The Best Snowy Getaways This Winter
December is here already, which means winter weather is creeping up fast! For my friends in the north, you may already be experiencing some snowy days. And for those of you only dreaming of a snowy winter escape this year, here are some fantastic destinations near and far to inspire your wanderlust. So pour yourself some hot cocoa and let’s get trip planning!
Banff National Park, Canada
Banff National Park has become famous in the summer months for its turquoise lakes and hiking opportunities. However, visit in the winter to enjoy the largest ski area in North America with 4,200 skiable acres and 139 runs to suit all ability levels and interests.
Consider a stay at the beautiful Fairmont Lake Louise Hotel, nestled inside the soaring mountains of the park, Victoria Glacier, and a beautiful emerald lake. Come here to be as active or idle as you’d like to be. Outdoors, you’ll enjoy guided mountain tours, skiing and snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and horse drawn sleigh rides. Inside, the hotel has multiple dining options on site and top notch spa facilities to help you unwind.
Best of all, it's easy to get here from much of the US, but you'll truly feel a world away.
What if I told you that you could go to the North Pole and meet Santa Claus himself? You can do exactly that and much more in Finland. Perfect for a romantic getaway and families alike, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort features igloos with glass roofs so that you can enjoy the Northern Lights right from the comfort of your bed. Other attractions include reindeer safaris, snowmobiling, dog sledding, skiing and snowboarding, and a chance to meet the one and only Santa Claus.
And when you need a break from the cold, a sauna will never be far. (There are over 2 million saunas in this country with only 5.3 million people.) Finland invented the sauna, and they do it best. This is an essential cultural experience after a long day of snowy adventures.
Looking for a fun, active destination for the whole family? Take a trip to Vermont, ranked as the best winter destination in the Eastern U.S. For families, consider a stay at Smuggler’s Notch Resort, where children as young as 2.5 can learn to snowboard from the instructors at the child-care center. Your family will also love activities like bonfires, parades, character meet-and-greets, ice skating, and a weekly carnival. Or, try Jackson Gore Inn, set right by Okemo, a mountain with 121 lush ski trails. Kids can hop on the bunny slopes starting at age 2, and everyone will enjoy snow tubing runs, snowmobile tours, moonlight snowshoe treks, and raptor encounters.
For ski lovers, a chance to ski in the Swiss Alps will be second to none. But even for non-skiers, Switzerland offers incredible winter scenery that looks like something straight out of a fairytale.
Visit in December, and you’ll be able to enjoy the Christmas Markets in towns like Zermatt, Gstaad, Bern, and Basel. Visit any time to experience some of the most spectacular scenic rail journeys in Europe. Try the Glacier Express, known as “the window to the Alps”, which winds you through the stunning mountains, valleys, and bridges from St Moritz to Zermatt.
And don’t forget a visit to charming Lucerne, where you’ll be spoilt for choice of activities on Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus -- or simply cozy up with Swiss hot chocolate and handmade truffles and soak in the views.
I’m looking at you, my friends in Asia. Although much of Asia is still very hot this time of year, Northern Japan’s weather is much like the northern parts of the US and blanketed with snow. Niseko, located in Hokkaido, is home to Japan’s #1 ski resort, which is actually four resorts interlinked into one awesome experience. When you need a break from the slopes, you can enjoy some of this area’s great onsens, thermal pools, and spas.
Also popular is Sapporo’s Snow Festival, a huge festival held every February complete with incredible oversized ice sculptures -- ranging from Star Wars to dragons to President Trump -- plus family friendly activities such as ice skating, snow rafts and slides, gourmet local dining, and more. This is a popular event, so reserve your spot early.
It’s no secret that states like Colorado, Montana, and Utah are blessed with some incredible mountains and ski slopes -- and really any other awesome snowy activity that you can think of.
Not a skier? Book your stay at fantastic resorts like Glenwood Hot Springs or Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and enjoy the healing hot waters of the springs in a rugged canyon of the Colorado River.
Or, head to the quaint ski town of Whitefish, Montana, set on a lake with mountain backdrops. There’s plenty to see and do all the time, but their annual winter festival is truly unique, featuring the high speed sport of joring, in which a person on skis is pulled by a horse or dogs.
A real hidden gem, Midway, Utah, is a gorgeous small town with year round scuba diving in the warm waters thanks to the geothermal caldera. But perhaps the real draw here are the massive, intricate ice castles built each year, constructed using 20 million pounds of ice.
Where has been your favorite snowy destination? Tell me about it in the comments below.
Do you have somewhere else in mind this winter? Send me a message to plan your fully customized vacation.
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