If the icy landscape is weighing on your spirits, you’re not alone. Not everyone can afford the time, money, or stressful logistics of a beach getaway in the dead of winter, and that’s OK. Instead of fleeing to warmer climes, embrace the chill with wonderful activities that celebrate fresh snow, long nights, and crystal clear winter days. Skiing and snowboarding aren’t your cup of tea? No problem – there are plenty of other ways to take advantage of winter’s charms.
Snow Tubing in Colorado
You don’t need any Alpine skills to enjoy America’s top mountain landscapes. Cooper Mountain in Colorado has slopes put aside for snow tubing – you can take to the slopes with an inflatable tube, and spend an afternoon gliding down the pine-lines pathways without the risk of a painful fall. Well, there’s still the potential for sore muscles, but some downtime in the spa at the foot of the mountain should take care of that.
Ice Wine Festival in Niagara
Pining for a wine and food fest? Pop over the border to Ontario’s famed Ice Wine Festival in idyllic Niagara-on-the-Lake, where the small town celebrates their syrupy sweet tipple. You can get a festival pass that lets you into all sorts of outdoor events, complete with bonfires, ice sculpting, local gourmet food, and of course, flights of ice wine samples. You can tour through a few wineries while you’re in the area, and stay at a charming B&B (Niagara-on-the-Lake has hundreds of them!)
See the Northern Lights in Alaska
One of nature’s most spectacular and awe-inspiring spectacles is best seen in the middle of winter. Head up to Fairbanks, Alaska – about 360 miles north of Anchorage – for one of the best shows in the world. The isolated location promises clear skies, and you can make a real adventure out of it by booking a tour that takes you to the site, and sets up a heated yurt for you to warm up in cozy comfort afterwards.
Pamper Yourself in Banff
If high tea, relaxing spas, and breathtaking scenery – enjoyed through a wall of windows – are more your style, why not visit the Fairmont Banff Springs in the heart of Alberta’s Banff National Park? Banff is a fantastic little village, albeit a bit touristy, that delights in the finer things. The monumental luxury hotel has stood in this pocket of the Rocky Mountains for 125 years, and its reputation for world-class cuisine and legendary hospitality is as strong as ever. Be sure to take high tea in the dining room to enjoy a panoramic view of the mountain range!
Skate along the Rideau Canal
Every winter in the Ottawa valley, locals and visitors alike strap on their skates to cruise down a frozen river that stretches from downtown Ottawa to Dows Lake. The Rideau Canal Skateway has become a symbol of the Canadian winter, and a committed team ensures that the 7.8 kilometers of sleek ice is perfectly maintained for each season. The skating typically begins in January, when the temperatures are appropriately frigid to freeze the massive river solid, and continue through February and the Winterlude festival. The air is cold, but the atmosphere is always happy and warm!
Winter Wildlife Safari in Wyoming
Jackson Hole may be one of Wyoming’s best ski resorts, but it also hosts some pretty spectacular wildlife. Sign up for a Wildlife Safari with local experts for a peek at some of the region most elusive and impressive animals, from moose and bison to bighorn sheep and bald eagles. You’ll have plenty of time to take some postcard-worthy photos, and it’s a wonderful way to see the parts of the region that so many miss when they head right to the slopes.
Snuggle Up in the Berkshires
Winter is a wonderful season for romance, and the Berkshires are the perfect setting for an intimate weekend. A wintery New England gem, this pocket of Massachusetts is teeming with storybook inns, pristine cross country ski trails, and exceptional dining at charming lodges. With roaring fires, sleigh rides, and plenty of candlelight, you’ll have everything you need for a cozy, memorable weekend.
Get Festive at Sarnac Lake
Head up to Sarnac Lake in New York this February for their Winter Carnival, the oldest winter festival in the Eastern US. Centered on an impressive ice palace built of blocks carved out of the frozen bay, Sarnac’s jovial celebration includes a parade, winter games (like the snow ball toss and arctic golf), and some friendly competitions. The 10 days festival culminates with a grand fireworks display, lighting up the night sky over the ice palace.
The Northern reaches of the continent offer up some spectacular winter fun, but you don’t necessarily have to venture far from home for a great winter getaway. Check out festivals in your area, or take advantage of the next fresh snowfall with a walk through a nearby forest. There’s more to appreciate in winter than you might imagine, so invest in some warm clothing to make the most out of the fresh, invigorating days!