Best Winter Family Vacations
School's out for the holiday season and work hours have finally let up, so why not gather the whole gang for a family-friendly winter escape? Whether you're craving adventure travel, warm temperatures or cultural immersion, you'll find a range of options on this list, as determined by reader votes and expert opinions. Ask the kids to help you vote for the top spots and help us decide next year's ranking.
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Theme parks – Orlando, Florida's most notable attractions – are the dream vacation of families across the world. With enough entertainment and kid-friendly fare to satisfy your little ones for weeks, Orlando adds its warm winter weather to a long list of family vacation draws.
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Ideal wintertime temps (hovering in the 70s) in Anaheim, California, and a decked-out Disneyland for the holidays make for a great family vacation. But if you're planning a trip here over a school break, book well in advance to snag accommodations at reasonable prices.
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Winter vacations in this Tennessee town revolve around the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area. Apart from enjoying winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing, families can take in the views from the aerial tramway. You can also take the kids indoors to the popular Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies.
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The Honolulu Zoo, Wet 'n' Wild Hawaii and several family resorts help make Waikiki Beach an especially kid-friendly part of Honolulu. But the island's biggest wintertime appeal lies in its warm weather: High temps hover in the low 80s. Just keep in mind that you won't be the only family vying for space on the sand.
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Time your visit for February when the city hosts its annual Carnaval de Québec. Enjoy a bevy of activities, including a night parade, canoe races across the frozen St. Lawrence River and a palace built of ice. Adventure-loving clans won't want to miss a few toboggan rides down the Terrasse Dufferin slides. If you need an escape from the cold, head to the aquarium.
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Winter activities abound in Whistler, British Columbia. The town's enormous Whistler Blackcomb resort has enough space for families to ski before sipping hot chocolate by the fire. If little ones tire of downhill runs, Whistler Village offers plenty of attractions, including Olympic Plaza, which shows off mementos from the 2010 Winter Olympics.
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From Broadway shows to a bevy of museums, your clan will find no shortage of things to do in the Big Apple. Schedule your visit in December to take in holiday offerings like Rockefeller Center's massive Christmas tree or wait until the new year to save on hotel rates.
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If you've come to Aspen to teach your little ones to ski, experts recommend Snowmass and Buttermilk resorts for beginners. When you're in need of a break from the slopes, take a horse and carriage ride around downtown Aspen or head to the Aspen Recreation Center for its indoor pool, water slides and rock climbing wall.
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While you'll run into expensive lodging rates and lift tickets on the weekends and around the holidays, if you visit midweek you may be able to snag deals. Plan your trip for late January to feast your eyes on the creations at the International Snow Sculpture Championships.
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Kids who aren't quite ready for the bunny hill can go snow tubing at Grand Targhee or Snow King resorts. Dog sledding tours and Elk Refuge sleigh rides are additional must-do family activities. When you need to warm up, head inside to the Jackson Hole Playhouse for dinner and a family-friendly Western-themed show.
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Collecting shells along the sandy shores, exploring the Sanibel Lighthouse and indulging in fresh seafood are just a few activities that families can enjoy on Florida's Sanibel Island. Temperatures rest in the mid-70s this time of year but can get chilly at night, so pack layers.
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An international getaway that won't break the bank, Costa Rica is a prime choice for adventure-loving families. Your kids will never forget a visit to Arenal, one of the world's most active volcanoes, or a zip line ride through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve. Prepare for crowds and high prices since winter is the region's dry, busy season.
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