21 Best Winter Vacations in the U.S.
When we talk about winter vacation destinations in the United States, it’s not all ski resorts and snow-covered mountain towns (although, there are plenty of those). Snowbirds rejoice! For your bikini-wearing pleasure, our list includes sun-drenched spots in Florida and Hawaii, too. We’ve also included a mix of exciting cities for metropolitan enthusiasts and more pastoral picks for people who need a break from the urban sprawl or just plainly prefer to go in another vacation direction. Don’t forget about quiet coastal villages that you’d usually associate with summer but really wow during the colder months and national parks. Basically, you’ve got a ton of options when it comes to winter escapes. Scroll on and pick your perfect little slice of vacation paradise.
1. PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA
With average temperatures in the 70s and overwhelming odds of sunshine, Palm Springs isn’t a hard sell for a winter getaway. Spend your days playing golf, hiking, shopping for vintage threads and funky home decor finds and admiring the mid-century modern architecture. You can even book a walking tour to see famous houses owned by Golden Age of Cinema legends like Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
Where to stay: Originally built in 1936, the Colony Palms Hotel seamlessly blends Old Hollywood glamour and contemporary touches. The colorful mosaic tiles that accent so much of the property are nothing short of swoon-worthy.
2. NORTH CONWAY, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Many people think of the birthplace of skiing as being out west, but the truth is that North Conway holds that distinction. This storied New Hampshire town puts visitors in proximity to 10 different ski resorts and cross-country centers with all sorts of varied terrain. Need a break from the winter sports stuff? Peep pastel-painted Victorian houses and shops along Main Street or hop aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Where to stay: The White Mountain Hotel & Resort is an alpine standby with all the cozy comforts (i.e., an outdoor heated swimming pool, fire pit, hot tub and Finnish sauna).
3. CAMDEN, MAINE
One of the most charming towns in Maine, Camden is far from just a summer destination—though warm weather brings a certain vibrancy to the “Jewel of the Coast.” The winter sun reflects off the water, creating a scene that looks straight out of a movie. It's certainly worth bundling up to stroll around the harbor, hike in Camden Hills State Park and barrel downhill at the only ski area on the East Coast with ocean views.
Where to stay: The Grand Harbor Inn earns rave reviews for its waterfront location, marina views, friendly service and well-appointed guests rooms.
4. NAPLES, FLORIDA
Sun-seekers looking for a more subdued, relaxing alternative to Miami and Key West should consider Naples. This upscale vacation destination on Southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast is one of the best towns in the Sunshine State and has a lot to do for families with kiddos, couples and retirees. Start with the beautiful beaches. Add to that, excellent restaurants, high-end shops and the stunning sunset from the Naples Pier.
Where to stay: Poised on pristine white sand, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples lures beach lovers, golf enthusiasts and spa-goers alike.
5. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA
It’s hard to put the magic of winter in Yosemite National Park—which deservedly ranks among the most beautiful places in the Golden State and the best national parks in the United States—into words. The snowy terrain, scenic drives and hikes for every skill level really just need to be experienced IRL. Thankfully, you’ll have plenty of room to roam since crowds tend to dwindle during the chillier months.
Where to stay: Dubbed “the crown jewel of the national park lodges,” The Ahwahnee is a stately and celebrated basecamp for exploring Yosemite National Park.
6. CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Yes, it’s cold. That’s sort of a given. But Chicago is also festive during the holidays and exciting year-round—that very much includes the winter months. Nostalgic fun takes the form of sledding on parkland surrounding Soldier Field and ice skating at the rink in Millennium Park. Warm up by diving into a hot, cheesy deep-dish pizza. Hey, when in Chi-town.
Where to stay: Not only is it a fantastic spot to spend the night, but The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Michigan Avenue Chicago also offers curling and cocktails on the terrace during the winter.
7. MAUI, HAWAII
Bust out for a bikini for a winter escape to Maui. The fabled Road to Hana is a must. Continue driving towards the backside of the island for lunar-like scenery. Swim, surf and snorkel. If you’d rather sling back piña colada poolside at a ritzy resort, there are plenty of those, too (hello, Hotel Wailea and the Montage Kapalua Bay). Be sure to snag a reservation at the famous Mama's Fish House. And end your trip on a sweet note with shaved ice.
Where to stay: The reasonably priced, condo-style Napili Surf Beach Resort won’t break the bank but doesn’t skimp on breezy ambiance or beach access.
8. NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
Temperature doesn’t really impact New York City. The Big Apple still pulsates even when the thermostat drops. Many of the buzziest restaurants made heated outdoor dining cabins a permanent fixture. (Have you seen pics of the setup at Lilia?) Bars bustle with excitement. Cool seasonal activities like ice skating on The Rink at Rockefeller Center and snowy walks through Central Park are always a blast.
Where to stay: Luxurious with skyline views for days and easily accessible to Manhattan via the L-train, The William Vale in Williamsburg makes an ideal home base.
9. SEDONA, ARIZONA
Among the most spiritual and stunningly beautiful places in the country, Sedona is one of the U.S. destinations that will reinvigorate your soul. It has an overwhelming number of incredible hikes like Devil’s Bridge Trail that give travelers a front-row view of the spectacular red rocks—which, in the winter, might even be covered with a dusting of snow. In keeping with its reputation as a high-vibe mecca, downtown teams with New Age shops.
Where to stay: A long soak in a spa tub followed by a glass of vino by the fireplace in your room at Casa Sedona Inn is the perfect way to unwind after an active day.
10. CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA
Charlottesville puts wineries, farm-to-table fare and history within easy reach. It’s chilly, but far from frost-bite status so that shouldn’t be a deterrent from doing things outdoors. Just pack a coat and you’re ready to go wine tasting at Merrie Mill Farm & Vineyard, follow the Brew Ridge Trail and visit Monticello. Hungry? Savor local ingredients at Marigold by Jean-Georges at Keswick Hall.
Where to stay: We really love the millennial-pink color palette of the Quirk Hotel Charlottesville. And you can’t beat the address in the heart of historic downtown.
11. BRECKENRIDGE, COLORADO
A winter sports paradise, nestled at the base of the Tenmile Range, Breckenridge is one of the best ski towns in the United States and an obvious pick for a snowy escape—though, that doesn’t make it any less deserving of a shoutout. Ski and snowboard to your strolling content, join in on the apres-ski action, meander through the western-y historic district and grab a beer at Breckenridge Brewery.
Where to stay: When vacationing in Breckenridge, you don't want to waste time commuting to the mountain. That's why the slopeside Grand Colorado On Peak 8 gets our vote.
12. SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
A south-central Texas city with a big footprint and even bigger personality, San Antonio is best known for The Alamo (which, for those who didn’t pay attention in history class, commemorates the 1836 battle for Texan independence from Mexico). Also on the itinerary? Take advantage of the mild weather with a stroll along the 15-mile pedestrian River Walk. It’s hard to compete with the views from the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas on a clear day.
Where to stay: For an unbeatable location in the Arts District, impeccable design and an elevated contemporary feel, check into the Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk.
13. KEY WEST, FLORIDA
The party never stops in Key West. Guess that’s why hordes of revelers and snowbirds flock to this lively SoFlo destination each winter. Whether it’s celebrating holidays like New Year’s Eve or just another Friday night, Key West turns up the heat with bars, clubs and cabarets. On the flip side, it’s also a laid-back destination where sipping rum cocktails in a hammock is a perfectly acceptably—nay encouraged—way to pass a few hours.
Where to stay: The breezy and eco-oriented Almond Tree Inn invites guests to soak in all the good vibes with colorful decor and local art. Did we mention it’s just feet from Duval Street?
14. HUDSON, NEW YORK
Just a two-hour train ride from New York City, Hudson is a hotspot for Brooklynites seeking a more laid-back lifestyle in a pastoral setting. It’s also a popular spot for peeping fall foliage. However, autumn isn’t the only standout season. The quieter winter period has its perks—among them fewer tourists popping into the many antique shops, farm-to-table eateries, wine bars and art galleries. Besides, the town itself looks as pretty as a picture covered in snow.
Where to stay: Tucked inside a renovated, Queen Anne-style house, The Amelia is a charming new boutique hotel with great feng shui and all the makings of an instant classic.
15. SONOMA, CALIFORNIA
Two words: Cabernet season. When the harvest period ends and the droves of thirsty tourists depart, Sonoma shines in all its gorgeous, laid-back glory. A chill in the air means it’s time for knit sweaters and sipping flights of bold reds on open-air patios with blankets (and perhaps a heater) or a private guided tasting and food pairing in the library at Hamel Family Wines. And it’s still a great time to get outdoors and explore picturesque Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.
Where to stay: Kenwood Inn & Spa oozes wine country charm in an endlessly beautiful setting with old-world character that transports guests to Italy.
16. LEAVENWORTH, WASHINGTON
Leavenworth is well known as one of the best Christmas towns in the United States. But even after the Santa-chasers depart, this mountain village in Washington still enchants travelers with its Bavarian architecture, German restaurants, beer halls and snow-dusted scenery. Simply put: it’s a storybook setting for a winter trip that looks and feels like a fairytale but is very much real.
Where to stay: Go full-on alpine vibes at Bavarian Lodge. Expect a cozy stay complete with fireside cocoa, hot tubs and a hearty breakfast.
17. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
New Orleans enjoys a mild climate and pleasant year-round temps, so it’s never too cold to really soak in the energy of the Big Easy. Folks visiting in the winter can groove to live music, eat delicious cuisine (we’re salivating just thinking of po’boys, crawfish etouffee and beignets) and take an old-timey trolley ride. On the spooky side of things, there are ghost tours and haunted bar crawls.
Where to stay: A four-year restoration transformed a church, schoolhouse, rectory and convent into an elegant boutique gem with lots of character and distinctive design called Hotel Peter & Paul.
18. SAUSALITO, CALIFORNIA
Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge towards Sausalito, the haziness and rolling fog of San Francisco instantly becomes a thing of the past as bright sunshine and national parkland come into focus. Traverse the coastal hiking paths, walk around downtown and eat at the famous Sushi Ran. Thank the glorious microclimate for only having to pack a medium-weight jacket (and sunglasses because, well, Sausalito has a lot of sunny days).
Where to stay: Snooze in a historic former army officer’s house or opt for a contemporary room with gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge views at Cavallo Point Lodge. Def go to the on-site restaurant Murray Circle for dinner.
19. CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
The occasional dusting of fresh flakes makes the Holy City even more magical. But, generally speaking, the weather in the winter is pretty mild. That’s great news since you’ll be walking a lot. We’re big fans of seeing the historic sites on foot during the day (the opulent mansion along The Battery and Rainbow Row are not to be missed) and doing a ghost tour at night. In between, refuel with delicious Low Country cuisine.
Where to stay: The Spectator Hotel has heaps of style and Southern charm, plus attentive service and a buzzy bar that mixes up creative craft cocktails.
20. PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Philadelphia beckons travelers with its world-class food scene—from the iconic Philly cheesesteak to more vegan eats than almost anywhere else—lively nightlife, loads of museums and historic sites such as the Liberty Bell. Snow-covered cobblestone streets and 19th-century row homes exude enough charm to convert even the most staunch suburbanites to a full-blown cheerleader for a winter weekend away in the City of Brotherly Love.
Where to stay: A highly sought-after location, a jaw-dropping lobby and stylish rooms with eclectic flourishes are just a few reasons we dig the Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square.
21. JACKSON, WYOMING
Longing for a quintessential American frontier getaway filled with ruggedly beautiful scenery, ample cold-weather activities and western-style fun? Jackson sets the bar pretty high. Wyoming’s premier winter vacation destination sits within proximity to three ski areas: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort. So there’s certainly no lack of groomed trails to carve. More outdoor adventure awaits at nearby Grand Teton National Park.
Where to stay: The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole captures the pioneering spirit of Jackson, while infusing a level of luxury that the early settlers couldn’t have even fathomed.