It’s October, which means that — within the northern hemisphere, anyway — winter is returning. This is often the season when even the foremost common summer destinations look drab and cause you to wish to duck underneath the covers. However several charming cities across the U.S. know how to try and do winter right. From cozy ski villages within the Rocky Mountains to coastal cities in New England, and even the previous capital of Alaska, here is a list of ten cities that rank high on the pretty scale and provide lots of fun things to keep you occupied. Hibernation will be the furthest thing from your mind as you Vacay in one of these pretty American winter towns.
This winter mecca for outside enthusiasts is turning into less of a secret gem with each passing year. Guests who return to this picturesque city of Ketchum, Idaho can find themselves within close proximity to many ski areas like Bald Mountain and Sun valley, in addition to alternative activities in Sawtooth National Forest and Galena Peak. There’s also a lot of literary history to uncover (this was Ernest Hemingway’s final residence and he adored fishing and hunting here).
Ketchum’s tidy downtown offers boutique hotels and resorts, upscale retailers and galleries, fine-dining restaurants, and live music events that build up throughout the winter months. For night owls, the city has also been awarded the Gold Tier status from the International Dark-Sky Association (the 1st within the country), and close to 1,000,000 acres near town are a part of the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. Stargazers can pack a thermos bottle and head to Sun valley Lake for the best views.
Just because it’s not beach season doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of reasons to go to Nantucket, the island off Cape Cod. If you travel here within the winter, you’ll have so fewer crowds, off-season discounts, and (unbeknownst to many) less frigid temperatures than the mainland. Keep a watch out for Nantucket’s annual holiday celebration that starts the day after Thanksgiving. Throughout this time, many festooned Christmas trees line downtown Nantucket’s cobblestone streets. Elegant local retailers supply mulled wine, deserted beaches beg for romantic walks, and reservations are a cinch at the island’s best restaurants.
To get to Nantucket within the winter, there are many daily passenger and automobile ferries, otherwise you can connect in Boston Logan International airport for a 40-minute flight. With any luck, you’ll get caught in a very snowy Nor’easter and need to stay a number of additional days.
Surrounded by 3 fresh lakes, Charlevoix in northern Michigan sees an influx of summer crowds throughout boating season. However, people who brave the winter are rewarded with its pristine setting that lends itself to frequent snowfalls (attributed to lake-effect snow). Charlevoix’s picturesque downtown is highlighted by its main strip, Bridge Street, where maturing trees are adorned with holiday lights.
When browsing the local retailers and galleries, bundle up and stroll to the marina, explore the Earl Young mushroom homes, and visit the lighthouse on the pier where winter waves from Lake Michigan can get fierce. Within a brief drive are a lot of nice cities like Petoskey, Harbor Springs, and Boyne city (though none have the drawbridge like Charlevoix). Plus, the whole region is known for downhill and cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and occasional aurora borealis sightings.
Entering Vail, a Colorado city that was modeled after European alpine villages like Zermatt in Switzerland, is like stepping within a fairy-tale. Situated at the bottom of one of the country’s most well liked ski mountains, Vail opened for its 1st season in 1962 after being designed from the bottom up (other Colorado ski areas were mining towns first). You’ll hardly have time to think about the shortage of history here, with its wide, pedestrian-friendly (and heated) streets providing an inordinate amount of trendy restaurants, après-ski bars, and elegant lodging choices that attract winter travelers from everywhere around the globe.
Nearby slopes supply over 200 trails, 31 lifts, and alternative snow-focused activities. Meanwhile, non-skiers can take sleigh rides, go dog-sledding, relish snowshoeing, or head to a mountainside hot tub or day spa. Yes, Vail sets a high standard when it involves family travel within the winter. It additionally helps that there’s an idyllic ice rink smack dab within the city center.
Set inside Vermont’s low mountains and dotted with church steeples, this quintessential New England city oozes with past charm and even more so once blanketed with a recent coat of snow. Strolling through Woodstock’s village takes simply a couple of minutes. Here, you’ll notice the elegantly preserved Woodstock lodge, circa 1892, together with Federal and Greek-Revival houses and stately homes on the Ottauquechee river.
Spend your days exploring the area’s antique stores, cheese farms, and covered bridges (there are three!), or hit the slopes. In fact, you’ll be able to catch a free shuttle to Suicide Six, Woodstock’s ski area, then end the day by feeding on fondue or thin-crust pizza pie. If you’re staying at the lodge, come back to seek out complimentary hot cocoa and tea in front of the huge lobby fireplace.
Northern California’s Monterey Bay is hardly a snow destination, however that is precisely why it’s on this list. Although temperatures dip within the winter season, Carmel-by-the-Sea offers a distinctly Mediterranean climate. Here, refreshing beach walks result in spotting migrating humpback whales in the distance.
The city itself is known for quaint bed-and-breakfasts, local retailers, restaurants, galleries, museums, wineries, and charming homes that don’t have any street numbers (mail is retrieved at the local post office). There are no traffic lights, chain names, or fast-food joints. Walk on Scenic Drive to see these preserved homes on the beach. For nature lovers, there are lots of activities that don’t need a parka. Drive to dozens of coastal trails, explore John Steinbeck history, and take day trips to Pebble Beach and Big Sur on the newly-reopened Highway 1.
Princeton, New Jersey
Halfway between City of Brotherly Love and The Big Apple, this preppy New Jersey city is better-known for its Ivy League university, however Princeton is far more than just a university city. The downtown area’s pretty streets and alleys (best with a dusting of snow) hold boutiques, bookstores, upscale restaurants, ice cream retailers, and even an indie cinema. Return during the holidays when Princeton reveals a stunning set of decorations, particularly in Palmer square, and late-night store hours.
When wandering through town, take a wintry walk around the Princeton campus — the set of many films — and look for key buildings within the Gothic Revival style. Get pleasure from a free choral concert at the university Chapel or visit the Frist Campus Center (former physics laboratory) to see where Albert Einstein lectured. He spent the last twenty two years of his life here and it’s not hard to imagine him taking nature walks, playing violin, and discussing quantum theories together with his colleagues. You’ll never be more inspired to set up shop within the library — this can be intellectual inspiration at its finest.
Located on Baranof and Chichagof Islands, the exciting city of Sitka is known for its natural scenery of snow-capped mountain peaks and ocean. Plus, the very fact that it’s solely accessible by air and ocean helps keep the crowds at bay. People who do return here — usually cruisers since this can be a well-liked port of call — get the possibility to explore the downtown area where most points of interest are inside walking distance of one another on the waterfront.
There are twenty two places on the National Register of Historic Places where you’ll be able to find out about the town’s Russian heritage and trading settlement. In addition to checking out the museums, historic sites, and the onion-domed cathedral, guests can check with friendly locals to find out a lot regarding the city. For outdoor pursuits, head across Sitka Sound to the spectacular Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano with a cone kind of like Japan’s Mt. Fuji. Hiking and wildlife-viewing are among the various outside activities offered.
This postcard-perfect New England city is also best known for its scintillate summer coastline, however from Thanksgiving to mid-March (after the crowds retreat), it transforms into a peaceful winter wonderland. Kennebunkport’s downtown area, on Dock square, is peppered with colorful buildings housing specialty retailers and comfy restaurants that peek through the often recent dusting of snow. For brief excursions, drive past the gorgeous homes on Ocean Avenue, take a deserted beach walk, and visit close farms like Laudholm and Harris. Active folks can go Nordic skiing and snowshoeing within the fields and winter woods before heading back inside for a beverage by the fireplace.
Throughout the holidays, Kennebunkport puts on the Christmas prelude — a two-week event beginning in early December with Christmas carols at the Franciscan monastery, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and Santa arriving by lobster boat. Meanwhile, in February, couples can find Valentine’s Day hotel specials, wine and cheese tastings, and romantic visible radiation dinners.
Best noted for its Oktoberfest and Christmas-lighting ceremonies, this scenic Bavarian-style village in Washington’s cascade mountains is magic in the winter, and a favorite weekend getaway for Seattle-ites. The historic downtown Leavenworth, once a former mining center, is currently home to gingerbread architecture, kitschy stores, quaint lodging choices, and restaurants that prepare Bavarian-influenced dishes. Even the local gas stations and supermarkets keep on with the German theme.
The area additionally offers scores of outside sports. With lots of trails and close-by Stevens Pass Mountain Resort, there are endless opportunities to go hiking, resort skiing, and back-country alpine skiing. Come back to Leavenworth and load up on brats, beers, and schnitzels, or stop by one of the various international restaurants and cozy wine bars.