Winter is a terrific time to travel in the United States, whether you’re seeking snow or sun.
With so many amazing USA winter destinations to choose from, the hardest thing is deciding where to go.
Here’s our list of terrific winter vacation ideas in the US where you can enjoy activities in the snow or sun!
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What to Pack for a Winter Vacation
1. Hiking Gear
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Insulated boots
- Heavy wool socks – we LOVE Darn Tough Socks!
- Walking stick or trekking poles
2. Clothing – Layers
- Wicking and quick-drying base layers
- Fleece jacket
- Wool, down or heavy-weight insulated jacket
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Insulating hat
- Insulating winter gloves
- Fleece neck gaiter or buff
- WATER – water bottles or hydration backpack
- FOOD – healthy snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- National Park maps
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Hand lotion
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
- Cell phone
- Portable charger
- Guide books
- National Parks Pass
- Camera Gear Checklist
- Photography gear for hiking
List of Best USA Winter Destinations
If you are looking for one of the best ski destinations in the USA this winter then head to Breckenridge, Colorado.
This small town city not only has great skiing, but the atmosphere can’t be beat. All the shops and restaurants are within walking distance and there are even play areas for the kids.
It is one of those towns that you can park the car and just go.
Breckenridge is known for its world-famous skiing, but you can also snowmobile, go on various tours, snowshoe, and so much more.
Half the fun is exploring the town while visiting.
Pack winter clothing and wear layers when visiting Breckenridge in the winter.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon in the winter is one of our favorite places to visit in the USA in winter. You can guarantee it will be cold, but the crowds are gone and the scenery is breathtaking.
The Bryce Canyon views and photo spots are spectacular in the winter to see the contrast of white snow against the red rock landscape.
While there you can go on various winter hikes, snowshoe with the ranger-led program, even take in the most incredible night sky with some once in a lifetime stargazing. You can even do some sledding as a family in certain areas of the park.
You’ll definitely want winter clothing when visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter.
- Bryce Canyon Travel Guide
- Best Time to Visit Bryce Canyon
- Things to Do at Bryce Canyon National Park
- Bryce Canyon Tours
Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon:
- Bryce Canyon Places to Stay
- Bryce Canyon Hotels
- Bryce Canyon National Park Camping
- Bryce Canyon National Park RV Vacation
- Vacation Rentals Near Bryce Canyon
- Best Western Ruby’s Inn – easy access right outside the park
- Best Western Plus – also right outside the park
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!
→ Check out MORE fun things to do in Utah in the Winter!
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park in the winter is breathtaking. There is snow pretty much every way you look and there are so many winter activities to take part in while visiting.
While visiting you will want to snowshoe and cross country ski to get around the park. There are even ranger-led snowshoe walks that you can go on. The scenery is out of this world so you don’t want to forget your camera on your trip.
Just outside the park you can find several more winter activities like snowmobiling, dog sledding, sleigh rides, ice fishing, and downhill skiing to name a few.
Be sure to pack winter clothing and wear layers when visiting Glacier National Park in the winter.
Lake Tahoe, California / Nevada
Lake Tahoe is located in California and Nevada depending on what side of the lake you are on.
While visiting Lake Tahoe, you will see the most incredible blue lake as you explore the scenic drives around the lake.
in the winter, people visit Lake Tahoe to enjoy some of the best snow skiing at the many resorts in the area. Visitors will also enjoy snowshoeing, sledding and other winter activities.
The Tahoe area is also known for its dining and shopping options which are nice after a day of outdoor fun.
Before traveling to Lake Tahoe you will want to check the road conditions!
You’ll need winter clothing when visiting Lake Tahoe in the winter.
It’s no surprise that Maui, Hawaii makes it to the list for places to visit in the USA in winter.
If you are wanting warmer temperatures then this is the place to go.
Maui offers everything we love about the ocean and the beach with snorkeling, surfing, boogie boarding and scenic drives to name a few popular activities while visiting.
Maui does typically get more rain in the winter months making the island full of luscious greens and beautiful waterfalls to explore.
Hawaii is certainly a break from cold temperatures and snow if that is what you are searching for this winter.
San Diego, California
The winters in San Diego are typically pretty mild with temperatures averaging in the upper 60s.
San Diego winter days are usually sunny which makes it perfect weather to soak up the sun at the many beaches around the town.
Winter is a great time to visit San Diego because fewer people are vacationing, which means you can stay in the city for a little cheaper than normal.
San Diego is a great place for biking, hiking, and exploring the outdoors.
Don’t forget about the San Diego Zoo while visiting or maybe head north a little bit and visit Disneyland if you want that kind of adventure.
If it happens to rain, there are several museums that you can find throughout the city.
- Disney Packing List
- Orange County Hikes for Kids in Southern California
- Hotels in San Diego
- Vacation Rentals in San Diego
- San Diego Tours
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana
Planning a Yellowstone winter vacation is an unforgettable experience!
In the winter, you’ll enjoy seeing the park covered in snow with steam and mist emerging from the geysers. The photography in the winter is simply amazing.
By mid-December the roads are only open to snowmobiles, snow coaches, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing.
It is much quieter in the wintertime allowing you to fully take in the breathtaking views that surround you in the park.
While visiting you will see bison, wolves, coyotes, and fox wandering around the snowy landscape.
It gets very cold at Yellowstone in the winter so pack your winter clothing!
- Yellowstone Vacation Planner + 4 Day Itinerary
- How to Plan the Perfect Yellowstone Vacation
- Grand Teton National Park Guide
- Yellowstone Tours
Places to stay in West Yellowstone
- Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone
- ClubHouse Inn, West Yellowstone
- Kelly Inn, West Yellowstone
- West Yellowstone hotels!
Places to stay in Gardiner
- Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!
- Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!
- Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!
- Gardiner hotels!
Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate
- Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!
- High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park in the winter is such a peaceful place to visit because most of the crowds are gone. Not only that, but the temperatures are cooler making it easier to do all the activities you would like to do.
One thing that is incredibly unique to Zion this time of year is the fact that you can actually drive your vehicle on all four Zion National Park Scenic Drives.
Be sure while visiting you go on at least one of the Zion National Park Hikes.
Zion National Park in the winter never disappoints!
- Zion National Park travel guide
- Best Time to Visit Zion National Park
- Things to do at Zion National Park
- Zion National Park Tours
Where to Stay Near Zion National Park
You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion.
- Holiday Inn Express – our favorite place to stay with an outdoor pool and amenities you’d find in a high end hotel
- Zion Lodge – we haven’t had a chance to stay here yet, but you can’t go wrong staying right IN the park!
- Under Canvas Zion – if you want to experience a less crowded part of Zion, this is the place! It’s in the Kolob section of the park.
- Vacation Rentals in Springdale – you’ll want to stay in Springdale so you’re close to the park entrance and can walk to shopping and restaurants.
Resources for camping near Zion: