Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands
Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Blanketed in White: New England's Picturesque Winter Villages
New England transforms into a magical winter wonderland once the snow starts falling. Quaint villages that look like postcards in summer become even more charming buried under layers of powdery white. Wandering the historic streets of these towns is like stepping into a Currier and Ives painting.
Stowe, Vermont is an idyllic New England village nestled at the base of Mount Mansfield. In winter, the church steeple peeks out over deep snow drifts as smoke from stone chimneys scents the crisp air. Take a one horse open sleigh ride to gaze at the snow-covered countryside. Then warm up by the fire at The Spruce Peak Lodge, a slope-side luxury hotel. End the day eating fondue at The Bench, where you can watch the twinkling lights of the village below.
Woodstock, Vermont looks like something straight out of a Christmas card when covered in snow. The town green becomes a winter playground for sledding and ice skating. Grab a hot chocolate at the Woodstock Inn to enjoy the view. Nearby, Quechee Gorge is stunning in winter when its 165-foot cliffs are frosted with icicles. Don't miss visiting the impressive glacier formations at Billings Farm and Museum.
In New Hampshire, Littleton's historic Main Street sparkles when decked out for the holidays. Take an evening stroll over the patterned snow on the covered bridge to explore the shops. Afterwards, enjoy dinner at one of the town's cozy restaurants like Tim-Bir Alley. Just 20 minutes away is spectacular Franconia Notch State Park where you can snowshoe through quiet, snowy woods past the frozen Flume Gorge.
Few things are more classic New England than the snowy streets of Kennebunkport, Maine. Watch the fishing boats sitting silently in the harbor, the seasonal lobster shacks shuttered until spring. Pop into one of the sweet shops like Mabel's Lobster Claw for chowder to warm up. Drive out to walk the windswept sands of Goose Rocks Beach, lonely and pristine under a blanket of snow.
What else is in this post?
- Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Blanketed in White: New England's Picturesque Winter Villages
- Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Hit the Slopes: Ski Resorts Bring Alpine Charm to the Rockies
- Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Winter Carnivals Heat Up the North: Festivals Celebrate the Season
- Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Slip and Slide Through Frozen Parks: Explore Iconic Landscapes in Winter
- Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Cozy Up by the Fire: Relax at Charming Mountain Lodges
- Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Take in City Lights: Urban Escapes Offer Winter Fun
- Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Whale Watching, Winter Style: View Marine Mammals Along Coasts
- Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Get Into the Holiday Spirit: Twinkling Lights Brighten Wintry Nights
Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Hit the Slopes: Ski Resorts Bring Alpine Charm to the Rockies
When the snow starts falling in the Rocky Mountains, the region transforms into a winter playground. Majestic peaks become dotted with skiers and snowboarders carving downhill. Quaint mountain towns like Aspen, Vail, and Telluride become even more charming under a blanket of powder. Exploring the slopes and apres-ski scenes of Colorado's iconic ski resorts feels like you've been transported to the Alps.
Vail is the largest single mountain resort in the US, offering over 5,300 skiable acres. With terrain for all ability levels across its seven back bowls and front-facing runs, there's no shortage of options. Ride up one of the 36 chair lifts and gondolas for spectacular views of the surrounding snow-capped peaks. At the end of the day, stroll the pedestrian village to shop and dine. Relax sore muscles in the hot tubs at The Lodge at Vail before enjoying an evening concert.
Nearby Beaver Creek feels like an intimate European village, with an ambience of understated luxury. Cruise the pristine corduroy groomers off the Birds of Prey lift or challenge yourself on the steep double-black runs off Grouse Mountain. Enjoy an outdoor lunch at Allie's Cabin, then head to the base for freshly baked cookies at the Cookie Cabin. Wind down the day ice skating on the rink in the center of the plaza before dinner at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill.
Telluride offers a free public gondola connecting the historic town to the modern Mountain Village, providing easy access to eating, shopping, and lodging. With terrain spanning 4 amazing mountain faces, there's diverse skiing for all levels. Expert skiers flock to the steep chutes and mogul runs off Palmyra Peak and Gold Hill. Take a break riding the Prospect Express Lift to enjoy 360-degree views of 14,000 foot peaks. After the mountain closes, continue the fun at après ski spots like the historic New Sheridan Bar.
No trip to Colorado is complete without experiencing the Victorian charm of Aspen. From the historic Red Onion Saloon to the cozy Hotel Jerome, it feels like you've time-traveled to an earlier era. Aspen Mountain has a myriad of runs slicing through evergreen trees, while Aspen Highlands offers steep terrain and stunning views.Challenge yourself on the legendary Maroon Bells run if you dare. After the lifts close, put on your cowboy best for dinner and dancing at a ranching theme restaurant like The Caribou Club or The Cache Cache.
Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Winter Carnivals Heat Up the North: Festivals Celebrate the Season
When the dreary winter months drag on, northern towns know how to heat things up and celebrate the season with vibrant winter carnivals. These lively festivals packed with activities, entertainment, and delicious comfort food are the perfect cure for cabin fever. From snow and ice sculptures to parades, concerts, and more, they inject fun and excitement into the coldest months.
One of the largest and most famous is Quebec City’s Carnaval de Québec. Dating back to 1894, it draws over a million people annually to experience authentic Québécois joie de vivre. Bundle up to watch artisans sculpt monumental castles and figures from blocks of snow on the Plains of Abraham. At night, the sites glitter under colorful lights. Test your skills at axe throwing, take a spin around the ice slide, or dance at the outdoor ball. Your inner child will delight in the night parade, complete with floats, music, and the jovial mascot, Bonhomme Carnaval. Warm up with a classic caribou, a heady alcoholic drink made with red wine, whiskey, and maple syrup.
Equally renowned is St. Paul's Winter Carnival in Minnesota. Since 1886, this festival has celebrated the state’s frigid winters with parades, live music, food, and family activities. Marvel at the towering ice carvings and browse the arts and crafts at the family friendly Land of Lakes Ice Castle. At night, head to Rice Park to sip hot cocoa and glimpse the lighting ceremony of colossal ice sculptures illuminated by torch lights. Don’t miss out on trying local foods like walleye cakes and cheese curds from food trucks. Wrap up with a parade along downtown's streets complete with larger-than-life floats, bands, and colorful characters.
For small-town charm, head to Saranac Lake, New York for their Winter Carnival. The celebration centers around a massive Ice Palace constructed from over 2,000 blocks of ice hand-cut by volunteers. At night, watch fireworks launch over the glittering structure. There’s also a fun medallion hunt, where clues help participants track down a hidden medallion for a cash prize. Enjoy events like the Gala Parade with colorful floats and an ice bowling tournament. Chow down on community pancake breakfasts and chiliburgers from food stands. With a packed schedule of wacky and wonderful winter activities, Saranac Lake’s carnival is the perfect antidote to those long winter doldrums.
Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Slip and Slide Through Frozen Parks: Explore Iconic Landscapes in Winter
America's national parks take on a magical air when frosted in snow and ice, the crowds of summer gone. A chance to experience these iconic landscapes transformed, to gaze in solitude and silence at natural wonders normally teeming with people. It's an experience not to be missed for those looking to escape the masses and connect with unspoiled wilderness.
Yellowstone under sparkling white allows you to observe thermal features void of summertime congestion. Watch Old Faithful erupt majestically into the icy air, its steam rising in dramatic contrast to the snowy backdrop. Journey along the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, its colors intensified, waterfalls frozen mid-drop. Look for bison, wolves, even bears roaming snowy meadows and riverbanks. Snowcoach tours allow you to take it all in from heated comfort. Stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge to enjoy its cozy lobby and rustic dining room after a day spent immersed in winter's hush.
Yosemite blanketed in powdery snow is a magical sight. Enjoy a private perspective of iconic sites like Half Dome and El Capitan without fighting crowds. The thunderous waterfalls of summer give way to delicate frozen icicles lining granite walls. Lace up your skates and glide across the ice rink in the heart of Yosemite Village. Snowshoe under giant sequoias, their evergreen boughs weighed down with fresh snow. Spend the night in a cozy cabin at the Wawona Hotel and unwind by the grand fireplace.
Arches National Park transformed is ethereal, otherworldly. Snow highlights the contours and curves of the park's namesake arches and fins. Delicate frost crystals form on vibrant red rocks. The hush amplifies the crunch of boots on snow as you explore interpretive trails nearly alone. Track animal footprints wandering amongst wind-sculpted drifts. Camp under desert stars that shine brighter in crisp air. Morning light defines archways perfectly framed by snow-dusted fins.
Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Cozy Up by the Fire: Relax at Charming Mountain Lodges
After a day spent playing in the snow, few things beat unwinding fireside in the rustic lounge of a charming mountain lodge. The crackling warmth from a stone hearth chases away the winter chill, while sharing stories and s'mores creates memories to cherish. From the Rockies to the Adirondacks, New England to the Smokies, America abounds with cozy lodges offering laid-back mountain hospitality.
The morality at Dunton Hot Springs in southwestern Colorado feels like you've stepped back in time. This former ghost town transformed into an intimate all-inclusive resort with just 12 cabins exudes rustic romance. After snowshoeing through silent woods or exploring old mines, return to sip hot toddies by the roaring fireplace in the saloon. Soak in the property's legendary natural hot springs under the stars before feasting on gourmet mountain fare in the chic yet relaxed dining room.
Nestled in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, the Pisgah Inn offers breathtaking vistas of the Shining Rock Wilderness area. Their massive two-story stone fireplace warms the lodge's great room where you can play checkers or chat after a day hitting the slopes. Unwind by the fire pit on the expansive outdoor deck overlooking the surrounding snow-capped peaks. Hike nearby trails to waterfalls and homesteads before settling in for hearty fare and local brews at the inn's restaurant.
No trip to New Hampshire is complete without experiencing the exposed beams and stone hearths of the Omni Mount Washington Resort. After playing in the snow or exploring the quaint villages of the White Mountains, head to the sprawling veranda to take in magnificent mountain vistas. Sip hot cider by the flickering fire pits before heading inside to the cozy Princess Room for afternoon tea. Later, gather round the massive fireplace in the lobby lounge for local brews, live music, and mingling with fellow guests.
In upstate New York, Lake Placid Lodge pampers with Adirondack style. The Great Camp's lobby invites you to put your feet up by the glowing hearth on plush leather sofas after a brisk day on the lake. Roast s'mores over the fire pit on their beach before enjoying an intimate, fireside dinner in the cabin-chic lodge restaurant. With incredible amenities and service, the Lodge makes for an unforgettable winter escape.
Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Take in City Lights: Urban Escapes Offer Winter Fun
Big city lights sparkle even brighter against winter's dark nights, and urban escapes come alive with seasonal magic. From festive holiday markets to outdoor ice skating under city skylines, metropolitan areas offer plenty of enchantment after summer tourists have gone.
New York City dazzles during the most wonderful time of the year when department store windows boast animated displays. The gigantic Norway spruce at Rockefeller Center gets dressed in over 50,000 twinkling lights. Ice skate with spectacular city views at Wollman Rink in Central Park or at the outdoor rink at Brookfield Place overlooking the Hudson River. Experience Radio City's legendary Rockettes perform in the iconic Christmas Spectacular. Indulge in Chanukah treats like potato pancakes from street vendors in Central Park or try Italian Christmas cookies at cafes in Little Italy. On New Year's Eve, join the massive crowd in Times Square to watch the famous ball drop at midnight.
In winter, Chicago comes alive with lights framing trees on Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile. Neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Wicker Park dazzle with elaborate holiday light displays. Ice skate against Chicago's stunning skyline at Maggie Daley Park's ribbon-shaped rink. Sip hot chocolate as you gaze up at the spectacular Christmas tree in Millennium Park. Navy Pier becomes an Alpine ice village with an indoor ice rink and 200-foot sledding hill. Experience the magic of the parks transformed into a glittering fairytale scene during the Chicago Botanic Garden's Lightscape event.
The City of Brotherly Love lives up to its name during the holidays. Philadelphia's Christmas Village at City Hall transforms into a traditional German market with over 80 vendors selling gifts and treats like gingerbread and hot mulled wine. Families flock to the bright lights of the Macy’s Dickens Village featuring miniature scenes from A Christmas Carol. Skaters glide past twinkling lights on the Rothman Orthopaedics Ice Rink atop the Comcast Technology Center. New Year's Day brings the famous Mummers Parade where colorfully costumed performers march down Broad Street.
Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Whale Watching, Winter Style: View Marine Mammals Along Coasts
When frigid northern waters turn icy, an amazing wildlife spectacle unfolds along America's coasts. As temperatures drop, whales migrate south to warmer breeding grounds, bringing them within view of land. From California to Cape Cod, winter offers unparalleled opportunities to spot these gentle giants as they journey along shorelines.
In California, grey whales steal the show on their epic migration between Alaska and Mexico. From December through early spring, pods cruise past prime whale watching spots like Point Reyes, the Channel Islands, and Monterey Bay. Don a warm coat and hat to board boats venturing out for an unforgettable front row view. You’ll be rewarded with whale spouts shooting up around you as the leviathans surface to breathe. With some luck, you may glimpse flukes raised high as they prepare for a deep dive or even witness the thrill of a full breach. During peak migration, sightings are almost guaranteed so this is the ideal time for newbies to give whale watching a try.
The Atlantic coast also promises remarkable sightings on wintry New England whale watches. Bundle up for trips departing from meat ports like Boston, Plymouth, and Provincetown. You’ll sail through choppy seas into Cape Cod Bay where imperiled North Atlantic right whales gather to feed. Spot these rare giants identified by unique markings on their heads. Or glimpse the second largest animal on earth - blue whales capable of reaching 100 feet long. Other highlights may include seeing humpback whales demonstrate their acrobatic abilities with maneuvers like breaching.
Farther north, the historic whaling town of Bar Harbor becomes a hot spot for sighting humpbacks and minkes feeding in the nutrient-rich Gulf of Maine. Hardy explorers will be rewarded with dramatic views of whales erupting from the water against a backdrop of Acadia’s snow-dusted peaks. Nearby Portland offers another departure point for whale watching amidst Maine’s picturesque scenery.
For a truly intimate experience, avid whale watchers suggest kayaking excursions offshore to quietly paddle amongst the whales. While challenging, the unforgettable reward of seeing, hearing and feeling a whale's presence nearby makes braving the elements worthwhile.
Flee the Heat: Charming American Summer Havens Transformed into Magical Winter Wonderlands - Get Into the Holiday Spirit: Twinkling Lights Brighten Wintry Nights
Few things spark that magical holiday feeling quite like the warm glow of twinkling lights adorning homes, neighborhoods, and towns. As the holiday season ramps up, cities across America transform into dazzling winter wonderlands aglow with decorative illuminations. From quaint small towns to massive metropolitan displays, these glittering lights never fail to delight and inspire joy.
Wandering under the soft glow of holiday lights allows you to bask in the special enchantment of the season. Neighborhoods like Dyker Heights in Brooklyn and Balboa Island in California become famous for their over-the-top light displays. Residents deck out their homes in elaborate winter wonderlands with larger-than-life Santas, gigantic snowmen, and even animated vignettes. Meandering past extravagantly lit houses frosted like gingerbread homes feels like you’ve stepped into your childhood fantasies. The cheer is infectious and soon you find yourself grinning ear to ear.
Twinkling lights also create an inviting ambiance at outdoor holiday markets and village greens. At chalet-style huts, vendors offer steaming mugs of glühwein to ward off the winter chill as shoppers browse handmade wares. Carolers fill the air with beloved tunes, their voices soaring over the cheerful din. Friends gather around fire pits, faces glowing, laughter rising above crackling flames. The scents of pine, cinnamon, and roasting chestnuts mingle in the crisp air. Enveloped in festive lights, familiar carols, and scents of the season, it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the holiday spirit.
Some displays truly dazzle with technological wizardry like choreographed light shows synchronized to music. Houston’s elaborately programmed River Oaks neighborhood draws thousands of spectators. At Rochester, Michigan’s Magic of Lights, over a million lights transform a mile-long stretch into a dazzling drive-through display. Holiday Road outside LA features a million synchronized lights dancing to holiday tunes with illuminated tunnels, giant snowmen, and more. These mesmerizing displays are a quintessential part of getting in the holiday mood.