This winter has been a weird one…. If it’s not 60 degrees out and raining, it’s sub-zero and sunny. It’s hard to get a real winter vibe when you’re walking around in shorts one day, then hanging out in front of the fireplace shivering the next.
For those who love frolicking in the snow and making the most of winter getaways, there’s no shortage of places you can go to enjoy the last breath of cold air before that spring thaw starts to hit. From viewing the Northern Lights to enjoying the ski slopes, winter doesn’t have to mean giving up on fun and adventure.
Steamboat Springs, CO
How many places can you go that have their own trademarked snow? Steamboat Springs, Colorado has just that – a light, fluffy, effervescent snow called Champagne Powder that experienced ski bums will love! Rub elbows with Olympians and other serious skiers, or head out to do some fly fishing in the morning. One thing to put on your agenda though is Sunset Happy Hour – head up to the top of Steamboat Ski and Resort to view the sunset and the valley while enjoying signature cocktails, tapas and live music.
Have some pancakes with fresh maple syrup before heading out to shredding the slopes covered in fresh powder. How much more perfect can you get for a winter getaway? Sugarbush, VT is home to all things winter. From snow shoeing, skiing, ice fishing and ice skating, to relaxing apres ski, it’s a veritable winter wonderland, and has been for the past 60 years.
Vacationing in the Northlands of Minnesota is a wonderful way to enjoy the wooded winter getaway of your dreams. Whether it’s enjoying the Nordic pasttimes popular in the area, like snow shoeing, skiing, ice climbing, dogsledding and ice fishing, or relaxing in some of the area eateries and distilleries, you can’t really go wrong. Try out a “hot dish”, one of Minnesota’s iconic casserole dishes, or some of the adult beverages from Vikre Distillery that handcrafts its own gins, vodkas and aquavit with water from the crystal clean Lake Michigan.
NEW PALTZ, NY
Like a castle overlooking a vast frozen lake, Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY reminds one of a visit to a Game of Thrones set. Nestled in the Catskill Mountains, Mohonk Mountain House is a winter retreat like no other. If it’s outdoor adventure you crave, there are plenty of opportunities to get out in the fresh, albeit cold, air. But the resort has plenty of indoor activities as well. From spas to movies, lectures and live music, the resort gives you plenty of reason to stay inside too.
If you love the look of snow, but aren’t all that keen to get out into it, why not head to Idllywild in southern California? Just a few hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, Idyllwild has long been a secret getaway for Hollywood-types. There’s no smog, plenty of seasonal changes and in the winter – snow. Located in the San Jacinto Mountains, there’s also limited development and plenty of natural beauty. The area is known for its artsy culture and mix of ex-hippies, artists and weekend outdoor enthusiasts who love the mix of climbing and hiking available in the area. What you won’t find is skiers. The town has purposefully left skiing out of the mix, hoping to draw in other types of tourism instead.
Big Sky, MT
The community that calls itself Big Sky, MT is known not only as a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, but also as being a winter sports haven. Big Sky is home to some of the most skiable land in America, so there’s plenty of room to get your winter playtime in. At Big Sky Resort, you’ll find dog sledding, bungee jumping, snow mobile tours, ziplining and plenty of other winter activities in addition to skiing. And after it’s all done, area lodges offer plenty of opportunities to cozy up with your travel companion and spend your evening with hot chocolate in front of a fire place.
Fairbanks, Alaska is not only home to the Iditarod and the World Ice Art Championship, but also to some great views of the Northern Lights. In a place that gets snow from September through May, you’ll find plenty of time to enjoy in winter activities. From August through April, you’ll be able to spot the Aurora Borealis. As the days turn to spring, the days get longer though. From late-April until late-August, the area becomes the Land of the Midnight Sun where you can enjoy 20+ hours of sunlight per day.
Winter is coming! For Game of Thrones fans, Reykjavik, Iceland is a bucket list destination, as it has served as the backdrop for many scenes for the HBO series whose eighth and final season airs in 2019. Beyond its entertainment appeal, the town is an outdoor enthusiast's dream with glaciers to hike and natural hot springs to soak in.
For those interested more in the beasts, than the birds and the bees, a visit to Nagano, Japan in the winter is a must to catch a glimpse of the Japanese Snow Monkey. At Jigojundani Monkey Park, you may even be able to capture a picture of snow monkeys bathing in hot springs located in the middle of a snow covered mountain. The area also features ice trees during the winter, called Juhyo, as hundreds of covered trees take on the appearance of snow monsters climbing the mountains at Zao Ski Resort. All across the northern part of Japan, you’ll find snow events like Yunishigawa Kamakura Festivals, where snow domes in various sizes are lit with candles during the night.
If you can’t get away until April, but you still want the taste of snow, head to Patagonia, Argentina. Located south of the Equator, Patagonian winter runs from June to August instead of December through February. Really, experts say, winter in Patagonia runs from April through September. Here you can enjoy hiking, glacier climbing and hot springs, as well as stunning views from the other side of the world.
Top Photo Credit: Unsplash / Bryan Goff