25 Best Winter Vacations in the USA

If you’re looking for a great winter vacation in the USA, we’ve got you covered! This inspiring article features 25 perfect places to visit in the winter and the most beautiful winter vacations.

The United States offers an incredible variety of winter vacation options for every taste. You can now easily plan your winter vacation in the United States. Whether you prefer a winter vacation in the snow or in the sun, this article will give you some great ideas for your US bucket list.

Here is the list of the best winter vacation destinations in the United States.

The Best Winter Vacation Destinations in the US

Best winter vacations in the USA

Here are the best places to visit in winter:

1. Vail, Colorado

If you love an active winter holiday, Vail is one of the best winter vacations in the US.

This small town, perfect for a day trip from Denver, offers one of the most popular ski resorts in the world.

Surrounded by pristine forests and great ski trails with breathtaking mountain scenery, Vail has everything you need for an unforgettable family winter vacation.

Nestled in the foothills of the Vail Range, this charming town has much to offer.

In addition to incredible skiing, snowboarding, skating and the usual snow activities for all levels, there is also a multitude of stores, restaurants and accommodations for every taste and budget.

Those who don’t want to put in too much effort can stroll the cobblestone, heated streets of Vail Village, Lionshead and Golden Park and be surprised by the breathtaking scenery around every corner. Photographers don’t know when to stop clicking. 

Spending a few days in Vail may be one of the smartest ideas for a winter vacation.

2. Key West, Florida

If you’re looking for a winter vacation in the US that isn’t synonymous with cold, snow or rain, there’s no better place than the southernmost point of the country – Key West, Florida!

This tiny island is even accessible by car from the mainland via the Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys.

The island’s tropical climate, with winter temperatures ranging from 64 to 80°F, makes Key West one of the best winter vacation destinations in the United States. 

This island paradise definitely has everything to offer to beach lovers.

Higgs Beach and the Dry Tortugas off the coast offer excellent opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, sailing and fishing, glass-bottom boat rides or just relaxing in the sun. 

Art galleries, theaters, and various museums will keep culture lovers busy for days.

Numerous restaurants offer delicious local seafood such as lobster, shrimp, and freshly caught fish, while street performers provide the entertainment. 

Key West is a magical and warm place to spend a winter vacation in the United States.

3. Beaver Creek, Colorado

 Beaver Creek, Colorado is one of the top winter vacation destinations in America.

Just a hop, skip and a jump west of Vail is the quaint little mountain town of Beaver Creek.

It’s home to the famous Beaver Creek Resort, which each December attracts hundreds of athletes and spectators for one of the world’s largest ski events.

With no less than 1,800 acres of terrain, ranging from gentle slopes to steep moguls, for skiers of all abilities to enjoy, this picturesque village offers more than just snow activities.

The performing arts center, children’s museum and numerous hiking trails around the village provide something for everyone.

The many cafes and restaurants offer a wide variety of delicious food for every taste and budget.

If all that isn’t enough, you’ll long remember the incredible views of the Rockies from virtually every point in Beaver Creek.

4. San Diego, California

San Diego beach promenade

Looking for a winter vacation in the United States to escape the cold and snow? San Diego, in Southern California, is the perfect destination to escape the winter blues.

Where to start? First, the sun-drenched beaches that line San Diego’s 100 miles of coastline will captivate you like a candle attracts a moth.

Among the many breathtaking sandy beaches, Pacific Beach, La Jolla Beach and Coronado Beach are among the best in the world.

People come here to surf, swim or just bask in the sun.

The entertainment here is endless. Harbour cruises, speedboats and sailing adventures, and whale watching delight locals and visitors year-round.

For culture lovers, there are museums such as the Air and Space Museums for all tastes, art galleries, theme parks and gardens to captivate you.

The multi-stop bus tour is a great way to see all the important sites, while the ghost and cemetery tour will scare you to death.

The Brothels, Bites, and Booze tour will take you through San Diego’s dubious but fascinating past and give you a taste of local culinary delights.

This place has everything you need for a delightfully warm winter vacation – need I say more?

5. Mount Hood, Oregon

Mount Hood rises to an elevation of 11,240 feet and is at the center of the million-acre Mount Hood National Forest.

This dormant volcano, located just a 90-minute drive from Portland, is a major tourist attraction year-round. However, it is the snow that transforms this beautiful mountain landscape into a magical winter playground.

Numerous family-friendly ski resorts, forest cabins and simple campsites nearby offer a wide variety of accommodations, winter activities and breathtaking scenery.

You won’t soon forget skiing, tubing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, hiking, playing in the snow or driving through this magical winter landscape.  

Trillium Lake and Ramona Falls are just a few of the places to visit, all with beautiful views of Mount Hood in the background. It’s places like this that make winter a very special season.

6. New Orleans, Louisiana

Hearty food, cold but not frigid weather, cozy jazz clubs and plenty of Southern charm: New Orleans is one of the best winter stays.

(And it also happens to be a fantastic spring break destination in the United States.)

While summers in New Orleans are sweltering, winters are surprisingly mild and offer the advantage of decorating the city for Christmas at any time of year.

All of New Orleans’ famous attractions, from Bourbon Street to the Beignets, are waiting to welcome you with open arms, even in winter, and the lack of humidity and crowds is a nice bonus.

Touring the bayou, visiting a plantation, taking a ghost tour, and exploring New Orleans’ famous cemeteries are great fun, even with a coat on.

The best thing to do in New Orleans is to eat delicious food.

You’ll be happy to know that gumbo, fried chicken, beignets, spicy jambalaya are even better when it’s a little cooler.

So arrive hungry and ready to have fun, and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for.

7. Yosemite National Park, California

This national treasure is famous for its breathtaking, year-round scenery, with towering granite monoliths, spectacular waterfalls, lakes and deep valleys where towering redwoods grace the breathtaking landscape.

With the first snowfall, Yosemite National Park transforms into a winter wonderland, making it one of the best places to visit in winter.

No matter where you are, you’ll have spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range from any direction.

The main attractions are El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Tenaya Lake, Tunnel View and Glacier Point. Capturing the firefall at sunset at Horsetail Falls could be the highlight for photographers.

The February sunset ignites the frozen waterfalls in a shower of orange-red fire that makes for an unforgettable sight. 

There are accommodations for all tastes, from luxury resorts to camping. Kayaking, snowshoeing through the towering redwoods, skiing, playing in the snow, ice skating and just enjoying the scenery make Yosemite one of the top winter breaks in the United States for any family.

8. Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is an incredible city full of history, beautiful neighborhoods and great food.

The city has many fascinating attractions to offer, such as the Freedom Trail, Boston Common, Fenway Park and Newbury Street. But there are also many romantic things to do in Boston.

In addition, the city is home to the world-famous Harvard University, and an afternoon in vibrant Harvard Square is a must.

When winter sets in on the East Coast and Boston is covered in a blanket of snow, the city is a real treat and there is still plenty to see and do. 

Boat rides are replaced by skating on the Boston Common Frog Pond, and the Skywalk Observatory shows the beauty of the city from above. 

Boston is famous for its museums, which are perfect for a quiet winter outing.

9. Big Bend National Park, Texas

Located on the southwestern border between Mexico and Texas along the Rio Grande, Big-Bend National Park is a great winter excursion.

With maximum temperatures well over 100 degrees Celsius, causing some sections of the park to close, Big Bend might be one of the best places to visit in the US in winter.

In the winter, the weather is mild, which makes hiking the trails much more enjoyable. In addition, the park has hot springs that can be enjoyed on cold days.

The best activity in Big Bend is simply hiking. Some of the most popular hikes are the Lost Mine Trail, Window Trail, Vine Trail, Boquillas Canyon Trail and Santa Elena Trail. 

One of my favorite hikes is the Santa Elena Trail, which traverses the famous Santa Elena Canyon and the Rio Grande.

Another of my favorite activities is visiting the Rio Grande Hot Springs. The trail to the hot springs is 0.5 miles long. 

The place can get crowded, so I recommend going at sunrise to enjoy this place alone. If you ever get too hot, you can take a refreshing dip in the Rio Grande.

Big Bend National Park isn’t one of the more well-known national parks, but it’s a hidden gem and a great place to visit during the winter months.

10. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

 Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is a winter destination in the United States.

When one thinks of a winter vacation in the United States, it is not uncommon for Mount Rainier National Park to immediately come to mind.

Rising to 4,000 meters above sea level, Mount Rainier is the highest peak in the Cascade Range.

This active volcano is surrounded by an unspoiled landscape, with glaciers, blue alpine lakes, rivers, waterfalls, beautiful valleys and picturesque meadows teeming with wildlife.

The best places to visit are Longmire, the park’s historic district, and the museum, Sunrise, for its majestic mountain views.

White River Campground and Ohanapecosh for their ancestral forest and breathtaking waterfall, Christine Falls and Reflection Lakes, where you can see an almost unreal reflection of Mount Rainier on a quiet winter day.

There are miles of hiking trails for all fitness levels, but none more popular than the easy 1.1-mile hike in Patriarchs Grove, where you can stroll along the river and admire the giant red cedars and centuries-old Douglas firs.

 A beautiful place for a winter vacation in the US or elsewhere.

11. Kings Canyon National Park, California

If you’re looking for winter vacation ideas, Kings Canyon National Park is for you: another national treasure.

This park is second only to Yosemite in terms of natural beauty, but one entrance gives you access to the neighboring and equally majestic Sequoia National Park. 

The spectacular scenery, with its towering granite cliffs, glacier-formed valleys, roaring Kings River and dense forests of giant redwoods, will take your breath away.

Stroll or drive through Grant Grove to see the General Grant, the second largest Christmas tree in the world, also known as the “Nation’s Christmas Tree.

In Cedar Grove, at the base of the canyon, another spectacular landscape awaits you.

At the same time, Zumwalt Meadow, the massive stalagmites and stalactites of Boyden Cavern, and the 2,000 foot high marble walls of Kings Gate and Windy Cliffs will amaze you.

12. Cibola National Forest, New Mexico

Less than 12 miles from Albuquerque is another winter retreat: the Sandia Mountains in the Cibola National Forest.

Deposits of potassium feldspar crystals in the outer layer of granite give this mountain its distinctive pink color, especially at sunset, hence the name: Sandia (Spanish for watermelon). 

The mountain is also home to the Sandia Peak Tramway, the longest tramway in North America and the second longest in the world.

The tramway, which rises more than 1,000 feet over a distance of 2.7 miles, takes you to the top, where you can enjoy panoramic views of Albuquerque and hundreds of miles of New Mexico scenery by following the miles of hiking trails.

You can also reach the ridge via a scenic access road, where a restaurant and gift store await.

All the usual winter sports are available here, as well as hiking along the foothills through forests of prickly pear, wild sage, cactus and pine.

Numerous ski resorts and hotels provide quality accommodations, and the town itself offers all the dining and shopping options one could wish for.

13. Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish, Montana is an excellent winter destination, especially for winter sports enthusiasts.

Skiing on Big Mountain is the first attraction that comes to mind.

With frequent knee-high powder snow showers and temperature inversions that make it warmer at the top of the mountain than in the valley, Fish Ski Area offers endless opportunities on and off the slopes.

If skiing isn’t fast enough, you can participate in January in the World Skikjöring Championships, where brave skiers are pulled by a horse through an obstacle course. 

If that sounds more scary than fun, you can snowshoe in nearby Glacier National Park, and cross-country ski trails are available around the town’s golf course.

A visit to Whitefish wouldn’t be complete without a burger at the Bulldog Saloon, where the bathrooms are as much a reason to visit as the food. 

One of the best restaurants in Whitefish is Craggy Range, which offers local craft beers on draft and slightly healthier options to offset the burger at Bulldog’s.

14. Breckenridge, Colorado

Breckenridge, Colorado is one of the best winter wonders in America.

This small town is located in a valley with several excellent ski mountains and is a nice day trip from Denver.

The main street is not only charming, it’s also walkable and has charming stores. 

There are playgrounds and museums for the kids and plenty of opportunities for the adults.

The ski resort is one of the best in the USA and often hosts international competitions. 

In Breckenridge, you can rent snowmobiles, go on horse-drawn carriage rides, snow cat tours, participate in ice and snow sculpture contests, go snowshoeing, indoor and outdoor skating, and much more. 

It’s also fun to explore the village and grab a warm cappuccino or pumpkin spice latte.

15. Sugarite Canyon State Park, New Mexico

 Sugarite Canyon State Park in New Mexico is another must-see winter resort in the United States.

Located just 20 miles from the town of Raton, it is a gem for nature lovers.

Nature has blessed it with dramatic canyons, gentle meadows, streams, forests, scenic lakes and abundant wildlife.

All this while camping at the two campsites located in this truly beautiful environment, to disconnect from the world and surrender completely to nature.

The Sugarite Gorge Hiking Trail is simply fantastic, as is the brand new Lake to Lake Hiking Trail, both of which offer breathtaking scenery from start to finish.

And if the ice is safe enough, ice fishing on Alice Lake can offer not only a unique experience but also a tasty dinner. 

At the visitor center, you can also get a brief overview of the history of this 19th-century coal mining region and any other interesting information about this quiet part of the world.

16. Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah is the ultimate ski resort. There are four world-class ski resorts within the city limits, so you’ll never be more than forty minutes away from Salt Lake’s famous powder. 

Salt Lake City offers steep, deep runs, which means there is more snow than any other North American ski resort, and the terrain offers challenging descents.

Salt Lake has something to offer everyone. Solitude is good for people who like long distances and wide open spaces. 

Brighton is great for snowboarders. Snowbird has steep terrain that is best for advanced and expert skiers. Alta is a no-frills ski area that has the most snow of any resort in Utah.

But there’s much more to Salt Lake than skiing. City Creek Canyon has year-round walking trails.

Millcreek Canyon is closed in the winter and offers snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in a dog-friendly forest. 

There is also a fifty-mile trail along the Jordan River that is accessible to hikers, joggers, and cyclists.

Contrary to cultural clichés, Salt Lake also has a surprisingly strong craft beer scene and great coffee shops. 

So, let’s hit the trail, hike, and have a little beer in Salt Lake.

17. Washington DC

If you head to Washington DC in hopes of a white Christmas, you can expect something. Traditionally, there is no snow in Washington DC in December, although there is a chance of snow in January. 

Other than that, it’s relatively cold in Washington DC in the winter, but not cold enough to keep you from seeing the amazing attractions in the US capital.

The national museums along the National Mall are a great escape from the cold, where you can also grab a latte before braving the cold again.

Many major attractions are nearby, and hotels in the Central Business District are only a few minutes’ walk from the National Mall, where you’ll find the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the US Capitol and several museums that would easily take a week to visit.

18. Mammoth Lakes, California

 Mammoth Lakes, California is one of the most beautiful winter getaways in America.

Mammoth Lakes is a beautiful winter destination in California. The area is beautiful year-round, but it is in the winter that it is at its best. 

Mountains and forests surround the town, and in winter the landscape looks like a winter wonderland. 

And in the early season, when the region’s blue lakes are not yet frozen, they sparkle like sapphires amidst the snow-white surroundings. It’s a magical sight.

While Mammoth Lakes is among the best fall vacations in the United States, it’s also a trendy winter resort, and the opportunities for winter fun and adventure are endless. 

In addition to traditional skiing, there is snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. 

Try snow tubing, build a snowman or have a snowball fight. If you just want to hop on the gondola for a hot chocolate and enjoy the beautiful view, you can do that too. 

How about a ride on a groomer (used for grooming) on a trip to Minaret Vista or skating at the local rink? Even if you stay for several weeks, you won’t miss out on the fun.

There are plenty of lodging options, and at the end of each day you can relax around a campfire with a hot drink – the perfect end to a great winter vacation!

19. Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is beautiful year-round, but it really shines in the winter, when its famous ski resorts come alive. 

Skiers and snowboarders enjoy the view of Lake Tahoe’s sparkling blue waters, glistening in the sun, as they hop on lifts and prepare to hit the world-class slopes. 

Squaw Valley, one of the nation’s top ski destinations, hosted the 1960 Olympics and features a museum about the Games and time spent on the slopes. 

Other nearby ski areas include Alpine Valley, Heavenly Mountain, Mt. Rose, Homewood, Northstar and Diamond Peak.

After the lifts close, you can dine and drink at one of the resort’s resorts. 

In South Lake Tahoe, there are great options right at the base of Heavenly Village. If you’re not too tired from skiing, you can take a scenic walk along the shore. 

Tahoe City has hiking trails along the lake, and the western shoreline offers particularly beautiful views of the water.

Lake Tahoe is located on the border between California and Nevada, about two hours east of Sacramento. 

If you visit in winter, be aware that ice and snow in the mountains can make driving conditions hazardous. 

20. Park City, Utah

Park City, located about 30 minutes east of Salt Lake City, is the epitome of winter activities. The city has one of the largest ski areas in the United States. 

This quintessential winter resort and surrounding area offers many activities such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, exploring the beautiful city and much more. 

This means that skiing and/or snowboarding are must-do activities!

If you’re looking for a unique thrill, check out the sledding hill.

Not surprisingly, the track was built for the 2002 Winter Olympics for the bobsled, skeleton and racing luge disciplines. 

The track is still in use. It is now possible to buy tickets for a thrilling luge run.

The city is also home to a lively area called Historic Main Street, lined with stores, cafes, bookstores and restaurants.

It’s the best place in town to relax after a full day on the slopes. 

Park City offers countless winter activities for everyone. 

The city is easy to get to and offers a multitude of activities just minutes away – what more could you want?

21. New York, New York

If you’re looking for a great winter destination in the United States, New York City is the place for you! 

While it’s not a cheap winter vacation in the US, this resort is very quiet in the winter if you don’t come during the Christmas season. 

In January, February and March, you can get great deals on hotels and accommodations. 

New York City has many outstanding museums that are worth visiting even when it is cold. 

Even under a blanket of snow, it’s beautiful, especially if you visit picturesque Central Park, which is incredibly beautiful in winter. 

Also, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is beautiful, especially the rink on the south side of the park, which is much less crowded and more expensive in the winter than the rink at Rockefeller Center. 

If you want to warm up and take a break, there are plenty of great places to eat, drink or have a coffee. 

New York bars are incredibly inviting in the winter, and many happy hours offer delicious, bubbly hot drinks, like mulled wine, perfect for warming up after a cold spell. 

Oh, and catch a Broadway show, as some indoor entertainment is also welcome this time of year.

In the winter, it gets really cold in New York City, but there are plenty of ways to warm up and you can save a lot of money compared to the high season. Be sure to include it in your winter vacation ideas for the United States.

22. Chicago, Illinois

Although winter is not the favorite season for tourists, I think it is one of the best times to visit Chicago.

First of all, the cost of lodging is cheaper and the popular attractions are less crowded.

There are many things to do in Chicago, but if you come in the winter, it’s best to focus on indoor attractions. 

Chicago has many excellent and renowned museums, such as the Field Museum, the Adler Planetarium and the Art Institute of Chicago. 

You can also attend a play, sports event or comedy show, listen to music at a jazz club, take an architectural tour and enjoy the panoramic view from the tall skyscrapers.

You can also brave the cold and head to Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate, the famous mirror sculpture The Bean. One of the best things to do in Chicago is to eat. 

Chicago is one of the best cities in the world for foodies, with many restaurants offering all kinds of food.

Be sure to try the Deep Dish pizza and the Chicago style hot dog, two dishes that have made Chicago famous.

23. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

 In winter, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is a must for any visitor to the United States.

Winter in Rocky Mountain National Park is truly unique. If you love to hike, you should definitely explore the park on snowshoes. 

The mountains and lakes turn into a blanket of snow that snowshoeing hares, elk and coyotes explore.

There are several starting points that we would love to begin with. Bear Lake is probably the most popular starting point for snowshoe hikers, and for good reason.

Walk around the lake and enjoy the incredible views, huge icicles and maybe a snowball fight.

24. Miami, Florida

Miami south beach view

Popular with travelers and tourists alike, Miami is one of the best places to visit in the US in the winter.

During the winter months, the city is less busy, the temperature is mild and flights and hotels are cheaper.

There are many resorts and beaches where you can relax or go diving or kiteboarding.

Also visit Little Havana and the Art Deco district to immerse yourself in the culture, explore the Miami and Mediterranean Revival architectural style buildings and enjoy the local cuisine.

In other words: If you’re looking for a warm winter vacation in the U.S., Miami might be your best bet!

25. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

 Hot, colorful mineral springs in Yellowstone National Park in winter.

If you think of bucket lists in the United States, Yellowstone is an undisputed superstar. Yellowstone is simply magical.

The bizarre geothermal phenomena are out of this world and the wildlife viewing is some of the best you’ll find.

The Absaroka Mountain Range provides a breathtaking backdrop for all the adventures you can have here, whether it’s at Yellowstone Lake or the Yellowstone River, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone or Grand Prismatic Spring.

Yellowstone’s busiest months are July and August, so a visit outside of these months is ideal. Most people fly into Bozeman and rent a car.

As for lodging, there are many options in and around Yellowstone.

Bottom Line

There you have it! The 25 best winter vacations in the US for a magical and unforgettable holiday.

While some of these US winter vacations are perfect for cold weather enthusiasts, and fans of winter sports, others are ideal for people who long for tropical islands!