20 Destinations That Are Even Better in the Winter
Want to get away this winter but can’t decide where to go? We’ve got your seasonal travel inspo on lock. Whether you’re dreaming of powdery slopes, skating rinks or crowd-free sites, these destinations won’t disappoint. Just be sure to pack your parka.
SAN CASSIANO, ITALY
Both foodies and adrenaline junkies flock to San Cassiano. This darling village is ensconced within the Dolomites and is home to two Michelin-starred restaurants. In the winter, the rugged terrain attracts skiers, hikers and climbers looking for a challenge. Wondering where to rest? Reserve a room at Rosa Alpina.
CANNON BEACH, OREGON
With its dramatic coastline, crashing waves and secluded dunes, Cannon Beach is one of the most picturesque destinations in the colder months. Despite visitors’ emptying out, the area doesn’t go into full-on hibernation mode. This secret season just feels that much more serene. And great hotel rates certainly don’t hurt either.
Tromsø is lauded as the northern lights capital of Norway. Long polar nights lead into peaceful days, and obviously, the aurora borealis is a major draw. Far from the only selling point, this small-but-splendid city is also blessed with beguiling scenery plus man-made wonders like the Arctic Cathedral.
This glamorous alpine retreat is renowned for its slopes, high-profile clientele (Jason Statham, Bono and James Blunt are just a few of the famous faces you might spot on the gondola), lux chalets with private hot tubs and Champagne-fueled debauchery. After the last run, the party starts at après-ski bars.
QUEBEC CITY, CANADA
Quebec City has something for everybody. It’s one of North America’s oldest settlements and a good choice for history buffs. But don’t worry, there are numerous activities to satisfy a more outdoorsy audience. Consider timing your trip to the Quebec Winter Carnival, an annual celebration with parades, firework and concerts.
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
Prague is utterly enchanting. A chill in the air ushers in the season of twinkling lights and spirited Christmas markets. Stop by the stalls in Old Town Square to shop for handcrafted gifts and sample traditional treats such as piernik (gingerbread) and maslové pečivo (butter cookies).
Sedona is a magical place where mild temps beckon travelers to explore the mesmerizing red rocks and energy vortexes. And what’s vacation without a little pampering? Head to the spa at L’Auberge de Sedona for a desert sage sugar scrub or sacred stone massage.
BLOWING ROCK, NORTH CAROLINA
Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock is a storybook winter village with captivating scenery and nostalgic charm at every turn. Antique stores, galleries, bistros and quaint inns line the main drag. You’ll also find ski resorts and wineries within driving distance.
TAOS, NEW MEXICO
Taos has a lot to offer. Whether you’re more into swishing down the steep slopes, savoring Southwestern cuisine or listening to live music, there’s no shortage of things to do during the snowy months. Don’t leave without purchasing a piece of local art.
In search of family fun? This high-altitude haven welcomes chionophiles of all ages and abilities with its mix of bunny hills, well-groomed trails, mogul courses and tubing paths. Bonus: Keystone boasts the largest Zamboni-maintained alfresco ice rink in North America. How cool is that?
Hakone has all the makings of a wonderful cold-weather escape. Soak in the views of snow-capped Mt. Fuji across the sparkling lake, warm up in the hot springs and stay in a ryokan (traditional Japanese-style inn). Of course, no visit is complete without a ride on the Hakone Ropeway.
Most people associate Kennebunkport with summer, though we’ll go out on a limb and say that it’s even better in the winter. By the time Jack Frost rolls into town, the masses are gone. And as the first flakes fall, this coastal enclave turns on the romance and relaxation.
Conical rock formations, fairy chimneys and ancient cave churches make Cappadocia the superlative place for hot-air ballooning. But, perhaps, the best-kept secret about this otherworldly destination is just how breathtaking the volcanic landscape looks with a dusting of fresh powder.
LAKE LOUISE, CANADA
The majesty of the Canadian Rockies is on display in Lake Louise. Nestled within Banff National Park, this hypnotizing hamlet pairs emerald waters, skyscraping peaks and giant glaciers. Outdoor enthusiasts can traverse the fleecy hiking trails, gaze at the resplendent views and glide across the frozen ice.
Winthrop is a cowboy town with old-timey saloons and western shops situated in the upper Methow Valley. Trade your spurs for insulated boots and venture to the largest cross-country ski area in the nation. When you’re ready to hit the hay, hunker down in a rustic cabin.
LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK
Lake Placid hosted the Winter Games in 1932 and 1980, which in and of itself proffers plenty of seasonal street cred. Ready to channel your inner Olympian? Try bobsledding and speed skating. Prefer less strenuous pursuits? Browse the boutiques on Main Street or check out a local brewery.
A getaway to the Arctic Circle? Yes, please. Proximity to the North Pole aside, Rovaniemi—hailed as the “official hometown of Santa Claus”—is the definition of a dreamy destination. Expect reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobile tours and fairy-tale lodgings like the Igloo Hotel. And did we mention you can meet Saint Nick?
Stockbridge embraces winter with gusto. A layer of white frosts the landscape, creating an otherworldly scene that’s made even more enjoyable by the lack of crowds. While some accommodations are closed for the season, Cranwell Resort remains open, as do many cultural institutions—including the Norman Rockwell Museum.
LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA
An adventureland straddling the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe delivers natural beauty and outdoor recreation (hello, Squaw Valley). Thrill-seekers can get in on the advanced downhill action and put the pedal to the metal with a snowmobiling excursion. Seeking a family-friendly pastime? Lace up your skates for a leisurely spin.
Budapest is among the least expensive and most dazzling cities in Europe, and it delights with its abundance of thermal springs, grand architecture and indulgent pastries. The climate tends to stave off hordes of tourists in the winter, and holiday markets and a massive public ice rink up the appeal.