When the weather outside is frightful, do you grab your sled and head for the hills, or are you a going south for the winter kind of person? There's no wrong way to do winter, except for not having fun. Whether you grab your skis out of storage at the first sign of snow, or you fill up your storage unit and snowbird somewhere sunny, there's so much to love about winter.
We've found some of the best places in the U.S. to spend winter—from sunny, mild climates to powdery winter wonderlands. Whatever way you spend the season, we hope it brings you joyful memories that are Made to Keep.
1. Los Angeles, California
If you want to know which state has the best weather year-round, set your sights on California. Avoid the depths of snow season with some of the best winter weather in the country. Los Angeles is the perfect place for showing off the fun sweaters you pulled out of storage, because you don't need to layer up with a heavy coat. Even Old Man Winter thinks LA is a great place to lay low, because he's obviously taking it easy. Even still, you'll find Angelinos observing the season with their own version of California coziness.
But First, Ramen
Ramen is comfort food in LA, and there's no better place to find it than in Little Tokyo at locally loved Shin Sen Gumi. Order your favorite noodles any way you want them, but don't give in to the food coma. Max Karaoke Studio is a short walk away, and belting out your favorite ballads is a classic way to turn up the heat on a crisp day in La La Land.
When that sunshine and warm weather have you wishing for something frosty and refreshing, scoot over to The Monarch bar in Clifton's for the Big Sur—a cocktail with Hendrick's gin and fresh thyme. It may bring to mind the classic road trip spot it's named for, but after a few of these, leave the driving to your ride share.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is stunning during the winter. And what's more, the temperatures are mild enough for outdoor adventurers, with enough majestic places to hit the slopes. Once you've skied mountains under Santa Fe skies, you may never go back. At Ski Santa Fe, you'll find picture-perfect scenery, mellow crowds, and great terrain.
To Ski or Not to Ski
Though Santa Fe is one of the most unique places in the U.S. to ski, there's plenty to do off the slopes as well. This historical Southwest city is home to generations of Native American traditions and art. The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture has beautiful examples of Native works, from intricate beading to masterful weaving to priceless pottery. If you need some post-holiday R&R, the healing waters at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs will sort you out just fine.
Christmas dinner takes on a new meaning here. "Christmas" is the way to order both the green and red chile the region is famous for. Try La Choza for chile dishes like the tamale plate that are worthy of a holiday feast. For a cozy evening on the town, Rio Chama Steakhouse's front room fireplace and a festive drink—like the fig Manhattan—will warm you up inside and out.
3. Washington, D.C.
D.C. in winter was made for indoor enthusiasts who love the excuse bad weather gives to explore the great indoors. And this city has plenty of options. The museums alone will keep you out of the cold and endlessly entertained. That's not to say its many monuments don't look stunning with a snowy winter backdrop, but your outdoor moments can be few and far between if you choose.
Best of Both Worlds
When you do venture outside, get active on the ice at Canal Park Ice Rink. The figure eight-style rink might reshape your stance on braving blustery weather. There's also sledding at area parks like Fort Reno Park or Book Hill Park, a classic way to spend time outside in the snow.
Indoor adventure starts with a sweet treat at Colada Shop, where a plantain spice café con leche or a Cuban hot chocolate paired with a warm churro will help fuel a day of indoor expeditions. At the National Museum of Natural History, you can travel through the history of evolution in an afternoon. Or, spend a day storming The Castle (aka the Smithsonian Institution building) to explore the magnitude of history.
4. Mobile, Alabama
Escape winter's harsher weather in Mobile, which sees a higher than average number of sunny days, as well as January lows only in the 40s. Historical sites, delicious Gulf Coast dishes, and plenty of nature escapes add to its allure. If winter blues and grey skies have got you down, let this Southern city lift your spirits.
Fly South for the Winter
Get the lay of the land on a tour like From Fort to Port & Beyond, where you'll learn the many sides of Mobile. From the serious to the splendid, the city offers a multitude of ways to escape. For instance, come February, Mobile gives New Orleans a run for its money when they roll out the parade at the country's original Mardi Gras celebration.
Don't leave without getting your fill of the food. Mobile's seasonal bounty is on display on the winter menu at Original Oyster House, which includes fire-grilled oysters and drinks like honey bourbon toddies and a pumpkin spice old fashioned. Live entertainment and Southern staples like fried pickles and shrimp and grits heat up the vibes at The Blind Mule Restaurant & Bar, so come hungry for a good time.
5. Phoenix, Arizona
Though this city doesn't get cold by many people's standards, desert chill is no joke. Luckily, the crisp, clear air is just right for looking out over desert scenes as far as the eye can see. Head to trails like Holbert at South Mountain for refreshing winter hiking. The sprawling city is a smorgasbord of things to do, where your options are plenty for shopping, dining, and playing.
Three, Two, Fun
Phoenix has a musical streak, which you can catch at venues around town such as the Crescent Ballroom. Feel the beat at the Musical Instrument Museum, which displays special exhibitions and permanent collections of rare, unusual, and famous instruments. The Phoenix Symphony can help get you in the holiday spirit during their performance of Handel's Messiah through mid-December.
If you need a little frost in your life, head north to Arizona SnowBowl, a snowy winter playground. Sled, ski, or snowboard the day away, then warm your toes back in Phoenix at The Breadfruit & Rum Bar for hot buttered rum. For some twinkly magic, visit Lights of the World, a lantern festival exploring global cultures and cuisine that will be a highlight of your season.
6. St. Louis, Missouri
If Frosty the Snowman is your favorite winter icon, come to St. Louis, where winter really does its thing. This city is no stranger to all things icy, with winter weather plummeting to average lows in the 20s. Residents don't let a little wind and snow keep them down, and the city thrives in the colder season. If you need some respite from the frost, however, St. Louis also offers plenty of places to warm up.
Do as St. Louisans do, and don't let the low temps ruin your plans. Get out and go skate across the glassy surface at Steinberg Skating Rink, where views of the city lend a festive air. Stay for the bonfire and hot cocoa for an après-skate warm-up. Then head to Sasha's on Shaw for the patio campfire and a glass of dry red.
It's not all icicles and snow. Warm up and thaw out at Missouri Botanical Garden's Climatron in South City, where inside it's perpetual summer and tropical plants thrive in the humid heat. Enjoy hours of indoor exploring at City Museum and St. Louis Art Museum, with their extensive collections of famous pieces like Andy Warhol's Shoe and Dale Chihuly's Wine Chandelier.
7. Miami, Florida
Miami doesn't even pretend to do winter. But they do warm, sunny days by the beach better than most cities you'll ever visit. Average temperatures in December through February reach the mid-70s, and rain is sparse. When other cities are heading indoors to hibernate, Miami fills its calendar with outdoor events and activities. Join the annual guided Night Hike & Campfire at Deering Estate to explore the wilderness with views of Biscayne Bay. Looking for a little post-holiday serenity? Meditate at the beautiful Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple. All faith backgrounds are welcome to sit and savor the peace and quiet.
Join the Party
Once you've hit refresh after a busy end of the year, get back out for a party; Miami has your back. February is hopping with community events. Learn all about the region's impressive sailing community during the Miami International Boat Show, scheduled for Feb. 13-17, 2020. Many of the exhibitors open their vessels to the public for tours. That same week, immerse yourself in Miami's homegrown creativity at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival Feb. 15-17.
We hope you aren't partied out, because next up South Beach Wine and Food Festival takes over the waterfront with eats, drinks, and culinary education for five days. Yeah, we told you Miami pulls out all the stops. Just make sure you stop for strong Cuban coffee at Versailles for an energy boost and awesome Little Havana sights.
8. St. George, Utah
St. George is home base for exploring Zion National Park, which is even more spectacular come winter, when white snowcaps make striking contrast with red rock peaks. The calm vibes of the town and the surrounding bounty of natural wonders make St. George a perfect winter destination for taking in the season's quiet beauty.
Around St. George, winter is arguably the best time of year. Features like the winter-only hike in Snow Canyon are the kind of seasonal activity that make it so special. There's also a lot to do indoors, like St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site, where you can explore natural wonders away from the cold. The town also knows how to get in the holiday spirit, so come late November through December to see Holiday Inn at the St. George Musical Theater or the holiday lights at Red Hills Desert Garden.
If your eyes are as hungry as you are, Cliffside Restaurant serves up comfort food and stellar views. Or, warm up with spicy curry and other divine dishes at Red Fort Cuisine of India. The only thing better than a day of exploration is closing it out with the perfect meal.
9. Burlington, Vermont
As the state's biggest city, Burlington represents with shopping, dining, entertainment, and outdoor activities, all with signature Vermont charm. Winter brings chilly weather, holiday lights, and a bundled-up community who don't let a little wind and snow keep them at home. Vermont is one of the best places to live if you love winter, and you should discover why!
A+ Winter in B-town
The center of the action any time of year isChurch Street Marketplace, but it really comes to life around the holidays. Historical architecture is lined with lights, and over 75 local boutiques are filled with goods to top any Christmas list. Post-holidays, Winter Lights keep things sparkly February-April. Grab some fuel to-go at Leunig's Petit Bijou, or book a table at the Art Deco-inspired bistro and warm up with a bowl of oozy French onion soup or maple walnut crusted salmon.
As America's winter playground, Vermont is the snow sports mother lode. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and, of course, skiing, are first-rate here. Adventure companies like Snowmobile Vermont show you why this is one of the best places to spend winter months.
10. Dallas, Texas
Winter in Dallas is relatively mild, so for all of you interested in snowbirding this year, this is the city for you. Treat yourself to a relaxing winter getaway or look into making it more permanent. There are definite perks to moving in the winter, especially to a city like Dallas that has enough events, activities, and cultural attractions to keep you busy through the post-holiday doldrums.
D is for Delightful
Dallas also goes by “Big D," and when it comes to the variety of things to do, the city delivers in a big way. The holidays get super festive at the Dallas Arboretum, which features a Christmas village modeled after European Christmas markets. Throughout February, it feels like spring comes early when the blooms begin during Dallas Blooms.
Dallas is also delicious, housing every type of restaurant you could want. Winter is just right at Henry's Majestic, with its three cozy fireplaces and hearty American plates. Share a toast to the season at Veritas Wine Room, where you can sample small plates and wines from around the world.
Whether you want to escape winter's chill, or you embrace all things frosty, some places on the U.S. offer superior seasonal experiences. Ask the residents why they think their cities are the best places to live in the winter; you may just be convinced a move is in your future!
Latest posts by Lily Rogers (see all)
- How Your Home Can Help You Keep New Year's Resolutions - January 17, 2020
- How to Store Collectibles in Boston - January 8, 2020
- Best U.S. Cities to Be in this Winter - December 19, 2019