Winter at home might seem to last forever, so why not try something different this year and plan a winter getaway? Regardless if you go to a warm climate or a cold one, exploring new territory is exciting. It’s important to take some time and lie on a warm beach or strap on those skis and get some fresh mountain air. Either way, you’ll be refreshing your soul. Here is a list of the best US winter getaways to help you plan your next vacation.
Best Winter Getaways in the US to Book Right Now
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If you love the hustle and bustle of city life Boston in winter is a great choice. It may be cold, but this historical city always has a lot to see. Don’t miss the Freedom Trail, ice skating at the Boston Common Frog Pond, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (and/or Museum of Fine Arts) and a visit to the Skywalk Observatory for beautiful views. There are plenty of fabulous shopping areas (Newbury Street, Copley Place, and Faneuil Hall), great food (Little Italy is amazing) and microbreweries. For a great place to stay in Boston check out Hyatt Regency Cambridge (near Fenway Park) or the Four Seasons (overlooking Boston’s Public Garden).
2. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans in winter is pleasantly surprising. For a city that is all action all the time, the temperature rarely drops below 45º (at night) all winter long. Take a guided tour of Bourbon Street followed by a stop at Café du Monde for powdered sugar beignets and a warm cup of coffee with chicory. Plantation tours outside of New Orleans run all winter long and if you time it right the homes and streets will be decorated with festive holiday lights. We highly recommend a visit to Laura Plantation and Oak Alley Plantation to learn more about the area’s history. For a winter weekend getaway in New Orleans we would recommend a stay at the Loews New Orleans Hotel or the Westin New Orleans Canal Place.
3. Phoenix, Arizona
Nothing beats the winter weather in Arizona, which explains its popularity as a winter destination for people from all over the country. Not only does the city have near perfect temperatures, there’s golf, shopping, and high end resorts for having fun in the sun. Don’t miss spring training in Arizona from late February through March, when 15 Major League baseball teams descend on Phoenix and the surrounding areas for their annual warm up games. Book your winter family vacation in Phoenix at Hyatt Gainey Ranch or JW Marriott Desert Ridge for the ultimate getaway.
4. Washington, D.C.
The best time to visit Washington, D.C. might just be the winter. Fewer crowds and cooler weather make it the perfect winter getaway. Spend your days exploring the Smithsonian museums followed by a big bus tour of the Washington monuments (or take a night time trolley tour). If you have time, head to Arlington National Cemetery, go shopping in Georgetown, or tour the Capitol (just be sure to book tickets in advance). A couple of our favorite Washington, D.C. hotels for families are The Willard Intercontinental and The Kimpton George Hotel.
Starting in November the city, local theme parks, and San Antonio River Walk come alive with colorful lights and holiday decor. SeaWorld’s Christmas celebration features the largest light display in the state of Texas with over 9 million sparkling lights, Christmas shows and parades, as well as Merry Mariachis. Over one hundred different caroling groups perform in the river boats on the River Walk, so visitors can take a stroll along the river or eat dinner nearby, taking in the festive atmosphere. No visit to San Antonio would be complete without a visit to the Alamo, perfect for a Texas history lesson. If outdoor adventures are your thing, head to Natural Bridge Caverns for underground exploration and fun for everyone! For centrally located hotels near the San Antonio Riverwalk, try the Hotel Valencia Riverwalk or The Westin Riverwalk.
6. St. Augustine, Florida
Looking for a destination that’s a combination of warm beach days and historic sightseeing? If so, St. Augustine is your city for an amazing winter getaway. The beaches are beautiful and aren’t as crowded as other Florida beaches. Try a trolley tour through the city, head out on a fishing boat, or even try a ghost tour at night. For places to stay in St. Augustine, we recommend Casa Monica.
7. Lake Tahoe, California
Lake Tahoe is the perfect winter destination for a fun ski or snowboarding trip. Fly into Reno and it’s a quick trip to the slopes. Squaw Valley was the home of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and is home to the Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows Ski Resort with over 6,000 acres of terrain. If you don’t want to hit the slopes, you can always take the Aerial Tram to the top for beautiful lake views, great food, and hot chocolate in the lodge. Still want more to do? Head into Truckee for some fun boutique shopping and cozy dining at spots like Moody’s and Pianeta. For a fabulous stay in Squaw Valley we recommend the Resort at Squaw Creek.
8. Charleston, South Carolina
A warmer hub for the winter without the crowds is Charleston, South Carolina. An average temperature of 68 degrees is appealing and the city is amazing. Tour the haunted city jail, take a carriage ride through Historic Charleston, and book a farm to table experience with local chefs to taste all the best food of Charleston. Finish your day with an amazing sunset harbor cruise with drinks and appetizers. If you have more time, head out to the local plantations (Magnolia Plantation and Middleton Place are good choices) then spend the afternoon shopping on King Street or perusing the historic City Market. For the best family hotels in Charleston we recommend the Doubletree by Hilton in the Historic District and The Mills House Wyndham Grand.
9. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Yes, you can ski and snowboard in Gatlinburg at Ober Gatlinburg, but for that fun winter fix, there are plenty of other activities in the area. Schedule a mini coach tour of the Smoky Mountains and just sit back and take in the scenic views. Ride in a glass gondola on the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel and see beautiful views of Pigeon Forge and Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Before you visit check out the city’s schedule because the Winter Fest here is beautiful. There are many cabins, condos and hotels to choose from for an enjoyable stay. Our favorite hotels in Gatlinburg for families are Margaritaville Resort in Gatlinburg and Black Fox Lodge, Pigeon Forge.
10. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah has mild winter temperatures and tends to not be overly crowded in winter. From November to December check out the Holiday Trolley Tour to the Savannah Gingerbread House. Visit the historical homes such as the Davenport House and the Harper Fowlkes House. Be sure to grab a meal at The Olde Pink House, an 18th century mansion with delicious Southern food and an unforgettable dining experience. Savannah would be a great spot for a girls weekend getaway. The hotels in Savannah we recommend would be Andaz Savannah and Hotel Indigo Savannah.
11. San Diego, California
San Diego might not be balmy, but it will certainly be warmer than the northern states. Spend time exploring the local beaches and hiking in Torrey Pines State Park, then visit the seals and sea lions in La Jolla. Visit Balboa Park, where you can explore over 1,200 acres, the San Diego Zoo, and 16 museums. For a unique stop, head to Ocean Beach and explore their antique shops. You’re bound to find something you didn’t know you needed. Our favorite hotels for families in San Diego are Hotel Del Coronado and the Fairmont Grand Del Mar.
If you’re looking for more ideas, be sure to check out our winter vacation ideas around the world!