13 Best Places To Go in the Winter in the United States

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A winter vacation is a great cure for the letdown that often comes after the holidays and the “winter blahs” that can set in as the season stretches on. Yet everyone has a different idea of what makes a perfect winter vacation. Some want to ski or at least savor all that goes with a snowy environment — think cozy fireplaces, hot cocoa, mulled wine, crisp air, and mountains draped in white. Others want to avoid the cold at all costs, lounge in the sun, and swim in warm tropical waters.

To help you decide what kind of trip is right for you, here’s a look at our top 13 winter vacation ideas for destinations around the United States. These are our favorite places to go in the winter, whether you’re looking for the perfect winter wonderland or you prefer sandy beaches to snowy mountains.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

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With an average 458 inches of snowfall each year, the ski resorts here — in particular, the popular Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Snow King Mountain — attract lovers of the sport. You’ll also find other winter-weather activities like snow tubing, snowshoeing, ice skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and backcountry skiing. Snowcoach tours to nearby Yellowstone National Park make it possible to explore the area in a warm, comfortable vehicle, offering access to Old Faithful, bubbling mud pots, and wildlife. For another exciting winter adventure, snowmobile tours are offered in Yellowstone and, even closer, Grand Teton National Park.

St. Louis, Missouri

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With daytime temperatures often hovering in the 40s, winter in St. Louis might seem downright mild to some residents of chillier cities. If it feels too cold to be outside, though, there’s plenty to do indoors. The palatial St. Louis Art Museum, founded in 1879 and moved to its current home during the 1904 World’s Fair, is one of the country’s premier museums. Visitors can also ride a tram to the top of the Gateway Arch, the tallest human-made monument in the United States at 630 feet, for a spectacular view of the city.

St. George, Utah

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A four-hour scenic drive from Salt Lake City (or a two-hour drive from Las Vegas), St. George offers an appealingly mild desert climate. Though nights can be chilly, daytime temperatures here typically reach into the 50s or even low 60s during the winter months. The historic downtown features a number of interesting museums, galleries, restaurants, and cafes. About an hour away, spectacular Zion National Park is open all year, with hiking and mountain biking trails. Just 15 minutes from St. George, Snow Canyon State Park — with red rock mountains, horseback riding, and gorgeous scenery — seldom sees snow, despite its name.

Louisville, Kentucky

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Known for the Kentucky Derby, the Bourbon Trail, the Louisville Slugger baseball bat, and great food, Louisville offers a bevy of indoor attractions and lots of bourbon to keep you warm. Set on the Ohio River along the Indiana border, the city rarely sees snow or freezing temperatures — but if its highs in the 40s and 50s are too chilly for you, you’ll still find plenty to do. The Kentucky Derby Museum explores the history of the annual thoroughbred horse race, while the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory will appeal to baseball fans. Bourbon connoisseurs, meanwhile, will want to check out all the nearby distilleries.

Palm Springs, California

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About a two-hour drive east of Los Angeles, this charming desert city enjoys warm winter temperatures and is home to golf courses, spas, casinos, and nearby hot springs. Trendy restaurants, boutique hotels, resorts, and elegant shops offer something for everyone — and there are options if you prefer outdoor pursuits, too. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway provides spectacular views en route to the snow-capped peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains, while Joshua Tree National Park (located about an hour away) boasts extraordinary rock formations, cacti, and starry night skies.

Key West, Florida

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As the southernmost point in the continental U.S., Key West is a perfect destination for travelers in search of winter sun. Winter temperatures in the 70s, centuries of history, and world-class water sports all attract tourists, as does the chance to take one of America’s most scenic road trips — the roughly 3.5-hour drive across the 42 bridges that connect Key West to Miami. Diving and snorkeling among the coral reefs are popular activities during the day, while in the evening, lively Duval Street offers a Caribbean-style ambience and a host of great restaurants and bars. Historic architecture, the Key West City Cemetery, and the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum are among the most-visited attractions in this quirky city.

Burlington, Vermont

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Located in northwestern Vermont on the shore of Lake Champlain, Burlington is one of the best places to go in the winter if you like snow. Several popular ski resorts lie within an hour of the city, including Stowe, Smugglers’ Notch, and Bolton Valley. Downtown Burlington, meanwhile, boasts shops, restaurants, microbreweries, live music venues, and the charming Church Street Marketplace. When you’re ready to turn in for the night, Vermont’s largest city offers a variety of cozy bed-and-breakfasts and chic hotels.

Sun Valley, Idaho

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If you want to ski in the tracks of old Hollywood royalty this winter, Sun Valley is the place for you. Sun Valley Resort was founded in 1936, and from the beginning drew celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable to ski in style, earning it a reputation as the birthplace of destination skiing. Today, the resort offers 2,400 skiable acres spread across two mountains, plus a popular snow sports school. Non-skiers can check out the other winter activities available — from ice skating and snow biking to snowmobiling and sleigh rides — or visit the town, which boasts a range of dining spots, live music venues, and coffee shops.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Travelers who like to spend their winters enjoying indoor attractions will find much to enjoy in Pittsburgh. Art lovers can take in The Andy Warhol Museum (the artist was born and raised in Pittsburgh) and the Carnegie Museum of Art, founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1895. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, meanwhile, boasts exhibits that both entertain and educate. Pittsburgh’s dining scene is growing, with dozens of restaurants, cafes, breweries, and modern food halls to enjoy. Local favorites like pierogies, kielbasa, and a sandwich from Primanti Bros. should definitely be on your food agenda.

Sarasota, Florida

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Thousands of snowbirds flock to Sarasota every winter, and with temperatures in the 70s, white-sand beaches, and a thriving cultural scene, it’s easy to see why. Travelers of any age will relish the chance to gather seashells or splash in the warm Gulf waters, while, in town, a wide array of shops and galleries offer hours of browsing. Other highlights include the city’s extensive collection of midcentury modern architecture and The Ringling complex, which boasts an impressive art museum and a museum of circus history, among other attractions.

South Padre Island, Texas

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With temperatures in the 60s, winter is a pleasant season on this small barrier island off the southern Texas coast. The area is a haven for nature lovers, with outdoor attractions like the Laguna Madre Nature Trail and the South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary, which includes a five-story viewing tower. The Original Dolphin Watch and Breakaway Cruises offer dolphin tours, while Sea Turtle Inc. runs a turtle rescue and rehab center where visitors can get up close to the critters year-round. Boating, fishing, and kiteboarding are popular activities as well, and you’ll find plenty of fresh local seafood, including oysters, red snapper, and flounder.

Asheville, North Carolina

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Winters are mild in this city in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina. Hikers can access trails throughout the season, while those seeking winter sports will find ski slopes nearby. Asheville offers quirky galleries, museums, and some of the country’s best restaurants, and this is an ideal time to explore them all with minimal crowds. There’s no shortage of history here, either. The 1.7-mile Asheville Urban Trail features bronze sculptures depicting figures and events from the city’s past, while Biltmore — the sprawling Vanderbilt estate and mansion — offers guided tours that give visitors a glimpse into the Asheville of the Gilded Age.

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Ample sunshine, beautiful beaches, brilliant sunsets, and graceful palm trees beckon travelers to Hawaii during the chilly months. Oahu, in particular, is one of the best places to go in the winter, thanks to temperatures that hover around 80 degrees and attractions that range from snorkeling and big-wave surfing to luxury shopping in the boutiques of Honolulu. Visit Iolani Palace to explore the only royal castle in the U.S., and learn all about Hawaiian history at the Bishop Museum or the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is located an hour outside the city on Oahu’s scenic North Shore.

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