Between packed social media-driven itineraries created by influencers and a barrage of ads for tropical cruises, it can be challenging to uncover winter vacation spots that will qualify as your genuine happy place. Even if you love to ski and will try any slope, some of the best-known destinations like Lake Tahoe are too overcrowded to enjoy.
However, there are many hidden treasures throughout the U.S. for winter getaways. Experience the enchantment of pristine mountain lakes and nearly untouched forests in Idaho, or find the quieter side of Hawaii in Hilo.
From squeaky-clean white sand beaches on Florida’s west coast to the least-visited time of the year in California’s wine country, there are many choices of winter getaways without overwhelming crowds. Here are the eight most underrated places to visit in the U.S. over winter 2023-24.
Breckenridge, CO for Winter Paradise
One of the top skiing and snowboarding destinations in the world, Breckenridge, CO transforms into a winter wonderland each year between December and March. Try one of Breckenridge’s many apres-ski experiences and don’t miss the town’s historic Main Street with many Victorian buildings full of unique shops and delicious Colorado cuisine.
San Antonio, TX for Festivities
Immerse yourself in Texas history and the holiday spirit in San Antonio, Texas. Home to the Alamo, Missions, and the famous 15-mile River Walk, San Antonio is a festive, beautiful winter destination.
San Antonio is also home to several historic missions. Book San Antonio River cruise tours and experience the beautiful environment located one level below the city streets from the water.
Hilo, HI for Tropical Adventure
Between December and February, Hilo on Hawaii’s big island beckons with mild temperatures and authentic, traditional Hawaiian experiences. Explore waterfalls, lava fields, and hike through tropical gardens in a beautiful and historic community in the 50th U.S. state.
Bend, OR for Great Skiing
Find pristine, fresh powder slopes at Bend’s ski resorts and national forest landscapes in Central Oregon. Located in the volcanic Cascades, Bend is a prime winter sports and recreation destination about half an hour away from Mt. Bachelor and also located near Deschutes National Forest.
Napa Valley, CA for Wine and Romance
Crowds are fewer in California’s wine country in the winter, but the weather is mild and sunny and every weekend boasts excellent food and wine events. Between November and March, Napa Valley is a romantic, scenic destination for wine connoisseurs, foodies, and nature lovers.
Napa has a charming late 19th century downtown and is also the starting point of the Napa Valley Wine Train which visits historic wineries and includes classic Pullman cars.
McCall, ID for
Visit Payette Lake and the Winter Carnival in McCall, Idaho and experience ice skating on the frozen lake. McCall also offers snowmobiling tours between December and February and ample pristine views of nature.
Jackson Hole, WY for Winter Sports
Jackson Hole says it’s “the last of the old West,” and it’s the closest resort community to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Averaging nearly 40 feet of snow every year, Jackson Hole’s resorts offer dozens of winter sports activities.
Jackson Hole isn’t just about skiing and snowmobiling. It’s also home to the National Museum of Wildlife Art and has a vibrant Western food and nightlife scene.
Sarasota, FL for Beaches and Warm Weather
Stroll along miles of white sand beaches including Siesta Key and enjoy the freshest local seafood while watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota. Although it has a reputation for attracting elderly “snowbirds,” Sarasota is home to the Ringling Art Museum and College and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, as well as charming shopping districts including St. Armand’s Circle.