Best Places for Winter Travel
You don’t have to wait until spring break or summer to take a vacation—you can pamper yourself now and enjoy the perks of traveling during the off-season. Whether you’re looking for an urban weekend, a few days on the beach or some time on the slopes, you can stretch your budget during the winter months while enjoying precious “me time” or spending time with your family.
Here are five winter getaway ideas to consider:
New York City Holiday
There’s a serene beauty about the Big Apple when snowflakes sprinkle the high-rise buildings and cover Central Park in a gleaming white blanket. If you wait to visit until January, you’ll have plenty of space to join the ice skaters twirling at the Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park ice rinks. If cold weather isn’t your idea of a good time, you can still enjoy all the indoor museums, shows and restaurants that New York has to offer without battling the peak season crowds. After the holidays, look for discounts on Broadway shows and hotel deals from January through March. Plus, if you visit between January 23 and February 10, you can enjoy NYC Restaurant Week, which offers three-course meals at more than 300 restaurants that won’t break the bank.
Snow starts falling on many ski mountains as early as October, but resorts don’t get really packed until February or even later. Go in early season (December or January) or late season (April) for less crowded trails and deals on lift tickets. Visit Whistler Blackcomb north of Vancouver, British Columbia, or Banff Ski Resort near Canmore in the Canadian Rockies for some epic snow and intense terrain.
Splendor in the Park
Most national parks see their busiest days in the summer when school is out, but they can be just as beautiful to visit in the off-season. The Grand Canyon’s popular South Rim is open year-round and winter is the one season when reservations are not needed. The red rocks of Arches National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah look even more stunning when dusted with snow—just be sure to check trail and road closures following winter storms.
Some colder-climate parks such as Glacier National Park in Montana offer discounted winter rates for those brave enough to join in activities like ranger-guided snowshoe walks. Or visit a few of the desert national parks, like Big Bend National Park in Texas or Death Valley National Park in California, which will offer much milder temperatures.
As winter settles in and the days get shorter and colder, there’s always the option to warm up with a beach getaway rather than burrowing inside for the next few months. Head to the tropics, but do it early when you can still find a spot in the sand and before spring breakers take over. Visit Florida, Mexico or the Caribbean in December and January after hurricane season has passed when you can still get great rates during non-holiday weeks. Or, visit the Florida panhandle or East Coast beaches and save during the winter months. While it might not be swimsuit weather, you can still enjoy the peaceful views, beach bonfires and area attractions without the crowds.
It’s better to save the delicious Southern eats and rich history in Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, for the temperate cold weather months, rather than visit during the hot and sticky summer. These quaint cities are just two hours apart, and are known for decking their historic districts with lights and holiday finery. If you visit in March, don’t miss the epic Saint Patrick’s Day festival in Savannah (one of the largest St. Patty’s Day celebrations in the nation).