Best Places to Visit in Winter in USA – Wild Junket Adventure Travel Blog
Last Updated on December 14, 2022 by Nellie Huang
Looking to travel somewhere in the United States this winter? Here’s a round up of the best places to visit in winter in USA, according to expert travel bloggers.
Winter is a magical time of the year, especially in the northern parts of the United States where you’ll find snow-covered mountains, ski pistes and Christmas villages. From the iceberg-covered fjords of Alaska to the rugged national parks of California, the country has a large diversity of landscapes perfect for backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and more.
To help you make the most of the winter season, I have gathered the help of other travel bloggers to come up with this list of the best places to visit in winter in USA. These places range from national parks to cute towns and villages that are worth a visit this winter!
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Visit in Winter in USA
New York City
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Yellowstone National Park, Montana
Lake Tahoe, California
Yosemite National Park, California
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
New York City is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in winter in the USA. As soon as the temperature drops, you’ll begin to see ice skating rinks, holiday markets, and vibrant holiday lights displays pop up all over the city. Check out my 3-day New York itinerary.
Visit the holiday market at Grand Central Terminal and stand in awe of the constellation imbued ceiling here. Go ice skating at Bryant Park, one of the best parks in NYC, and check out the world-famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Don’t miss the Rockettes in their annual Christmas extravaganza at the Radio City Music Hall.
- How to Get There: Fly into either Newark, JFK, or Laguardia.
Alaska is an incredible winter wonderland and clearly one of the best winter destinations in USA! You’ll find blue glaciers to explore in picturesque mountains and plenty of places to go backcountry skiing, snow mobiling or even dog sledding. Winter nights often showcase the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) dancing across starry Alaskan skies too.
If you’re traveling Alaska in winter, then I recommend staying in the Anchorage area. If you want to stay a bit further out, stay at the Knik River Lodge and book a tour to Knik Glacier. There are incredible winter adventures at your fingertips in Girdwood and Chugach National Forest.
Be sure to check out Portage, Byron and even Skookum glacier. True adventure lovers can book a whistle stop train ticket out to Spencer Glacier for a real back country experience.
- How to Get There: Fly into Anchorage and rent a 4WD car to explore this winter wonderland
- Where to Stay: Alyeska Resort in Girdwood
Midway, Utah is a delightful, small town nestled in the Wasatch Valley of Utah. It’s very convenient to get to, at just 30 minutes from Park City Mountain Resort and a 45 minute drive from Salt Lake City. An essential stop on any Utah road trip!
Midway is home to the most spectacular ice castles in the United States. The ice castles are built at Midway’s Homestead Resort each winter, using hundreds of thousands of icicles embedded with LED lights that change color at night. The attraction also includes slides, fountains, ice caves and tunnels for you to explore.
Midway is also home to the Homestead Crater, a picturesque natural geothermal hot spring instead of a limestone cave. A soak in the warm water at the crater is the perfect place to warm up during winter.
Winter is one of the best times to visit Bryce Canyon. The US national park is located in Southern Utah, at an altitude between 8000 and 9000 ft (2400/2700 meters), so snow is pretty much guaranteed between December and March.
Depending on the weather and on how active you are, there is plenty to see and do. Drive along the 18-mile road running along the rim of the Bryce Amphitheater stopping at various scenic points, attend ranger talks and activities, try Utah backcountry skiing and even enjoy the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival that takes place in mid-Jan.
It will definitely be cold and snowy, but you’ll be rewarded with the magical Bryce Canyon scenery without thousands of other tourists, making the experience even more memorable.
- How to Get There: The closest major airports are Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, both located 270 miles away.
- Where to Stay: Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn
When you visit Yellowstone in winter, you’re in for a treat! It’s surreal to see the park covered in a blanket of snow with billowing steam and mist sprouting from the geysers.
Winter is the best time to enjoy the quiet, natural setting of the park without the crowds. It’s also an excellent time to see wildlife, including bisons, wolves and antelopes.
- How to Get There: You can drive into the park only through the North Entrance during winter. Otherwise, you can access the park skiing, snowshoeing or joining guided snowcoach or snowmobile tours.
- Where to Stay: Jackson Lake Lodge
Each winter, the little mountain town of Whitefish transforms into a gorgeous wonderland. Downtown Whitefish gets blanketed in snow, Whitefish Lake freezes over, and nearby Whitefish Mountain Resort opens up with some of the best skiing in the region.
Whitefish is also the gateway to Glacier National Park, one of the best national parks in USA. You can go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the national park and feel like you have the place to yourself. For a town of 8,000 people, Whitefish punches way above its weight when it comes to food, nightlife, art, and culture. For a nice place to stay, check out this list of Airbnbs in Montana.
- How to Get There: Fly into Glacier Park International Airport (15 minutes from town), and rent a car.
- Where to Stay: Good Medicine Lodge
Lake Tahoe is the best place to go for winter sports in California. The lake is home to a dozen ski resorts perfect for skiing and snowboarding. As it straddles the border between California and Nevada, it also makes for a great stop on a Nevada road trip.
The South Shore of Lake Tahoe is known for Kirkwood, one of the highest resorts in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The North Shore is where you’ll find popular ski destinations like Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Squaw Valley, where the 1960 Winter Olympics were hosted. Gondola ride, ice skating, sleigh rides, sledding, and dog mushing, and snow-kiting are among the fun things to do in winter in Lake Tahoe.
Even though Yosemite is a year-round destination, winter in Yosemite is quite spectacular as the valley floor is blanketed in snow and dotted with frozen lakes. Many of the gorgeous attractions are fairly easy to see on park trolleys that stop at all the main sites, including El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point and Sentinal dome.
For winter fun in Yosemite, you can go snow shoeing, tubing, sledding, downhill skiing and snowboarding. For more inspiration, check out my post on Yosemite’s key attractions and landscapes for some wonderful places to explore around the park.
If you’re planning a California road trip, be sure to spend a few days here exploring the stunning backcountry of Yosemite.
Crater Lake National Park is tucked away in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and is one of best winter destinations in USA. Each year it sees an average snowfall of 43ft, transforming it into a magical winter wonderland.
Adding to this majestic scene is the deepest lake in the US, created over 7000 years ago by volcanic activity. It’s no wonder it is considered one of the best places to visit in Oregon.
In winter, ranger-led snowshoeing is offered free of charge. For the more adventurous, you can ski and snowboard in certain areas of the park. However, there are no chairlifts so you will need to hike in.
- How to get there: Only the south entrance is open in winter. Take the I-5 to Medford then the Oregon Highway 62 north to Crater Lake National Park. These roads are plowed regularly and remain open all year.
Bend is Oregon’s year-round hub for outdoor recreation. In winter, its mountains double as a wonderland for snow sports enthusiasts. The Mount Bachelor Ski Area lies half an hour from town. It is the largest ski resort in the Pacific Northwest and contains 4,000 skiable acres.
In addition to Mount Bachelor, Bend’s outskirts contain ice skating rinks, sledding hills, and an extensive network of trails suitable for nordic skiing and snowshoeing. Popular winter recreation destinations include the Newberry Crater, McKenzie Pass, and Willamette Pass.
- How to Get There: Fly into the Redmond Municipal Airport, 15 miles north of town.
Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit in winter in the USA for its heavy snowfall and diverse terrain. Winter activities in Mount Rainier National Park include snowshoe walks (also ranger-guided), sledding at Snowplay Area, winter camping.
Furthermore, you’ll find one of the best ski resorts in the USA located near the park. Crystal Mountain Resort has over 50 runs for skiers & snowboarders.
- How to Get There: 2-hour drive (90 miles) from Seattle or 2,5 hours drive (140 miles) from Portland.
- Where to Stay: Chalet at Mt. Rainier
Leavenworth is a Bavarian-style town nestled in the valley of the snow-capped Cascade Mountain range. It’s a wonderful all-season destination but winter in Leavenworth is especially magical.
From early December until Valentine’s Day, the town becomes a Christmas wonderland full of twinkling lights, festivals, and music. Then there’s the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm where you can feed the animals and hop of a sleigh ride.
There are a variety of winter sports and activities in and around Leavenworth including, sledding, skating, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. Plus, Stevens Pass Ski Resort is just a short drive away for skiing and snowboarding.
- How to Get There: 2-hour drive from Seattle. Amtrak runs a train from Seattle or Spokane and Greyhound has a bus service.
You may already know that Vermont is a winter playground, but have you considered visiting its biggest city? Set upon the shores of the beautiful Lake Champlain, Burlington is the perfect jumping off point for all the winter fun you can imagine.
It’s a quick drive to ski pistes on the Green Mountains, but the city of Burlington itself is a cozy haven for travelers from near and far. Don’t miss shopping on charming Church Street or sampling local craft beer and the many Burlington breweries.
Steamboat Springs is a beautiful winter destination with small ski town vibes. If you are looking to enjoy snow and winter activities, the local mountains provide 3000 acres of skiable terrain and the surrounding areas allow for snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and any other winter activities.
For some apres-ski fun, head to the hot springs that the town is known for at Old Town Hot Springs recreational park.
Downtown Steam Springs has a melange of small local shops, art galleries, and murals to keep you entertained. It may be a small town, but there are plenty of great food options, like the Laundry Restaurant and Creekside Cafe.
- How to Get There: Fly into the Hayden Airport or Denver Airport and drive 3 hours to Steamboat Springs
- Where to Stay: Emerald Vista
If you are looking for the ultimate winter destination in the USA, consider visiting Jackson Hole Wyoming in the winter for the perfect escape. You can hang out in Jackson Hole for a long weekend or spend a week there as there are many choices of fun winter activities.
While most think of skiing or snowboarding at Jackson Hole as the main thing to do, there are other options as well. These include snowmobiling, snow tubing, dogsledding, visiting hot springs, exploring Grand Teton National Park, and more.
- How to Get There: Fly into Jackson Hole or drive 4.5 hours from Salt Lake City Airport
Did we miss out any of the best winter destinations in USA? Which are your favorite places to visit in winter in USA? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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