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12 Places to Embrace the Cold This Winter

Rethink taking a sunny beach getaway to chase away your winter doldrums.

U.S. News & World Report

12 Places to Embrace the Cold This Winter

Couple with ice skates hugging below snowy mountain.

These scenic winter destinations are perfect for enjoying cold-weather pursuits, hitting the slopes, ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing and more. (Getty Images)

Let's face it: Winter isn't going away any time soon. While many travelers are fleeing to sunny seaside locales, there's something to be said for a cold-weather escape with exhilarating days hitting the trails, tackling the slopes and warming up in cozy lodges by a crackling fire. If you're ready to embrace the cold, here are a few ideas on where to go for winter fun.

Bryce, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, with its orange, red and yellow towering rock formations are a site worth seeing at any time of year, but in winter, you can enjoy a fresh perspective of the park's iconic natural attractions blanketed in snow. Plus, you won't find big crowds at this time of year. During your visit, take advantage of 30 miles of cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and ice skating.


This year marks Montreal's 375th anniversary, so get ready for plenty of entertainment this winter. During Montréal en Lumière, from Feb. 22 to Mar. 11, there are live music performances and special food events at the city's top restaurants. And Nuit Blanche, which takes place on Mar. 5, is the annual art-driven all-nighter, when art galleries, bars and venues open their doors for an evening extravaganza. What's more, you'll find plenty of excellent cuisine options in Montreal, along with a variety of hotel chains and boutique hotels offering discounted winter rates. Best of all, given the strength of the U.S. dollar, it's easy to plan a budget-friendly trip.

Vail, Colorado

Set in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Vail offers an action-packed cold-weather locale. From skiing and snowshoeing to dog sledding to snow tubing to ice skating, there's plenty of adventurous pursuits to be had in Vail, and it's not limited to the outdoors. Vail is also well known for its shops, spas, cuisine and nightlife. Even better, accommodations include bed-and-breakfasts, condos, hotels and private homes, catering to luxury-seekers and budget-minded powder hounds alike.

New York City

During winter, New York City hotel rates and attraction lines tend to dip, making it an enticing time to plan a trip. In the city that never sleeps, there's plenty to entertain you from snowy strolls in Central Park to warming up at the Great Northern Food Hall at Grand Central. As for accommodations, consider Conrad New York. Set in the heart of Battery Park, the property offers museum-worthy art and a critically acclaimed chef at their restaurant ATRIO. The Maritime Hotel in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood is another crowd-pleasing option, with its inviting lobby and fireplace.

Bozeman, Montana

The Lark, a modern hotel in downtown Bozeman, is an ideal home base for a Montana adventure. There are a variety of packages, where you snowshoe or hike on trails, and warm up with a 30-minute snowga experience (yoga in the snow) amid all the natural winter beauty. Or check out the Toasty Tour de Foam, where you can taste your way through Bozeman's best breweries with the help of a professional guide.

Sun Valley, Idaho

If you're itching for a snow adventure, head to Knob Hill Inn Sun Valley. Explore the Ketchum area on skis, skates, fat tire bikes or snowshoes. The view of the Smoky and Boulder Mountain ranges merits a trip on its own. Knob Hill's Best of Baldy package includes a day on the mountain and a meal at The Grill, which dishes out northwestern cuisine. And the "Off-Roaders' Escape" package will take you in Idaho's backcountry for a half-day unguided adventure on hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails.

Cape Neddick, Maine

If you're looking for quiet and solitude this winter, you're in luck. The Spa at Cliff House Maine just opened its 9,000 square feet spa that channels "wild and free" elements of coastal Maine, incorporating water, stone, sky and sand into its treatments. Partnering with celebrated amenity partners, The Spa features exceptional products within its treatments and retail space. Best of all, the Spa is accessible to guests of the resort, as well as visitors and locals.


Le Méridien Chambers Minneapolis aims to up the winter cool factor with its snow-filled activities (think: ice-fishing), included in its "Hooked on Winter" package. Enjoy winter cycling with new bikes that are made to ride smoothly in the snow or check out the city's snow-filled landscape, filled with parks, lakes and scenic bike trails. Even better, the hotel is also close to art galleries, museums, theaters and concert halls.

North Conway, New Hampshire

You may not have heard of North Conway, but it's been recognized by National Geographic as one of the top 25 ski towns in the world. Another plus: It's budget-friendly, with nightly rates at hotels starting at around $100 a night. If you love to shop, you can take your pick from more than 200 name-brand outlets offering up discounts. Plus, New Hampshire is one of only two states in the country that's tax -free. And if you'd rather spend your time outdoors, North Conway is at the center of Mt. Washington Valley, home to 13 ski resorts, all roughly 30 to 45minutes from town. Within the Mt. Washington Valley region and inside North Conway, you can enjoy sleigh rides, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, sledding, fat biking, snowshoeing, hiking, ice climbing and more.

Yosemite National Park, California

The Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is 2 miles from the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. Here, you can enjoy everything from snowshoeing to ice skating to sledding to archery. And if you want to explore the winter wonderland that is Yosemite National Park at this time of year, speak to the concierge. After a day of exploring the park, head to the Sierra Restaurant for a cozy meal, filled with seasonally inspired dishes such as butternut squash soup and calamari salad.

Cle Elum, Washington

Just a 90-minute drive from Seattle, Cle Elum offers a convenient escape from the city. The Suncadia Resort is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Ski, snowboard, ice skate or enjoy a guided fly fishing trip, among other activities. Or, enjoy a guided snowshoe tour around historic Roslyn. When hunger strikes, several on-site restaurants at the resort await you.

Lake Tahoe, California

Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, a renowned mountain resort in North Lake Tahoe, spans over 6,000 skiable acres and offers an ideal base for wintry pastimes. The resort features slopeside lodging at The Village at Squaw Valley, which has nearly 60 bars, restaurants and boutiques. For an experience to remember, check out the Moonlit Snowshoe + Dinner. After the mountain closes, you can enjoy a snowshoe tour to the mid-mountain Chalet at Alpine Meadows, where you can savor an intimate dinner, complete with an Alps-inspired menu.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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