When I think of getting away, the thing I most want to escape is the cold weather.
But what if you enjoy winter? What if winter sports are totally your jam? Maybe your perfect idea of winter is hopping in a hot tub while snow falls gently overhead. (Ok, that doesn’t sound so bad.)
If you’re ready to fully embrace winter, and you’re not afraid of a little road trip, then stick around. This list is most definitely for you.
P.S. Don’t forget to be smart while traveling. Adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines, wear masks, wash your hands, and don’t travel if you’re feeling sick.
For those who want to get away, but not too far away, Hocking Hills is a great place to spend a winter weekend. You can rent an epic cabin and hop in the hot tub or book a stay at Glenlaurel Inn where you can be pampered and relaxed with in-room spa services. Head out for a winter hike to see some incredible frozen waterfalls or go stargazing at John Glenn Astronomy Park.
Chicago is one of my favorite ways to spend a winter weekend. For one thing, there aren’t nearly as many tourists, so you can explore without all those pesky people getting in your way. Hello, uninterrupted Bean photo! Grab some grub, go curling on the roof of a hotel, or strap on some ice skates and hit Millenium Park. Just be sure to bundle up. It may not have been nicknamed the windy city for its weather, but it is cold and windy!
Itching to carve down the side of a mountain but heading out to the Rockies isn’t quite in the budget? How about something a little closer to home. Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia is the definition of a winter playground, with skiing, snowboarding, tubing, an epic heated pool, snowmobile tours, and more. I know all of that sounds like it will cost you, but they have some pretty affordable packages.
Having been in Gatlinburg in the snow, I can tell you, it’s a magical place to curl up and read a good book. Even if you don’t plan on hitting the slopes at Ober Gatlinburg, you should definitely hop on the aerial tram for an awesome view of the Smokey Mountains as you make your ascent. Gatlinburg has tons of family-friendly activities to take part in, like the Mysterious Mansion and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. If you’re traveling without the kiddos, you can get a real taste for the Smokies by throwing back some moonshine at one of the distilleries in town! That’ll warm you up.
There’s no better place to spend a blustery, winter day than Louisville. That’s because you can warm yourself up pretty dang quickly on a Bourbon Tour by Mint Julep Tours. The tours include stops at Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Barton 1792, Lux Row, and Stitzel-Weller (Bulleit). If you’re feeling adventurous, it would be criminal to skip out on the Louisville Mega Cavern. You can zipline through the massive cave system or take a shot at the underground aerial ropes challenge course. The cavern does close for government-issued weather warnings, so be sure to double-check just how “wintery” it is outside before you book.
It’s hard to imagine something as powerful as Niagra Falls freezing over, but when it does, it’s absolutely breathtaking. Since it’s not exactly boat tour weather, you may be wondering what else there is to do. Highlights of the winter itinerary include hitting up the Niagara Wine Trail, grabbing some authentic Buffalo Wings at Anchor Bar, or popping over to the casino for a fun night of cards, dice, and slots. Responsibly, of course.