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). Enjoy rocking a bikini in December, January and February (and not for polar plunge-related reasons)? Consider sun-drenched spots such as Florida and Hawaii. “We’re seeing a much higher demand for leisure destinations in states like New Mexico, Arizona and South Carolina with mild climates,” says Carly Patane Moss, travel expert at Black Tomato. Our list also includes 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 spot.
The 25 Best Winter Vacations in the U.S.
1. Palm Springs, California
- Why We Love It: sunshine, Hollywood glamor, design, leisure
- Where to Stay: Swan Lake House (from $128/night), Dive Palm Springs (from $440/night), Colony Palms Hotel (from $500/night)
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 the Golden Age of Cinema legends like Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. For a stay with major star power, check into the Colony Palms Hotel. Originally built in 1936, it seamlessly blends Old Hollywood glamour and contemporary touches.
2. North Conway, New Hampshire
- Why We Love It: winter sports, New England coziness
- Where to Stay: The Bears Den (from $135/night), Spacious Home (from $199/night)
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. 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
- Why We Love It: outdoor activities, New England coziness, coastal sweeps
- Where to Stay: Marigold Cottage (from $175/night), Harbor Waterfront Cottage (from $175/night)
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 waters of Penobscot Bay, 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. With any luck, you might be able to get tickets to a show at the restored Camden Opera House.
4. Yosemite National Park, California
- Why We Love It: nature, wildlife, hiking
- Where to Stay: Yosemite Hilltop Cabins (from $245/night), The Ahwahnee (from $829/night)
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. While camping and glamping are options (weather and permit contingent), if you’d rather stay somewhere with four walls and a whole lot of history, The Ahwahnee is a stately base camp for exploring.
5. Maui, Hawaii
- Why We Love It: sunshine, scenery, beaches, scenic drives
- Where to Stay: Condo on the Beach (from $230/night), Remodeled Oceanfront Condo (from $751/night)
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 at the 30 miles of beaches. Plan an action-packed adventure to Haleakala National Park. If you’d rather sling back piña colada poolside at a ritzy resort, that’s definitely in the cards. Be sure to nab a reservation at the famous Mama's Fish House. And end your trip on a sweet note with shaved ice.
6. New York City, New York
- Why We Love It: restaurants, ice skating, museums, hotels
- Where to Stay: One Platt (from $246/night), Harlem Brownstone (from $165/night)
Temperature doesn’t really impact the Big Apple, which 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.
7. Sedona, Arizona
- Why We Love It: red rocks, hiking, wellness, relaxation
- Where to Stay: Casita De Los Santos (from $195/night), Boho Chic Sedona Retreat (from $270/night)
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 few flakes. In keeping with its reputation as a high-vibe mecca, downtown teams with New Age shops. Unwind even further with a long soak followed by a glass of wine by the fireplace at one of the many cozy inns around town.
8. Charlottesville, Virginia
- Why We Love It: wine, food, history, scenery
- Where to Stay: Quirk Hotel Charlottesville (from $212/night), Honey House (from $179/night)
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. Wondering where to stay? It’s hard to resist the millennial-pink color palette of the Quirk Hotel Charlottesville. And you can’t beat the address in the heart of historic downtown.
9. Breckenridge, Colorado
- Why We Love It: winter sports, aprés-ski, scenery, western vibes
- Where to Stay: 4 O'Clock Lodge A16 (from $122/night), Grand Colorado On Peak 8 (from $213/night)
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 aprés-ski action, meander through the western-y historic district and grab a beer at Breckenridge Brewery. When vacationing in Breckenridge, who wants to waste time commuting to the mountain? Not us! Skip the shuttle and stay at the slopeside Grand Colorado On Peak 8.
10. San Antonio, Texas
- Why We Love It: history, hotels, walkability
- Where to Stay: Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk (from $320/night), The St. Anthony, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio (from $395/night)
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). Definitely take advantage of the mild weather with a stroll along the 15-mile pedestrian riverfront pathway. It’s also hard to compete with the views from the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas on a clear day. In terms of hotels, the Thompson San Antonio – Riverwalk offers an unbeatable location in the Arts District and an elevated contemporary feel.
11. Key West, Florida
- Why We Love It: warm weather, nightlife, art, beaches
- Where to Stay: Oceans Edge Resort & Marina Key West (from $280/night), Almond Tree Inn (from $450/night)
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 acceptable way to pass a few hours. Located just feet from the after-dark excitement of Duval Street, the breezy Almond Tree Inn invites guests to soak in all the good vibes with colorful decor and local art.
12. Hudson, New York
- Why We Love It: antique shops, food, galleries, hotels, scenery
- Where to Stay: Hudson Valley Cottage (from $205/night), The Amelia(from $358/night)
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. It’s also easier to snag a room at one of the cute little hotels like The Amelia. Besides, the town itself looks as pretty as a picture covered in snow.
13. Sonoma, California
- Why We Love It: wine, vineyards, food, scenery
- Where to Stay: Windhaven Cottage (from $194/night), Kenwood Inn & Spa (from $350/night)
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). The private guided tasting in the library at Hamel Family Wines also includes a food pairing that spotlights what’s in season locally. And it’s still a great time to get outdoors and explore picturesque Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Many of the wine country inns welcome visitors with fireplace-clad rooms.
14. Leavenworth, Washington
- Why We Love It: Bavarian vibes, German food, beer, outdoor activities
- Where to Stay: Aventyr Hus (from $173/night), Willkommen Zuhause (from $200/night)
Dreaming of jetting off to Europe but can’t swing the price of a plane ticket? Board a flight bound for central Washington. Leavenworth is well known as one of the best Christmas towns in the United States. But even after the Santa chasers depart, this enchanting village in the Cascade Mountains still delights travelers with its Bavarian character and snow-dusted scenery. It’s full of alpine architecture, German restaurants (bring on the schnitzel), beer halls and cozy lodges that welcome guests with fireside cocoa. Simply put: it’s a storybook setting for a winter trip that looks and feels like a fairytale.
15. New Orleans, Louisiana
- Why We Love It: history, food, nightlife, hotels
- Where to Stay: Hotel Peter & Paul (from $179/night), The Chloe (from $450/night)
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. History without the eeriness awaits at Hotel Peter & Paul, an elegant boutique gem that used to be a church, schoolhouse, rectory and convent.
16. Sausalito, California
- Why We Love It: seaside charm, food, hiking, nature
- Where to Stay: Ocean View Home (from $380/night), Cavallo Point Lodge (from $449/night)
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 and thank the glorious microclimate for only having to pack a medium-weight jacket. Walk around downtown, peep the houseboats and eat at the famous Sushi Ran. Another fantastic place for dinner, Murray Circle at Cavallo Point Lodge (the Fort Baker hotel that gives guests the chance to snooze in a former army officer's home) offers seasonal fare and sweeping views.
17. Charleston, South Carolina
- Why We Love It: history, food, cocktail scene, hotels
- Where to Stay: Zero George (from $430/night), Hotel Bennett (from $420/night)
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. While the culinary scene buzzes with hot new restaurants and stalwarts cooking up delicious Low Country cuisine. Grab a nightcap at one of the many cozy cocktail bars before retiring to a stylish hotel such as Zero George or Hotel Bennett.
18. Amelia Island, Florida
- Why We Love It: beaches, nature, recreation
- Where to Stay: Oceanfront Apartment (from $150/night), Oceanfront Condo (from $211/night)
Snowbirds looking for a more subdued, leisurely alternative to Miami and Key West should escape to sun-splashed Amelia Island. This popular vacation destination on the Atlantic coast of Florida, not far from Georgia, has a lot to do for families with kiddos, couples and retirees. Start with beautiful sandy beaches. Add to that championship golf courses, spas and luxury hotels. Don’t forget about the seaside recreation and abundant wildlife. The ability to dine alfresco throughout the winter months will surely entice travelers fleeing the cold.
19. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Why We Love It: history, culture, museums
- Where to Stay: Hyatt Centric Center City Philadelphia (from $179/night), ROOST Midtown (from $225/night)
Philadelphia beckons travelers with its world-class food scene—from the iconic Philly cheesesteak to more vegan eats than almost anywhere else—and well-preserved historic sites such as the Liberty Bell. The myriad museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Franklin Institute, are fascinating spots to wait out blustery spells. The many bars provide an entirely different type of more revelrous refuge. Snow-covered cobblestone streets, 19th-century row homes and grand hotels exude enough charm to convert even the most staunch suburbanites to full-blown cheerleaders for a winter weekend away in the City of Brotherly Love.
20. Jackson, Wyoming
- Why We Love It: winter sports, western vibes, nature, wildlife
- Where to Stay: Downtown Townhouse (from $289/night), Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole (from $425/night)
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. More outdoor adventure awaits at nearby Grand Teton National Park. Of course, it’s not all rough and tumble. The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole captures the pioneering spirit while infusing a level of luxury that the early settlers couldn’t have even fathomed.
21. Catskills, New York
- Why We Love It: winter sports, cozy vibes, hotels
- Where to Stay: Junebug Cottage (from $195/night), Hotel Lilien (from $255/night)
When we think of quintessential cold-weather getaways on the East Coast, the Catskills immediately enters our mind. A snow-dusted jaunt to this winter wonderland region in southeastern New York promises unbridled natural beauty and piles of fresh powder. That means a getaway that’s brimming with outdoor activities, from skiing and snowboarding to snowshoeing and tubing. It’s also a great place to unwind—turn off your cell and dive into a good book. As if there weren’t already enough cute and cozy places to stay in the Catskills, the darling 18-room Hotel Lilien recently opened not far from Hunter Mountain
22. San Diego, California
- Why We Love It: beach, surfing, sunshine
- Where to Stay: Charming North Park Cottage (from $184/night), Oceanfront Condo (from $225/night)
One of the many great things about a winter trip to San Diego is that you don’t have to load up a suitcase with boots, gloves, hats and heavy coats. Which incidentally leaves more room in your luggage to bring back items from the boutiques in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. While it might be a little chilly to bust out a bikini for an afternoon sun session on the many beautiful beaches but that shouldn’t preclude you from strolling along the sandy stretches, enjoying a picnic by the ocean or even taking a surf lesson (that’s why we have wetsuits, right?).
23. Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Why We Love It: art, architecture, culture
- Where to Stay: Mountain View Condo (from $134/night), Bishop's Lodge, Auberge Resorts Collection (from $755/night)
Winter in Santa Fe is a bit slower and less crowded as compared to the bustling summer months. That shift gives this Sangre de Cristo foothills city a laid-back feel that’s super pleasant for a relaxing weekend trip. Don’t get us wrong, there’s still plenty to do between walking tours of the historic district, visits to the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and gallery hopping. It just means fewer people to bump into while stopping on the street to admire the Pueblo-style architecture. Outdoor pursuits such as trails and hot springs are another big draw.
24. Boone, North Carolina
- Why We Love It: winter sports, scenic drives, wellness
- Where to Stay: Cozy Cabin (from $130/night), Creekside Cabin (from $178/night)
The small town of Boone sits at a higher elevation and gets more snow than the majority of North Carolina. Outdoorsy types will enjoy the myriad opportunities for winter recreation. Skiing, sledding, ice skating and snow tubing are especially popular. It’s also a gorgeous place for a snowy, scenic drive. The surrounding area puts on many seasonal events including SugarFest and the Festival of Lights. Don't sleep on Boone as a wellness destination either. The Art of Living Retreat Center is a sanctum of well-being with yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic spa rituals.
25. Chicago, Illinois
- Why We Love It: outdoor activities, food, hotels
- Where to Stay: LondonHouse Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton (from $150/night), Wicker Park Penthouse (from $530/night)
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 frosty months. Nostalgic fun takes the form of sledding on the parkland surrounding Soldier Field and ice skating at the rink in Millennium Park. Go say hi to some of the snuggly critters at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Then warm up by diving into a hot, cheesy deep-dish pizza. (Hey, when in Chi-town.) Prefer indoor activities? Head to The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Michigan Avenue Chicago for curling and cocktails on the terrace.