Warm Up or Hit the Slopes At These Getaways
There are two types of winter travelers. On one hand, there are those that welcome cold, snowy days because they love hitting the slopes or cozying up next to a warm fire. On the other hand are "snowbirds," or travelers who escape the blustery weather in favor of warmer climes when winter comes in order to feel the sun on their face and their toes in the sand.
The USA is a big, beautiful country with many different types of climates, so the weather can vary depending on which part of the United States you're visiting. Check out what the typical weather is like in December, January, and February in your destination before you start planning.
Airlines and hotels dramatically lower their prices in January and February—once the holiday rush has passed—save for a few exceptions such as travel to some destinations at Christmas, New Year's Eve in New York City, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
There are a number of holidays and long weekends during the months of December, January, and February. In addition to Christmas and New Year's, there are two long travel weekends during the winter: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Presidents Day.
There are also winter-themed festivals, like Bend, Oregon’s Winterfest and Steamboat Springs, Colorado’s International Snow Sculpture Championship that happen throughout the colder months. Whether you're the type of winter traveler who seeks out the snowy weather or wants to head south to sunny skies, you're sure to find a great destination in the United States this winter.
Cold Destinations and Winter Sports
Some travelers can't wait for the ice and snow because they love winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, and the United States has no shortage of destinations for skiers and snowboarders across the country.
Some of the best ski resorts in the world are located in the United States, particularly in the West, where the Rocky Mountains, Cascades, and Sierra Nevada ranges dominate the landscape from Colorado to California. The ski towns of the West like Jackson in Wyoming, Aspen in Colorado, and Lake Tahoe in California are almost as famous as the mountains themselves.
In the East, there are popular ski resorts in Maine, New York, and south along the Appalachians and the Smoky Mountains. In the Midwest, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin have the most opportunities for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. You can also find great ski and winter resorts in Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and Vermont.
For family and friends who don't ski, there are other options: Large ski resorts on both coasts typically offer other activities like snowshoeing and tubing. Alternatively, you could head to an urban oasis such as New York City to shop for post-holiday sales, ice skate in Bryant Park, and marvel at the city lights.
Warm Destinations and Beaches
For those fleeing the cold temperatures of winter, the United States has several options, including Florida, southern California, and a few islands in the Caribbean.
Florida has long been a place of pilgrimage for "snowbirds" from the north, particularly Canada, because of its sunny days and mild temperatures. North and Central Florida are prone to chillier weather from December to February, but southern Florida, including Orlando and Miami, is typically blessed with temperatures in the low-to-mid 70s throughout the winter.
Because Florida is such a winter hotspot, traveling there can be expensive at this time, but there are Florida deals to be had. Research some top Florida fall and winter getaways then book your Florida hotel.
Southern California is another popular winter getaway for those who like to ski but also want to experience warmer weather in the winter. Death Valley, which is cool enough to enjoy at this time of year, and Palm Springs are both fantastic destinations for a California winter getaway.
Winter's milder temperatures make this time of year ideal to visit the stunning desert landscape in the Southwestern United States as well. From visiting national parks such Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon to celebrating in Texas with the Charro Days Festival, higher temperatures and a steady supply of sunshine will be waiting for you when you head to this region.
Winter is the high season in the Caribbean where the weather is warm and hurricane season has passed. As a result, Caribbean island destinations are very popular winter getaways for those who crave warmth and a little sand between their toes. You can head to the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico without needing a passport.