The chill has arrived! There’s no point sitting at home curled up by the fire. There are a plethora of winter destinations offering you some fun and excitement this year. It is a season not to be missed.
We’ve complied a list of exciting winter vacations for families in the USA. These are based on our own experiences we’ve had in these destinations, as well as the current buzz around a lot of these winter destinations.
We wanted to present you with an exciting list of winter vacation ideas from places that perhaps aren’t as well known (even just as a winter destination), or offer a different kind of charm. (And don’t worry, chilling out by the warmth of the fire will be an option)
1. Stowe, Vermont
The church steeples and colonial style houses dusted in snow makes Stowe look like it sprung out from the pages of a children’s Christmas story. Surprisingly, winter is one of the quietest times to visit this charming village near Mt Mansfield in Vermont, which means you have plenty of space in one of the best places to ski in the US on your winter vacation.
For the non-skiers, Stowe offers plenty more such as dog-sledding, sleigh and carriage rides, cider mills, breweries and great food.
Where to stay: Smugglers Notch Resort
Top tip: Spend time on the Stowe Recreation Path, a 5.3-mile bike path that winds through the valley crisscrosses the West Branch of Little River. It is groomed in the winter and open to hikers, bikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers! There are restaurants and breweries to stop off at along the way to warm up.
2. Snowmass, Colorado
Snowmass in Colorado is a very family friendly ski destination
While Aspen is renowned for glamour and glitz, neighboring Snowmass is where families and those looking for a more laid back and quieter ski vacation come.
The terrain has runs to suit beginners and the more advanced skiers and has an award-winning ski school.
Parents and kids will love the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center, located in the Snowmass Base Village. When the kids are off the slope, they have extraordinary indoor adventures to have while parents can still enjoy the snow activities outside.
Where to stay: Make every moment of your ski vacation count by staying at the Viceroy Hotel. You can ski in and out from your resort room door.
Tip: Enjoy the beautiful pristine wildness areas and high alpine meadows in snowshoes or the back of a dog sled. It’s hard to find a more stunning setting than the Snowmass Aspen area.
3. Clearwater Beach, Florida
Time to dump the snow and head for the sunshine. Snowbirds will love Clearwater Beach for its decently priced vacation rentals and proximity to a thriving downtown nightlife and shopping district.
Three-mile Clearwater Beach is one of my favorite beaches in Florida. The sand is as soft and as white as the snow you’re running from. Take your pick from surfing, kayaking, or stand up paddle boarding. This is a great warm winter vacation for families.
Where to stay: Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach. Absolute beachfront, with a pool area as gorgeous as the beach. Great food, location and sunset views.
Top Tip: Don’t miss the sunset at Pier 60. It’s not just the sun that performs, but fire eaters, artisans, and musicians as well.
4. Big Island of Hawaii
In keeping with the theme of tropical warmth, plan an adventurous winter break on the Big Island of Hawaii.
The lava from Kilauea in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park the will certainly help warm you up. Don’t miss viewing the fiery glow at night time. You can even hike or bike to where the lava is flowing over the ground or take a cruise to watch it flow over into the ocean.
Big Island also has several waterfalls to visit, beautiful beaches (including black and green sand ones), and snorkeling at the pristine underwater marine sanctuary in Kealakekua Bay. Big Island of Hawaii was a favourite family vacation of mine this year.
Where to stay: The Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa is close enough to the action in town, but far enough away for you to have the spectacular Big Island sunsets to yourself.
Travel Tip: Swim with the manta rays. These gentle butterflies of the sea glide by your face, barrel repeatedly rolling so close that you can peer into their stomachs. It’s one of the best wildlife encounters I’ve had.
5. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming
Winter in Yellowstone means fewer crowds, steaming geysers, and a chance to step back in time.
Snow transforms the park into a winter wonderland and closes most of the roads. Which means you get to jump on board a snowcoach or snowmobile to explore!
Cross-country ski trails, snowshoe opportunities are also available with great trails from outside the lodge.
Where to stay: With only two lodges being open, Yellowstone in winter is a more intimate experience.
Top Tip: Winter in Yellowstone is the perfect time to get to know and photograph the magnificent wildlife. Think bison, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and moose.
6. Yosemite National Park, California
You thought Yosemite sparkled in the summer. You should see how she wows in the winter: Frozen waterfalls, frazil ice, snowy reflections, frosted coated trees and the valley blanketed in white.
In the winter the Time Square like crowds disappear, the wildlife comes out, and the prices drop. Yosemite offers plenty of outdoor adventures in the winter from skiing, and snowboarding to snowshoe walks under a fall moon, stargazing, and even, ziplining! What a cool family winter vacation idea!
Where to stay: Half Dome Village offers heated cabins and tent cabins in the shadow of Half Dome
Top Tip: Skate at the outdoor Ice Rink under Half Dome in the park or head to covered rinks near the south and west entrances.
7. Lake Tahoe, California
Straddling the states of Nevada and California is Lake Tahoe, home to over a dozen ski resorts. You can choose whether to be close to the action on the South Shore, or a more peaceful wilderness experience on the West or North shores.
What makes this ski destination so unique and winter-worthy is its gorgeous lake location. Now you won’t want to go swimming, but there are plenty of incredible winter vistas waiting. Traipse around the lake on snowshoes to find them.
Where to stay: Northstar California Resort is the perfect place for families in Lake Tahoe.
Top Tip: Enjoy hot springs swim at the Grover Hot Springs State Park
8. New York City
A winter city destination doesn’t get much better than New York. Plan to visit around Christmas time so you can wrap yourself up in the festive spirit with the Christmas lights, holiday windows, and the city decked out in Christmas trees, the famous being the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
It’s the most magical time of the year in New York and Seeing Central Park covered in a fresh coat of snow will be a memory to treasure for ever.
You won’t be bored of an evening either with plenty of Broadway shows, music venues, restaurants and sporting matches.
Oh yeah, there’s shopping too if you like that kinda winter sport.
Where to stay: INNSIDE by Melia New York Nomad is a brand new property in a central Chelsea location. With spacious rooms (rarely seen in New York) it’s perfect for families. One of my favorite hotels for 2017.
Top tip: The outdoor ice skating rink in Bryant Park oozes charm and sophistication with a sprinkling of magical Christmas spirit. It’s a much quieter, cheaper, and more natural experience than ice skating at Rockefeller.
9. Sedona, Arizona
Sedona has a reputation for magic dusted with a little Zen.
In the winter time, you can combine this with a dusting of snow on the rusty red mountain tops. Just another color to add to the desert tapestry.
Experience it with meandering drives through the canyons or hiking trails shared with just yourself. And if it’s a bit of winter spa pampering you’re after, Sedona has you covered.
It’s also the least crowded time of the year to visit the Sedona region, which means lower prices for you on your winter family vacation.
Where to stay: Sky Ranch Lodge is all about location and stunning views of Sedona and the famous Red Rocks.
Top tip: The Grand Canyon is only a 100-mile drive from Sedona. Can you imagine the beauty of the canyon dusted with snow?
It might seem Alaska is too cold and forbidding to visit in winter and everything will be closed.
It’s an exciting time, and although some towns close, a few are still open, and there is a lot for the outdoor adventurists and winter lovers to come for. You’ll also get much lower prices than visiting Alaska at any other time.
Winter in Alaska brings festivals, ski races, dog sledding tours, snowmobiles, ice skating, bonfires and Northern Lights.
Top tip: Stay at the Chena Hot Springs Resort 90 minutes from Fairbanks. Relax in an outdoor hot tub and enjoy the starry sky and northern lights.
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10 Exciting Winter Vacations for Families in the USA
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