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Best U.S. Cities for Winter Vacations

Planning your next winter vacation? Whether you’re trying to escape the cold weather or looking to embrace it, the U.S. is full of beautiful destinations with fun outdoor recreation, shopping and dining, and plenty to see and do. Check out these 12 best cities for winter vacations!

Jackson Hole, WY

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 29 degrees; 6 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $124

If you’re looking to experience all the natural beauty winter has to offer, a trip to Jackson Hole will suit you perfectly! Tucked in the Teton Mountain Range in Wyoming, this small but mighty town is the ideal winter getaway. Go on a winter tour through nearby Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, two of the best national park vacations in the U.S. Experience the scenic countryside on a guided sled dog tour with Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tours. See local wildlife like elk, bison, foxes, wolves, and eagles from the comfort of a horse-drawn sleigh at the National Elk Refuge. Check out stunning artistic interpretations of America’s wildlife at The National Museum of Wildlife Art. Or if you want to get some skiing in, be sure to visit Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village or Snow King Mountain Resort in nearby Jackson!

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Kauai, HI

Scenic picture of Kauai, Hawaii with a sandy beach and a jungle and blue skies with clouds forming in the background. Photo by instagram user @ihsanisland

Photo via @ihsanisland

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 80 degrees; 64 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $91

Want to escape the cold weather? Fly to Hawaii for a winter vacation! Kauai is the perfect warm-weather location, and it’s one of the best destinations for romantic getaways! Head to the historic County Building Park to check out the town when it’s decked out for the holidays at the annual Kaua’i Festival of Lights. Take a tour of the only remaining Rice Mill in Hawaii at Ho’opulapula Haraguchi Rice Mill. Ring in the holidays at the festive Lights on Rice Parade. Go whale-watching off the coast of Kauai to see the large group of whales migrating to warmer waters between November and March. Go snorkeling at a spot safe for beginners like Poipu Beach, or if you have some experience, dive deeper to see amazing views of aquatic life and coral reefs at Makua (Tunnels) Beach. Take trail riding lessons and visit the 2,500-acre working cattle ranch at Princeville Ranch. Or learn about the history of the island and its natives at the Kauai Museum.

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Key West, FL

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 74 degrees; 64 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $106

A great escape for those seeking warmer weather, Key West has plenty to offer as a destination for your next winter vacation. Visit during the holidays to see boats covered with festive lights at the Lighted Boat Parade. Attend a winter music festival in a waterside amphitheater at the four-day Mile O Fest. Take in a beautiful Key West winter sunset while enjoying a few drinks on the Commotion On The Ocean Sunset Sail. Check out the world-famous Conch Tour Train to take a Holiday Light Tour of some of the most beautifully decorated areas on the island. Go on a Key West dolphin tour and snorkel to see some natural coral formations and aquatic plants on the Key West Dolphin Watch & Snorkel Eco Tour. Spend a day on the ever-entertaining Duval Street and be sure to check out some of the local attractions like the Key West Aquarium. Or stop by the iconic Sloppy Joe’s for a few drinks, a Moho Pork Taco, and the Original Sloppy Joe Sandwich.

New Orleans, LA

The French Quarter in New Orleans on a sunny day with an empty street and ornate balconies. photo by instagram user @charly.viajero

Photo via @charly.viajero

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 62 degrees; 45 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $100

New Orleans knows a thing or two about festive holidays. And while NOLA may be better known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, it’s also a great place to have a fun Christmas vacation! Grab some food and drinks and take in the annual holiday displays at Winter Wonderland at The Roosevelt New Orleans. Get in the holiday spirit at the Jingle on the Boulevard Parade, where you can see some of the area’s best marching bands and even the occasional celebrity appearance. Head down the six-mile New Orleans hub Magazine Street to support local shops like Alice & Amelia. See animals from all over the world or take a journey into space in a planetarium at the Audubon Zoo. Stroll through immersive exhibits to learn about NOLA culture and how Sazerac Rye whiskey is made at the Sazerac House. Make your way to The Orpheum Theater to catch the classic winter ballet The Nutcracker or other big-ticket concerts and shows. Or take in an awe-inspiring light show at Celebration In The Oaks in local City Park, which is transformed into a luminescent holiday lights festival every winter.

New York City, NY

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 39 degrees; 26 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $137

There’s no better place to celebrate the winter holidays than the Big Apple! New York City is an enchanting place to visit in the winter for those who don’t mind the cold. Go ice skating at Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park. Check out impressive displays and exhibits featuring American wildlife at the American Museum of Natural History. Head to Broadway to catch the famous Christmas Spectacular Starring The Radio City Rockettes. Take a stroll down Fifth Avenue for some shopping and to get a breathtaking view of the city from atop the Empire State Building. Check out some cold-weather animals roaming their habitats or opt to stroll through warmer indoor exhibits all while soaking up the spirit of the holidays at the Bronx Zoo Winter Wonderland. Stop by Rockefeller Center to see the famous Christmas tree. Or take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Park City, UT

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 35 degrees; 9 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $161

Park City is a must-visit if you’re looking for winter adventures! This Utah mountain town is known for being an amazing skiing destination, with great spots like Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort. Go fat tire biking through Park City’s elaborate trail system. Try snow tubing, indoor skateboarding, and trampolining at Woodward Park City. Hit up the mountain town’s historic Park City Main Street, where you can shop at local stores. Enjoy classic Celtic holiday tunes and Irish dancing with Christmas with The Celts at the Egyptian Theatre. Check out some of the best new indie films every year at the famous Sundance Film Festival that takes place at the end of January. Learn more about Park City’s mining roots at the Park City Museum. Check out the site of some of the past Olympic Games and even take a thrilling ride down the Olympic bobsled track at Utah Olympic Park. Or make your way to Heber Valley Railroad and hop on the festive North Pole Express.

San Antonio, TX

Tourists and locals in San Antonio taking a boat tour on the riverwalk. Photo by instagram user @katrinavalonso

Photo via @katrinavalonso

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 62 degrees; 39 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $55

Looking for a family-friendly winter vacation spot? San Antonio is one of the best places to visit in the winter, thanks to its pleasantly warm weather and amazing things to do for the whole family. Stroll down the San Antonio River Walk, a 15-mile urban waterway to see some of the sights of the city, shop at amazing local stores, enjoy fine-dining, and even spot some wildlife. Watch the performing orcas at SeaWorld San Antonio, and be sure to stop by SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration to get into the holiday spirit. Visit The Alamo to learn more about the legendary fort. Experience thrills on the rides or during seasonal events like Holiday in the Park, 30th Anniversary Celebration, and the Mardi Gras Festival at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Attend local music festivals like the Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza. Watch the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word turn into a winter wonderland during the annual holiday celebration, Light the Way. Or delight your inner foodie with seasonal dining events like Winter Restaurant Weeks put on by Culinaria.

San Diego, CA

Landscape photo of a San Diego beach during a clear day with green and blue water. Photo by instagram user @bestudios_sd

Photo via @bestudios_sd

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 65 degrees; 48 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $91

If you’re looking to take a winter trip to California, San Diego has to be on your shortlist. Not only is San Diego’s weather near-perfect throughout the year, but travel accommodations are also cheaper than you may think. Get into the holiday spirit at the Salute the Season Art Installations art walk and the Hanukkah & Menorah Lighting. See whales migrating through the area throughout the season with the San Diego Whale Watch. Marvel at festive light creations and installments in the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights. Go wine tasting at Bernardo Winery and San Pasqual Winery. Grab a meal from some of the best restaurants in San Diego at Liberty Station. Enjoy the mild weather while taking a hike through nearby Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Try various types of chili while listening to live music, doing crafts, or strolling through indie goods all while benefiting a local elementary school at the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off. Or head to the beautiful Balboa Park for the fantastic December Nights displays and to visit the famous San Diego Zoo!

Santa Fe, NM

The Sandia Tram in Santa Fe New Mexico on a calm winter day with snow falling around the tram and a beautiful view of the landscape below. Photo by instagram user @bledileno

Photo via @bledileno

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 44 degrees; 17 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $64

Want beautiful winter outdoor recreation without the extreme cold? Plan a winter vacation in Santa Fe! Go downhill skiing and snowboarding at Ski Santa Fe and Taos Ski Valley. Get incredible views of the city and its surrounding mountains from the Sandia Peak Tramway. Check out world-class art galleries, shops, and restaurants on the half-mile-long Canyon Road. Browse stunning handmade crafts on display at the Museum of International Folk Art. Stroll through the Santa Fe Botanical Garden at night to see the bright displays of GLOW. Visit Santa Fe National Forest and find the hidden Japanese-style hot spring, Ten Thousand Waves. Head out the night of Black Friday to see the city really get into the holiday spirit at the Holiday Lighting on the Plaza in the historic Santa Fe Plaza. Spend a day hiking through beautiful forest terrain or snowshoe through some of Santa Fe’s natural areas with Outspire Hiking & Snowshoeing. Or try some of the local Santa Fe restaurants like El Farol and Radish & Rye.

Vail, CO

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 28 degrees; 5 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $139

Get outdoors and fully experience all the winter season has to offer at Vail! This well-known ski town is truly a treasure in the middle of the Rocky Mountains and offers all kinds of great places to stay, including Beaver Creek and Vail Ski Resort. Head to the Vail Nordic Center to reserve cross-country skis or try fat-tire biking through the snowy Colorado terrain. Take a scenic gondola ride to the top of Vail Mountain to experience the beautiful landscapes of the Rocky Mountains. Check out the festive Torchlight Parade on Christmas Eve and be sure to catch the fireworks display that follows. Go shopping in Beaver Creek’s Pedestrian Village for ski gear, souvenirs, and essentials. Learn about some of the legends of snow sports and how they came to be at the Colorado Snowsports Museum. Become a member at Game Creek Club for fine dining and more. Or take the kids to an ice skating lesson or catch a Vail Yeti hockey game at Dobson Ice Arena.

Washington, DC

Festive image of union station in Washington, DC with decorative wreaths and large red bows. Photo by instagram user @laurajhaines

Photo via @laurajhaines

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 42 degrees; 27 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $91

There’s nothing quite like winter in America’s capital! Washington, DC is a great winter vacation destination for families and history buffs alike. Walk through beautiful landscapes of local plants decorated for the holiday season at U.S. Botanical Garden. Check out environmentally friendly light displays or go tubing down the Lion-Tiger Hill at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. See the famous lighting of the National Christmas Tree. Wander through the Smithsonian, where you can explore museums like the National Museum of African Art and the National Air & Space Museum. Go shopping for the holidays at the annual Downtown Holiday Market. Challenge yourself to a light maze adventure at Enchant Christmas. Take the family to Tudor Place to learn about America’s history and even attend the annual Gingerbread House Workshops. Or go shopping, grab a bite, or take a stroll through the elegantly decorated Union Station.

Whitefish, MT

A bright action shot of intense skiing down a steep mountain hill with snow covered trees and a scenic background of Whitefish, Montana. Photo by instagram user @skiwhitefish

Photo via @skiwhitefish

  • Average High & Low Temperature in Winter: 29 degrees; 16 degrees
  • Average Nightly Hotel Cost: $42

A town that’ll make you feel like you were dropped into a Christmas Village, Whitefish is the perfect holiday trip for those who just can’t get enough of winter! Spend a day testing local brews at Montana Tap House, or learn how your favorite spirits are made at Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits. Go skiing or snowboarding down the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Stop by The Lodge at Whitefish Lake for the Ice Bar & S’mores event. Take part in the local Christmas Stroll around town and enter to win prizes from local businesses. Dine at local restaurants in Whitefish and enjoy the nightlife in the downtown area. Take in theatre performances or watch a brand new production at the Alpine Theatre Project. Check out the annual Whitefish Winter Carnival to play themed games, ride carnival rides, or just take in the wonder of winter in Montana. Or relax and unwind with a foot scrub, hot stone, or deep-tissue massage at Natural Elements Massage & Spa.


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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.