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Looking for the best places to travel in the US in winter? Between the holidays and vacations, winter is a popular time to travel. I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts where escaping the winter was always on my to-do list.
Either you’re traveling somewhere tropical while there’s a snowstorm back at home, or you’re traveling towards the snow to leave your warm and sunny neighborhood behind.
That said, if you’re looking for some winter travel inspiration, you’ve come to the right place! I’m sharing 35 of the best places to travel in the US in winter.
And don’t worry, there’s something for everyone in this guide. Whether you’re seeking the snow or the sun, this guide has you covered!
35 Best Places to Travel in the US in Winter
New York City
New York City in the winter, especially around the holiday season, is truly a sight to behold. From ice skating by the lights of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree to the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop, there’s plenty to do in NYC in winter.
You will want to have at least 2 days in New York at minimum, ideally 4-5.
Although New York is definitely a cold winter travel destination, you might not be bombarded by snow. And if you aren’t visiting during the holiday rush, it’s not as packed as it would be otherwise. There are so many December getaways in the US, New York being my one of my favorites.
Joshua Tree National Park
If you’ve been wanting to visit Joshua Tree National Park, winter is one of the best times to do it! Located in the Mojave Desert in Southeastern California, the temperatures can quickly get over 100 in the summer. By contrast, winter weather in Joshua Tree is much milder.
The best things to do in Joshua Tree National Park are hiking, camping, and stargazing! There are lots of beautiful hikes of a variety of lengths and difficulties. At night, take advantage of the light-pollution-free area and see a sky full of stars.
Joshua Tree National Park: Self-Driving Audio Tour
Key West, Florida
Key West is a great warm weather winter destination in the US. This southern Florida city boasts a subtropical climate year-round, with warm water to boot! The warm weather isn’t a secret though; winter is Key West’s most popular time.
Head to this southernmost point for a lively, party atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and plenty of natural adventures. There are lots of opportunities for scuba diving and sea-life spotting off the shores of Key West.
If you are looking to extend your trip outside of the US, Havana Cuba is just a stone’s throw away from Key West.
Key West Tour: Conch Train Tour
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is undeniably magical, perhaps even more so in the winter. Located in Wyoming, this breathtaking park is mostly visited during the peak of summer. During winter, snowfall covers many of the roads, which means access is more limited.
However, it’s an excellent way to see the park more naturally.
Ditch the car and opt for snow-friendly modes of transportation like skis, snowshoes, and snowmobiles. With fewer crowds, you’re more likely to spot some of the park’s wildlife, like bison. Steaming hot springs in Yellowstone are a stunning sight against the frozen landscape.
Private Tour: West Yellowstone Park Tour with Local Guide
Southern California is always a good bet if you’re seeking a warmer winter. This year, add Pasadena to your list! Northeast of downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena’s winter claim to fame is the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade.
Every January 1st, elaborately decorated botanical floats parade through the streets of Pasadena to ring in the new year. The entire week before the event is also filled with festivities.
Top tip: if you’re planning your winter travel around Pasadena, be sure to book early!
Pasadena: Old Pasadena Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour
Located in the south of Vermont, the tiny town of Londonderry is home to the Magic Mountain Ski Area. This small ski resort is perfect for serious skiers searching for a classic ski resort experience.
Its winding wooden slopes offer more of a challenge and lower lift ticket prices. Off the slopes, you can relax in the spacious tavern.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a great US city to visit in the winter if you prefer sun to snow! Even in the coldest months, the average high temperature is just below 70º. February is the busiest winter month for New Orleans, as that’s when the city hosts its annual Mardi Gras celebrations.
Aside from that, winter might be the best time to visit New Orleans to get all of the charm, much smaller crowds, and less humidity.
All of the best things to do in New Orleans are still just as possible during the winter. Ghost tours, drinks on Bourbon Street, and beignets are made even cozier with festive holiday lights!
New Orleans: Night Cemetery and Ghost BYOB Bus Tour
Colorado is home to incredible winter weather destinations with some of the highest elevations in the US. Breckenridge is one of them. Originally a mining and fur trading town, Breckenridge is now one of Colorado’s most popular ski destinations. Be sure you pack a good ski jacket!
There’s more than just skiing in-store in Breckenridge, though! The Victorian downtown area is preserved in a National Historic District, where you’ll also find plenty of stores and restaurants to check out.
Wine tasting, sledding, and the International Snow Sculpture Championships round out Breckenridge’s diverse winter activities.
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Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a lot quieter in the winter but just as beautiful! Snow-capped mountains, sparkling lakes, and towering sequoias are just a few of the park’s highlights.
There are many hiking trails still open during the winter, where you can catch the iconic sights of the park, including El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Mirror Lake.
In February, the sun aligns perfectly with the Horsetail Falls. At sunset, the falls take on the sun’s orange color, appearing to become a flowing fall of fire instead of water.
Yosemite National Park: Valley Orientation Tour
If you’re craving the Christmas markets of Europe without the international flight, Leavenworth is a must-visit for your winter travels! Leavenworth is a Bavarian-styled village in central Washington.
Nestled in the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth is just a 2-hour road trip from Seattle, but it transforms into the perfect winter wonderland! From alpine facades and Bavarian restaurants to beautiful trails and stunning lakes, there’s plenty to occupy any traveler.
Leavenworth: Mountain Views Guided E-bike Tour
Lean into the chilly weather during the winter months with a trip to Alaska! There are many wonderful destinations to add to your trip, but Fairbanks probably gives you the best of everything. Most people visit Alaska on a cruise, but if you have the opportunity to stay on dry land, I think you will really love Fairbanks.
One of the best things to do in Fairbanks in the winter is to look for the Northern Lights! You can book tours that seek out the magical lights during your stay. You can also take advantage of all that Alaska offers from Fairbanks, including hot springs, dog sledding, Arctic Circle tours, and more!
Lake Tahoe is an all-weather destination, but if you love winter sports, it’s a great place to visit during the winter! Multiple ski resorts boast world-class ski and snowboard slopes. It’s one of the United States’ most popular skiing destinations for a reason!
Even if you’re not keen on skiing, there’s a lively apres-ski atmosphere at the resorts and all around Lake Tahoe. Enjoy scenic views of Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevadas from the many wonderful restaurants and bars, or gear up and go on a cool hike!
Lake Tahoe: Self-Guided Driving Tour
When you think of winter holidays, Maui is probably more along the lines of what you’re imagining. White sand beaches, palm trees, and relaxing under the warm sun. Maui is one of Hawaii’s larger and more popular islands, but it’s not just beaches.
The natural landscape of Maui is truly breathtaking, from the beaches and cliffs to lush vegetation. A trip to Maui is perfect for nature lovers looking for a break from the winter weather!
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
If you’d prefer a road trip to a plane ride, Fort Lauderdale offers the picturesque white sands of Hawaii a bit closer to home. On the southeast coast of Florida, Fort Lauderdale is a calmer, slower, but no less enjoyable version of Miami Beach.
The city’s lively boardwalk is lined with upscale restaurants and boutiques, perfect for the solo traveler to explore. The best times to visit Fort Lauderdale are December through April. The earlier in the season you go, the easier it will be to avoid any spring break crowds. With highs often in the 80s, Fort Lauderdale is the perfect warm winter travel destination!
Water Activity: Everglades Day Safari from Fort Lauderdale
San Diego, California
San Diego offers another warm winter getaway on the other side of the country! As California’s southernmost city and one of its most populous, there’s no shortage of things to do during your visit to San Diego.
Mild weather year-round is a big perk of San Diego, especially in the winter. While the Pacific Ocean might be a bit too chilly to spend much time in, it’s still worth visiting the beaches. In addition to the beaches, you can spend your time in San Diego exploring the many museums or enjoying the foodie scene in Little Italy.
GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Old Town
Whitefish is a classic resort town in Montana, an ideal winter travel destination for any winter sports enthusiasts! Situated in the Rocky Mountains, Whitefish is the gateway to Glacier National Park. As such, the environment there is dominated by breathtaking mountains and sparkling lakes.
The biggest draw for this small town is the Whitefish Mountain Resort, but the main street in Whitefish is also full of lovely boutiques and cafes!
St. Augustine, Florida
The oldest city in the United States, St. Augustine is also a great place to travel in the winter. With temperatures ranging from the 40s to the upper-60s, you can escape frigid, snowy weather for a more mild climate. It is also the best time to go kayaking with manatees!
History lovers will get a thrill in St. Augustine by exploring the old Spanish stone fortress Castillo de San Marcos. Flagler College is also located in St. Augustine.
St. Augustine is a thriving mix of fun shops and restaurants between college students and the tourism industry.
Night Tour St Augustine: Nights of Lights Trolley Tour
Asheville, North Carolina
Looking for a winter mountain getaway without the snow? Head to Asheville, North Carolina for a weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Asheville is a bustling, quirky town in western North Carolina. Tourists flock there throughout the year, but winter is a bit slower than the fall leaf-peeping season.
Pay a visit to the famous Biltmore Castle, which gets decorated beautifully for Christmas. You’ll find plenty of local shops, restaurants, and bars in downtown Asheville. Outside of the city, enjoy plentiful breweries and scenic hiking trails. And, of course, you can’t miss a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway!
San Francisco, California
Home to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is one of the best winter destinations in the US. This bay city is well known for a variety of reasons, including its winding roads, colorful Victorian homes, and diverse cultural and culinary scene.
Visiting in the winter means more affordable hotels and less crowded destinations. If you are traveling with your pet, there are lots of things to do in San Francisco with your dog!
If you time it right, you can even experience the Chinese New Year in San Francisco! San Francisco has a thriving Chinese culture, so this isn’t to be missed.
This Northern California city can get a bit chilly – in the 50s – so make sure to pack layers!
San Francisco: Golden Gate Bay Cruise
Theme park enthusiasts rejoice! Winter is one of the best times to visit Orlando, Florida. If destinations like Disney World and Universal Studios are on the top of your list, avoid school holiday times around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Otherwise, winter is ideal for spending a day in a theme park without the dreaded Florida humidity.
There’s much more to Orlando than theme parks, though. You’ll find lush parks and popular restaurants, and you can even travel to visit the John F. Kennedy Space Center!
An obvious choice of the best places to visit in the US in winter includes Arizona. Phoenix and its surrounding area are undeniably one of the best warm winter destinations in the US! The city itself is best known in the winter for its Lantern Festival, which is the largest in North America. The Lantern Festival, which runs from November to the new year has a stunning lantern and light displays.
In the greater Phoenix metropolitan area is Scottsdale. This hip and luxurious town is best known for its resort atmosphere, spas, and trendy restaurants. It’s an attractive combination for the solo traveler!
Bryce Canyon National Park
Utah is home to many national parks that become absolutely breathtaking in the winter. Bryce Canyon National Park is one of these. The iconic red rock spires get covered in snow for a totally magical vista.
While fewer trails and services are available during the winter, the park is also less overrun with visitors. Take advantage of the winter-exclusive activities like snowshoeing and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Charleston, South Carolina
Named the Top City in the World by Conde Nast Traveler nine years in a row, Charleston is one of the best southern cities to visit in winter.
My last trip to Charleston was during the summer, and the heat and humidity were nearly intolerable. In the winter, you benefit from milder weather without compromising on any of the wonderful things Charleston has to offer.
Walking around Charleston, especially in the historic district, is a treat. Snap a photo of the famous Rainbow Row, walk along the waterfront, and stumble across some of the best restaurants in the South.
Charleston: Haunted Carriage Evening Tour
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park might not seem like the logical choice for your winter travels home to North America’s lowest point and the highest recorded temperatures in the US. However, winter is the best time to visit this unique location.
The weather is much more tolerable than the summer highs of over 100º. Walk around the ghost town in Titus Canyon and visit Badwater Basin to stand at the continent’s lowest point below sea level.
Steeped in history with plenty of modern culture and amenities, Savannah is one of the best places to travel in the US in winter. Avoid the heat of a Southern summer and visit this historic town during cooler months.
Savannah is one of the best US cities to visit in November! If you visit at the tail end of the month you can enjoy all the festive decorations.
Plenty of walking tours will take you around significant and potentially haunted locations around Savannah. I love tours as a solo traveler as they’re a great way to meet other travelers! Savannah is also home to world-renowned cuisine and incredible luxury hotels.
Bend is a popular winter travel destination, and for a good reason! There’s no shortage of winter sports and activities in Bend. Located along the Deschutes River in central Oregon, Bend has several perfect mountains for skiing and snowboarding. Many tour companies run unique tours in Bend, including dog sledding, snowshoeing, and beer trails!
Vail is one of the most popular US winter travel destinations, with nearly 700,000 people visiting every winter. Skiing is one of the main draws to the area, as Vail is home to several luxe ski resorts. For non-skiers, Vail Village is a Bavarian-style village with many shops and restaurants. Overall, Vail offers a winter getaway in the style of European ski holidays without traveling abroad.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is Utah’s capital city and a great travel destination for the winter! Steep canyons make for incredible skiing. The United States’ largest ski resort, Park City Mountain Resort, is less than a 30-minute drive away from Salt Lake City.
Beyond snow activities, Salt Lake City also has a vibrant scene perfect for travelers, with lots of local breweries and restaurants. In Salt Lake City, you can also wander around an Ice Castle. This magical ice fortress offers winter fun for all ages.
Austin is known as the Live Music Capital of the world, which has year-round appeal! Visiting in the winter, however, means you avoid the Texas summer heat and the crowds of large festivals in the spring and fall. Between the natural environment and parks and the thriving cultural, culinary, and arts scene, you could easily spend plenty of time in Austin!
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole is the best US travel destination in the winter for thrill-seekers and adventure lovers! Some of the most extreme and challenging ski slopes are in Jackson Hole, which draws advanced skiers to the resort.
Outside of skiing, you can view the picturesque Teton Mountain Range, visit the National Elk Refuge, and browse the shops and restaurants in the Western-style town of Jackson.
Located on the Puget Sound in Washington, Seattle is one of the best places to visit in winter! Despite its often rainy weather, which doesn’t relent in the winter, Seattle is full of charm and delight. It’s known as the Emerald City due to the high concentration of trees and greenery in such an urban setting.
During your visit to Seattle, be sure to check out Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and any of the incredible restaurants that call Seattle’s culinary scene home. Coffee lovers will also get a jolt out of visiting Seattle. Starbucks’s flagship store is located here!
Boulder is a fantastic winter destination! Although there are plenty of winter activities around, it’s not as ski-centric as some other Colorado destinations. The University of Colorado Boulder is also located here, contributing to a year-round flurry of activity in this college town.
In Boulder, indulge in some retail therapy at the Pearl Street outdoor mall, go hiking in the Flatirons, and wrap up your days enjoying craft beer from local breweries.
Stowe makes a list if you’re looking for the best winter vacation! This stunning, romantic small town has tons of winter activities, including skiing and hiking in Wiessner Woods. From Stowe, you can also visit Vermont’s highest peak, Mount Mansfield.
Stowe Mountain Lodge offers plenty of skiing opportunities or just a relaxing ski lodge staycation!
Sedona has been named one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and it’s undoubtedly a top winter travel destination. Sprawling landscapes of red rock formations draw millions of tourists each year.
While it gets chilly at night, days in Sedona are wonderfully temperature, perfect for exploring all the trails and parks in the area! Sedona is also home to a thriving arts culture and lots of indigenous history that’s worth learning about while you’re visiting.
Sedona: Verde Canyon Railroad Tour
Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is located in the Cascades Mountains in Oregon. The main lake from which the park gets its name was formed from the collapse of an old volcano. Today, the park offers beautiful winding trails and stunning vistas of the large lake.
In the winter, park rangers offer guided snowshoe trails, and you can view the lake from the rim of the crater.
Best Travel Backpacks
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Winter in Hot Springs, Arkansas, can be a magical wonderland with its charming landscapes. Nestled in the Ouachita Mountains, this picturesque town offers a unique blend of relaxation and adventure.
Embarking on a scenic hike through the frost-kissed trails of Hot Springs National Park is a must-do. The cool, crisp air invigorates the senses as you meander past bubbling thermal springs and take in breathtaking views. For a touch of history and luxury, a visit to the historic Bathhouse Row is in order.
Imagine indulging in a soothing bath in the same springs that have been frequented by generations seeking relaxation. The winter ambiance adds an extra layer of enchantment to the experience.
The United States has some of the best winter destinations for every preference.
Whether you’re seeking snow and skiing thrills, prefer a relaxing week on the beach, or want to explore some of the country’s biggest cities, there’s a US winter travel destination for everyone! Winter is also an excellent time for solo travel, as you can take advantage of any inclement weather to relax and enjoy time for yourself. More benefits of traveling alone here.
Check out the blog for more solo travel tips and specific destination guides. You can also follow along with my latest adventures on Instagram! If you have been to one of these 35 best places to travel in the US in winter, I want to hear about it! Leave a comment!