5 Winter Vacations for Travelers Who Hate It

Yellowstone in winter

Written by Alison Kotch on

Alison Kotch is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn.

Yellowstone in winter

If you’re someone who prefers apres-ski to hitting the slopes for real, don’t fret! These winter vacation destinations might turn you into someone who actually enjoys the season.

Unless you’re someone who grew up hitting the slopes—or even just navigating the outdoors during the winter in a cold climate—chances are that you might really, really dislike winter. But just because you prefer the warmth of the beach and summer-like destinations isn’t a good reason to avoid vacationing somewhere chilly … especially when you can travel with plenty of seasonally-appropriate clothes stashed in your carry on.

Getting outdoors for some sunshine is even more necessary in the winter: Studies show that getting a natural dose of vitamin D can reduce symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Plus, exercising in colder temps is an easy way to kick start your metabolism, which will help you keep those unwanted winter pounds at bay.

Not up for a super-active winter vacay? No problem! Here are five destinations that will please the hibernator and potential snow bunny in you—as well as any winter-loving friends who might be along for the ride.

Bend, Oregon

More than just picturesque forests and a coffee-producing mecca, Oregon is home to many cities that appeal to the year-round outdoor adventurer—including Bend, which is the biggest city outside the Willamette Valley. Snowbirds traveling with winter-haters will want to flock to Bend for its proximity to the High Desert, which boasts moderate year-round temperatures and the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail, making it a perfect option for both seasoned and beginning hikers. Craving snow? The nearby Cascade Mountains is home to Mt. Bachelor, one of the region’s most active slopes for tubing, skiing, and snowshoeing, as well as ample drinking and dining options for après-ski. Leave extra room in your carry-on bag for cold-weather essentials that will take you from day to night.

Fairbanks, Alaska

Located just 196 miles south of the Arctic Circle, Alaska probably isn’t the first destination that comes to mind for cold-weather haters: Its subarctic climate means longer than usual cold winters and short, warm summers, which typically last from June through August. But deciding to head there during the colder months has its advantages: Dog mushing, rafting, canoeing, and hiking are available for the more adventurous at heart (who wouldn’t want to ride in a dogsled basket?) Going during the warmer months is also worth it: You can enjoy a night time baseball game during the summer solstice (which starts at 10:30pm!) during the Midnight Sun Festival each June. Stargazers can enjoy a tour of the aurora borealis for most of the year: Prime viewing times for the Northern Lights are August - April.

Yellowstone, Wyoming

Home to a plethora of natural wonders, Yellowstone National Park has long been known for outdoor activities that please the most timid to most adventurous winter lovers. Nature lovers will appreciate abundant wildlife and natural wonders such as the Old Faithful geyser, but the park is the perfect place to learn to cross country ski. Trails vary in difficulty from well-groomed to undiscovered backcountry routes—great if you’re a novice traveling with pro skiers and snowboarders, who will delight in the area’s world class resorts. Consider staying at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, a haven that offers plentiful views of elk, which are visible from almost all rooms, including their hot-tub equipped cabins.

Belfast, Maine

This coastal Maine town offers the perfect respite from the bustle of busier city life, while not skimping on the amenities that city-dwellers know and love. The best part about traveling here: The vibrant farm-to-table food scene. Homemade chowder and fresh Maine lobster are worth the trip alone; you’ll want to stop for some after the Belfast Harbor Walk, an easy downtown stroll that ends at the ocean. Need something a little more adventurous? The Passy Rail Trail is great for biking and cross-country skiing, perfect for working up a pre-dinner appetite. No matter what itinerary you choose, bring extra dress clothes in a bag that reduces wrinkles, such as the Pack-It Original Starter Set, so you’re ready for any activity the day throws at you.

Sun Valley, Idaho

Idaho’s Magic Valley—the eight-county area in the state’s south-central region—is an ideal destination for winter lovers who are tired of Colorado as a winter destination. Sun Valley in particular—home to Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain—will appeal to skiers of all abilities: The former is known as one of the best in the world, offering slopes of varying difficulty and a lack of wind, which is often called a skier’s nemesis. Dollar Mountain is perfect for novice and intermediate ski bunnies, great if you’re traveling for families with members of varying skill levels. Not into skiing? Ice skating, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing are other ways to get your winter fix … or you could take a gondola ride to the top of Bald Mountain and enjoy fondue while soaking in gorgeous winter views.

Now that you’ve found winter adventures that will make you love the season, check out this packing list for a snowy vacation.

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