Winter is a time to enjoy cozy nights at home, but also a time to stroll the streets of brightly-lit cities and snow-dusted towns. The holiday season often inspires a sense of community through indoor and outdoor activities that everyone can enjoy. It can be a special experience to participate in a destination’s traditions and connect with nature in a new setting. The list below highlights holiday destinations across the United States that offer abundant opportunities to explore!
Astoria is Oregon’s oldest city, a coastal destination characterised by Victorian-era homes, local breweries, museums, and surrounding forest-covered hills. Visitors can begin their mornings walking along the three mile Astoria Riverfront, which also provides access to attractions such as the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The museum offers a range of exhibits including the “Science of Storms” or “The Twin Palaces of the Pacific”. The downtown area makes Astoria one of the top small towns on the Oregon coast, and travelers can grab lunch at Astoria Coffeehouse and Bistro or take a tour of The Flavel House Museum, which covers nearly an entire city block. Nature lovers will enjoy climbing the 164 steps of the Astoria Column for views of the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean, hiking at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, or walking the beach near Fort Stevens State Park. The Garden of Surging Waves, a sculpture park selected as the city’s bicentennial legacy gift in recognition of Astoria’s Chinese heritage, is also a must-see while visiting the destination.
Burlington is a vibrant, small city on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain with an impressive arts scene, museums, vintage shops, and a variety of four-season outdoor activities. Be sure to wander Church Street during your stay, the cobblestone central shopping area bustling with activity during the day and magically lit at night. Skiers will appreciate that mountains including Sugarbush, Smuggler’s Notch, Mad River Glen, and Stowe are all less than a one hour drive from the city. Snowmobile Vermont also offers a guided 2-hour backcountry tour at their Stowe location. You might be hungry after your outdoor exploration, and one of the perks of visiting Burlington is the variety of locally-sourced food. Restaurants including Hen of the Wood, Myers Bagel & Cafe, and American Flatbread all offer a delicious Vermont experience. The coffee and juice cafe Muddy Waters is especially unique in that cafe-goers can place love letters, jokes, or encouraging notes in small wall spaces for future customers to find. Travelers can also experience a craft beer crawl, ice skating at one of the city’s many outdoor rinks, or a scenic drive to Waterbury to enjoy the infamous Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour.
Breckenridge, a Colorado town in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, is best known for its world-renowned ski resort, however the town also offers outstanding restaurants and a lively local culture. Breckenridge is practically a winter wonderland, and boasts a variety of activities such as snowshoeing at one of its two Nordic centers, tasting at the world’s highest distillery (which sits 9,600 feet up), or sledding at the free Carter Park sledding hill. Travelers can admire the holiday lights on a stroll through Main Street, experience year-round horseback riding, or learn more about the town during a history or ghost tour. The thrill-seeker will appreciate Top of the Rockies’ zipline tour through the snow-covered trees while the art-lover will enjoy watching snow sculptures emerge across town during the Breckenridge International Sculpture Championships. Delicious eateries including Crepes a la Cart, Tin Plate, Daylight Donuts, or Semplice Cafe are sure to keep you fueled throughout your Colorado adventure.
The city of Sedona is one of Arizona’s leading tourism, recreation, and resort centers acclaimed for natural beauty and red-rock formations due to its location at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon. Choose to view the most scenic routes of the desert on a jeep tour, take a hot air balloon ride over the canyons, or relax outside at the post-Christmas Sedona Yoga Festival. Athletes can participate in Run Sedona, a local running event in February, and art-lovers will enjoy the Sedona International Film Festival during which visitors can view 160 films over 9 days. The 6,000 luminaries at Tlaquepaque, a village whose name translates to “best of everything” in the Aztec language, will get travelers in the holiday spirit in addition to the annual Sweet Stroll. Sedona also offers a variety of food options for the outdoor enthusiasts who spend their days on the trail or the ski mountain. Choosing between Italian food at Hideaway House, Mexican food at Elote Cafe, or a hamburger at Dellepiane Sedona will be difficult, but there is no wrong decision.
Kennebunkport, Maine, regarded as “the place to be all year”, offers visitors countless activities, historic architecture, cozy inns, and delicious food. The coastal town has a beautiful, well-preserved landscape which visitors can appreciate while hiking or snowshoeing at the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust Trails or Wells Laudholm Farm. Go ice skating at Kennebunk Waterhouse Pavilion Ice Rink, enjoy a horse drawn carriage ride through town, or opt for indoor bowling at Garden Street Bowl. Spend your mornings at the local Mornings in Paris Café and afterward walk Gooch’s beach or the Ocean Avenue loop for views of the water and historic homes. The food scene in Kennebunkport is as enjoyable as the attractions. Alisson’s Restaurant serves Maine’s famous seafood, Chez Roza offers traditional French cuisine, and Earth at Hidden Pond is for the classic farm-to-table meal. Kennebunkport’s quaint setting, ocean views, outdoor activities, and local food make this destination the perfect winter getaway.
Boston is a historic east coast city with a wide range of restaurants, an enthusiastic sports culture, uniquely styled neighborhoods, seasonal activities, and a high quality of life. Boston is well known for winter. The city reaches temperatures as low as 15 degrees, but locals are well acclimated to the cold and visitors will appreciate the abundant activities Boston has to offer. Go ice skating on the Frog Pond in Boston Common or sled down the popular Flagstaff Hill. The Commonwealth Avenue Mall is the perfect park for a stroll, situated between historic Boston brownstones and decorated with string lights that frame the trees. The Museum of Fine Arts or Boston Tea Party Museum can provide a reprieve from the cold and a destination for art or history fanatics. For a rich and creamy cup of hot chocolate, try L.A Burdick Chocolates or Thinking Cup. Shopping at the Prudential Center, on Newbury Street, or at the Seaport district’s market, “Snowport”, will fulfill everyone’s holiday wishlist. Locals are enthusiastic sports fans, and visitors can join the action at a home game for the Boston Bruins or Boston Celtics at TD Garden. The city offers dining options ranging from casual to upscale. Newbury Street is lined with restaurants including Serafina, Umai, Double Zero, and Stephanie’s while Time Out Market provides endless options under one roof. If interested in a fancier meal, consider Giulia, Menton, or SRV.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, a city in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, has a thriving downtown, hundreds of studios and art galleries, and opportunities for exploration amidst vast wilderness. Go for a winter stroll through The North Carolina Arboretum’s Winter Lights Show, view the creations at the annual Gingerbread Competition at Grove Park Inn, and explore the winter hiking trails. Recommended hikes around Asheville include Daniel Ridge Falls, Bearwallow Mountain, or Lover’s Leap. Asheville offers both the terrain for winter activities such as snow tubing, skiing, and mountain biking and a lively city center. The River Arts District showcases impressive street murals, and local breakfast spots like Early Girl Eatery, Biscuit Head, and Tupelo Honey Café, who cook classic Southern comfort food to fuel your day. Grab tickets to The Asheville Fringe Arts Festival, dedicated to sharing performing arts work throughout the city, or the Movies and Meaning Festival, which uses storytelling and art in the spirit of activism.
Hoping to exchange the cold weather at home for white-sand beaches and seventy degree days? Oahu is Hawaii’s third-largest and most populated island with a diverse range of people and landscapes. There is so much to explore on Oahu. The winter months of February and March are peak whale watching season, and tourists can potentially glimpse a humpback on board the Makani Catamaran. Travelers can also enjoy island views on the two-mile Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail or on the trek to Diamond Head, a volcanic crater shimmering with diamond-like formations. On Oahu’s south shore, the city of Honolulu displays holiday lights in downtown for everyone to enjoy. Visit the Honolulu Museum of Art for year-round exhibits or the Polynesian Cultural Center for comprehensive knowledge of Hawaiian heritage. On Oahu’s north shore, swells reach record-breaking heights, and surfers flock to the beaches to ride the waves. In fact, visitors can watch one of the largest surfing competitions in the world, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, at Sunset Beach between the months of November and December. For your morning cup of coffee, check out Arvo, Kona Coffee Purveyors & Patisserie, or Gorilla in the Cafe. Quaint, fresh, local eateries are scattered throughout the island, and travelers can try Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, Sunrise Shack, Helena’s Hawaiian Food, or Moku Kitchen for an authentic local tasting experience.
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Want to learn more?
Astoria – Travel Oregon
Downtown Burlington – Vermont Vacation
An Overview of O’ahu – Love Big Island
Current Exhibits – Columbia River Maritime Museum
12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Astoria, Oregon – Planetware
The Perfect Winter Beach Getaway to Astoria, Oregon – Actively Northwest
Garden of Surging Waves – Astoria Chinese Heritage
The Perfect Winter Getaway to Burlington, Vermont – Wanderluluu
100 Things to Do in Breckenridge This Winter – GoBreck
5 Reasons to Visit Sedona in the Winter – Visit Sedona
We Love These 10 Restaurants in Sedona – Canyon Villa
Winter in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport Maine – Kennebunkport Maine Lodging
12 Best Restaurants in Kennebunkport, Maine – New England With Love
15 Top Things to Do in Boston in Winter – Planetware
8 Festive Asheville Winter Things to Do – Uncorked Asheville
Why Asheville is the Perfect Winter Destination – Asheville BBA
Things to Do in Oahu in Winter – Go City