The 9 Best Winter Vacations in the U.S.
Winter is one of the best times to see different parts of the US at its brightest and most festive. In some places of the country, the coziness of the seasonal chill is quintessential to the winter experience. But in other places, winter is basically nonexistent, save for a few holiday decorations!
Here are 9 of the best vacations you can take this upcoming season:
California Desert Trip
Though winter frost is usually associated with snow-covered trees, the desert is a great place to visit in the winter. Scorching summer temperatures in California (which sometimes reach over 120°F!) mean that the cooler seasons make the desert bearable. There are plenty of deserts, like Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Mojave, Death Valley, and more, to spend your winter in the Southern California area. For a little bit of inspiration, check out BMTM’s perfect California deserts road trip itinerary.
If you decide to visit the state during the later months of winter, you may have a chance to see its landscape spring back to life. Check out this BMTM post for the best places to see California wildflowers and superblooms.
Idaho Hot Springs Road Trip
Idaho is one of those destinations where you can’t go wrong no matter the season you visit. But when the winter snow decorates the state, Idaho’s hot springs become especially enticing.
Not only are they the perfect way to offset Idaho’s otherwise chilly weather, but they are a great way to make your itinerary. There are hot springs of all varieties here, with options ranging from the resort stay to the middle of nowhere. Pro tip: don’t be afraid to ask locals for some hot spring insight, as you may come across a hidden gem!
But Idaho has more to offer than just its hot springs––go to its more mountainous parts (like Sun Valley) for skiing and snowboarding, or check out the craters of the moon for some moon-like caves. More than enough winter festivities also keep visitors occupied, as events like the McCall Winter Carnival bring in tourists throughout the season.
Colorado Ski Trip
It’s no surprise that Colorado is a ski haven, given that it’s the state known for having the most “fourteeners” (mountains higher than 14,000 feet) in the country. The state certainly has its fair share of famous locales here with places like Aspen to uphold its reputation. But don’t be too intimidated with the pros you may see hitting the slopes––there’s always time to learn!
Colorado also offers other activities geared for the winter season, like snowshoeing, sledding, and wildlife watching. Overall, the scenic mountaintop views and varied landscape make Colorado a great road trip for the winter.
Utah National Parks Road Trip
For dramatic Southwestern scenery and some rock formations that’ll leave you in awe, Utah’s National Parks are the ideal winter vacation spot. Millions of visitors come each year to see the state’s five national parks (nicknamed “The Big Five”), but most of them avoid the winter months.
Traveling across Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks lets you fully see what Utah has to offer. You’ll definitely need time if you want to enjoy iconic landmarks like Delicate Arch or the Moses and Zeus formation. Plus, the winter temperatures make hiking a less sweat-inducing activity, and if you’re lucky, you get to see these amazing formations coated in snow!
For an in-depth look at Utah’s national parks, check out BMTM’s Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip guide.
Winter Trip to Washington D.C.
Most people come to the nation’s capital during its cherry blossom season, so winters in D.C. are less popular for tourists. But political events ensure this city is lively throughout the season.
There are many places worth stopping by during the holiday season, like the National Christmas Tree. But the city also has plenty of things to do in the following months. Of course, the National Mall is also a year-round must. But the ice rink at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden is also a favorite for D.C. tourists and locals alike. The weather here is certainly chillier than it is down south, so if you come be sure to bundle up!
North Carolina Mountain Retreat
North Carolina’s western city of Asheville is one of the best places to have a picture-perfect wintertime getaway. Part of the city’s charm is in its climate––the region’s mild winters combined with the Blue Ridge Mountains bring a sense of log-cabin coziness for visitors. Whether you want to find budget activities to do in the city or completely retreat into the wilderness, Asheville appeals to those wanting a scenic getaway.
December is a popular time for tourists to explore the area, as Christmas at the Biltmore attracts plenty of people yearly. During this time the Blue Ridge Parkway also usually receives its last bout of hikers before it starts closing for the colder months. Check out this map for real-time updates of road closures on the parkway.
Southeast City Sightseeing
Maybe it’s the weather’s slight chill, but the United States’ southern cities are much more romantic in the winter. Quaint cities like Charleston shine during the cold season, which you can enjoy without the crowd of summer tourists! While you’re here, take a carriage ride down its cobblestone streets, which make for a much cozier experience in the winter than in the summer months. The city is also known for its Holiday Festival of Lights that light up the area’s palm trees.
Travel a few hours south and you can also visit equally charming Savannah. The wintertime is a great time to bundle up and explore the city’s walkable squares. Check out BMTM’s ultimate Savannah guide for detailed guide to the city.
Surf’s Up in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico sadly does not get nearly enough vacation clout compared to other U.S. beach destinations. But the territory’s western town of Rincón is renowned for its waves during the winter season. A winter trip here is perfect for beginners learning how to surf, or more advanced surfers wanting to take advantage of swell season.
Most visitors fly into San Juan, so you’ll probably need a rental car for the drive out west. However, a rental car is also useful if you want to explore the island beyond its surfing spots! While San Juan captures much of the area’s liveliness, don’t be afraid to head to the eastern islands too. Paddle through the bioluminescent waters of Vieques or in the crystal clear waters of Culebra.
Hawaii is a paradise no matter the time of year. In the water, surfing and snorkeling reign supreme. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to view sea creatures snorkeling off the big island or explore its coastline. Maui’s Road to Hana is also a bucket list-worthy (albeit slightly terrifying) experience to also do while you’re here.
Be My Travel Muse has a ton of blog posts that can help you plan the perfect itinerary for your visit to Hawaii. Read BMTM’s Hawaii packing list to help with packing, or BMTM’s best things to do in Hawaii to help plan your trip to these Pacific islands.
These nine trips are only a few of the many trips you can have in the United States during the wintertime. Is there a trip you’d like to do this winter? Let me know!