Are you ready for a change of scenery this winter? If so, you don’t have to worry about traveling far to find beautiful places that are perfect for a winter getaway. Each state in the U.S. has its own unique appeal for winter travelers, so whether you want to escape the cold destinations or hit the slopes, there’s something for everyone.
As you take inspiration from these 50 winter travel destinations, be sure to also consider getting one of the best travel credit cards before you start planning your trip. Saving money on gas, hotel stays, and more can help take some of the stress out of your vacation so you can better enjoy your time away. If you need some help deciding on which card is right for you, we’ll also share the info you need to successfully compare credit cards.
But first, let’s get some inspiration by looking at the best winter destinations in all 50 states so you can start planning a trip to a place near you.
Alabama: Gulf Shores
Gulf Shores, Alabama is located along Alabama’s Gulf Coast between Louisiana and Florida. With such a prime location, this area along the Gulf of Mexico provides an ideal getaway destination for anyone looking to escape the cold temperatures in more wintry climates. In fact, the average yearly temperature is about 75 degrees, though average winter temperatures are in the 50s and 60s.
If that sounds better than enduring freezing temperatures elsewhere throughout the United States, the Gulf Coast awaits you. With 32 miles of white sand beaches and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, like golfing and hiking, there’s no shortage of options to pass the time.
Alaska may seem like a daunting winter destination because of how cold and remote it is, but these attributes can work in your favor if you let them. In Fairbanks, Alaska, you’re able to catch glimpses of the aurora borealis (also known as the northern lights) from August to April, which is a unique occurrence that only happens in select areas. To continue your unique experiences, be sure to sign up for a dog-sledding tour to have an unforgettable time in your own winter wonderland.
Arizona: Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is a popular entry for many bucket lists because of its jaw-dropping landscapes and formations — but have you ever thought about visiting during the winter? Think of the amazing red rock found throughout the area and how stunning it would look with a dusting of fresh snow.
Grand Canyon National Park gets busy during the summer months, so a winter visit can provide you with some extra space and solitude. In addition, you’ll be able to avoid scorching temperatures and get to have different experiences, like going snowshoeing in the Grand Canyon or riding the vintage train from Williams, Arizona, to the Grand Canyon in the wintertime.
Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park
Is there anything that sounds quite as nice as getting into some toasty hot springs in the winter? At Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, you can take a dip in thermal baths that use water piped directly from the natural springs in the area. This will surely keep you warm and relaxed after a day of exploring the 26 miles of hiking trails and 47 hot springs throughout the park.
California: Mammoth Lakes
California isn’t all sunshine and surfing with days at the beach. In the town of Mammoth Lakes, located in the Sierra Nevada mountains near the Nevada border, it’s easy to forget you’re in California at all. In the winter, Mammoth Lakes transforms into a top destination for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and more. And for some all-time favorite winter activities, don’t miss out on the ice skating, snow tubing, or snowmobiling either.
Colorado: Vail Valley
The region of Vail Valley in Colorado is home to world-class ski resorts at Vail and Beaver Creek, so it’s the perfect place for skiers and snowboarders alike to enjoy some time on the slopes. If you’d rather turn your getaway into a wellness retreat, there’s no better setting than in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. Take the time to treat yourself at multiple spas and hot springs or get your mind right at the many fitness centers and athletic clubs located in the area.
For a small-town atmosphere with beautiful views of the Long Island Sound, check out the village of Niantic, Connecticut. It’ll certainly be cold in any part of New England during the winter, but that just leaves you more opportunity to find the perfect lodging and surroundings to hole up for a few days. The 16-room Inn at Harbor Hill Marina was voted a top bed-and-breakfast in the U.S. and can provide you with an ideal stay overlooking the water. Be sure to get a room with a fireplace for an especially cozy visit.
Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park
Delaware’s Cape region can provide a wonderful escape to windswept beaches and stunning landscapes along the coastlines of the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. If you stay in or around the town of Lewes, you can visit Cape Henlopen State Park and take in the natural beauty of the area. It’ll likely be cold, but that means you may just have the park to yourself for exploring and taking photos.
Florida: Key West
Although Miami might be a popular getaway choice, it's the southernmost tip of Florida that is an ideal winter escape if you’re a snowbird trying to get away from the cold. Key West often experiences temperatures in the 70s, even in the middle of the winter months. So if you’re envisioning Pacific Ocean views and plenty of vitamin D, check out Key West this winter season.
Georgia: Stone Mountain
Nestled conveniently on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, is where you’ll find the town of Stone Mountain and the nearby park it's famous for. Stone Mountain Park offers fun for the whole family, with a scenic railroad, hiking trails, and historic attractions. In the winter you can go snow tubing, build snowmen, and celebrate the holidays with special events like hearing Christmas carolers and seeing a Christmas parade.
It may not be a wonderland of snow and ice, but Hawaii is still an amazing winter travel destination. You can take your pick of the islands to visit, but be sure to consider Kauai as one of your options. The fourth-largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, Kauai experiences average temperatures from the high 60s to the low 80s on a year-round basis. Hotels and resorts on Kauai are plentiful, which makes it easy to go out and explore the lush, green landscapes and various waterfalls.
Idaho: Sun Valley
Idaho winters and their associated snowfall are not for the faint of heart, but they do provide ideal conditions for all the best winter activities. In the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, you can go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and more. When you want to relax, head back to your room at one of the many hotels, resorts, lodges, or vacation rentals in the area. There’s lodging to suit every taste in Sun Valley.
The Windy City can chill your bones in the winter, but there’s also no denying the magical effect a winter in Chicago can have. Chicago is already an amazing destination any time of year, with its myriad beautiful structures and popular attractions. But when you blanket everything in a layer of snow and throw in some winter activities, you’re in for a real treat. Go ice skating in Millennium Park, sledding on a nearby hill, or check out Chicago’s famous Christmas Market. And if you need to warm up, check out one of the world-class history or art museums.
Indiana: French Lick and West Baden
French Lick and West Baden Springs are two neighboring towns in southern Indiana where you can relax and have an enjoyable winter getaway. The top choice for lodging in town is the French Lick Resort, home to three historic hotels, including the famous domed West Baden Springs Hotel, which is a National Historic Landmark. Nearby attractions include the Paoli Peaks ski resort and the Hoosier National Forest.
The city of Okoboji, Iowa, is the ideal basecamp for exploring the Iowa Great Lakes region during the winter months. You can go ice skating, hop on a snowmobile, or even go ice fishing out on a lake when the weather is just right. When you’re ready to relax from the cold activities, be sure to explore Okoboji and all it has to offer. Go shopping, grab a bite to eat, and head back to your room for a warm night in.
Brave the chilly weather of Kansas winters by visiting Wichita and taking in its sights and sounds. Botanica Wichita is always a must-see during the holiday season when you want to enjoy the natural beauty of Wichita’s botanical gardens mixed with the wonder of dancing lights and music. Once you’re ready to get back indoors, check out unique local attractions like Wichita’s nine breweries, multiple ax-throwing venues, and an indoor rock climbing gym.
Sip tasty bourbon in Bardstown, Kentucky, to warm the chill of a cool, winter evening and enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of this city just a short drive from Louisville. A local bed-and-breakfast can provide an excellent lodging experience while you visit the multiple distilleries in the area. Be sure to bundle up on a horse-drawn carriage for a memorable event on your trip to Bardstown.
Louisiana: New Orleans
If you want to miss out on some of the big crowds that flock to New Orleans during Mardi Gras season and the summer, consider visiting the Big Easy in the winter. This will make it a lot easier to enjoy the attractions of the city, like taking a stroll down Bourbon Street and grabbing a fresh beignet from Cafe Du Monde. In addition, New Orleans gets into a festive mood during the holiday season and average temperatures rarely drop below the 40s even in the dead of winter.
Kennebunkport is a charming seaside town located in southern Maine that provides a romantic atmosphere any time of year, including during the winter months. Take a sleigh ride through the snow as you sip some hot chocolate or simply enjoy the sweeping views of the ocean as you stroll around town. Kennebunkport really turns up the holiday celebrations in December, so be sure to plan ahead for your visit if you want to join in Christmas festivities.
Maryland: Assateague Island National Seashore
Areas within the National Park System are always fun to visit, especially when they have unique attractions. At Assateague Island, you’ll find a roaming group of wild horses separated into multiple herds. It’s rare to find an opportunity to see wild horses these days, so having this experience in such a beautiful environment can make for remarkable memories. Because fewer people visit in the winter, you might even have the place to yourself.
Get bundled up because it’s sure to be cold in Boston during the winter. But this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying ice skating in the park or sledding on one of the many hills throughout the city, including in Boston Common. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, be sure to grab some uniquely Boston delights to eat, like a piping hot bowl of clam chowder at Quincy Market. In fact, any time is a good time to enjoy classic New England dishes, so load up on lobster rolls and sausage and pepper grinders while you’re at it.
Michigan: Crystal Mountain Resort
For a fun-filled winter getaway, bring the whole family to Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, Michigan. Located close to Lake Michigan, this ski resort has everything you need to make for a memorable vacation. Of course, you’ll want to go skiing or snowboarding, but you can also enjoy other winter activities like snowshoeing, horse-drawn surrey rides, and ringing in the new year with a New Year’s Eve celebration.
Minnesota: Lake Superior
You’ll find countless lodging options all along the banks of Lake Superior, which can be an excellent opportunity for a winter vacation in a scenic location. A resort such as Bluefin Bay, located on Lake Superior’s North Shore, provides the ideal basecamp for going out and exploring the Superior National Forest or the Sawtooth Mountains. There are plenty of activities to do in the area, including dog-sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and more.
Just up the Gulf Coast from New Orleans is the Mississippi city of Biloxi. If you want to spend some time this winter in a warmer climate, Biloxi deserves your consideration. You get a beachfront location, average winter temperatures between the 40s and 60s, plus everything that comes with visiting a hospitable Southern city. You’ll have great food selections, including excellent seafood dishes, and you can have fun at the multiple casinos in the area.
Missouri: St. Louis
Every major U.S. city has its own share of winter charm, but St. Louis, Missouri, ups its game with fun events throughout the winter months. The Polar Express Experience departing from Union Station is a magical experience for the whole family during the holidays. When the adults want to get away, check out the Thaxton Speakeasy for an underground drinking experience.
Montana winters are typically filled with snow, which sets the perfect atmosphere for all types of winter activities. In Whitefish, you have options for whatever you love to do in the winter. Head to Whitefish Mountain Resort for prime skiing and snowboarding or visit nearby Glacier National Park for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing across pristine lands. When it’s time to relax, take your pick of bed-and-breakfasts, lodges, and hotels.
Nebraska: Eugene T. Mahoney State Park
Certain places offer a variety of different locations and appeal when you visit during their offseason, including Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. Most national and state parks attract more visitors during the warmer months, which makes the winter months an ideal time to avoid large crowds. At Eugene T. Mahoney, you get indoor rock climbing, ice skating, sledding, ice fishing, and other Winterfest activities to keep you occupied when the weather is colder. And don’t worry, lodging is available in the park so you can be close to all the action.
Nevada: Las Vegas
If you can be sure of one place in North America where the fun never stops, it’s Las Vegas, Nevada. Yes, the weather can get frigid during the winter because you’re in the middle of a desert, but that might come as a welcome relief compared to the sweltering summer heat. Besides, most of the Vegas attractions are inside anyway, so you don’t have to worry about being cold or hot. Enjoy the festive atmosphere with a visit to the Bellagio Conservatory holiday display or ice skating at The Cosmopolitan’s rooftop ice skating rink.
New Hampshire: North Conway
North Conway, New Hampshire, gives you a small-town atmosphere though it’s surrounded by ski resorts and loads of winter activities. You have 13 ski resorts to choose from if you’re in the mood to hit the slopes, or you can opt instead for other winter sports. Ice skating, snowmobiling, and snow tubing are all popular. For some unique winter fun, try out a sleigh ride or dog-sledding.
New Jersey: Crystal Springs Resort
To escape the hustle and bustle of the big cities, check out Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, New Jersey. This family-friendly resort is open year-round, but certain elements of the establishment might be specifically appealing when the climate gets cold. The mineral pools complex sounds especially nice if you want to escape the winter temperatures outside. You can also relax and improve your wellness at the two available spas.
New Mexico: Taos
The Southwest isn’t typically known for its plethora of winter activities, but if you visit Taos, New Mexico, it’s hard to see why that is. Camping and fishing are regular pastimes throughout the year, but during the winter months, you can go skiing and snowboarding at the nearby ski resort of Taos Ski Valley. Other popular winter activities include guided snowshoe hikes, snowmobiling, and relaxing in outdoor hot tubs.
New York: New York City
The Big Apple is a magical place during the holidays and all winter long. Iconic architecture and classic activities gain a little stardust when snowflakes start falling from the sky. From strolling through Central Park to celebrating Chinese New Year in Chinatown, there’s nothing quite like wintertime in New York City.
North Carolina: Asheville
Are you ready to grab a blanket and get cozy or bundle up and face the outside weather? Whether you decide one, the other, or both, Asheville, North Carolina, is ready for you. The nearby Wolf Ridge Ski Resort has you covered for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. Or you can go on winter hikes for views of mountains and waterfalls. For activities around town, check out the Biltmore Estate, experience excellent dining at restaurants like Bouchon, or have a rejuvenating experience at a local spa.
North Dakota: Fargo
When the average temperature is in the 20s or below during the winter months, you should get inside and get warm, right? In Fargo, North Dakota, not so much. When it gets cold here, it’s time to get outside and celebrate the freezing temperatures with the annual Frostival celebration. Frostival consists of nearly two whole months of winter activities, including sled races, winter kickball, snow sculptures, concerts, and much more. If you’re a lover of the cold, this is the place to celebrate it.
Ohio: Hocking Hills
The Hocking Hills region of Ohio is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts through all four seasons. The beautiful hikes during the spring, summer, and fall take on a different appearance during the winter with their unique snow and ice formations. In addition, you can participate in many fun winter activities. Past activities have included food tours of the region’s dishes, festivals featuring ice sculptures, and classic winter pastimes like ice skating and sledding.
Once winter arrives, Tulsa transforms for the occasion. Every year, the Arvest Winterfest in downtown Tulsa encourages residents and visitors alike to enjoy the spirit of the season through festive holiday celebrations. The main attraction is ice skating, though you can also participate in charity nights and see live performances from local talent.
Oregon: Mount Hood
The huge volcanic mountain of Mount Hood is only a couple of hours driving from Portland, Oregon, which makes it a top destination for winter activities when the snow starts to fall. Choose from multiple ski areas like Skibowl and Timberline. These resorts will provide you with all the necessities you need to conquer the slopes and then socialize with friends and family after your last run of the day. The historic Timberline Lodge is a great place to relax and rest up for your next big adventure.
Pennsylvania: Pocono Mountains
The Poconos provide the perfect winter retreat for anyone in the area, whether it’s New York City, Philadelphia, or another nearby location. Multiple resorts and ski areas offer quality skiing and snowboarding. For the non-skiers and riders, there’s nothing wrong with relaxing at a lodge or hotel. The Camelback Lodge is a popular destination for families because of its year-round indoor waterpark. Even if the weather outside is frosty, you can still enjoy water slides, swim-up bars, and indoor cabanas at the Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark.
Rhode Island: Newport
Located on Aquidneck Island in Rhode Island, Newport offers New England charm during both the summer and winter months. In the winter you’ll want to warm up, which you can do with ice skating at a local rink or by partaking in warm winter treats like artisanal hot chocolate from The Chanler’s hot chocolate bar. In addition, Gurney’s Hotel in Newport offers pop-up igloo reservations for enjoying food and drinks in a festive and heated environment.
South Carolina: Myrtle Beach
It’ll likely be too cold for most people to want to take a dip in the ocean, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be nice to walk along the beach or Myrtle Beach Boardwalk while you’re in town. As a year-round vacation destination, Myrtle Beach is ready for visitors whenever you decide to come. Hotel stays are typically less expensive and the crowds aren’t as big, which leaves you more time and space to enjoy yourself at the coastal resorts and dining establishments.
South Dakota: Black Hills
The Black Hills may be a small mountain range compared to other ones throughout the U.S., but there’s still plenty to do and see. Mount Rushmore is open year-round, so it’s no hassle visiting this national monument during the winter months. The Black Hills area experiences an average of more than 150 inches of snow each year, aligning perfectly with popular winter activities like snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
The music doesn’t stop in the Music City just because the weather starts to get cold. Live music is played and heard throughout the year, though you might get a bit of a festive twist with songs when the holiday season arrives. In addition, popular attractions throughout the city like to hold special events during the winter, like ice skating and reindeer encounters at Opryland.
Texas: South Padre Island
South Padre Island, Texas, may not seem like your typical winter playground, but if you’re a snowbird up for sunny days and miles of beaches along the Gulf Coast, this isn’t a bad place to be. And let’s not forget the temperature outside. With average temperatures from the 50s to 70s from November to February each year, a non-snowy winter is starting to sound better and better. Enjoy your stay on the beach with delicious seafood, some of which you can go out and catch yourself.
Utah: Park City
Utah proudly claims to have “the greatest snow on earth” and for anyone who visits Park City during winter, it’s hard to refute that claim. Park City draws visitors from all over the world because of its close proximity to the Salt Lake International Airport and its world-class ski resorts and amenities. You’ll want to hit the slopes at least once while you’re here, but you should also leave time to take a walk through the historic downtown area. Luxurious lodging options are available at hotels like the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley and the Waldorf Astoria Park City.
Just about anywhere in Vermont will offer something for you to do in the winter, but Burlington is an excellent place for a basecamp if you’re planning a visit. Burlington is Vermont’s largest city and also has the state’s largest airport. This makes it easier to find accommodations and activities to your liking, as well as find flights if you’re flying in. Once you arrive, visit local ski resorts like Stowe Mountain Resort or Smuggler’s Notch Resort for fun on the slopes. While you’re in town, stroll around Church Street Marketplace for some shopping and dining.
Colonial Williamsburg can turn a dreary winter season into a celebration of fun and excitement. You can enjoy the history of Williamsburg at any time of year by visiting Jamestowne, Yorktown, and other historic attractions. For more modern fun, check out the multiple brewing companies in the area or relax at a wellness spa. And for the whole family, ditch the cold weather outside and immerse yourself in all the activities at the nearby Great Wolf Lodge. This resort right outside of Williamsburg has an indoor water park and loads of family-friendly activities for everyone to enjoy during any season.
If you want to visit Germany without leaving the country, you can’t do much better than heading to Leavenworth, Washington. This Bavarian-themed city has alpine-styled homes and lodges that’ll make you question where you are every now and then. Over the holidays, you’ll see hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights strung up throughout the city that create a festive atmosphere. Available winter activities include snow tubing, sledding, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, and more.
West Virginia: Snowshoe Mountain Resort
With snow already in its name, you know Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia will have plenty of the white, fluffy goodness for everyone to enjoy. Snowshoe Mountain has three different ski areas for you to enjoy, though you can also go snowmobiling, snow tubing, and swimming. Yes, that’s right, you can go swimming in the winter at the resort’s indoor and outdoor heated swimming areas. That sounds like a nice way to relax after skiing or riding out in the cold all day.
Wisconsin: Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva’s resort-city atmosphere provides an amazing setting for winter fun in Wisconsin. Less than a two-hour drive from Chicago brings you to ski slopes, ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing. For more of a wellness experience, relax at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa with massages, body treatments, skin care services, and more.
Wyoming: Jackson Hole
Jackson Hole, Wyoming gets busy in the winter because of how much there is to do and for its high-class lodging and dining establishments. Activities include skiing, snowboarding, and dog-sledding. Or you can opt for an enjoyable sleigh ride with thousands of elk to keep you company at the National Elk Refuge. For a different type of winter experience, try fat tire biking on miles of trails in the area. When you’re ready to wind down, take a dip in any of the many hot springs around Jackson Hole.
How to travel safely and save money this winter season
If you plan to travel this winter, remember to plan ahead and consider the safety of your travel group and anyone else you might come in contact with. Here are a few travel tips on how to stay safe this holiday season and beyond:
- Know before you go. Given the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to know any and all restrictions, requirements, and guidelines for wherever you might be traveling because they could be different than where you live. This may include wearing a mask, getting your temperature checked, maintaining physical distancing guidelines, and more. If you check the applicable websites of hotels and cities included in your travels, you should be able to find what you need to know so you can plan accordingly.
- Choose travel services wisely. Not every airline or hotel experience will be following the same guidelines and practices. If you want to feel safer while traveling, go with the airline or hotel that has released everything it’s trying to do to keep you safe. Consider airlines that are blocking middle seats to keep passengers distanced from each other. Or look for hotels that offer COVID-19 welcome kits and bagged breakfasts instead of buffet breakfasts.
- Pack what you need. This applies to any trip at any time, but it can be especially important to pack smarter if you’re heading off on a road trip. Road trip essentials could include a cooler for buying groceries so you don’t have to eat out all the time, a first aid kit, navigation apps for your phone, or even some extra toilet paper. You may want to pack one of the best gas credit cards, as well. If you break down and need to book a hotel room in an emergency, make sure you have a credit card to take care of those expenses too.
If you want to save money on your winter travels, here are a few tips on how you can save money using travel credit cards:
- Maximize your rewards. It’s one thing to use a credit card to earn rewards on every purchase you make, but it’s another thing to maximize your earnings by using the right credit card on the right purchases. For example, if a travel card earns bonus points on travel purchases, use that card to book your flight, hotel stay, or rental vehicle. If another card happens to be one of the best credit cards for groceries, make sure that’s the card you use at the grocery store while traveling. It may be easier to put all your spend on one credit card, but it’s a lot more efficient to choose the best card for each scenario.
- Book award travel. Once you’ve earned enough points or miles, redeem your rewards for travel. Getting free travel is often the main reason to have a travel credit card, so make sure you’re using your credit card rewards to save money on flights, hotels, travel experiences, rental cars, and more.
- Utilize your benefits. Most travel credit cards provide useful benefits to cardholders, like travel insurance, airport lounge access, or travel credits. If you have any of these benefits, remember to use them, as they can save you a lot of money. Many Priority Pass lounges and Amex Centurion Lounges offer complimentary food and beverages, so you can avoid expensive food court selections at the airport.
We may not yet be in the clear for traveling everywhere we want to, but nearby destinations can provide you with an incredible winter getaway. Whether you want to escape the winter cold or find yourself in a blissful winter paradise, our home country has plenty of options for you.
As you plan your winter travels, consider the safety guidelines employed wherever you decide to visit. This will help you avoid any potential hiccups while you’re trying to have an enjoyable time. In addition, be safe if you’re driving and good luck with any trips you take this winter.