Get Out And Explore The Best Winter Wonderlands

2023-10-15 08:38:25 - Drany Macley Drany Macley, the senior editor of, brings extensive journalism background and over eight years of experience in travel writing and editing to the site, offering practical insights and first-hand knowledge through articles on innovative hotels, backed by a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College.
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Experience the magic of winter in the most enchanting places across the globe. From the snow-covered peaks of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State to the charming villages of Europe, this article will take you on a journey through the best winter wonderlands. Whether you're seeking adventure, cozy fireside retreats, or breathtaking natural beauty, these destinations have it all. Join us as we explore snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and the allure of winter's embrace. Get ready to discover the most captivating winter wonderlands that will leave you spellbound.

Leavenworth, Washington

Experience the magic of winter in Leavenworth! This charming town, inspired by Bavarian culture, is nestled in the stunning Pacific Northwest. Covered in snow, surrounded by misty mountains, Leavenworth shines with festive lights and unique storefronts. Don't miss the opportunity to explore the special shops, like Kris Kringl, where it feels like Christmas all year round. Another must-visit is the Nutcracker Shop and Museum, showcasing a vast collection of nutcrackers from around the globe.


Wenatchee, Washington

  • Average snowfall November through December: 40.1 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 11
  • Nearby forests and parks: 16 
Starting in November, the city of Wenatchee embraces the winter and holiday seasons with a series of events including a winter farmers market, Christmas markets, Christmas lights, holiday wine walk, festival of trees and a holiday celebration at the local ski resort, Mission Ridge. The city also holds a “Pray for Snow” concert that seems to be highly effective. With an average of more than three feet of snow, Wenatchee ranks in the top 1% of the country for the amount of snowfall between November and December. 

Spokane, Washington

  • Average snowfall November through December: 21.6 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 5
  • Nearby forests and parks: 14
Winter wonderlands aren’t just experienced outdoors. They can also be enjoyed inside the home, snuggled up to a crackling fire with hot chocolate, surrounded by holiday decorations and watching the snow fall silently outside. Spokane ranks in the top 5% of the country for the percentage of homes with fireplaces as more than half of the area’s homes are equipped with one. Residents can add to the warmth and cheer of the season by visiting one of the many Christmas tree farms to find the perfect pine. Also listed as one of the best places for hikers, Spokane has many snowy trails for snowshoeing or skiing and hosts the West Coast’s first and only ice ribbon. 

Snoqualmie, Washington

Just a 40-minute drive from Seattle, the charming town of Snoqualmie transforms into an enchanting winter destination. The famous waterfall surrounded by snow and icicles creates a stunning scene straight out of a movie. The Snoqualmie Winter Lights trail, starting from Salish Lodge and Spa, guides you through the town with dazzling lights. Don't forget to visit the historic Shell station, beautifully adorned with lights and a touch of snow.

Telluride, Colorado


Explore the wonders of Main Street in Telluride.

Whitefish, Montana


Enjoy the beauty of Whitefish, Montana.

Mount Rainier National Park Washington State

Recommended by Chantelle from Flannels or FlipFlops

Embark on a remarkable journey through Mount Rainier National Park, one of Washington State's most beloved destinations. This year-round beauty transforms into a winter wonderland during the colder months.

If you're planning a visit to Mount Rainier National Park this winter, here are some things you should keep in mind.

First and foremost, dress warmly! The temperatures at Mount Rainier can be extremely cold, so make sure to layer up with a cozy coat, gloves, and a hat.

Secondly, be prepared for heavy snowfall. Mount Rainier receives an average of 53 feet of snow every year, and temperatures often hover around freezing or below throughout winter.

Thirdly, remember that during winter, access to the park is limited. Only the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park remains open, providing a range of activities and trails for visitors to enjoy.

Despite these limitations, there are still plenty of ways to make the most of your visit. Take a scenic hike along the trails surrounding the Paradise area, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, join a ranger-led snowshoe hike, or go sledding in the designated snow park.

Keep in mind that there are no lodging options within the park during winter, but nearby towns like Ashford offer cozy cabins and mountain lodges to make your stay comfortable.

Plan your visit in advance, as availability can fill up quickly!

Mount Rainier during the winter with snow

Whitefish, Montana

Recommended by Christina from Live A Wilder Life

Discover the hidden gem of Whitefish, Montana during winter. This charming town captivates visitors with its cozy atmosphere and abundance of winter activities. While Whitefish is known for its popularity in the summer, its winter season offers a magical experience akin to a classic holiday movie.

With an average snowfall of 73 inches per year, Whitefish Mountain Resort attracts skiers of all skill levels. The resort is regarded as one of the best skiing destinations in the western United States by Outside Magazine.

But skiing isn't the only option. For a unique adventure, embark on a dogsledding experience with Dog Sled Adventures. Led by a team of enthusiastic rescue dogs and an experienced musher, you can revel in the serenity of a sled ride through the snow-covered Stillwater State Forest.

Nature lovers will find delight in a visit to Glacier National Park, just a short drive away. The park's snowy landscapes are a sight to behold.

Whitefish also comes alive during its annual Winter Festival in February. This three-day event features snow sculptures, parades, live music, and more, adding to the vibrant atmosphere of the town. Make sure to book your accommodations in advance if you plan to attend.

For those seeking a modern experience, the Firebrand Hotel in downtown Whitefish offers upscale accommodations and convenient access to the town's attractions.

Whitefish Montana during the winter. Main square street with snow mountains in the back

Glacier National Park, Montana

Recommended by Chantelle from Romantic Rambles

Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Glacier National Park, a renowned destination in the United States. This natural wonder transforms into a winter paradise, offering a unique and serene experience for visitors.

While Glacier National Park can be crowded during the summer, winter provides an opportunity to enjoy its wonders without the usual crowds.

In winter, the park unveils a picturesque landscape with snow-capped mountains and frozen lakes. It's the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding or elopement. With fewer visitors, you'll feel like you have the park all to yourself.

If you plan to visit Glacier National Park in winter, there are a few things to keep in mind. Dress warmly, as temperatures can be cold, with an average high of 33 degrees Fahrenheit in December. Check avalanche conditions before hiking, and be aware that certain facilities in the park may be closed due to weather conditions. Going-to-the-Sun Road, a popular attraction, is typically only open from late June to early October. However, there are still plenty of activities to enjoy, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and exploring the area around Lake McDonald.

While lodging options within the park are closed during winter, you can find comfortable accommodations in nearby towns like West Glacier, Columbia Falls, or Whitefish. Cedar Creek Lodge in Columbia Falls is a popular choice, offering a convenient location for exploring the park.

Make the most of your winter visit to Glacier National Park and create unforgettable memories.

Glacier National Park winter

Stanley, Idaho

Recommended by Jessica from Uprooted Traveler

Stanley, Idaho serves as the gateway to the rugged Sawtooth Mountains, offering a wealth of outdoor adventures during winter. With its high elevation, Stanley experiences chilly temperatures and abundant snowfall, transforming the town and its surroundings into a winter wonderland.

Snowshoeing around Stanley Lake or Redfish Lake is a magical experience, surrounded by snow-dusted Ponderosa pine trees. Keep your eyes peeled for elk and even moose gracefully navigating the alpine landscape.

For a truly unique experience, explore the backcountry yurts and huts nestled amidst the jagged peaks of the Sawtooths. These serve as perfect basecamps for backcountry skiing or snowboarding down the countless couloirs.

After a day of outdoor activities, unwind in one of Stanley's hot springs. Boatbox Hot Springs, nestled in a mining cauldron along the Salmon River, and Kirkham Hot Springs with its warm waterfall are popular choices. Soothe your muscles in the steamy waters while surrounded by snow-covered hills, making for an unforgettable winter experience.

Remember that Stanley is a remote mountain town, and roads leading there can be challenging, especially during winter. It's advisable to drive a four-wheel drive vehicle and navigate the twisty roads with caution. Once you arrive, make the Mountain Valley Lodge your home base. While the hotel may need some updates, it boasts a hot spring housed in a picturesque barn, offering stunning views of the Sawtooth Mountains.

Stanley Hot Springs in Idaho Winter

McCall Idaho

McCall, Idaho is a winter paradise, offering numerous activities for outdoor enthusiasts. With two large ski resorts just a short drive from downtown, skiers and snowboarders of all levels will find slopes to enjoy. If skiing isn't your thing, you can try tubing, cross-country skiing, or ice skating.

For those seeking an adrenaline rush, snowmobiling is a popular adventure in McCall. Various companies offer guided tours of the picturesque surroundings, allowing you to explore the stunning scenery while enjoying the thrill of snowmobiling. Don't miss the opportunity to visit Burgdorf hot springs on your snowmobile. Be sure to make reservations in advance, as they now operate on a reservation system.

If you prefer a more relaxed winter vacation, McCall is the perfect destination. Take a scenic walk or go snowshoeing along the beautiful Payette Lake. When it's time to warm up, indulge in the local breweries or cozy coffee shops throughout the town.

Insider Tip: Don't miss the breathtaking drive along the Payette River Scenic Byway, also known as Highway 55.

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace, known as the "Silver Capital of the World," offers not only a rich mining history but also a picturesque winter setting with abundant snow. Situated between two ski and recreation areas, visitors can enjoy outdoor activities during the day and then explore the charming downtown in the evenings. The entire downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and now houses a variety of eateries, unique shops, and engaging museums like the Oasis Bordello Museum and the Wallace District Mining Museum.

Bayfield, Wisconsin


© James Pintar -

Apostle Islands near Bayfield, Wisconsin

Crested Butte, Colorado

Crested Butte, one of the most stunning towns in the country, becomes even more enchanting with a fresh layer of powdery snow. This idyllic destination offers a perfect backdrop for skiing and snowboarding, allowing visitors to enjoy the slopes in a picture-perfect winter wonderland. After a day on the mountains, take a stroll through the historic downtown area, adorned with colorful buildings. As an official creative district, Crested Butte boasts numerous artist-owned studios and galleries, co-op galleries, and performance venues.

Stowe, Vermont


Stowe Mountain Ski Resort

Aspen, Colorado

For those seeking a luxurious and thrilling winter getaway, Aspen is the ultimate choice. This charming town is renowned for its world-class ski resorts, including Aspen Snowmass and The Little Nell. Indulge in the exhilaration of hitting the slopes, and then explore the historic downtown area filled with top-notch restaurants and high-end shops. Don't miss the opportunity to savor delicious sushi at Matsuhisa or unwind with a drink and a game of pool at Eric's Bar.


Breckenridge, Colorado 

Breckenridge, Colorado is a paradise for winter enthusiasts who love downhill skiing and snowboarding. The renowned Breckenridge Ski Resort offers exhilarating slopes for all skill levels. Apart from hitting the slopes, visitors can explore the charming town filled with boutiques and enjoy a delicious sit-down meal at Ember, or grab a quick bite at Northside Pizza and Wings. Don't forget to browse through the town's unique boutique shops, such as Joy of Sox.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Cozy Up By A Fire At A Winter Lodge In Vail, Colorado

Vail is undoubtedly the quintessential winter town. While Colorado's mountainous northern region offers year-round attractions, winter is the most unique time to visit this alpine gem.

Vail is home to a world-class mountain resort nestled beneath the Gore Range. Here, visitors can engage in a variety of winter sports, relish exceptional dining experiences, and stay in luxurious accommodations. The town attracts skiers and snowboarders from around the globe, thanks to its remarkable ski slopes and various winter activities. Visitors can also enjoy ice skating, dog sledding, snowmobiling, or take a scenic gondola ride to the mountain's summit. After an exhilarating day, there's nothing like cozying up to a fireplace or enjoying après-ski bars.

Bear Valley, California

Bear Valley in California is the perfect destination for remarkable skiing and other winter activities. With an average of 30 feet of snowfall annually, Bear Valley offers a snowy paradise. Set in the Central Sierra Mountains, this charming location is adorned with icicles hanging from the mountain cabins and towering redwood trees. Visitors can spend the day at Bear Valley Ski Area or try tubing and sledding on the hills, then retreat to the warmth of a roaring fire.

Jackson, Wyoming


© Gianluca70 |

The base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Mountain in Mammoth Lakes stands as one of the most popular ski resorts in the country, offering exceptional snow conditions for skiing and snowboarding. With an abundance of cross-country and snowshoe terrain, as well as snowmobile adventures, sledding, and other family-friendly activities, visitors can enjoy a winter wonderland. Cozy cabin rentals provide a perfect base, complete with indoor fireplaces to warm up by while sipping hot cocoa.

Homer, Alaska


© Adeliepenguin |

Homer, Alaska

Lake Tahoe

Recommended by Christina – Travel2next

Lake Tahoe, located in the Sierra Nevadas and spanning both California and Nevada, is a must-visit destination for winter travel in the USA. With approximately nine hours of daylight during the winter months, stunning winter resorts, and a wide range of winter activities, Lake Tahoe provides a perfect winter vacation experience.

Notable winter resorts in Lake Tahoe include Squaw Valley Resort, Heavenly Ski Resort (which spans both Nevada and California), Sugar Bowl and Royal Gorge, and Northstar.

Lake Tahoe offers not only skiing and snowboarding but also a variety of other activities, such as ice skating and cozying up around fire pits roasting marshmallows. Many resorts in the area feature spas, where visitors can relax in hot tubs and indulge in soothing treatments like hot stone massages. Additionally, there are extensive cross-country trails, as well as fun activities like tubing, snowmobiling, and sleigh riding.

For a romantic stay, consider the boutique hotel Deerfield Lodge at Heavenly, or experience the charm of Cottage Inn, an adults-only cottage straight out of a storybook.

Lake Tahoe is easily accessible, as it is located near three international airports: San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento.

Find tours around Lake Tahoe here!

Where to Stay: Lake Tahoe VRBO | Marriott Grand Residence Club, Lake Tahoe | Fireside Lodge

Lake Tahoe at Squaw ValleyLake Tahoe at Squaw Valley

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe receives an average of more than 215 inches of snowfall each year, with even higher amounts in the surrounding elevated areas. During winter, the ground is typically covered in snow, while the skies offer bright and sunny days, creating an idyllic winter escape. Lake Tahoe is not only home to some of the country's best ski resorts, but it also offers a wide range of activities for adventure seekers. From ice skating and sledding to snowshoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides, there's something for everyone. In addition, visitors can enjoy lavish spa treatments and indulge in entertainment options like casino gambling and live music concerts.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin


Elkhart Lake, WI

Winter Wonderland Destinations in Europe

Europe is home to some of the most popular, and a few unexpected, snowy holiday destinations.


Snow-covered mountains make the perfect backdrop for quaint lakeside villages in Austria in winter. Photo Credit: PlacesofJuma

Austria in winter is undeniably one of the most beautiful winter wonderland places to visit in the world! Thanks to the snowy winters, the numerous ski resorts, and the many winter activities, this country is a real highlight for an unforgettable snowy vacation. Towns such as Tirol, Vorarlberg, Carinthia, and Salzburg in western Austria, where the snow-covered mountains create a picturesque scene, are especially recommended in winter.

During a winter vacation, you can experience a lot of amazing things. Austria is famous for skiing, but there are also numerous opportunities for tobogganing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, or simply walking or snowshoeing in the snowy countryside. To warm up, it is best to visit an après-ski bar, where the party starts from noon onwards. For those who prefer peace and quiet, warm up at one of the many thermal baths and relax your tired legs.

Christmas markets are also a highlight in Austria, which you can visit between the end of November and the end of December. A trip to Vienna is highly recommended as it is home to some of the most beautiful winter markets in Austria.

The best and snowiest time to visit Austria is from January to February. During this time, you can expect cold temperatures, lots of snow, and often clear blue skies.

By Martina of PlacesofJuma

Pro Tip: Wondering what to wear to stay warm outside in winter? Find tips in my Prepared Girl’s Guide to Winter Hiking!


Finland's snow-covered forest makes it a perfect winter wonderland destination in Europe!Wander through magical forests covered in snow near Rovaniemi, in northern Finland. When it comes to winter wonderland travel destinations, Finland is a top choice! Head north to the Arctic region during the winter months for a chance to see the Aurora Borealis, breathe in some of the purest air in the world, and experience the best of Finland’s winter outdoor activities.

Both Levi and Rovaniemi are popular snowy holiday destinations in the Arctic region of Finland. Levi is an adorable village that attracts downhill skiers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers in the winter months. Rovaniemi offers easy access to frozen waterfall hikes, ice climbing, and cross-country skiing. While you're there, be sure to visit Santa Claus’ Village, open year-round, to experience the magic of Christmas.

After a long day of winter fun, be sure to rejuvenate your body in a traditional Finnish sauna!

Munich & the Bavarian Alps, Germany

The Bavarian Alps in Germany are an incredible destination for downhill skiing, sledding, and winter hiking. Photo Credit: The Globetrotting Detective.Munich and its surrounding mountains transform into a fairy wonderland in winter and offer a diverse range of activities.

In December, Munich is home to some of the best Christmas markets in the world. The most magical Christmas market in Munich is the medieval Christmas market and the Christmas village at the Residence Palace in the heart of the city.

Munich is a paradise for winter sports lovers. Ice skating is an extremely popular winter activity in Munich. The most gorgeous ice skating rink in winter is found in the center of Munich at Karlsplatz next to stalls selling traditional German snacks and drinks.

How about outdoor swimming in winter when it’s snowing? In Munich, you can swim in the warm and steaming water of Dantebad. Also, in Munich, you'll find the world’s largest spa, Therme Erding. Go and enjoy its sauna world, warm outdoor pools surrounded by snow, adventure pools, and a myriad of wellness activities.

From Munich, you can take fantastic day trips. Visit the most charming fairytale castles in the world, Neuschwanstein Castle and Linderhof Castle, surrounded by majestic mountains, or explore the enchanting and spellbinding medieval towns of Germany such as Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Regensburg, and Nuremberg.

Lastly, don't miss the breathtakingly beautiful mountains of the Bavarian Alps. Some top things to do there are sledding on the longest toboggan run in Germany, Wallberg, skiing on the highest mountain in Germany, Zugspitze, and hiking on the stunning hiking trails of the Alps.

By Diana of The Globetrotting Detective


Chase frozen waterfalls in Iceland’s otherworldly landscape. Photo Credit: UK Everyday

Winter is the low season in Iceland, making it one of the best times to visit. With fewer tourists and cheaper accommodation, you can enjoy plenty of winter activities between November and March, such as exploring ice caves or admiring the Northern Lights.

Go on a glacier hike to see beautiful ice tunnels and unique ice formations. The ice cave season is very short, so don’t miss out on this awe-inspiring natural beauty. Stunning Iceland, covered in white snow, looks like a winter wonderland.

Enjoying hot springs on a cold day is a great way to relax. Winter is also the best time to take photos in Iceland, thanks to the incredible light. Even if you wake up at 10 am, you can still capture amazing pictures, as the sun rises around 11 am.

Golden hour lasts all day, giving you the opportunity to capture beautiful waterfalls and many other attractions of Iceland in incredible winter scenery. It's worth mentioning that the weather is not as cold as it may seem. It might feel a bit chilly when it's windy, but exploring Iceland in winter is a great experience.

By Paulina of UK Everyday

The Dolomites, Italy

There are few places in the world as beautiful in winter as Italy. Most travelers do not associate winter wonderland with Italy, which makes the Dolomites a relatively unspoiled place in Europe. Indulge in typical winter activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, trekking, ski mountaineering, and sometimes even ice skating on the lakes nestled deep in the Dolomites. If you are short on time, make sure to head up to the fairytale lake of Lago di Carezza. It has ample parking and simply the best views of the entire region!

After a day exploring the region or hitting the slopes, you can treat yourself to some delicious specialties from the region. The cuisine in the area consists of a delectable mix of Italian and German influences. Don't forget to try canederli (bread dumplings), kaiserschmarren (pancakes), and the ultimate comfort food, polenta. Wash it all down with a glass of good local wine or a heartwarming shot of schnapps.

Depending on the weather, the Dolomites can have their first snowfall as early as October and their last snowfall in April. The easiest way to get around the region is by renting a car, but be aware that snow tires are mandatory from mid-November to mid-April. Additionally, you will need to bring snow chains with you in the car to use on roads with heavy snowfall.

By Caroline of Veggie Wayfarer


Experience the magic of the Northern Lights in the Arctic region of Norway in winter. The Aurora dances above the fjords in the Lofoten Islands.

Norway is a strong contender for the best winter destinations in the world! There’s something so magical about the rugged rock formations jutting up out of the dark blue water of the fjords, all covered in a dusting of snow and ice.

To enjoy the best of winter in Norway, head into the Arctic Circle. Fly into Tromsö to go dogsledding, whale watching, winter hiking, snowshoeing, and more. The town is located on a small island surrounded by mountains. Take a ride up the cable car, also called Fjellheisen, for an epic view of Tromsö from above!

For a more unique experience, visit the Loföten Islands in winter. This archipelago along the western coast of Norway has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Visit tiny fishing villages, snow-covered beaches, and incredible winter hiking trails. After a long day of exploring the islands, relax in a quintessentially Norwegian cabin on stilts over the water. Don’t get too relaxed, though, because this is a great destination for photographing the Northern Lights.

The best time to visit Norway for these winter activities is from December through February, though the season varies depending on the weather.


Averaging around 28°F – 37°F in the winter months, Slovakia is an amazingly unique winter wonderland travel destination that’s often overlooked. This country provides an abundance of fun winter activities for those who enjoy escaping the crowds. It is also home to tons of stunning fairytale castles and UNESCO medieval towns that look even more dreamy covered in snow.

One of the best places to visit in Slovakia in the winter is the Tatras Mountains. There, you’ll find Tatranská Lomnica, the highest ski resort in the country. You can enjoy skiing and snowboarding with incredible views of the winter wonderland, and then relax in the many spa hotels in the area, such as the Grand Hotel Kempinski High Tatras.

Don’t leave Slovakia without seeing the stunning Bojnice Castle, considered by many as the most beautiful castle in Central Europe. You can see the beautiful Gothic, Renaissance, and Romanesque influences in its architecture. Its gorgeous facade looks even more magical when it’s covered in snow!

Other notable stops on a winter trip to Slovakia include the dreamy Orava Castle, the mystical Spiš Castle, and the UNESCO medieval town of Bardejov. Be sure to also stop by the city of Košice for the best local food and lively Christmas markets.

Visit in December to see the towns and cities of Slovakia lit up in splendid decorations. You can feel the festive spirit even in the mountain villages of the Tatras Mountains!

By Jiayi of The Diary of a Nomad


Downhill skiing is a popular winter activity in Sweden. Photo Credit: Hendrik Morkel on Unsplash

Sweden, located in northern Europe, has long and cold winters. The winter months include November through to March, however, it is great visiting during this time of the year for the beautiful scenery and landscape alone.

The big cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Västerås, and Uppsala all offer lots of things to do, regardless of the time of year. However, some museums do close during winter and only reopen in June as summer approaches, so plan accordingly.

The Swedes love winter, especially when it snows, and many head to the beautiful countryside and lakes on weekends to enjoy winter sports such as skiing and ice skating. There are also many ski resorts where people can enjoy skiing down the slopes, cross-country skiing, tobogganing, or even go snowmobiling. Consider avoiding the ski fields during the annual school ‘sports holidays’ or ‘sportlov’ which are spread between weeks 7 and 10 as the slopes are busy and accommodation is expensive.

One of the most popular attractions in Sweden during the winter months are the ice hotels. These hotels are made of snow and ice, with everything inside made of ice too. The original Icehotel is located in the town of Jukkasjärvi and each year the hotel is hand-sculpted into a one-of-a-kind version from massive ice blocks harvested from the nearby river. When spring comes, the hotel is left to melt.

By Peta and Jonas of Exit45 Travels


Visit Istanbul in winter to experience and see sights like Hagia Sophia without the crowd. Photo Credit: Mog and Dog Travels

Turkey is a well-known summer holiday destination, but travelers who decide to explore this vast country in winter will be rewarded with incredible experiences.

Start your journey by exploring Istanbul in winter. Major sights such as the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque will be crowd-free during this season. If you're lucky enough to experience snowfall during your visit (usually in January and February), you’ll get some incredible photographs too.

Those interested in winter sports activities should head to Bursa and Mount Uludağ, which is just 2.5 hours from Istanbul. It is Turkey’s first and largest ski resort and offers snowboarding, snow biking, sledging, and skiing. Mount Uludağ also has the Bursa Teleferik – the longest cable car ride in the world. The views from the cable car alone are worth the trip, even if you don’t want to ski!

If you have more time on your hands, Central and Eastern Turkey are popular winter wonderland destinations that are well worth a visit. The fairy chimneys and old churches of Cappadocia are stunning at any time of year, but look extra special when covered in snow. A hot air balloon ride over the curious rock formations of Cappadocia is a must in winter.

Train travel in Turkey is fantastic, and one of the most popular routes in January and February is the Eastern Express (Doğu Expresi) between Ankara and Kars. This 25-hour train journey takes you through a winter wonderland of snowy vistas, towering mountains, and gorgeous plateaus. This train journey has become so popular that there is now a separate tourist train for this route. Book in advance if you don’t want to be disappointed.

From Kars, you can visit stunning Lake Çıldır, which is frozen solid for 9 months of the year. Locals from the nearby village of Taşbası offer horse sleigh rides on the lake, plus a chance to see traditional ice fishing. Kars is also the jump-off point for exploring the ruins of the Armenian Kingdom of Ani, with its numerous churches, chapels, and mausoleums.

By Sasha of Mog and Dog Travels

Winter Wonderland Destinations in North America

When it comes to the best winter destinations in the world, North America offers a diverse range of landscapes, making it a top choice for winter getaways. From stunning frozen landscapes to exciting winter activities, the United States and Canada are home to some incredible winter wonderland destinations.

Alaska, USA

Alaska is truly a breathtaking destination in any season, but it becomes even more magical in winter. The landscape transforms into a winter wonderland, offering unique opportunities to explore without the usual crowds that come with the warmer months.

One of the highlights of Alaska in winter is the chance to explore the ice caves in Chugach National Forest near Anchorage. The caves offer a mesmerizing experience, and the surrounding natural beauty is truly awe-inspiring.

Moreover, Alaska is known for being home to the annual Iditarod race, making it one of the best places in the world for dog sledding. Whether you choose to glide across the snow-covered landscape from inside the sled or take the reins and drive the sled yourself, this thrilling activity is a must-try.

For a unique experience, consider taking a ride on the Alaska Railway in Anchorage and heading towards Spencer Glacier in Chugach National Forest. The train ride offers breathtaking views of Turnagain Arm and the distant mountains, with tour options to explore the glacier via snowmobile or on foot.

Those interested in winter hiking or snowshoeing can also embark on day trips from Anchorage to destinations like Flattop Mountain or Chugach State Park. And if you're looking to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing Northern Lights, Fairbanks is considered to have the most favorable conditions, although they can often be spotted in the area surrounding Anchorage as well.

Banff & Lake Louise, Canada

For those seeking snowy holiday destinations, Banff and Lake Louise in Canada's Rocky Mountains are absolute must-visit destinations. These stunning locations offer a winter wonderland experience like no other.

In Banff National Park, there's a plethora of amazing winter activities to enjoy. From skiing and ice skating to curling and exploring the charming downtown area on foot, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

During late December to February, visitors can partake in ice carving festivals in Lake Louise, where the frozen landscape becomes a picturesque playground for various activities. From snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to simply taking in the breathtaking winter scenery, Lake Louise offers endless opportunities for winter fun.

Mid-November to January is a time of snowy weather and festive celebrations in the area. Visitors can experience the annual Christmas parade in Banff town, indulge in seasonal menus and explore Christmas markets for unique souvenirs.

One of the highlights of Lake Louise is the opportunity to go ice skating on the frozen lake. Rentals are available for those who want to glide across the ice while taking in the stunning surroundings. Other activities such as Sulphur Mountain gondola rides, dog sledding tours, and horseback riding are also available, providing unforgettable experiences in the winter wonderland.

Minnesota, USA

While it may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of winter wonderland destinations, Minnesota offers a wide array of incredible winter activities. The rugged north shore of Lake Superior, in particular, is a stunning location to explore during the winter months.

At the frozen north shore, visitors can witness endless frozen waterfalls, go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, winter camping, and snowmobiling. The ice formations along the shore of Lake Superior create a mesmerizing sight that resembles piles of diamonds, adding to the magical atmosphere of the surroundings.

There are also charming harbor towns located along the water, such as Two Harbors and Grand Marais, which offer unique experiences and opportunities to immerse oneself in the beauty of the winter landscape.

Minnesota is home to two International Dark Sky parks, Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. These parks provide exceptional opportunities for witnessing the Northern Lights during the winter months. Additionally, the Minneapolis and St. Paul area offers activities such as frozen waterfall exploration, cross-country skiing, winter hiking, and various winter events on frozen lakes.

Nunavut, Canada

Nunavut, located near the North Pole in Canada, is the ultimate winter wonderland destination. As Canada's largest and most northern territory, it offers an unparalleled winter experience.

Visitors to Nunavut can enjoy an array of winter activities, such as snowmobiling and dog sledding. Unlike other destinations, these activities in Nunavut take place in a unique setting, where guests can zip over barren tundra or frozen sea ice, surrounded by breathtaking cliffs and expansive views.

The best months to visit for winter activities are March and April, when the sea ice is still frozen and the tundra is blanketed in snow. During this time, the temperatures are more comfortable, ranging around -10°C, and daylight hours begin to increase, offering more opportunities to explore the magnificent surroundings.

While the Northern Lights may not be as prominent during March and April compared to the winter months, it is still common to catch a glimpse of this spectacular natural phenomenon in the early morning hours.

For a taste of winter in the summer months, visitors can join a wildlife safari from May to August. This provides the chance to kayak near narwhal or beluga whales, as well as search for polar bears along the horizon. Although temperatures have warmed by arctic standards during this time, they still range from 0°C to 10°C, making it a unique opportunity for non-arctic residents to experience the cold weather.

Vermont, USA

Vermont, with its snow-capped mountains and charming villages, is an idyllic winter destination. This New England state offers a wide variety of winter sports and activities, making it perfect for those seeking a winter wonderland experience.

Vermont boasts 22 resorts for downhill skiing and snowboarding, catering to all levels of experience. Visitors can enjoy the slopes of major mountains like Killington and Stratton, or opt for family-owned hills such as Cochran's Ski Area. Many towns also offer free groomed cross-country ski trails, ensuring that cross-country skiers can explore to their heart's content.

The Green Mountains in Vermont provide endless trails for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the winter landscape. Hiking enthusiasts can tackle ambitious winter climbs like Camel's Hump or Mount Mansfield, or opt for easier trails that meander past icy mountain streams and snow-covered fir trees.

Other popular winter activities in Vermont include ice-skating, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and dog sledding. After a day spent enjoying the cold outdoors, visitors can cozy up in one of Vermont's picturesque villages, complete with top-notch restaurants and a welcoming ambiance. Don't forget to visit one of Vermont's famous craft breweries for a great ending to your day.

Washington, USA

Located in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States, Washington state offers a plethora of incredible winter activities and destinations. With its stunning forests, majestic mountains, and breathtaking beaches, it's a true winter wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts.

One of the top winter destinations in Washington state is Winthrop, a charming town that dates back to the late 1800s gold rush. From Winthrop, visitors can explore the snow-covered North Cascades, which provide the perfect backdrop for activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Those looking for variety in scenery can head to Olympic National Park in the northwest corner of the state. The park offers a winter wonderland experience with snow-covered mountains, lush temperate rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and craggy beaches. The park even features stunning hot springs that can be hiked to and enjoyed.

If you're visiting Washington state in December, make sure not to miss Leavenworth, a Bavarian-themed town nestled in the Northern Cascades. Each year, Leavenworth puts on an enchanting Christmas extravaganza, creating a festive atmosphere that's sure to delight visitors. Additionally, winter visitors can enjoy snow in higher elevations, such as Mount Rainier National Park, well into June. The winter months in Washington state often come with rainy skies, low hanging clouds, and fog, adding to the region's mysterious beauty.

Whistler, Canada

Whistler, located just a two-hour drive from Vancouver, is a winter wonderland that's easily accessible. Nestled in the mountains of British Columbia, Whistler is home to the world-famous Whistler Blackcomb ski resort, which offers more terrain than any other ski hill in North America and hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Besides skiing and snowboarding, Whistler has plenty of other winter activities to offer. Snowshoeing is a popular option for those seeking a laid-back adventure, with Lost Lake Park near the town center providing a great trail network. Another option is Whistler Olympic Park, where visitors can snowshoe to the bottom of a frozen waterfall. Both locations offer equipment rentals for added convenience.

While in Whistler, don't miss the opportunity to explore the cute pedestrian village, which is home to excellent shopping and dining options. A photo in front of the giant Olympic rings in the plaza is a must, and strolling through the snow with a hot chocolate in hand is a delightful way to soak in the atmosphere. For breathtaking views, take a ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which connects the tops of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains and offers stunning vistas from 1430 feet above the valley floor.

Visitors to Whistler can also take the opportunity to learn about local culture by visiting the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Center. Led by a guide from the Squamish or Lil'wat Nation, guests can explore the exhibits and gain insight into the culture, history, and current practices of the Indigenous peoples who have lived in the Whistler area for centuries.

15 Beautiful Winter Wonderland Destinations

This post highlights some of the most beautiful winter wonderland destinations across the globe. If you're ready to embrace the cold and snow, these breathtaking locations are perfect for a snowy winter getaway.

Related: The Best Christmas Markets in Europe

Best Winter Destinations in the USA

There are two types of winter travelers. Some people want to escape the cold, while others embrace winter and all of the fun activities it offers. If you're looking for warm winter getaways in the USA, check out this list. But for those of you who love winter, we've got some of the best USA winter destinations for you!

Rockefeller Center in December with holiday decorations! One of the top places to visit in NYC for the Holidays!New York City is a Winter Wonderland Destination around the Holidays

Disclaimer: This page may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission at NO cost to you. Disclosure

Table of Contents
Best Winter Destinations in the USA
Fairbanks, Alaska
Midway Utah
Moab, Utah
Denver, Colorado
New York City, NY – One of my Favorite USA Winter Destinations
Mammoth Lakes, California
Stowe, VT
Jackson Wyoming
Whitefish, Montana
Anchorage, Alaska
Mount Rainier National Park Washington State
Poconos, Pennsylvania
Lake Tahoe
Blowing Rock/ Boone & Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Glacier National Park, Montana
Lincoln, NH
Stanley, Idaho
Leavenworth, Washington
Twin Cities, MN
Yellowstone National Park
USA Winter Destinations Packing and Tips
Best USA Winter Destinations Wrap-up
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USA Winter Destinations Packing and Tips

Now that you know some of the best USA winter destinations to visit this year, here are some tips and packing items to help you plan your visit.

  • Make sure to bring layers of clothing. The best way to plan your layering is with a base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer. This can include merino wool under layers, an insulating jacket or fleece, and then an outer layer that is wind and water-resistant.
  • For snowy destinations, make sure you are comfortable driving. Having a flashlight, food, and a blanket in the car is a great idea, in the rare case the car breaks down.
  • Always check if 4-wheel drive and or chains are needed for your car.
  • If you travel with your own skis or snowboard, it needs to be checked in the oversized luggage area.

Additionally, here are some great winter items to pack.

Fairbanks, Alaska

Recommended by Kay – The Awkward Traveller

Fairbanks may be the second-largest city in Alaska, but it feels like a small town with a population of just over 30,000. It's also one of the best winter destinations in the USA.

If you love a white winter, Fairbanks is the place for you. It offers a range of winter activities and events, including visits to reindeer ranches, hot springs, dog sledding, and chasing the Northern Lights.

The best spots to see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks are Creamer’s Field and Cleary Summit, both located about 30 minutes from downtown. During the Winter Solstice, the entire city transforms into a winter wonderland, with garland and tinsel decorating storefronts and fairy lights wrapped around street posts.

December is a particularly magical time to visit Fairbanks, especially the small town of North Pole, just twenty minutes away. You can see the world’s largest Santa sculpture and visit Santa’s workshop. On weekends, you might even have the chance to meet Santa in person and share your holiday wishlist!

To make your trip even more memorable, try to visit Fairbanks during a big winter event or festival, such as the World Ice Sculpting Championships, the Festival of Native Arts, or the Iditarod. Attending these festivals will give you a deeper understanding of Fairbanks' culture, art, and traditions.

Find awesome Fairbank Alaska tours here!

Where to Stay in Fairbank: Pike’s Waterfront Lodge | La Quinta | Best Western Chena River Lodge | Fairbanks VRBO

Fairbanks Alaska Northern LightsNorthern Lights in Fairbanks Alaska

Homer, Alaska

Homer is the perfect place for a blissful escape without the crowds in an oceanfront town with views of dramatic snowy peaks. Cross-country skiing is popular and flightseeing tours are possible year-round with winter bringing the opportunity to soar over snow-covered icefields and mountains. The Homer Winter Festival in mid-February is a weekend-long celebration with a parade worth planning your trip around.

Woodstock, Vermont


© James Kirkikis |

Christmas lights in Woodstock, Vermont

Anchorage, Alaska

  • Average snowfall November through December: 34.1 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 3
  • Nearby forests and parks: 9
While winter in Alaska might seem hardcore with images of dog sledding and snowmobiling, Anchorage is a great winter destination. Anchorage ranks in the top 10% of the country for nearby mountains thanks to the Chugach Mountains, a range just outside of the city that often blankets the area in snow. So much, in fact, that Anchorage gets more snowfall in November and December than 98% of the country. At night, glittering city lights reflect off the snow and, paired with the glow of the northern lights overhead, make for a wonderland that’s almost fairytale-esque. 

Christmas lights in Rapid City, South Dakota

North Pole, Alaska

What could be more appropriate for a winter wonderland vacation than a visit to the North Pole? Blankets of snow are pretty much guaranteed, and this Alaskan Town offers lots to do during the season too, including the annual North Pole Christmas In Ice Contest that draws ice sculptors from across the globe. This is the best season for northern lights viewing, and you’ll be in one of the top spots for it. Plus, if you like Christmas, it doesn’t matter what month you arrive, it’s always Christmas here with holiday decor up 365 days of the year – drive down streets like Kris Kringle Drive, Mistletoe Lane, and Santa Clause Lane, or pick up gifts, decor, and local Alaska-made items at Santa Claus House.

Bear Valley, California


© Sarah_Robson |

Bear Valley, California

Sitka, Alaska

Sitka weather would be considered cold compared to most places in the lower 48, but it’s mild for Alaska standards, with high temperatures averaging in the low- to mid-40s. There is an average of 44 inches of snow each year which means you can enjoy the flakes without the frigid cold. It’s surrounded by soaring mountains that provide a breathtaking backdrop and there are a number of winter festivals like the Sitka WhaleFest and Sitka Jazz Festival to enjoy too.

Lincoln, New Hampshire


© Demerzel21 -

covered bridge in Lincoln, New Hamsphire

Woodstock, Vermont

Woodstock is like a postcard with its historic buildings and the tranquil Ottauquechee River running through. With a blanket of snow, you might think you’ve walked into a dream. It’s especially charming during the holidays with all the lights and decor, while Nordic skiing trails provide a great way to immerse yourself in all of it.

Holland, Michigan


© Maria Dryfhout |

Holland, Michigan

Lake Placid, New York

Nestled in the Adirondacks, Lake Placid has hosted the Olympic Winter Games twice, so you know your odds are good when it comes to snow and winter activities. Visitors can even ride the Lake Placid Toboggan Chut, which was converted from a 30-foot-high ski jump. Of course, skiing, ice skating, and other snow sports are available too, while the dining scene is innovative and diverse, with lots of restaurants serving locally sourced foods.

North Pole, Alaska


Victoria Ditkovsky |

Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska

New York City, NY - One of my Favorite USA Winter Destinations

Recommended by Sam – Find Love & Travel

For a truly magical winter experience in the USA, you can't go wrong with a visit to New York City. This bustling metropolis comes alive during the holiday season, offering a plethora of activities and sights to enjoy. From the famous tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center to ice skating in Central Park and exploring the Christmas Market at Bryant Square, there is no shortage of things to see and do.

But that's not all - New York City has plenty to offer year-round. From the iconic Holiday Windows at Macy's and the stunning Christmas decorations at Saks Fifth Ave and Cartier, there are many free activities to enjoy. And if you happen to be lucky enough to experience a snowfall, there's nothing quite like seeing Central Park covered in a blanket of white.

If you have enough time, I highly recommend spending at least four days in New York City to fully appreciate everything it has to offer. To make the most of your visit, check out my New York travel tips for useful guides and recommendations from a true New Yorker. Don't forget to also explore the city at night, as it has a whole different vibe.

To make your trip more convenient and cost-effective, consider getting a New York pass or joining a guided tour. These options often offer discounted admission to popular attractions like the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock. You can find the best passes and tours on our website.

For accommodations, check out our list of the best hotels in NYC. And don't forget to pack accordingly with our NYC winter packing guide.

If you're still not convinced, take a look at the images below to get a glimpse of the top things to do in NYC in December, including the beautiful seasonal festivities at Radio City Music Hall.

Albany, New York

  • Average snowfall November through December: 16 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 20
  • Nearby forests and parks: 16

If you're a fan of winter wonderlands, Albany is the perfect destination for you. With an average snowfall of 16 inches and an abundance of nearby forests and parks, you can immerse yourself in the serene beauty of a snow-covered forest. And if you're in the mood for some holiday cheer, downtown Albany offers holiday markets, light spectacles, and charming window displays.

Syracuse, New York

  • Average snowfall November through December: 34.1 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 15
  • Nearby forests and parks: 9

For a truly snowy winter experience, look no further than Syracuse. With an average snowfall of over three feet during November and December, this city offers plenty of opportunities for winter activities. One popular attraction is the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, where you can witness animals frolicking in their very own winter wonderland. And don't miss the annual Holiday Nights event, featuring hot cocoa, s'mores, and dazzling light displays.

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

  • Average snowfall November through December: 18.1 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 20
  • Nearby forests and parks: 13

Located in the heart of the Berkshires, Pittsfield is a winter paradise. With its proximity to 10 ski resorts and the option for night skiing at Bousquet Mountain, outdoor enthusiasts will have a blast exploring the snowy slopes. The town's historic charm is preserved under a dusting of snow, creating a picturesque setting. Make sure to experience the magic of a winter wonderland illuminated by the moon's glow.

Concord, Massachusetts

Known as one of the best winter towns in Massachusetts, Concord offers a charming and historic experience. Steeped in history dating back to 1635, this town is a winter wonderland straight out of a storybook. Marvel at the beautifully preserved historic homes, including the renowned Orchard House where Louisa May Alcott wrote "Little Women." Don't miss the chance to explore this enchanting town covered in a blanket of white powder.

Burlington, Vermont

Looking for a winter escape in New England? Burlington, Vermont is the perfect destination. With its snowy mountains and picturesque landscapes, this city offers a true winter wonderland experience. Explore the charming downtown area and enjoy the festivities of the holiday season. Take in the sights of the beautiful Lake Champlain and immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of a Vermont winter.

Manchester, New Hampshire

  • Average snowfall November through December: 15.9 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 20
  • Nearby forests and parks: 7

If you're a fan of outdoor winter activities, look no further than Manchester, New Hampshire. With its abundance of nearby winter recreation resources, you'll have no shortage of options. Whether it's skiing, snowboarding, tubing, or ice skating, this city has it all. After a day of winter fun, cozy up by the fireplace, as Manchester boasts a high percentage of homes with fireplaces.

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Step into a winter wonderland in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. This charming town, known for its 18th- and 19th-century buildings, looks like a picture-perfect painting under a dusting of snow. Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum and admire the largest collection of original Norman Rockwell art, inspired by the beauty of Stockbridge and the Berkshires. Take part in guided cross-country skiing or snowshoe excursions and immerse yourself in the history and beauty of this winter paradise.

Alta, Utah

Ski enthusiasts, rejoice! Alta, Utah is a winter destination you won't want to miss. With its stunning slopes and breathtaking mountain views, it's a paradise for skiers and snowboarders. Experience the thrill of gliding down the slopes surrounded by a winter wonderland. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, Alta offers something for everyone.

Bethel, Maine

Bethel, Maine is a hidden gem for winter enthusiasts. With its beautiful mountain village setting and access to the White Mountain National Forest, it offers a range of winter activities. Enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing on groomed trails, and back-country skiing in the forest. The village, adorned with snow-dusted steeples and 19th-century homes, is a sight to behold. Don't miss the chance to visit the world's tallest snowman, a towering figure that adds to the magic of this winter wonderland.

Sun Valley, Idaho

For an unforgettable winter experience, head to Sun Valley, Idaho. Surrounded by majestic mountains, this resort town offers incredible skiing and snowboarding opportunities. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the snow-covered landscapes and enjoy the thrill of gliding down the slopes. With its charming alpine village and welcoming atmosphere, Sun Valley is the perfect destination for winter sports enthusiasts.

Camden, Maine

There's something truly magical about winter in New England, and Camden, Maine embodies that charm. Located on the picturesque Penibscto Bay, Camden Harbor transports you to a world straight out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. Enjoy a unique ski adventure at Camden Snow Bowl, where you can shred the slopes while admiring the stunning ocean views. Don't forget to explore the area's lighthouses, which take on a fairytale-like appearance when dusted with snow.

Kennebunkport, Maine

Winter in Kennebunkport is nothing short of magical. This sleepy town comes alive during the holiday season with a variety of activities to enjoy. Lace up your ice skates at Waterhouse Center Ice Rink, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, and warm up by a crackling fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Don't miss the annual Christmas Parade, where you can watch Santa arrive by lobster boat. With beautiful lights, trolley rides, and indulgent lobster bakes, Kennebunkport offers a truly memorable winter experience.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem is the perfect destination for a festive winter getaway. With its annual Christkindlmarkt, inspired by German markets, it offers a top Christmas market experience in the U.S. But that's just the beginning. Skiers and snowboarders can hit the slopes at Bear Creek Ski Area, while ice skating is available at the Steel Ice Center. The area is also known for its covered bridges, which make for stunning photo opportunities in the snow. And if you have a sweet tooth, don't miss the Bethlehem Chocolate Trail, a week-long event filled with delectable treats.

Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Lake Tahoe is a true winter paradise located on the border of California and Nevada. Surrounded by snow-covered mountains, it offers breathtaking views and a wide range of winter activities. Whether you're skiing, snowboarding, or simply enjoying the serene landscapes, Lake Tahoe is a dream come true for outdoor enthusiasts. Take in the beauty of the lake and create unforgettable memories in this stunning winter wonderland.

Poconos, Pennsylvania

Recommended by Derek and Mike – Robe Trotting

For a winter getaway that combines both indoor and outdoor activities, look no further than the Pocono Mountains in northeastern Pennsylvania. Just a couple of hours from Philadelphia and New York City, this region offers a perfect escape from the busy city life.

The Poconos have something for everyone, whether you're traveling with family, friends, or your significant other. Many visitors choose to stay in cozy Airbnb rentals, ranging from mountain houses to ski cabins and large group homes.

Winter enthusiasts will be delighted by the numerous ski resorts in the area, such as Camelback, Montage Mountain, and Jack Frost Big Boulder. You can hit the slopes, go snow tubing, or even indulge in spa treatments.

If skiing isn't your cup of tea, there are also indoor water parks like Kalahari Water Park and Great Wolf Lodge, where families can enjoy hours of water activities.

The Mohegan Sun casino offers a different kind of entertainment, with dining options, cocktails, and a chance to try your luck at the games. It's also a popular venue for concerts and events.

Whether you're seeking adventure or relaxation, the Poconos has it all. Make sure to check out our recommended accommodations to find the perfect place to stay during your winter getaway.

Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is a beloved coastal town known for its beaches and sailing in the summer. However, during winter, it offers a different kind of beauty. The sunrises are glorious, and the shores are covered in a pristine layer of snow. The Gilded Age mansions that dot the landscape become even more breathtaking against the winter backdrop. These grand residences are adorned for the holidays and host a variety of festive events such as parties, concerts, performances, and balls. Tree lightings are held throughout the town, and an illuminated boat parade adds to the magic. One unique experience is dining in a heated igloo overlooking the bay at Gurney's Resorts.

Klamath Falls, Oregon


© Josemaria Toscano |

Crater Lake

Harrisonburg, Virginia

  • Average snowfall November through December: 5.6 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 7
  • Nearby forests and parks: 2

While Harrisonburg may not receive substantial snow during November and December, it ranks in the top 15% of the country for winter recreation resources within a 100-mile radius. This is likely due to its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains. One popular winter destination for Harrisonburg residents is Massanutten, a nearby ski resort. Visitors can enjoy the snow by skiing down one of the 14 slopes or sliding down one of the 16 snow tubing lanes. Another option is to go ice-skating on the resort's outdoor rink.

Methodology: Finding The Best Places To Experience A Winter Wonderland For The Holidays

To determine the best places to experience a winter wonderland, Rocket Homes and Best Places analyzed 383 metropolitan areas, which are home to over 85% of all U.S. residents. Metro areas include one or more major core cities and the surrounding counties that contribute to the area's economy. Using metro areas as the basis for the study allows the inclusion of both the primary cities and the surrounding suburbs.

By analyzing statistics in seven key areas, insights were gained into each area's snowy climate, sunny days, hours of daylight, nearby wintry resources such as forests and state parks, mountains, winter recreation venues, and availability of fireplaces for warmth. The metrics chosen were current and detailed to provide an accurate portrayal of the places where people are most likely to enjoy a classic winter experience.

Each data metric was normalized and transformed to a common range of 0-100 points for scoring and comparison. Weights were then applied to each metric to reflect their importance in the study. The weighted scores for each metric were summed and sorted to generate the final rankings.

Metric Weight Level Source
Average snowfall between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 45% Metro NOAA climate normals, 2019
Number of nearby forests and parks 16% Metro USA Parks map layer, ESRI 2020
Nearby mountains 16% Metro USDA County Topologies, 2015
Percentage of homes with fireplaces 11% Metro American Housing Survey, 2015
Nearby resources for winter recreation 8% Metro Internet directory of US ski resorts and winter parks
Number of days predominantly sunny between Nov. 1 and Dec 31 2% Metro EarthEnv US 1-km cloud frequency
Hours of daylight between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 2% Metro Calculated from area's latitude

Morgantown, West Virginia

  • Average snowfall November through December: 14.1 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 11
  • Nearby forests and parks: 2

Morgantown offers plenty of holiday cheer and a touch of winter magic. The town hosts Santa sightings, holiday parades, festivals, tree lightings, and holiday markets. Despite its southern location, Morgantown receives more snowfall during the holiday season than 85% of the country. On average, it accumulates 14.1 inches of snow throughout November and December.

Beckley, West Virginia

  • Average snowfall November through December: 11.1 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 3
  • Nearby forests and parks: 4

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, Beckley boasts stunning natural surroundings. It ranks in the top 20% of the country for nearby mountains, making it an enticing destination for winter activities. Winterplace Ski Resort, located near Beckley, offers 27 slopes and the largest snow tubing park in West Virginia. Visitors can enjoy a winter wonderland experience on the slopes.

Winona, Minnesota

Winona transforms into a snowy wonderland during the winter season. The town hosts a festive Christmas market that features gifts, food, games, caroling, and ice skating. Thrill-seekers flock to Winona to climb the towering ice walls that adorn the city's buffs. The breathtaking views of downtown from these ice walls alone are worth a visit. Additionally, in mid-February, Winona holds the Winter Festival, which includes a polar plunge and a snowshoe race.

Concord, Massachusetts


Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House

Duluth, Minnesota

  • Average snowfall November through December: 24.8 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 8
  • Nearby forests and parks: 25

Duluth is a winter wonderland located in the scenic Northwoods region. It receives an average snowfall of 24.8 inches during November and December, offering ample opportunities for winter activities. The area ranks in the top 4% for nearby forests and parks, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. Additionally, Duluth hosts a range of winter events, including the Duluth Winter Village, Christmas City of the North Parade, and the Bentleyville Tour of Lights, which is the country's largest walk-through lighting display.

Rapid City, South Dakota

  • Average snowfall November through December: 10.7 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 1
  • Nearby forests and parks: 8

Rapid City embraces the cozy atmosphere of a winter wonderland. It ranks in the top 15% of the country for the percentage of homes with fireplaces, making it an inviting destination. Visitors can embark on a magical journey aboard the Holiday Express, an authentic steam engine that takes riders on a round trip adventure to the North Pole. Along the ride, passengers are treated to hot cocoa, cookies, and candy canes. Santa himself boards the train for the return trip, and children receive a small sleigh bell as a keepsake.

Deadwood, South Dakota

The Black Hills region in Deadwood is a stunning sight to behold, especially in winter. The landscapes are covered in a glittering layer of snow, transforming the area into a magical winter wonderland. Waterfalls freeze into beautifully sculpted icicles, and the snow-covered forests are perfect for serene snowshoeing. Historic Deadwood, with its Victorian-era buildings dating back to the late 1800s, offers a unique setting for dining, shopping, gambling, and entertainment. Skiers can take advantage of the slopes at Terry Peak Ski Resort, located just a few miles away.

Skaneateles, New York


Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles

Stillwater, Minnesota

Stillwater is a picturesque town situated along the scenic St. Croix River. It has been recognized as one of America's prettiest towns by Forbes magazine. In winter, the historic homes and buildings in Stillwater are blanketed in snow, creating a postcard-perfect scene. The town receives an average of 42 inches of snow annually, offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor winter fun. Three ski resorts are located nearby, making it an ideal destination for snow enthusiasts. Stillwater also hosts a wide range of festive events and boasts numerous restaurants serving delicious comfort foods.

Newport, Rhode Island


Newport, Rhode Island

Bloomington, Minnesota

  • Average snowfall November through December: 18.4 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 9
  • Nearby forests and parks: 17

Bloomington is a bustling metro area that offers numerous ways to enjoy its average snowfall of 18.4 inches during November and December. The town ranks in the top 10% of the country for nearby forests and parks, providing ample opportunities for outdoor adventures. It also ranks in the top 20% for winter recreation resources within a 100-mile radius. For those who prefer to stay indoors, Bloomington is home to Mall of America, the largest retail and entertainment center in the U.S., offering over 500 stores.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, tucked in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, is a charming destination that offers enchanting winter experiences. The town is known for its Victorian-era architecture, which becomes even more magical under a layer of winter snow. Visitors can take ghost tours of the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa, one of America's most haunted hotels. They can also explore the sights of Cosmic Cavern, an underground wonderland. Eureka Springs is a captivating winter wonderland.

Stockbridge, Massachusetts


© James Kirkikis |

Christmas in Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Cleveland, Ohio

  • Average snowfall November through December: 16.7 inches
  • Winter recreation resources within 100 miles: 5
  • Nearby forests and parks: 9

Cleveland is a city that embraces the winter season. It ranks in the top 10% of the country for average snowfall during November and December, ensuring that the city's annual Winterfest becomes a winter wonderland. Attendees can immerse themselves in the holiday spirit with twinkling holiday lights, hot cocoa, cookies, horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling, ice skating, and the lighting of Cleveland's own tree.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Steamboat Springs is a world-renowned ski town famous for its slopes. Visitors can enjoy various winter activities, including sleigh rides, snowshoeing, snow biking, and tubing. After a day of chilly play, they can relax and unwind in the soothing hot springs. For a unique perspective, hot-air balloon rides offer a breathtaking view of the beautiful landscapes from above.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas


© Jonesrj35 |

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

New Hope, Pennsylvania

New Hope is like stepping into an antique snow globe during winter. Its vibrant downtown features unique boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, and more. Culinary tours are available for food enthusiasts to sample delicious eats. A must-do activity is a ride on the New Hope Railroad, which transforms into Santa's North Pole Express during the holidays.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado


Steamboat Springs

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Frankenmuth is a charming Bavarian-style town that is perfect to visit during Christmas. It attracts visitors with its festive atmosphere, including a Christmas tree light show and sleigh rides. The town offers a wealth of winter experiences beyond the holiday season. Every January, it hosts the Frankenmuth Snowfest, where talented ice artists transform massive slabs of ice into stunning works of art. Other activities include ice skating, whiskey and rum tastings, and horse-drawn carriage rides.

New Hope, Pennsylvania


The North Pole Express Train at New Hope Railroad

Skaneateles, New York

Skaneateles is a charming town situated on one of the scenic Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. Its vibrant downtown offers a plethora of festivities during the holidays, along with excellent dining, shopping, and opportunities to sample local wines. Visitors can also enjoy ice fishing on the lake and skiing at the nearby Greek Peak Mountain Resort, the largest ski resort in Central New York.

Frankenmuth, Michigan



Sitka, Alaska

Sitka, Alaska experiences relatively mild weather compared to other parts of Alaska, with average high temperatures in the low- to mid-40s. While it may be considered cold by lower 48 standards, it's still mild by Alaska's standards. The area is surrounded by majestic mountains that create a stunning backdrop. Additionally, Sitka hosts several winter festivals, such as the Sitka WhaleFest and Sitka Jazz Festival, offering plenty of entertainment opportunities.

Lincoln, New Hampshire


© Demerzel21 -

Covered bridge in Lincoln, New Hampshire

Silverton, Colorado

Silverton, Colorado is nestled in the remote western San Juan Mountains of Colorado's southwest region. The town is characterized by its Victorian-style homes and buildings, set against a backdrop of snow-covered peaks. With the Kendall Mountain Ski Area and Recreation Center located nearby, visitors can enjoy excellent skiing opportunities. Silverton truly feels like a magical snow globe, especially when the snowflakes fall.

Sitka, Alaska


Richard Semik / Shutterstock

Silver Bay, Sitka

Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah, was one of the host cities for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Today, visitors can still experience the thrill by riding the bobsled at the Utah Olympic Park, which served as the venue for the bobsled events during the Olympics. Park City is renowned for its world-class skiing and offers various snow sports activities, including snow biking on fat tire bikes and tubing. The historic Main Street, covered in a dusting of snow, is a picturesque destination, featuring unique boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. The Park City Museum provides insights into the skiing and mining history of the area.

Silverton, Colorado


© irene skvorzowa -

Ski lift and snowy mountains in Park City

Munising, Michigan

Munising, Michigan experiences long winters and offers a wide range of snow activities in its magnificent surroundings. One of the highlights is the opportunity to explore the ice caves located in the Rock River Canyon Wilderness just west of Munising. These breathtaking ice formations can be admired from different angles, and even climbed with proper equipment and lessons. The annual Michigan Ice Fest, held over the second weekend in February, offers climbing classes and seminars conducted by renowned climbers. Visitors can also enjoy snowmobiling on the extensive Munising trail system, which stretches for hundreds of miles, as well as snowshoeing and visiting frozen waterfalls.

Park City, Utah


© Craig Sterken -

Ice curtains at sunrise near Munising, Michigan

Sun Valley, Idaho

Sun Valley, Idaho, is a small resort town surrounded by natural beauty. It is widely recognized for its excellent skiing and snow sports opportunities. Dollar Mountain and Bald Mountain in Sun Valley attract numerous skiers, including celebrities, due to their world-class skiing experiences. The town also offers snowshoeing, backcountry skiing, and cross-country skiing options, with over 125 miles of groomed trails and breathtaking mountain vistas.

Munising, Michigan


© Craig Sterken -

Ice curtains at sunrise near Munising, Michigan

Klamath Falls, Oregon

Klamath Falls, Oregon, is surrounded by wilderness and receives an average of 38 inches of snowfall each year. The area offers a range of winter activities, including sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice skating, and events like the Snowflake Festival and Winter Wings Festival. Additionally, Klamath Falls serves as a gateway to Crater Lake National Park, where the deep sapphire waters of the lake present a magnificent sight when surrounded by snow. The park itself receives around 41 feet of snow, providing ample opportunities for recreational activities within its winter wonderland scenery.

Bethel, Maine


© Alwoodphoto -

Snow woman in Bethel, Maine

Bethel, Maine

Bethel, Maine, is often regarded as the most beautiful mountain village in Maine. Surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest, the town offers exceptional downhill skiing opportunities and is known as the cross-country ski capital with over 60 miles of groomed trails and backcountry skiing options. The winter sun reflecting off snow-dusted steeples and illuminating the row of 19th-century homes on the village common creates a picturesque scene. Bethel is also famous for being the home of the world's tallest snowman, standing an impressive 122 feet tall.

Sun Valley, Idaho


Sun Valley Resort

York, Maine

In York, Maine, the winter season brings a charming snow globe ambiance to the town. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities like snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, and snowboarding while taking in the stunning views of the snowy backdrop. One of the highlights of York is the Nubble Light, a lighthouse that looks like a painting when surrounded by a white blanket of snow. When illuminated after dark, it becomes even more enchanting. If you bundle up, you can also enjoy peaceful walks on the beaches without the usual crowds and free ice skating at Mackey Skate Park, as long as you bring your own skates.

Breckenridge, Colorado


© Sean Pavone |

Breckenridge, Colorado in Winter

Bayfield, Wisconsin

Bayfield, Wisconsin, receives approximately 100 inches of snowfall each year, creating an ideal winter wonderland. The town is a perfect base for exploring the breathtaking ice caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Bayfield itself offers a variety of activities, including the Ashwabay Alpine and Cross Country Trails, which provide spectacular trails for alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Visitors can also enjoy guided ice fishing excursions. If conditions permit, they can take a scenic drive to Madeline Island via the Madeline Island Ice Road, which crosses the frozen waters of Lake Superior. After a day of outdoor adventures, there are plenty of cozy pubs, cafes, and bistros to warm up in.

Wallace, Idaho


© Jeff Ferguson |

Wallace, Idaho

Bayfield, Wisconsin

Bayfield, Wisconsin, experiences approximately 100 inches of snowfall annually and serves as an excellent base for exploring the remarkable ice caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The area offers a wide range of activities, including the Ashwabay Alpine and Cross Country Trails, which provide stunning trails for alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Guided ice fishing excursions are also available. If weather conditions allow, visitors can take a scenic drive to Madeline Island via the Madeline Island Ice Road, which traverses the frozen waters of Lake Superior. Afterward, there are numerous pubs, cafes, and bistros to warm up in.

York, Maine


© Alwoodphoto -

Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a winter getaway with numerous attractions. The town is beloved for its skiing and is home to popular ski resorts like The Snow King. Additionally, Jackson Hole is located near Grand Teton National Park and is just a few hours away from Yellowstone National Park, making it a convenient base for those planning trips to explore these natural wonders. The area also offers great snowmobiling opportunities, including the famous Togwotee Pass.

Jackson Hole

North Conway, New Hampshire

North Conway, New Hampshire, is situated beneath the beautiful forests of the White Mountains, surrounded by stunning natural wonders that are enhanced by the glistening snow. The area offers a range of winter activities, including skiing, ice skating, and sleigh rides. The town itself features a storybook church, a nostalgic general store, and various eateries where visitors can enjoy classic New England dishes.

West Yellowstone, Montana


© Atmosphere1 |

Emerald Spring at Norris Geyser Basin trail area, during winter in Yellowstone National Park

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, transforms into a charming winter wonderland during the season. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, including snowshoeing, ice fishing, spa experiences, and brewery tastings. After a day of chilly adventure, there are options to warm up with a whiskey at the Brown Bear or savor a hot cocoa at Lake Street Café.

Wallace, Idaho


© Jeff Ferguson |

Wallace, Idaho

Bayfield, Wisconsin

Bayfield, Wisconsin, receives approximately 100 inches of snowfall each year, creating an ideal winter wonderland. The town is a perfect base for exploring the breathtaking ice caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Bayfield itself offers a range of activities, including the Ashwabay Alpine and Cross Country Trails, which provide stunning trails for alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Guided ice fishing excursions are also available. If weather conditions permit, visitors can take a scenic drive to Madeline Island via the Madeline Island Ice Road, which traverses the frozen waters of Lake Superior. Afterward, there are numerous pubs, cafes, and bistros to warm up in.

York, Maine


© Alwoodphoto -

Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine

Denver, Colorado

Recommended by Kara – Destination: Live Life

Nestled in the foothills of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, Denver, Colorado, is a fantastic winter vacation destination in the US. Despite its smaller size, the Mile High City, as Denver is lovingly referred to, offers many incredible things to do, especially in winter!

For those who enjoy the snow and cold, a short drive to the west will bring you to some of the best skiing of your life. You can stay in a great area in Denver and hit the slopes during the day.

The closest options include Eldora Mountain, Winter Park, and Arapahoe Basin. In addition to skiing, you can also enjoy various winter activities in the mountains such as tubing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and more.

If the thought of trekking through all that snow leaves you feeling chilled, don't worry – there's plenty to do in the city during winter as well!

Denver is most well-known for beer and sports, which are luckily year-round activities. You can book a bar crawl tour and simply go with the flow, or even put together your own brewery hopping experience!

Local favorites include Great Divide Brewing Co, Denver Beer Co, and Wynkoop Brewing Company. And after all those suds, catch a winter game at the Pepsi Center – Denver's premier indoor arena.

And if you happen to visit during the holidays, Denver comes alive with a variety of Christmas experiences. The Denver Christkindl Market is a favorite featuring a variety of vendors, authentic German food, and a beer hall with live music. Or catch the annual lighting displays at The Denver Zoo ("Zoo Lights") or the Denver Botanic Gardens ("Blossoms of Light").

Want to save money on Denver attractions? Check out the Denver City Pass.

Find awesome tours to do in Denver here!

Where to Stay: Grand Hyatt Denver | Homewood Suites Downtown | AC Hotel by Marriott Downtown

Denver Colorado City during ChristmasDenver Colorado City during Christmas

Bend, Oregon

Wintertime in Bend is beautiful, surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The weather is not extremely cold, with many bright sunny days. In a typical season, there isn't much snow in town, but just minutes away you'll find plenty of powder for skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. After a day of play, you can enjoy live music, fireside shows, and numerous pubs and eateries in town.

Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes, California

Moab, Utah

Recommended by Jarrod – Ramble Around The World

Another great winter destination to add to your bucket list is Moab, Utah! This tiny town located in the middle of the Utah desert is an absolute paradise for outdoor lovers. Ruby red cliffs jut to the clear blue sky everywhere in town, and it's often regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Utah.

Winters also make Moab more unique, with cold temperatures giving way to snow that blankets the red rock formations from December to February each year.

But while the beauty begins in Moab, it extends to nearby Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park – all three are within the city limits of this quaint desert town.

From hiking and mountain biking to off-roading and white water rafting, there's surely something to do in Moab for every type of adventurer. In fact, Moab is a must on any Southern Utah road trip itinerary!

The most popular destination in Moab is by far Arches National Park, which sees visitors flocking from all over the world to catch a glimpse of the incredible sandstone arches that are unlike anything else in the United States. Arches National Park is also a great National Park to visit in the winter!

The small town has experienced a tourism boom in recent years, so there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, and even a brewery in the heart of downtown.

But since much of Moab is public land, there are also plenty of free campsites on the outskirts of town to help you enjoy the outdoors and save money.

Find awesome tours and guides in Moab here!

Where to Stay in Moab: Hyatt Place Moab | Homewood Suite by Hilton | Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn | Moab VRBO

Moab, Utah Arch National Park

Midway Utah

Recommended by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

Nestled in Utah's picturesque Heber Valley, the snowy small town of Midway is often overshadowed by its neighboring resort towns of Park City and Deer Valley. However, Midway is one of the most magical destinations in the USA during winter.

With temperatures around freezing during most of the winter, the town is home to a world-class attraction built entirely from ice. Ice Castles is an acre-wide winter wonderland where you can explore ice caves, crawl through ice tunnels, and even slide down ice slides. You'll be surrounded by 25 million pounds of ice! At night, the frozen fortress transforms from glacial blue to rainbow hues as the ice is illuminated with color-changing lights.

Adjacent to the winter attraction, the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center boasts the longest tubing hill in Utah. So after you've had your fill of icy fun, you can hop on a tube and race down a 1,200-foot-long tubing hill.

End your Midway visit with a dip in the Homestead Crater. This natural hot spring, located inside a man-made cave at Homestead Resort, is a great place to warm up after a day spent surrounded by ice and snow.

Book your stay at the Homestead, and you can spend the rest of your visit relaxing on the grounds of the property. With great restaurants, an indoor pool, and both hotel and cottage-style lodging options, the Homestead is the perfect place for a cozy winter escape.

Midway Utah ice castles at night

Shirakawago, Japan

Winter Wonderland Destinations

This small village in Japan is known for its winter light-ups, which attract visitors from around the world. Every winter on certain evenings, many of the farmhouses in the village turn on all their lights and illuminate their snow-covered roofs, creating a beautiful wintry scene that looks like something you might find inside a snow globe.

Lapland, Finland

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Located right on the Arctic Circle, the Lapland region of Finland is the ultimate winter destination. You can experience traditional winter activities like dogsledding and snowmobiling, and then escape the cold in your own personal igloo.

Harbin, China

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Harbin, China, is home to the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, the largest festival of its kind in the world. Every January, an elaborate ice village complete with ice lanterns is constructed for the month-long festival. The best time to visit is in the evening, when the ice city is illuminated by thousands of multicolored lights.

Gatlinburg & The Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

More popularly known for being the base to explore the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg in Tennessee has a ton more to offer for those who linger a while in this quintessential mountain town.

Aside from its classic alpine vibes, countless theme parks, and incredible food scene, Gatlinburg bursts to life with several winter festivities. Anakeesta's Enchanted Winter festival is a favorite, where you'll find twinkling lights at every turn and delicious food to help you beat the winter blues.

Once you're done exploring Gatlinburg, head into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where you'll find an array of winter sports to choose from and cozy cabins and chalets to experience winter in the middle of nature. Seriously, it doesn't get more magical than waking up and having a hot cup of cocoa in the middle of nowhere!

Shenandoah National Park

Although Shenandoah National Park is beautiful at any time of year, it truly comes alive in the winter. With its rolling hills and valleys blanketed in snow, the park resembles something out of a postcard.

If you're looking for a winter wonderland that's not too far from home, look no further. Just a few hours from Washington D.C., this national park is teeming with wildlife and offers incredible views of the Appalachian Mountains.

There are over 500 miles of trails to explore, and many of them are perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The park also offers a number of ranger-led programs during the winter months, so you can learn more about the park and its wildlife.

Prague, Czech Republic

Winter Wonderland Destinations

One of the most beautiful winter wonderland destinations in Europe is the city of Prague. Few places look quite as enchanting during the winter as this Czech city.

Bergen, Norway

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Bergen, Norway, is a picturesque town with colorful wooden houses and beautiful snowy hills surrounding it. You can find great skiing nearby, or if you'd rather admire the snowy mountains from afar, you can take a cruise through the icy fjords.

Tallinn, Estonia

Winter Wonderland Destinations

This Baltic capital city is an underrated gem in Europe. With its charming Old Town and quaint cobblestone streets, it looks like a true fairytale during the snow-covered winter months.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Lake Bled is gorgeous all year round, but it looks most magical in the winter. There are plenty of outdoor winter activities you can take part in around here, including skiing, snowshoeing, and even ice skating on the lake when it freezes over!

Segovia, Spain

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Said to have inspired the Disney castles, the Alcázar of Segovia is a medieval fortress that looks like something straight out of a fairytale. It makes the perfect day trip from the nearby city of Segovia.

Quebec City, Canada

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Quebec City is a North American city with a distinct Old World European feel. Visit this Canadian city in the winter for a truly magical, snowy experience.

Yosemite National Park

Although most National Parks close during the winter months due to dangerous conditions, Yosemite National Park stays open all year round. This is good news for those of us who love to hike and explore in the snow!

One of the best things to do in Yosemite in winter is to go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. There are miles of trails to explore, and you might even spot some wildlife along the way.

Grand Teton National Park

There's no better place to enjoy the great outdoors than Grand Teton National Park. The views are simply breathtaking, and there's so much to do! From cross-country skiing and snowmobiling to ice fishing and dog sledding, you'll never get bored. Just be sure to pack your warmest clothes!

With its glacial lakes, alpine meadows, and towering mountains, Grand Teton National Park is an outdoor paradise all year round. But in winter, the park truly comes alive. The snow-covered landscapes create some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. And with plenty of trails to explore...

Yellowstone National Park

If you love wildlife and snow activities, Yellowstone National Park is another one of the best USA destinations to visit during the winter. Not only will you beat the crowds, but you will see Yellowstone completely covered in snow.

Some of the best things to do include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and wildlife spotting. Winter is also one of the best times to photograph wolves.

Because Yellowstone receives so much snow that doesn't get plowed, not all roads are accessible. It is always best to check the conditions ahead of time.

One of the best places to stay in Yellowstone during the winter is the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. It is technically the only lodge open in the park during the winter, so booking far in advance is important. Staying outside of the park would be slightly annoying but doable.

You can find additional info on what is open during the winter in Yellowstone here!

Additional Yellowstone Guides: Best things to see in Yellowstone | 2-Day itinerary in Yellowstone | Yellowstone travel tips

Alta, Utah

Alta offers a guarantee of deep, powdery snow. The Alta Ski Area is the main attraction, but for those seeking extreme skiing, Powderbird provides helicopter access to the backcountry. This destination is renowned for its untouched snow, breathtaking mountain views, and world-class skiing.

McCall, Idaho


© Charles Knowles |

McCall, Idaho

Neuschwanstein, Germany

Winter Wonderland Destinations

This famous castle in the Bavaria region of Germany resembles something out of a fairytale and is said to have inspired the Disney castles. The castle truly captivates during the winter months when it is surrounded by a snow-covered landscape.

Hallstatt, Austria

Winter Wonderland Destinations

The charming Austrian village of Hallstatt resembles a scene from a fairytale. While it boasts beauty all year round, the winter season transforms Hallstatt into a truly magical place with the snow-covered Alps embracing the village, creating a winter wonderland.

Banff, Canada

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Banff is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts, offering some of the best skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the Canadian Rockies. If you prefer a cozy retreat, there are plenty of charming ski lodges and soothing natural hot springs to indulge in.

Northern Lights, Iceland

Winter Wonderland Destinations

Iceland is one of the best places in the world to witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, and it is easily accessible. Winter, with its long nights, presents the best opportunity to catch this natural phenomenon.

Dolomites, Italy

Winter Wonderland Destinations

The mountainous region of the Dolomites in northeastern Italy showcases its unique limestone peaks most beautifully in winter, covered in a pristine white snow coating.

Which of these winter wonderland destinations would you most like to visit? Leave your comment below.

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Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks is a small city that serves as an excellent base for exploring Alaska. Its convenient location and status as a starting point for numerous tours make it a popular choice for tourists. Noteworthy experiences include a day tour of Chena Hot Springs and the Northern Lights offered by Alaska Wildlife Guide, as well as dog-sledding tours provided by Alaska Journey Tours.

Essex, Connecticut

While Essex may not always be covered in snow, it becomes a stunning sight when flakes fall. Take a bundled-up stroll along the Connecticut River or picturesque Main Street, adorned with colonial-style buildings. During the holidays, indulge in a ride on the North Pole Express aka Essex Steam Train. Warm up at the Savour Cafe & Bakery with a delightful bowl of soup or delectable baked treats.

Stillwater, Minnesota


Stillwater, Minnesota

Jackson Wyoming

Recommended by Emily Mandagie from The Mandagies

Jackson, Wyoming, is a premier winter destination in the USA, boasting stunning winter landscapes and a wide range of outdoor activities. One of the highlights is visiting Grand Teton National Park during the winter season!

During winter, the elk migrate to the valley below, creating a magnificent sight. Observing the Jackson Elk Herd at the National Elk Wildlife Refuge is easily accessible from the highway.

Jackson, Wyoming, is also a haven for landscape photographers during winter. The early sunsets and late sunrises allow photographers to capture the magical golden hour without sacrificing sleep.

Although most of the backcountry trails in the park are closed, nearby trails in Jackson are transformed into winter wonderlands for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The trail to Taggart Lake is particularly popular.

In town, you can enjoy leisurely walks along the main streets, immerse yourself in the local music scene, participate in trivia and bingo nights, and savor delicious pub food in the evenings.

Expect freezing temperatures in February, with lows reaching single digits and daytime temperatures barely rising above freezing. Adequate and warm layers are essential.

Having a car is recommended for most experiences, so be sure to book one in advance. All-wheel/4-wheel drive is preferred, and tire chains may be necessary.

Stay at the Anvil Hotel, a beloved local establishment with an American Western ambiance and a welcoming, community-oriented lobby.

Grand Tetons in the Winter USA

Marquette, Michigan

Marquette receives an average of 200 inches of snowfall annually. Situated on the shores of Lake Superior, it is often blanketed in pristine white snow. The area offers nearly 75 miles of cross-country ski trails, 60 miles of groomed fat bike trails, and 400 miles of snowmobile trails. Brave souls can even attempt winter surfing. Festivities include the Winter Solstice Celebration with music, food, and shopping, as well as a New Year's Eve ball drop downtown.

Leavenworth, Washington

Recommended by Kassidy from The Hiking Helper

Nestled in the Cascade Mountain range in northern Washington State, the picturesque Bavarian village of Leavenworth is an ideal winter destination in the USA.

During the holiday season, Leavenworth transforms into a magical Christmas village, adorned with lights on every building and festive decorations throughout.

Don't miss the Nutcracker Museum or the charming small shops, where you can complete your Christmas shopping or simply admire the delightful displays.

Indulge in the delicious offerings of the numerous German-themed restaurants, known for their mouthwatering pretzels with cheese and authentic German sausages.

Visitors can enjoy enchanting horse-drawn sleigh rides in town, creating a perfect setting for celebrating the holiday season with a loved one.

For the adventurous, numerous hiking trails near Leavenworth provide opportunities to explore the winter beauty. Alternatively, head over to Steven's Pass for downhill skiing.

During winter, temperatures typically range between 20-40°F, and the surrounding mountains are often covered in a picturesque blanket of snow.

If you plan to visit during the holiday season, be sure to book your accommodations well in advance, as Leavenworth is a popular winter destination.

When it's time to wind down, consider a stay at the Bavarian Lodge, conveniently located just a short walk from Main Street, where all the festive activities take place.

Leavenworth Washington town

Get Out And Explore The Best Winter Wonderlands

I hope that this list of places to explore has inspired you to venture out and experience the wonders of winter. No matter where you choose to go, you are bound to create memories that will last a lifetime.

As the snow falls and the air turns crisp, it's time to get out and explore the best winter wonderlands across the globe. From the charming streets of Leavenworth and the majestic peaks of Mount Rainier in Washington State, to the picturesque landscapes of Lake Tahoe and the adrenaline-pumping slopes of Aspen in Colorado, these destinations will surely transport you to a magical winter paradise. Whether you cozy up by a fire in a winter lodge or embark on an adventurous outdoor excursion, each place on this list offers a unique experience that will leave you in awe. So pack your bags and embark on a winter adventure you won't soon forget!

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