beginner lessons near the lodge that even has its own lift.
If skiing and snowboarding aren’t your things, Moonshine Mountain Snow Tubing Park to the south in Hendersonville offers tubing fun for the whole family. No skills are necessary!
Last but not least, Asheville is a great place to pamper yourself. The Omni Grove Park Inn is a beautiful hotel with a world-class spa. Unwind from your big trip with a relaxing massage or warm up by the massive stone fireplace.
San Diego Winter Activities, California – Mild Winter City Break
By Angelica from Things to do and Eat
Activities: Sunny escape, swim, food tours, brewery tours, soak the sun
With winter temperatures historically in the upper 60s, tons of beaches, and lots of sun, San Diego is the perfect city for a winter vacation- if you want an escape away from snow and cold.
To be fair, San Diego is a great city to visit any time of the year for a laid-back, friendly pace of life, great food, and many different outdoor activities- whether you like the ocean, the mountains, or the deserts. So why visit in the winter?
One reason is practical- winter is technically off-season since the temperatures are slightly cooler and there are more rainy days compared to the summer. This means that there are fewer crowds, and places to stay are cheaper than usual. If you’re on a budget, this is probably when you’ll want to go.
San Diego is also a great winter choice if you need to pretend it’s summer again. If you’re sick of shoveling snow and wearing heavy coats, head to San Diego to spend time in warm weather again.
You can bike down the beach boardwalk, go on a hike without needing a ton of gear, day drink at an outdoor bar, and even surf if you bring a wetsuit.
If it is one of the few rainy days on your winter escape, you can explore indoors – San Diego has tons of museums, craft brewery tours, and random activities- like axe throwing!
Click here to find the best hotel deals in San Diego
Christmas in Las Vegas and Winter Activities, Nevada
By Allan from The Practical Saver
Activities: No snow vacation, party, shows, explore the city, enjoy the nightlife, casino haven, New Year, and Christmas celebrations. Read our 3 days itinerary to Las Vegas
Las Vegas isn’t just the city for gambling. It’s the place for adults and kids of all ages. The best part is that you don’t have to pay money to visit some great attractions. Yes, a lot of them are free.
Even during winter, you can see the dancing fountains outside the Bellagio. You can even go inside the Bellagio and see the Winter-inspired displays including Christmas lights, which is one of the popular attractions in Las Vegas.
You can walk on the Strip, which is around 2.5 miles long, at night, and be amazed at the great and never-ending show of lights from the different hotels and casinos on the strip. Just make sure you bundle up.
As you walk along the street, you’ll see great performers from dancers, human statues, painters, to singers. There’s plenty of performances on the strip that can entertain you for hours. You can also visit the famous Las Vegas sign.
Make sure though to get there early in the morning as it can get crowded there during the day. You can also go there at night so you can experience the lights all over that sign.
For a day trip, you can visit Red Rock Canyon State Park, located only 25 minute drive away. This park is perfect to embark on hikes, and hit the trails away from the slot machines!
Read: Best Places to stay in Las Vegas
Visiting Grand Canyon in Winter, Arizona
Activities: Off season travel, moderate snowfall, winter hike.
Grand Canyon is stunning at any time of the year. But winters are special, especially from the end of November to February.
And the Grand Canyon deserves a visit if you are holidaying in Las Vegas (on a day tour) or staying in Arizona.
The temperature in Grand Canyon is very moderate and not very cold. But when the snow falls, it makes the canyons look very stunning. Make sure to visit the Grand Canyon during sunrise and you will be mesmerized by the multitude of colors on the craters.
During winters, the south rim of the Grand Canyon is the most accessible. And that’s where we went in winter. You can also spot a little wildlife here and there during winter.
Winter in Grand Canyon is considered off-season, so it is less crowded and very easy to find accommodation as well. Depending on how much snowfall the national park is expecting, on some days the roads could be inaccessible.
But they are always open to tour buses. So here is another reason to take a tour bus to the Canyons from Las Vegas. They are quite affordable (less than $100 for a full-day tour, with a light breakfast and a decent lunch). Tours are not intrusive and once you enter the park you are on your own to explore the canyons.
Read Grand Canyon: North Rim vs South Rim – Which one should you go to?
St. Paul – Visit the Annual Winter Carnival
Activities: Snow events across the city. Home to the oldest winter festival in the country.
Saint Paul is one the oldest cities in Minnesota and also the state capital. St Paul may not sound like the ideal winter vacation destination in the US, but you must consider it!
The Twin Cities is home to historic neighborhoods and landmarks and of course cold snowy winters. And that’s why the St. Paul Annual Winter Carnival is the biggest cold-weather festival in the USA.
It is also the oldest dating back to the year 1886. The festival takes place towards the end of January to the early days of February each year and lasts for 10 days. The festival showcases the Ice Carving and Snow Sculpture competitions in full swing!
You can also enjoy drive-through Christmas lights events in the city.
During your winter trip, stay at the centrally located landmark hotel – The Saint Paul Hotel. It is within walking distance from the Union Depot Train Station and features beautiful rooms and a bar on-site.
Book your stay at the Saint Paul Hotel here
San Antonio in Winter, Texas: Christmas Celebrations
By Yocheved from Texas Wanderers
Activities: Christmas celebrations in San Antonio and festive events, relax and unwind at resorts, skiing, ice tubing
Winter in San Antonio is magical. Because the weather is so mild, you can enjoy the holiday sights and sounds without bundling up and freezing your toes.
Walk or take a boat ride along the festively lit riverwalk. From November 27 to January 2, the riverwalk is draped in shimmering color, with strings of lights dripping from the trees and hanging over the river for an enchanted feel.
For even more enchantment, head over to Old West Christmas Light Fest at Enchanted Springs Ranch, just outside San Antonio. This authentic old west town gets lit up beautifully for Christmas, so you can imagine you’re spending Christmas with the cowboys. Enjoy games, music, activities, and even a light show, laser tag, and Christmas escape room!
Check out the Seaworld Christmas Celebration as well, with one of the largest Christmas light displays in Texas! Meet Rudolph and his friends, watch the Christmas animal shows, and make your way through over 250 acres of Christmas lights!
For upscale, modern lodging, stay at Hotel Emma in the Pearl District. This hotel is actually an old brewery converted into a hotel, with carefully preserved details.
To stay on the riverwalk, check out the Omni La Mansion del Rio, an affordable, centrally located hotel that opens up directly on the riverwalk so you can be in the center of the action.
Orange Beach, Alabama – Gulf Shores Getaway in the Winter
Activities: Relaxing, waterfront, mild winters
A popular destination for surfing, fishing, and bird watching is Orange Beach in Alabama. In the winter, although the waters are too cold for a swim, you can surely enjoy the Gulf shores – relaxing and sun bathing during the day.
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will love Orange Beach’s amazing parks like Little Lagoon Park or the Gulf State Park. These are wonderful places to spend time with family when on a winter vacation in the USA.
When planning to visit Orange Beach during winter make sure to check out hotel deals online because it is usually crowded during the prime season which makes prices go up considerably.
Book your stay in an Orange Beach hotel today
Sandpoint Idaho Winter – Best Winter destinations in USA
By Andrea from One Savy Wanderer.
Activities: Snow-haven – skiing, snowboarding, resort stay-cation, mountain views
Sandpoint, Idaho, is a little-known secret in Northern Idaho. Sandpoint is located on Lake Pend Oreille, which is the 5th deepest lake in the United States.
The lake makes Sandpoint a tourist destination in the summer, but ski bums and snow-aficionados also love to spend time there in the winter.
Schweitzer Mountain ski resort, with a top elevation of 6,400 feet, overlooks Lake Pend Oreille and the city of Sandpoint.
Skiers and snowboarders can enjoy 2900 skiable acres and 92 runs. Schweitzer mountain can also be explored through snowshoeing and hosts two different snow-tubing operations.
When visitors to Sandpoint are not spending time on the mountain, they can enjoy great food at the various restaurants in town. Whether you are looking for fine dining (Forty One South) steakhouses (Hydra Steakhouse), pizza joints (Second Avenue Pizza, Pound Hound Pizza), or casual pubs (Eichardts), there is something for everyone!
There are also fantastic craft breweries (McDuffs & Laughing Dog) and a delicious local winery, Pend d’Orielle, whose tasting room is a must-visit for wine lovers. Coffee lovers can also find several local roasters in Sandpoint, the best being Evans Brothers.
Those wanting to visit Sandpoint, to enjoy what it and Schweitzer Mountain have to offer in the winter, should plan to fly into Spokane, Washington, and rent a car to drive the 1.5 hours to Sandpoint.
There are several hotels and Airbnb’s available for visitors to the area in both the city of Sandpoint and Schweitzer Mountain.
If you are visiting Idaho, Sun Valley in the south region of the state is a great winter ski destination in the USA. It is actually home to the first ski resort in the country. Sandpoint to Sun Valley is 8.50 hours by road and is 3.25 hours a flight away.
Click to view hotels in Sandpoint
Buffalo Winter Guide, NY – Best Winter destinations in USA
By Sharon from Daily Dream 360
Activities: Ice skating by canal side, ice bikes, culture, and art love
One of my favorite winter destinations in the US is Buffalo, New York. We’ve taken many trips during the holiday season and winter months and have even lived through a Buffalo Winter Blizzard.
Don’t let the misconceptions of Buffalo’s harsh winters deter you, this city has quietly evolved with its waterfront and downtown development projects, and there is so much to do and see during the winter months.
Start at the waterfront, where you can partake in winter activities like broomball, curling, riding ice bikes, and skating on the ice at Canalside, Buffalo’s newest re-imagined neighborhood.
From Canalside take the free streetcar into downtown where you can enjoy a gourmet meal at one of Buffalo’s many new up-and-coming restaurants. After dinner, be sure to catch a Broadway show at the beautifully restored Shea’s Theater.
Stay at the Hotel Henry a high-end boutique hotel built in Buffalo’s historic Asylum buildings. Browse the hotel’s hallways and explore the vast open spaces which are decorated with different art exhibits.
Extend your love for arts and culture by visiting the Albert Knox Gallery and Burchfield Penney Art Center which are both located down the street. Be sure to stop at the nearby iconic Elmwood Village neighborhood, which is filled with boutique shops, cafes, pubs, and restaurants.
Key West Winter Guide – Warm Winter Destinations in USA
By Diana from Dianas Healthy Living
Activities: Sunny beaches, laid-back resort life, relax and unwind, visit museums, enjoy the nightlife
If you have never been to Key West, Florida then you are in for a treat especially if you are looking to escape the winter chill and in need of some sunshine. This southernmost city of the United States, which is closer to Cuba than it is to Miami, is not like any other part of Florida.
Half the fun of visiting Key West is the journey. If you are arriving from the Miami area, you will be driving across route 1, the overseas highway. There are spectacular views that will make for a memorable driving experience.
Key West is an island with tropical vibes that has crystal clear waters, year-round sunshine, palm trees, and a laid-back Caribbean feel, exactly what you need to cure those winter blues.
There are many unique experiences and something for the entire family such as visiting the southernmost point, snorkeling the biggest coral reef in the world, best Key Lime Pie, and spectacular sunsets, just to name a few.
The best way to explore Key West is by foot as most of the attractions are within walking distance and this way you can stop at many restaurants and bars lining Duval Street.
If you are a history buff then you will love all the historical sites such as Ernest Hemingway’s house and museum, Harry S. Truman Little White House, and many more.
Be sure to catch the beautiful sunset at the port where the cruise ships are and get ready for the nightlife along Duval Street. You can’t leave Key West without having some infamous Key Lime pie.
Click to view hotels in Key West
Aspen Winter Activities – Best Ski Winter Vacations in the US
Activities: Cross country skiing and other winter outdoor activities, shopping, events, nightlife
Located in Colorado, Aspen is a skier’s paradise. It truly is one of the best places to visit in the USA in winter. Snow is guaranteed every winter.
You can view and access any of the four mountain ranges – Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass, and Buttermilk for cross country skiing or snowboarding activities.
Don’t ski? Visit the Aspen mountains anyway. Take the chair lift and access the mountain views and relax with warm cocoa at the Ajax Tavern.
Aspen is popular for shopping and music shows including G games and other local events. Oh and don’t get me started on the nightlife – it is extra vagrant and wild. If you are a history lover like us, take a guided tour of this historic town.
You can easily fly to Aspen or take a connecting flight from Denver Colorado. Or if you prefer driving, hit the road with your skiing gear and carry warm clothes. Always pay heed to local weather warnings, before starting on your trip.
Accommodation prices shoot up in winter, book ahead of time to reserve your room and save on room rates.
Click here to find the best hotel deals in Aspen Colorado
Los Angeles Winter Activities, California – City & Beach Break
By Constance from the Adventures of Panda Bear
Activities: Moderate winter temperatures, city and culture exploration
Los Angeles is one of the best places in the United States to visit during the winter. The colder months are typically on the warmer side and sunny. It’s a great destination if you’re trying to avoid the snow and the cold.
For a beach-oriented vacation, be sure to check out Santa Monica, where you can enjoy the rides at Santa Monica pier or hang out at Santa Monica State Beach.
Venice Beach is also a great spot because it’s got a great boardwalk area you can walk around with tons of shops as well as the Canals of Venice neighborhood. It’s like a little bit of Amsterdam in sunny Southern California!
Art buffs will love the world-class museums in the city. From the free entry at The Broad and the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles to the insanely large Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
You can also visit architectural sites such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, the Eames’ Case Study House, and the Gamble House.
Depending on the season, catch a game at Dodgers Stadium or watch the Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers play at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Both sports are a huge deal in Los Angeles and many locals are die-hard fans.
And last but not least, there’s always Hollywood. You can visit the Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and Grauman’s Egyptian Theater.
Or see the Hollywood sign up close and personal by hiking to the back of the sign. There are so many things to do in Los Angeles, it’s got amazing flavor even in the winter.
Click here to find the best hotel deals in Los Angeles
Yosemite National Park in Winter, California – Hikes & Nature
By Allison from She Dreams of Alpine.
Activities: Snowy winter getaway, national park, winter hikes, snowboarding, relaxing and unwinding at resorts
Yosemite National Park, located in the state of California, is one of the most iconic and well-known national parks in the entire United States.
In the summer months, people flock from all over the world to visit Yosemite and see the tall granite walls in Yosemite Valley and hike some of the best hiking trails.
And while Yosemite is certainly stunning in the summer months, it transforms into a snowy wonderland in the winter.
Iconic features, like Half Dome and El Capitan, are dusted in snow and display another beautiful side to Yosemite, and unlike the summertime, winter in Yosemite has a more relaxed and slow-paced vibe. There are fewer crowds and more moments to enjoy the park to yourself.
During the wintertime in Yosemite National Park, you can go snowshoeing, ice skating, and even skiing at Badger Pass Ski Area.
During Christmas time, the Majestic Yosemite Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Valley Lodge, and Big Trees Lodge all hold Christmas festivities and big holiday dinners in celebration of the holiday season.
There are all kinds of activities, including gingerbread house decorating, ornament-making gatherings, and much more.
When you come to Yosemite in the winter you will be pleasantly surprised by its charms and will leave wishing you had more time to explore this beautiful winter wonderland.
Click here to find the best hotel deals in Yosemite National Park
Kohler, Wisconsin Winter Getaways – For Quiet Vacations
By Emily from Em’s on the road
Activities: Snowy (indoors) getaway, cozy and romantic resort stays, relax, and unwind
If you’re looking for a cozy winter getaway that is under the radar yet easy to visit then Kohler, Wisconsin is the place.
Home to the Kohler empire, their former dormitory for international workers has been transformed into a cozy historic hotel called The American Club with its own award-winning spa decked out with custom Kohler fixtures.
Spend the day snowshoeing in their nature preserve before one of their signature hydrotherapy treatments and a cup of hot tea by their rooftop fireplace. Finish off the night with an Old Fashioned in The Library Bar or a delicious burger and pint of Wisconsin craft beer.
You can even spend an afternoon in the Kohler Design Facility and create your own custom kitchen and bathroom. Winter is an ideal time to visit The American Club because they extend special winter hotel room rates and spa treatment discounts. Not to mention it is truly a winter wonderland thanks to plenty of snow.
Kohler is located 2 hours away from Lake Wisconsin and this is where ice fishing can be done. The state of Wisconsin is known for Northern Lights sighting.
Sugarite Canyon State Park, New Mexico – Historic Sites, Skiing
Activities: Skiing, and winter sports
People who love nature, sports, and outdoor activities will find Sugarite Canyon State Park to be one of the best winter destinations in the USA. It is located on the New Mexico and Colorado border and offers amazing hiking and skiing opportunities.
Sugarite Canyon State Park is open all year long and visitors are welcomed with pristine scenery, perfect temperatures, clear blue skies, and crisp air.
For those who love skiing, there are ski slopes approximately 10 miles up the canyon that offers fantastic views of the state park all around.
You should start your subsequent holiday planning by taking a trip to this spot, Sugarite Canyon State Park is a national historic district that features good lodging facilities and opportunities for adventure. It truly makes for an unforgettable winter holiday with your family.
Miami Winter Break – Best Warm Winter Vacation in the US
By Greta from Greta’s Travels
Activities: Warm getaway, enjoy cuisine and city culture – art and museum lovers, walking
If you’re looking for one of the best cities in the US to escape to this winter, Miami has to feature on your bucket list.
Miami won’t be your traditional winter getaway, you won’t find any snow there, instead, you will find temperate weather and sunny days. With average temperatures ranging from 20°C to 24°C and 4 rainfall days, you can expect a sunny escape from the cold.
Miami has a heavy Cuban and Caribbean influence, which is apparent in the cuisine and vibe of the city. Head to Little Havana for the best Cuban food and cigars, or to Espanola Way to enjoy live flamenco dancing with your tapas.
With its colorful lifeguard huts, it’s one of the most iconic locations in Miami, and the perfect place to enjoy some winter sun.
If you’re looking for a beach getaway, make sure to visit South Beach.
If you’re looking for something more active you can consider doing a bike or walking tour of Wynwood. Wynwood is a hip district in Miami, where you will find graffiti covering pretty much every inch of all the walls in sight.
For the science and art lovers make sure to visit Museum Park, besides the science and art museums there it is also a great location to walk around along the sea and enjoy the nice weather.
Click here to find the best hotel deals in Miami Florida
St. John’s, US Virgin Islands – Beaches, Outdoors & Romantic Winter Getaway
Activities: Outdoors, nature, beaches, and relaxation
If you are looking for a winter getaway idea in the USA that is exotic, St. John’s, US Virgin Islands is probably the best destination to be at.
The USVI offers some of the best diving opportunities in the Caribbean during winter because of its optimal water temperature hovering around 28 degrees Celsius.
This place has so much to offer like kayaking, hiking, and exploring the colorful reefs, and you must know that almost 60% of the island of St. John’s is a protected national park area.
The major sightseeing attractions here are Trunk Bay & Honeymoon Beach which is a great spot for picnics or family activities like making sandcastles.
If you want to enjoy some fresh sea breeze while relaxing on the beautiful beaches, stop by one of the bars and cafes in Cruz Bay. This is a great place for your family holidays and truly an excellent honeymoon destination.
So these were our top picks for the best places to visit in the US during winter. The list is not in any order. Now, it’s your turn to choose your winter getaway in the US for that unforgettable vacation. Happy Travels!
Additional USA and North America Resources and travel tips:
- Visiting the USA in the summer instead? Read our 16 Road Trip Ideas in the USA exploring Yellowstone National Park, New Mexico, Lake Tahoe, and more.
- USA Bucket list – USA Most beautiful places to visit
- USA’s Romantic cities – Perfect destinations for couples in the USA
- Couples’ bucket list for Vegas – Perfect things to do for couples in Vegas
- USA Trip planning – Get the essential planning tips for visiting the USA
I have got to get out to Yosemite in the winter!
Winter is my favorite season and I always plan to explore new places every winter. USA is always on my bucket list and me and my boyfriend were planning to go on vacation in USA coming winter. Thanks for sharing this useful and informative piece. This will really help us planning our vacation.
Thanks so much Claire! Happy Travels!
This looks like a fantastic trip! I say next time you are on the East Coast, make the drive from Boston to the beaches of Maine! You will not be disappointed. As you travel up the Coast of Maine there are so many beautiful spots!
That was a very informative and useful list of places to visit in the US during winter. The images which you have shared are amazing and shows how beautiful these places are. Thanks for sharing this list, every traveler should explore these places at least once while planning a visit to the US.
Love NYC any time. Only NYC, London and Moscow could be such amazing all over the year