While winter brings cold temps, short days, and nasty weather for many across our great nation, it also brings the holiday season, powder-white snow, and a chance to slow down, unwind, and reconnect with the ones you love. Incredible scenery, an excellent range of accommodations, and a variety of activities make these four towns the perfect destinations for a cozy winter vacation.
Park City, Utah
Great skiing and snowboarding, a historic main street, and easy access from nearby Salt Lake City airport make Park City, Utah, one of our country’s most popular winter vacation destinations. Home to the annual Sundance Film Festival (you might just catch a glimpse of Robert Redford), Park City has a variety of galleries, shops and restaurants, and a ski lift up to Park City Mountain that leaves right from the middle of town. When you need a break from the slopes, there are a few different tour companies in the Park City area that rent snowmobiles on an hourly or daily basis. Don’t forget to find the best snowmobile helmet to protect your head from injuries. About 20 minutes away in Midway, Soldier Hollow offers cross-country skiing as well as some great sledding, tube rentals, and a tow-lift.
If it’s just you and your significant other, Park City also has plenty of activities to spark a little romance. Enjoy a couples massage at the Spa at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, or take a guided moonlight snowshoe tour through Deer Valley Resort’s Empire Canyon. Cuddle-up under starry skies in the back of a horse-drawn sleigh with the Rocky Mountain Sleigh Company. Nightly excursions take guests on a round-trip sleigh ride through meadows and woods and end with dinner at a cozy log cabin.
Few places say “Cozy Winter Getaway” like Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Located at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg takes on an enchanted feel during the winter months with a seasonal celebration known as “Winter Magic.” The festival starts in mid-November and runs for about four months. Festivities include the Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade, numerous free concerts, carolers on the streets, heated trolley tours, and literally millions of Christmas lights decorating the town.
Luxury cabins draw visitors to the area year-round, and wintertime adds its own brand of fun to cabin living. Build a snowman with the kids during the day, watch a movie together at night, and wake up to a hearty home-cooked breakfast. Gatlinburg cabins come with large covered decks usually hosting a hot tub, multiple TVs, gourmet kitchens, and plenty of room to make lifelong memories. Cabins have all the right ingredients for a perfect romantic getaway as well, often including a heart-shaped Jacuzzi in the master suite. For cuddling by the fire, enjoying a glass of wine in the hot tub, or bundled-up stargazing at night, a cabin stay provides a level of seclusion and intimacy that no hotel ever could.
Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid comes alive when the temperature drops with a variety of activities that bring visitors throughout the winter season. Nearby Whiteface Mountain – which hosted alpine events during the 1980 Olympics – offers some of our country’s best skiing. The two-mile-long Mirror Lake hosts hockey games, dog sledding events, and provides more than enough room to ice skate when temperatures drop. Take the kids to the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum – which is housed in the arena where the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team earned the gold medal – for some fun mixed with history. In December, The Holiday Village Stroll turns Lake Placid into a fairy-tale winter wonderland. The festival has lots of free activities for the kids, and Santa always makes an appearance.
For couples, the Lake Placid Lodge offers a romantic two-night getaway package that provides a choice of a private cabin, lakeside suite, or a plush lodge room. Visitors have compared some of the lodging in the area to a Christmas movie set, with perfect coy cabin ambience complete with wood-burning fireplace. About a mile east of downtown, the Swedish Hill Winery Tasting Room features a large selection of vino from several of New York’s most award-winning wineries. Hold hands and take a romantic walk over High Falls Gorge. Spectacular in winter, the gorge features abstract ice formations and seven-hundred-foot tall stunning frozen waterfalls.
Estes Park, Colorado
About ninety minute’s drive north from Denver, Estes Park serves as the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. Azure blue skies, incredible views of the Rockies, and clean, crisp mountain air bring visitors year-round to this picturesque little town. A wide range of activities, beautiful landscapes, and a variety of rustic accommodations make Estes Park a great place for a cozy winter getaway. The nearby Eldora Ski Resort has runs for every level of skier, as well as an extensive network of Nordic trails. There are plenty of spots in the area to get a good workout with some cross-country skiing, as well. When covered in snow, Rocky Mountain National Park offers stunning views and some excellent trails for a day of adventure in the woods. Most resorts provide snowshoes to their guests at no charge. Rent a sled, or bring your own for a day of fun at Hidden Valley.
Estes Park also has plenty to offer couples looking to relax, unwind, and spend quality time together. Take a romantic sleigh ride complete with champagne or hot chocolate with Dao House tour operators. Rejuvenate your achy muscles with a romantic couples massage at one of the areas three spas. Located near trout streams at the end of a winding country lane, the quaint ten-room Romantic RiverSong Inn offers cozy accommodations, spectacular mountain views, and an excellent breakfast.