Looking for the best places to visit in the United States during winter? We’ve got 8 amazing locations serving up sunshine, snow, or great indoor attractions that’ll cure the winter blues!
Whether you’re a snowbird looking to get away from the chill or just hoping to hit the slopes somewhere wintry, you’ll want to check out the best places to visit in the United States during winter.
The 8 Best Places to Visit in the United States During Winter
Would you rather envelope yourself in winter’s unique coziness while you enjoy snow sports and idyllic wintry scenery or laze on a soft, sandy beach with tropical breezes making winter’s chill seem worlds away?
It’s up to you – you’ll find snowy, scenic and sunny, warm destinations on our list! Here are the 8 best places to visit in the United States during winter:
- Aspen, Colorado
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- Palm Springs, California
- Park City, Utah
- Oahu, Hawaii
- Key West, Florida
- Miami, Florida
- Maui, Hawaii
Keep reading to learn more about each one of these spectacular winter destinations whether you’re more of a sand or snow type of traveler.
1. Aspen, Colorado
Nestled in the Rocky Mountains inside the White River National Forest, Aspen, Colorado is the ideal winter destination for powder-chasers looking for a winter wonderland in a gorgeous mountain setting.
Winter, between December and February, is by far the best time to visit Aspen. The snow has fallen, blanketing the region in high-quality, powdery snow that skiers and snowboarders clamor to experience.
Wondering what a trip to Aspen costs? It’s not cheap – you might spend around $4k to head out in the peak winter months with flights, hotels, and daily food and entertainment costs considered.
You’ll find that it’s well worth the cost if you’re into snow sports and want a cosmopolitan destination with a slew of great restaurants, bars, and hotels to choose from in the area.
Not a big skier or snow sports enthusiast? Aspen offers tons of activities, from gondola rides up the mountain to ice skating under the stars and sleigh rides that whisk you away through beautiful, snowy scenery!
2. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
With charming-meets-rugged vibes, Jackson Hole, Wyoming is one of the best places to visit in the United States during winter. You can bundle up for outdoor fun during the day and warm up by a fire in a rustic ski lodge.
Skiing and snow sports, a thriving art scene, tons of entertainment options, accommodations from budget motels to luxury ski resorts, and beautiful snowy landscapes make it stand out for a winter trip.
Jackson Hole is home to Grand Teton National Park, where photographers, skiers, and snowboarders will be delighted at the dense blanket of snow over the area.
Nature reserves and wildlife refuges make great places to visit in winter, where you can spot elk, grizzly bears, bison, eagles, moose, and mountain lions roaming through the snow.
Fortunately, winter is the cheapest time to visit Jackson Hole – you’ll find great deals on hotels with tons of concerts and events happening as snow sports enthusiasts descend on the town.
3. Palm Springs, California
Want the best of both worlds in winter? Head to Palm Springs, California – a real life study in contrasts just 2 hours outside of L.A. – in winter. It’s truly the best time to visit Palm Springs!
This city is surrounded by mountains and desert landscapes with mild weather that’s only cold in the mountains. Experience winter’s chill and snowy landscapes on Mt. San Jacinto with springtime-like temperatures in the 60s in the Palm Desert below.
Ride the Palm Springs Tramway up Mt. San Jacinto to get up to the snow-capped peaks, where you can try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to enjoy the great outdoors in a wonderfully wintry setting.
Joshua Tree National Park is here, where you’ll find tons of hiking trails, scenic drives, abundant wildlife, and vista views of the Palm Desert. With comfortable daytime temperatures all winter long, this is the perfect time to visit.
You’ll find lots of things to do in Palm Springs with tons of golf courses, restaurants, ski resorts, shops on Palm Canyon Drive, and attractions in the area.
It’s not hard to find great hotels in Palm Springs for all budgets. Nestled in Coachella Valley, you’re close enough to Los Angeles for a day trip!
4. Park City, Utah
The snow-capped mountains of lively Park City, Utah certainly deserves a spot on the list of the best places to visit in the United States during winter.
Known for its excellent skiing conditions with attractions for those not so keen on snow sports, this is the perfect place to vacation in winter.
It’s one of the best places to visit in Utah, offering a mix of fun in the city and outdoor activities amid gorgeous scenery. With plenty of ski resorts, people enjoy skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing around this scenic area in winter.
The nation’s only ski-in distillery is a must-see in Park City – you can hit the slopes and grab a drink without taking off your skis! Check out an Olympics museum, take a bobsled ride, and warm up with a cocktail or hot cocoa by the fire when you’re done.
Park City’s great restaurants and bars make for some seriously tasty meals and lively nightlife in the city. You’ll find lots of hotels for all budget ranges, though you should expect higher costs during the peak winter season.
It’s no wonder winter is the best time to visit Park City and the least busy time to visit Utah national parks. Plenty of fellow snow sports enthusiasts will be at the parks, but it’s nothing like the summer rush!
5. Oahu, Hawaii
Ready to shed the frigid air of winter and trade snow for sand? Head to Oahu, Hawaii – we really enjoy Honolulu for its beaches, wide variety of things to do, and accommodations options.
Winter on Oahu is idyllic if you’re seeking a taste of summer and want to escape the snow and ice. Temperatures hover around a balmy 78F from December to February with little rain to get in the way.
The amazing weather is one reason winter is the peak season on Oahu. Many consider it the best time to visit to get away from dreary winter weather and enjoy a tropical getaway.
There are endless things to do in Oahu during the winter, from hiking the Diamond Head volcanic crater to snorkeling or surfing lessons at Waikiki Beach and enjoying the nightlife in Honolulu.
Visit royal palaces, Japanese temples, amazing restaurants serving up Hawaiian favorites, and unique shops with classic souvenirs to cool antiques and boutique fashion.
If you’re in need of a quick refresh and reset during the winter months, you can bet that Oahu will be the perfect place to go. It’s usually busier and more expensive in winter, so consider booking early!
6. Key West, Florida
Sinking your toes into the sand, watching palm trees sway in the breeze, and finishing off (another) piece of that tangy-sweet Key Lime pie sounds like a pretty amazing way to spend a winter vacation, right?
Then Key West, Florida should be on your travel list. Here at the southernmost tip of the United States, you’ll be transported to a warm world of sunshine, beaches, and island vibes in the middle of winter.
Key West experiences great weather during the winter months around 75F-77F. It’s mild and oh-so-welcome if you’re hiding out from much chillier conditions at home!
There are tons of things to do in Key West, like visiting the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, taking a fishing charter boat, hanging out on Sunset Pier, and taking the Conch Tour Train.
Winter is one of the best times to visit Key West, though it tends to be crowded and more expensive this time of year with high traveler demand. It’s not hard to see why – Key West is perfect this time of year!
Book your room early on to score a spot at great hotels in Key West and don’t miss out on your chance to taste the original Key Lime pie at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe!
7. Sarasota, Florida
Not keen on heading as far south as Key West? You can head to Sarasota, Florida on the Gulf coast in winter for a much-needed beach getaway with mild temperatures that won’t leave you panting on the sand.
Sarasota is popular to visit during the winter, but the crowds are nothing like during the peak summer months. Expect daily highs in the 70s with lows in the 50s overnight.
It’s perfect for walks along the beach, al fresco dining overlooking the ocean, and taking part in Sarasota’s many attractions and activities – many of which are perfect for families with kids!
It’s typically quite dry during winter in Sarasota, so outdoor activities like swimming, deep-sea fishing, building sandcastles, snorkeling, parasailing, beach walks, and biking are all ideal.
You’ll have plenty to do indoors in Sarasota, named one of the best places to visit in Florida. From the awesome Mote Aquarium and city tours to checking out breweries and art galleries, it’s never boring here.
We think winter is one of the best times to visit Sarasota whether you plan to spend most of your time on or off the beach.
8. Maui, Hawaii
You can’t have a list of the best places to visit in the United States during winter without including Maui! This scenic Hawaiian island boasts warm weather, little rainfall, and great ocean conditions for surfing.
Daily highs reach the 70s in Maui during the winter months, so it’s a little cooler than Oahu but far from chilly. You’ll find lots of outdoor and indoor activities and attractions to keep you occupied for a super-fun trip!
It’s nicknamed the “Valley Isle” because it’s so lush and green. Hike, check out volcanoes and waterfalls, go zip lining, snorkel and surf, swim, visit museums and plantations, and taste delicious foods in Maui.
If you’re interested in taking surfing lessons or showing off your already-honed skills, you’ll find world-class waves off Maui’s coast from November to March at Makaha Beach Park (beginners) and Peahi (experts).
Cooler weather with a little more rain should be expected in Kapalua and Napili on Maui’s northwestern coast, but the rest of the island offers excellent weather during the wintertime.
Maui in winter means big crowds and higher prices, but don’t let that deter you from the epic experience you’ll have vacationing here between December and March.
Important note: While most areas on Maui are open for business year-round, some areas of West Maui are still recovering from the tragic and devastating 2023 wildfires.
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve got a list of the 8 best places to visit in the United States during winter, we have a few more tips and things for you to consider as you move closer to actually planning your trip.
- Get everyone on the same page. If you’re planning a family or group trip during the winter, make sure it’s a destination everyone will appreciate. Take a simple vote: Snow or beach? You might compromise with a destination like Palm Springs, where there’s snow and skiing on the mountain with warmer weather and desert landscapes below.
- Do some research ahead of time. Winter can be stormy in different areas, whether it’s snowstorms or hurricanes in beach destinations. Do some research to see how much snow has fallen, check hurricane and rain forecasts, or get a sense of what the temperature is like before you head to your winter destination. Pack accordingly or put that travel insurance to use and cancel the trip if needed.
- Look for hotels with heated pools. During the winter months, you might find that some places in the US are pleasantly warm to spend time outside, but not so much for swimming. Look for hotels with heated swimming pools or hot tubs to ensure you’ve got a lovely place to swim and relax without chattering your teeth!
- Prepare to spend more. Wintertime is a popular time for vacations in the United States. This holds true for many snow and beach destinations, so prepare to spend more on things like hotels, food, equipment rentals, and attractions if you vacation during the winter months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have more questions about the best places to visit in the United States during winter? You might find your answer below in the FAQs from fellow travelers!
Which states are best to visit in winter?
The best states to visit in winter depend on what you’re looking for - snow or beaches. For snow and winter sports in gorgeous settings, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and parts of California are great options.
For warm weather and beaches, you can’t beat Hawaii (Oahu and Maui especially) and Florida (Key West and Sarasota). With highs in the 70s and 80s, these destinations whisk away the winter blues.
What is the best vacation in winter?
The best vacation in winter might be a tropical beach getaway in Hawaii or a scenic trip to the mountains for skiing and cozy evenings in a rustic lodge.
It really depends on your preferences for the trip, but you’ll find that even cold and snowy places offer plenty of indoor activities if you’re not a fan of winter sports.
Beaches can bring balance with cooler temperatures than summertime and lots of attractions to keep you occupied off the shore.
Where is the best place to visit in December?
Worldwide, Rio de Janiero, Brazil is the best place to visit in December with a lively atmosphere, famous landmarks, and highs in the upper 80s.
You’ll hear samba music playing in the streets and people out enjoying the beautiful sunshine and nightlife of this incredible city in December. Soccer games, walking tours, and great food make December perfect in Rio!
Where is winter the most beautiful?
Winter is the most beautiful in Aspen, Colorado where you’ll see the majestic Rocky Mountains blanketed in pure-white snow as city lights glow and sparkle below.
Set in the White River National Park, Aspen is gorgeous year-round, but it has a unique brand of beauty in the winter months. Skiing and snow sports, dining, nightlife, and attractions make it an excellent choice for a winter trip.
What state is the hottest in winter?
Hawaii is the hottest state in winter, boasting pleasant daily highs in the upper 70s and 80s. The Big Island and Oahu tend to be the hottest islands in winter, so if you’re looking for summer-like weather, these are the 2 to consider!
Ready to Head to the Best Winter Destinations in the US?
There a lot of great places to go during the winter in the US, but the best winter destinations in the country are famous for scenery, fun activities, and unforgettable experiences that make winter a little more interesting.
It’s up to you whether you seek out a snowy locale with skiing and sleigh rides on the itinerary or a warm, sandy beach where winter feels like a distant memory.
With this list of the 8 best places to visit in the United States during winter, you’ll have an easier time finding the perfect spot for your upcoming trip!