The Best Places to Visit in the USA in the Winter

The 15 Best Places to Visit in the US in Winter

Planning a winter getaway? For some people, that means that you’re planning to embrace that chilly weather head-on as you gear up for trips with your snow gear in tow. 

But for others, it means scheduling a vacation to a winter destination where nothing quite feels like winter. You’re looking for the beach, not the slopes!

We set out to compile a list of the best winter destinations in the US to appease all types of winter vacationers. Whether you want to spend your days in the snow or sand, you’ll find the perfect place to go this winter on this list. 

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Places to Visit in the US in Winter

15 Incredible Winter Vacation Destinations in the USA

1. Fairbanks, Alaska

Places in the US to Visit in the Winter: Fairbanks, Alaska

The Northern Lights are one of the greatest wonders of our universe, and you don’t have to leave the US to see them. Fairbanks is one of the best places to visit in winter as the town’s Aurora Season runs from late August through late April, making winter a prime time to see the lights.

In addition to taking a Northern Lights tour, there’s plenty more to do in Fairbanks in winter, like seeing real reindeer or hopping on a scenic ride aboard the Aurora Winter Train


2. Grand Rapids, Michigan

Best USA Destinations to Visit in the Winter: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Rapids is working to become quite a holiday and overall winter destination in the US. In addition to nearby skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and sledding, there’s also a litany of holiday celebrations.

In early winter, you’ll find West Michigan’s largest European Christmas village at the Christkindl Market, featuring traditional European Christmas treats, tons of holiday decor, and activities that are fun for the whole family. And once the holiday season comes to an end, the World of Winter Festival arrives, featuring illuminated art displays, ice sculptures, live music, and more.


3. New York City

Best Places to Visit in the US during Winter: New York City

There’s simply nothing like New York City during the holiday season. With freshly fallen snow, tons of holiday shows, markets, ice skating, and twinkling lights everywhere, it’s a magical place to be.

But NYC is one of the best places to travel in the USA in winter, even after the holiday season comes to an end. Come February, you have amazing Lunar New Year celebrations, as well as Valentine’s Day festivities. Who doesn’t want to take a carriage ride through Central Park when the mood is just right for romance?


4. Maui, Hawaii

What Places to Visit in USA during Winter: Maui, Hawaii

If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in winter in the US with warm weather, Hawaii will likely be the first recommendation on everyone’s lips. And it is true that, despite there being more rain in the winter than in summer, winter in Hawaii is still warmer than most other places in the US. 

But Maui gets a special shoutout as one of the best destinations in winter because winter is prime whale-watching season. And Maui is the best island to spot these marvelous creatures.

Please keep in mind that parts of Maui remain closed due to the island’s devastating 2023 fire. Be respectful of these limits and of the people of Maui, who are working to rebuild. 

See Whales on a Cruise


5. Telluride, Colorado

Must Visit Places in the US during Winter: Telluride, Colorado

There’s a lot of incredible skiing in Colorado, but Telluride deserves a spot on this list of the best destinations in winter thanks to its charming small-town feel and abundance of beauty. Whether you take in the stunning snow-covered peaks from the trails or from a lodge with hot cocoa in hand, you’ll simply fall in love with this winter getaway.

Plus, this cultural hub has fun festivals all year long, with winter being no exception. All winter long, you can take in the free Chamber Music Happy Hour, showcasing talented local musicians, while February brings about the Telluride Comedy Festival.


6. Mammoth Mountain, California

Must See Places in USA during Winter: Mammoth Mountain, California

Mammoth Mountain has some of the best skiing and snowboarding in California and all of North America. But the many different ways this mountain lets people enjoy the snow is what makes it one of the best places to go in the US in winter.

Sightseers will love taking a ride on the scenic gondola or going on a tour, like the Snowcat Tours, which lets you take in the beauty of Mammoth Mountain from inside a heated cabin. Meanwhile, little ones who aren’t ready for skis can enjoy sliding down the slopes at the Tube Park.


7. Orlando, Florida

If you’re looking for a family-friendly place to visit during winter, you might be drawn to the theme parks of Orlando. Places like Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando do see large crowds during the holiday season, but come January, things are rather quiet here until spring. If you’re hoping to experience these theme parks with shorter lines and lower crowd levels, winter is the best time to go.


8. Park City, Utah

Places in the US to Visit in the Winter: Park City, Utah

Park City has a little bit of everything, which is what makes it such a great place to travel in the USA in winter. While it’s known for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, you could just as easily spend your days away from the snow and inside the city’s museums, spas, and theaters instead, offering a little something for every winter vacationer. 

Park City is also where you’ll find one of the best film festivals in the US, the Sundance Film Festival, each January, making this one of the best winter destinations for film lovers. 


9. Newport, Rhode Island

Best USA Destinations to Visit in the Winter: Newport, Rhode Island

Love Gilded Age glamour? Then, you’ll hardly find a better place to visit during winter than Newport. While the Gilded Age architecture is stunning all year long, there’s nothing quite like touring the Mansions of Newport when they’re all decked out in holiday splendor.


10. Las Vegas, Nevada

Best Places to Visit in the US during Winter: Las Vegas, Nevada

Anybody who goes to Las Vegas in the summer knows just how hot it gets. You’ll end up desperate for the air-conditioned theaters and casinos as you drip sweat while you walk from hotel to hotel down the Strip.

What makes Las Vegas one of the best winter destinations in the US is the fact that winter really lets you enjoy this adults-centric playground. When the temperatures cool down, you can spend more time at the outdoor sights around the city, like the mind-boggling Hoover Dam, and less time seeking the sweet relief of air conditioning.


11. New Orleans, Louisiana

What Places to Visit in USA during Winter: New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans keeps the party going from year’s start to year’s end, but perhaps the best parties can be found in winter, which is what makes it one of the best places to go in winter in the US. During the holiday season, you’ll get stunning events like the beautiful light displays at Celebration of the Oaks

But the biggest celebration arrives every year on January 6, which kickstarts Carnival Season. Get ready for huge parades, massive parties, special treats, live music all over, and so much more for Mardi Gras. 


12. Los Angeles, California

Must Visit Places in the US during Winter: Los Angels, California

There’s so much to do on a Los Angeles vacation all year long, but winter brings out some of the best in this sunny destination, making it one of the best places to visit in winter in the US. From the Grinchy festivities in Universal Hollywood to the breathtaking sights of the Golden Dragon Parade come Lunar New Year, there’s always something happening in LA.


13. Austin, Texas

Must See Places in USA during Winter: Austin, Texas

Thanks to Austin’s temperate weather, it’s easy to enjoy both indoor and outdoor fun when the rest of the US gets cold, making it one of the best places to visit in winter. This busy city has activities and events all winter long, like Red River Cultural District’s Free Week, a celebration of local music featuring over 150 bands playing free shows throughout the city. 


14. Joshua Tree National Park

Places in the US to Visit in the Winter: Joshua Tree National Park

Winter is a great time to go to Joshua Tree National Park in California as the weather is mostly mild, compared to the frequent 100-degree Fahrenheit days of the summer. This cooler weather makes it easier to spend your days exploring the park’s trails. 

With longer nights, winter is also a prime time to do some stargazing, which this park is famous for. Just keep in mind that when the sun goes down, the temperatures can drop below freezing, so come prepared for the cold. 


15. Death Valley National Park

Best USA Destinations to Visit in the Winter: Death Valley National Park

Like Joshua Tree National Park, Death Valley National Park significantly cools down in the winter, making it a great time to go and hit the trails. Death Valley is the hottest location in the world, which is why it’s crucial to plan your trip when the temperatures drop. It makes it much easier to enjoy some of the hottest points in the park, like Badwater Basin.

Keep in mind that Death Valley was greatly impacted by flash floods in 2023. As of now, it has only partially reopened, so you’ll need to keep an eye on what’s open when planning a winter trip to this beautiful park.

There you have it! The 15 best places to visit in the USA in winter. What are your favorite winter destinations in the US? Let us know in the comments!


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Author

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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