Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Hit the Slopes in Aspen, Colorado
With over 300 days of sunshine a year and some of the best skiing terrain in North America, Aspen is a winter wonderland for skiers and snowboarders. Located in the heart of the majestic Rocky Mountains, this charming Colorado town boasts four different ski areas that offer a combined 5,500 acres of terrain and eight peaks reaching heights over 12,000 feet.
Aspen Mountain, known locally as "Ajax," is the main ski area in town. It has a good mix of long cruisers, steep bump runs, and open glades that appeal to every ability level. Highlights include famous runs like Bellissimo, Silvertone, and Spar Gulch. The views from the Sundeck at the top of Ajax are simply breathtaking.
Just a few miles down the road lies Aspen Highlands. This more intimate ski area has amazing expert terrain, including legendary steep mogul runs and the renowned Highland Bowl. With a summit elevation of 12,392 feet, Highlands boasts some of the highest lift-accessed terrain in Colorado. Experts relish the challenge while intermediates can enjoy the long groomers and mellower west side.
If tree skiing is your thing, Snowmass is the place. With 3,300 acres of terrain, it is one of the largest ski areas in the country. It has wide-open groomed runs but is best known for incredible in-bounds tree skiing, with widely spaced aspens allowing for epic powder turns. The Cirque Headwall off the top of the Elk Camp Gondola is a must-do for advanced skiers.
Finally, there is Buttermilk, the beginner mountain. Its gentle slopes are ideal for first-timers, families, and terrain park enthusiasts. Buttermilk is home to the ESPN Winter X Games and has an incredible superpipe and multiple terrain parks. intermediates will enjoy cruising the long, rolling runs off the top. The views of the Maroon Bells from the summit are truly spectacular.
What else is in this post?
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Hit the Slopes in Aspen, Colorado
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Relax in a Cabin in Big Bear, California
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Soak in Natural Hot Springs in Banff, Canada
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Go Dog Sledding in Juneau, Alaska
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Enjoy a Cozy Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Explore Quaint Quebec City, Canada
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Sip Hot Cocoa in Park City, Utah
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Take in the Northern Lights above Fairbanks, Alaska
- Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Indulge in Après-Ski in Whistler, British Columbia
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Relax in a Cabin in Big Bear, California
Nestled high in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. This Alpine village offers a charming getaway where you can relax fireside in your own cozy cabin. With majestic pine forests, a stunning lake, and even the occasional snowfall, Big Bear is a winter wonderland without the bone-chilling temps.
Renting a cabin is the quintessential Big Bear experience. These wooded hideaways range from rustic studios to sprawling luxury rentals equipped with hot tubs and game rooms. Find one on the lake's north shore near the village action or tucked away in the woods for maximum serenity. Nothing beats spending evenings bundled up on the porch watching the sunset paint the peaks in pinks and oranges.
By day, explore the area’s unique attractions like the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, home to endangered species like bald eagles, gray wolves, and grizzly bears. At Big Bear Snow Play, race down the tubing hills or glide around the ice skating rink. For breathtaking vistas, take the Scenic Sky Chair ride up 8,200 feet then hike the ridge overlooking the twinkling lake below.
Of course, no trip to Big Bear is complete without hitting the slopes. Snow Summit and Bear Mountain resorts offer downhill runs for all levels. Take a group lesson or try snowboarding for a fun new challenge. At the end of the day, refuel with hearty comfort food and local craft brews at one of the many restaurants around the village.
For the ultimate unwinding, spend a day at the spa. Massages, facials, body treatments - they’ve got it all. Melt away stress as skilled hands knead out knots and breathe in the relaxation. Follow it up with a long soak in the hot tub under billions of glittering stars.
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Soak in Natural Hot Springs in Banff, Canada
With its rugged peaks, breathtaking glaciers, and crystalline lakes, few places on earth are as naturally stunning as Banff National Park. And with plenty of natural geothermal features, it’s also one of the best places to soak in soothing mineral waters surrounded by picture-perfect scenery.
Banff Upper Hot Springs is the most popular and developed hot spring experience in the park. The therapeutic waters flow from Sulphur Mountain at temperatures around 104-113°F into a series of bathing pools with various temperatures. Take a dip in the hottest pool to relax tired muscles after a long hike. Then cool off in a lower temperature pool and repeat. The bathhouse offers changing rooms, showers, towel rentals - everything you need for a relaxing soak. At night, the steam rising into the starry Rockies sky is magical.
For a more rugged experience, head to the Banff Upper Hot Springs Cave and Basin Historic Site where the hot springs were first discovered in 1883. Though you can no longer bathe in the original springs, you can still see where the steaming waters emerge from the mountainside. A boardwalk loop takes you around the site where interpretive signs detail the springs’ history. It’s amazing to see how such idyllic natural features led to the birth of Canada’s first national park.
About 40 minutes north of Banff near the icefields, the glancing waters of Miette Hot Springs offer more remote soaking surrounded by mountain grandeur. The hottest spring plunges 137°F from the cliffs before blending with cooler streams in the bathing pools. Relax in the main pool or enjoy the privacy of a smaller spring tucked off the boardwalk. Either way, you’ll be immersed in the wild isolation of the Canadian Rockies.
Afterwards, dip into the chilled waters of mountain-fed pools at Marble Canyon. Bracing yes, but said to be incredibly invigorating. Bundle up and take the short hike around this limestone gorge to see roaring waterfalls crashing down its cliffs.
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Go Dog Sledding in Juneau, Alaska
Gliding through a snowy forest behind a pack of eager huskies is one of Alaska's most iconic winter activities. And there's no better place for an introductory dog sledding adventure than Juneau. As the capital city, Juneau offers easy access to top-notch sledding outfitters like Alaska Icefield Expeditions that cater to first-timers.
Situated at the heart of the Inside Passage surrounded by tall peaks, Juneau's scenery provides a majestic dog sledding backdrop. Just a short drive from downtown brings you to the lush Tongass National Forest and the Juneau Icefields. It's here that you'll suit up in winter boots, snow pants, and jacket before meeting your friendly guides and getting acquainted with the energetic dogs.
Climb aboard the sled and feel the pure excitement as the dogs dash into the woods, pulling you along on an unforgettable ride. Glide through quiet groves of spruce and hemlock as the dogs' paws kick up powdery snow. Your steady team navigates twisty trails with ease. Stop atop a ridge to take in views of crevassed glaciers and icy mountain lakes. Breathe in crisp, cold air scented lightly of pine. Snap selfies with the adorable dogs resting briefly between runs.
Before long, it's time to mush again. With tails wagging and tongues lolling happily, the dogs leap forward in unison at the command. They can't wait to get running. Feel their sheer strength as the sled accelerates across snowy meadows. Listen to the peacefulness broken only by the sled runners slicing through the fluff and occasional doggie joyful yips.
After an exhilarating morning on the trails, head back to headquarters for hot cocoa. Your guides will introduce you to the individual dogs, each with their own endearing personalities. Learn about the breed's history in Alaska and devotion to their duty. Watch the dogs excitedly receive treats and affection as rewards for their efforts. The bond between guide and dogs is truly special.
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Enjoy a Cozy Lodge in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Nestled against the rugged Teton Range outside Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole is a winter wonderland of snow-covered peaks, rolling meadows, and gem-colored skies. It's the kind of place that brings out your inner pioneer - and there's no better way to tap into that spirit than staying at a cozy backcountry lodge.
Ditch the nondescript hotel and opt for a lodge stay that immerses you in Wyoming's wild beauty. We're talking hand-hewn log cabins with stone fireplaces, Pendleton blankets on quilt-clad beds, and big windows framing majestic mountain views. Sip steaming mugs of cocoa as you lounge before a crackling fire and wake to watch the sun crest the Tetons. Ah, now that's living.
Spring Creek Ranch, a Nobu Hotel just north of town, nails the backcountry lodge vibe with its cluster of rustic-luxe cabins andlicia suites spread out over hundreds of pristine acres. Guests rave about sinking into plush beds piled high with down comforters, then gazing out picture windows at grazing wildlife and Jackson Hole Mountain Resort's slopes. Talk about a room with a view! A stay here puts you right in the heart of things so you can easily explore Grand Teton in one direction or shred JHMR's legendary in-bounds terrain in the other.
For a true tucked-away experience, check out Lodge at Blue Sky about 25 minutes south near Moran Junction. This Relais & Chateaux property feels like a modern interpretation of the great American hunting lodge with cozy firepits, regional cuisine, and Adirondack chairs overlooking the Snake River and cottonwoods. Fellow guests describe the vibe as "quiet and relaxed" - the perfect place to hunker down with a bottle of wine after a day of heli skiing, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing.
If three gourmet meals a day in a setting straight out of an Ansel Adams photo gets your inner frontiersman fired up, Brushbuck Lodge up in Dubois might just be your dream Wyoming winter escape. This adults-only, all-inclusive property deep in the Shoshone National Forest offers a holiday for the senses. Fill your days skiing, dogsledding, and snowmobiling with guides who know these mountains inside and out. Then unwind in the beautiful great room and library complete with cowboy-inspired furnishings and Native American artwork. It's the height of Western hospitality.
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Explore Quaint Quebec City, Canada
With its cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and picturesque historic buildings, Quebec City transports you back to 17th and 18th century New France. In winter, the entire town becomes a frozen wonderland that looks straight out of a Christmas card. Fresh blankets of snow cover peaked roofs, evergreen garlands drape lampposts, and strands of twinkling lights illuminate the streets. It's truly magical.
Wander the Old City wrapped up in scarf, mittens, and tuque as fat snowflakes drift down. Soak in views of the iconic Château Frontenac, an elaborate castle-like hotel that looms over the city. Its green copper roof and towers dusted in white are incredibly photogenic. Meander down the narrow pedestrian-only rue du Petit-Champlain lined with boutiques, art galleries, and bistros. Pop into cozy cafes like Café Krieghoff to warm up with a French onion soup, chocolatey chaud (hot chocolate), and flaky croissant.
Stroll the historic Plains of Abraham where the famous 1759 battle ultimately led to British rule. The snow-covered battlefield becomes a prime spot for tobogganing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Be sure to catch the nightly sound and light show that illuminates the story of Quebec City's founding. Grab an ice cider and maple taffy as you watch.
Experience Carnaval de Québec, an annual winter festival featuring giant snow sculptures, night parades, ice canoe races, and the World Snow Sculpting Competition. Don tuques with glowing horns and join in crazy activities like nighttime inner tube slides through snow chutes. It perfectly captures the festive winter spirit.
Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Old City's winding streets and get your fill of Instagram-worthy shots. The clip-clop of hooves on stone streets heightens the vintage vibe. For a unique perspective, cruise along the St Lawrence on an ice breaker boat ride, cod fishing, or ferry across to Lévis for panoramic city views.
Skate on one of Quebec's many frozen rinks like the Dufferin Terrace overlooking the river. Sharpen those skating skills because Quebec takes its ice skating seriously. This is where elite skaters like Joannie Rochette train. If hockey's more your style, catch a lively Canadien's game. The energy will warm you right up.
No visit is complete without sampling sugar shacks (cabanes à sucre), a quintessential Quebecois tradition. Indulge in maple syrup treats like omelettes, meat pies, taffy poured over snow, and maple beer. And dance to live fiddlers and accordion players. It's the most Canadian experience there is.
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Sip Hot Cocoa in Park City, Utah
Nestled high in the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake City, Park City is Utah's premier ski town. While the world-class resorts like Park City Mountain and Deer Valley offer top-notch downhill skiing and riding, the charming Main Street also makes for an inviting winter escape. Apres-ski is strong here. When the sun dips behind the peaks, the many cafes, bars, and eateries fill with snow bunnies savoring the day's runs and perhaps already dreaming of tomorrow's powder. But before the nightlife heats up, nothing satisfies more than cozying up with a steaming mug of rich hot cocoa made the traditional way - with melted chocolate, silky steamed milk, and giant pillowy marshmallows.
The best hot chocolate experience in town is at High West Distillery & Saloon, located right on Main Street. The historic building served as a livery stable and garage back in the mining days. Now it houses a distillery crafting local whiskey along with a Western-themed saloon and restaurant with a killer hot chocolate recipe. Made from scratch with melted High West Double Rye chocolate, this spiked cocoa will warm you from the inside out. The salted caramel and whiskey-infused marshmallows take it over the top. Sip the velvety goodness as you relax in a comfy leather armchair beside one of the saloon's many flickering fireplaces. The views of the slopes through the oversized windows make it the perfect way to end a long day hitting the mountain and ease into your evening plans.
For a non-alcoholic version the whole family can enjoy, indulge at The Chateaux Deer Valley at the base of the famous resort. Their Swiss-inspired Chalet offers daily afternoon cocoa complete with homemade cookies, chocolate shavings, and giant marshmallows. Made with creamy milk steamed to a froth, this rich chocolate beverage evokes the very best European chocolate houses. The smiling staff gladly add as many marshmallows as you'd like. Little ones love getting their own personal mountain of fluff. Enjoy expansive slope-side views from the stone terrace or cozy bench seating indoors. Parents can add a splash of liqueur like Baileys or peppermint schnapps for an extra treat. It's the sweet culmination to an afternoon hitting Deer Valley's impeccably groomed runs.
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Take in the Northern Lights above Fairbanks, Alaska
Of all the natural wonders in Alaska, few experiences compare to witnessing the magical dance of the Northern Lights. And one of the best places to take in this celestial spectacle is Fairbanks. Located deep in the Alaskan interior away from coastal cloud cover, Fairbanks enjoys more than 200 Auroral displays per year. This makes it one of the planet's premier spots for Aurora Borealis viewing.
Seeing the Lights has become a must-do item on many travelers' bucket lists. And Fairbanks makes it easy. Just a 90-minute flight from Anchorage, Fairbanks International Airport couldn't be more convenient. The city even offers an Aurora Season running from late August through April when darkness envelops the nights. That's prime Aurora viewing time.
So what exactly are the Northern Lights? These mesmerizing lights are caused by solar wind and radiation interacting with gases in Earth's atmosphere about 60 miles above the surface. Different gases produce different colored lights. Pale green and pinkish-red Auroras are the most common, but bright purple and blue can also be seen. The lights appear in constantly changing patterns like slow-motion fireworks or magical floating ribbons. Photos can't capture their hypnotic movement and fluidity. Standing beneath their vast expanse as they shimmer silently overhead is truly humbling.
While the Aurora's elusive nature means viewing can never be guaranteed, Fairbanks' optimal location makes sightings much more likely. Local guides know all the best spots away from city lights with wide open views of the northern sky. Many offer transportation in heated vans or buses equipped with comfy chairs and hot beverages. Dress for the weather in warm layers, heavy coat, hat, and mittens. Reclining seats allow you to gaze upward for hours in comfort if needed. Knowledgeable guides eagerly share facts and stories about the Lights.
For DIY Aurora chasing, popular lookout points include the Murphy Dome scenic pullout 15 miles outside town and the University of Alaska's Poker Flats Research Range. Don't let winter weather deter you - some of the best shows happen on the coldest, clearest nights. Download an app like My Aurora Forecast & Alerts to track activity and get notifications when the Lights are visible. Pick a night with high Kp numbers and get ready for a magical frozen sky.
Many Fairbanks hotels like Pike's Waterfront Lodge and River's Edge Resort cater to Aurora viewers with late night wake-up calls and transport to prime viewing spots when activity spikes. Nothing like bundling up at 2 a.m. and chasing the Lights in darkness. Capture the colors, shapes, and movement in long-exposure photos. Stand mesmerized as the ethereal lights dance soundlessly overhead. It's a profound experience that touches the soul.
Chill Out: 10 Epic Winter Getaways to Cure Your Cold Weather Blues - Indulge in Après-Ski in Whistler, British Columbia
After an exhilarating day hitting Whistler Blackcomb's legendary terrain, nothing satisfies more than indulging in some serious après-ski festivities. This iconic Canadian resort town knows how to celebrate a great day on the slopes in style with everything from lively bars and clubs to fine dining options. The après scene here is infamously fun for a reason.
The Longhorn Saloon & Grill should be your first stop to kick things off right. This cowboy-themed watering hole has been rocking since the ‘70s. Belly up to the lively bar or grab a table on the patio for views and sunshine. Live bands get the crowd going with classic rock and the elevated happy hour menu delivers just what you need post-shredding like burgers, wings, and oysters along with regional craft brews. People watching is prime as revelers rehash the day’s runs.
For a more upscale vibe, Bar Oso inside the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Whistler provides a sleek and swanky scene. Sink into plush leather sofas beside the gorgeous stone fireplace while flute after flute of bubbly help toast your epic day. Crispy duck confit, juicy Wagyu beef sliders and seafood tower grazing make for prime après fare. Take in the stunning mountain views through floor-to-ceiling windows as the fireplace's warmth helps rejuvenate weary legs.
If dancing's your thing, Tommy Africa's is Whistler's hottest nightclub. As the sun sets, its three levels start bumping. Show off your best moves on flashing dance floors as DJs spin throbbing house and electro beats. State-of-the-art sound and lighting immerses you in the energy. VIP booths provide the perfect perch for taking it all in. Just don't party too hard - you'll need to rally for first tracks tomorrow!
For late-night live music, Buffalo Bills is a classic Whistler venue. Intimate and lively, its stage showcases local bands plus the occasional big touring act like 54-40 or even Barenaked Ladies. Grab some BBQ, a burger, or wings from the tasty menu to munch on while you get your groove on. Nightly drink specials like $5 Canucks keep the good times flowing. And the party often spills out onto the huge patio in warmer months.