6 Winter Vacation Ideas that Embrace Snow
When shorter days and cooler temps hit, it's tempting to look for warm-weather escapes. However, some of the best winter vacation ideas trade tropical sands for snow-covered scenery. This can include traveling to enjoy the snow in a more typical winter wonderland location or even visiting different spa destinations.
Use these six ideas to spark your winter wanderlust.
1. Visit a National Park
The Grand Canyon looks even more magical when it's covered in a layer of snow. While access to the North Rim is limited to those willing to hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski (and obtain the appropriate backcountry permit), the South Rim is open year-round. The biggest bonus is fewer visitors, both on the trails and on the roads. Bryce Canyon in Utah and Yosemite in California also take on a more dramatic look in the winter.
2. Celebrate Carnival
The Quebec Winter Carnival is a 10-day celebration of all things snow and ice. The event features ice sculpture workshops, canoe races across the frozen St. Lawrence River, and larger-than-life parades. Quebec City is also home to Hotel de Glace, the continent's only ice hotel. Rather than stay a night, consider the more affordable hotel tour with the option to make an ice glass.
3. Watch the Northern Lights
Located within the Arctic Circle in Finland's Lapland region, the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort has a range of accommodations perfect for catching a glimpse of the northern lights. Their glass igloos are the ultimate winter bucket list fantasy and have the price tag to go along with it. All room categories include daily breakfast and a three-course dinner; you can also add activities like sledding with huskies or reindeer. The hotel is easily accessed via transfers from nearby Ivalo airport, served by Finnair and Norwegian airlines.
4. Ski for Less
Resorts in iconic ski destinations like Aspen and Vail in Colorado have a tendency to induce sticker shock. If you're looking to hit the slopes, consider under-the-radar ski areas like Vermont's Mad River Valley. Sugarbush and Mad River have great reputations for skiing. The area's bed and breakfasts provide a cozy base for exploring covered bridges, the Ben & Jerry's factory, and the Skatium Ice Rink.
5. Soak in Mineral Baths
Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs take bathing to the next level with a range of mineral pools featuring iron, arsenic, and lithia waters along with a mud pool, steam room, and sauna. Accommodations include access to the pools, but you can also opt for a day pass if you're staying in Santa Fe or Taos Ski Valley, both about an hour away. Find a free-of-charge bathing option at Hot Springs State Park in Wyoming. The park, east of Yellowstone National Park, offers free soaks in the State Bath House.
6. Hit the Sauna
German winters are magical even after the famed Christmas markets end. The Black Forest — more aptly called white forest this time of year — is dotted with cozy inns, many with the fireplaces and saunas necessary for thawing. Take in the country's spa culture in Baden-Baden, where you can find modern thermal baths and a traditional Roman-Irish bath experience following a 17-station circuit.
Even if you can't get away for a vacation this winter, you can beat the winter blues by embracing hygge at home. Hygge, the Danish word that is often translated to coziness in English, is more of a feeling and a concept aided by candlelight, blankets, and close friends.