If you don’t ski or snowboard, winter can feel like an endless season of boring. Instead of hiding in the lodge on your winter vacation, wishing away all that snow, try one of these other winter related activities. All around the country, cold weather states have plenty to offer during the chilly months that are much more than zipping down a hill at break neck speeds.
Visit big sky country for a refreshing winter vacation. The immense landscape, variety of parks and amazing resorts offer plenty to do and see year round. Take a dip in the hot springs at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resorts or if you are feeling a little more adventurous try their exhilarating polar plunge. If you desire a whimsical and more authentic experience, visit Lone Mountain Ranch where you will take a horse drawn sleigh to the North Fork Cabin and enjoy a prime rib dinner with an old Montana atmosphere. Oil lanterns offer the only light and a cowboy serenades dinner guests with soft musical tones. It is a one of a kind event that captures the essence of Montana. If you make it to Montana, you can’t forget about Glacier National Park! Open all year, it offers winter activities to visitors as well as guided tours. Big sky country is the perfect place to venture out of your comfort zone and give ice climbing a try. Choose from a variety of guides to plan your own ice climbing experience.
Winter in Vermont is a gorgeous destination with snowy peaks and an old school charm. Kingdom Trails has created an exceptional space for winter activities such as winter biking and snowshoeing. Run by the Kingdom Trails Association which is a charitable organization, they have made it their goal “to provide recreation and education opportunities for local residents and visitors while working to conserve natural resources and create economic stimulation.” It is the perfect place to experience the state’s natural beauty. If you want an indoor activity, travel to the Ziemke Glassblowing Studio open 362 days a year with a gallery and an observation room where visitors can watch how the incredible works of art are created. If you fancy yourself a photographer, amateur or otherwise, Vermont has over 106 covered bridges for beautiful winter scenery photos.
Colorado has the highest elevation of any state, and the Rocky Mountains make it a much sought after destination. Instead of hitting the slopes, head to the world’s very first official ice park in Ouray, CO. The Ouray Ice Park is actually man-made. It uses a gravity fed plumbing system that transports 150,000 gallons of water each night to create the massive walls of ice. Within the ice park, there are over 200 ice and mixed climbs that are just a short trip from the amenities in downtown Ouray. They have seasonal clinics from adult to child and offer climbing for those with physical disabilities. There is a beginners area for newbies to learn at their own pace. If you prefer a bird’s eye view without hanging off the side of an ice wall, try a hot air balloon ride from Grand Adventure Balloon Tours. They operate all year and feature amazing views of Winter Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Fraser Valley. It is a breathtaking way to see Colorado. You can also explore Snow Mountain Ranch on a dog sled excursion. Pick from a variety of tours and programs to learn what dog sledding is all about.
This state has a significant portion of the Appalachian Trail, 52 miles to be exact. Winter is an amazing time to hike along the frosty trail.With places to stop and camp along the way in small lean to’s, you can immerse yourself in the wild with hiking and mountaineering. Contact the local Appalachian Chapter for information on educational climbs and guided events. For those that don’t want to sit in the cold, visit River Quest. From February to March, check out the Winter Wildlife and Eagle Cruise they offer. Sit in the heated cabin and have experts point out and explain the wildlife you are seeing. If you are hungry for something a little sweeter, try the Connecticut Chocolate Trail. Travel around the state consuming the most sensational delectables. In addition to this incredible idea, they also have trails for just about everything else from art to wine.
Oregon’s eclectic culture and gorgeous coastline provide a unique experience especially in the winter time. For those that love to fish, hop on the Steelhead Train and travel along the Wallowa River to do some steelhead fishing. Operating on weekends in February and March, this 1950’s era, 52 seat car train, transports anglers from one fishing hole to the next. An experienced guide comes along as well to offer help along the stops. It is a totally one of a kind and interesting way to take a fishing trip. Call the Minam Motel to reserve your spot on the train. Maybe catching fish isn’t the kind of marine life you enjoy, but there are other options. In mid-December to mid-January, you can catch a glimpse of whales along the coast. Visit the Whale Watching Spoken HereⓇ Program to find the best locations to watch some of these magnificent mammals. Explore more of Oregon with a Wanderlust Tours. You can take a snowshoe, starlight tour with a bonfire or explore a lava tube cave. They also have a variety of other events like the Brew Tours or your own custom chosen tour.
Is there anything in our country that represents the Christmas season more than the tree at Rockefeller Center? Lit up and decked out in all of its holiday glory, it is an iconic American tradition. So what better place to embrace the cold weather? If you make the trip to New York to see the tree you can also take advantage of all the attractions within Rockefeller Center. Take the family ice skating after a day of incredible shopping. Sip hot chocolate and enjoy delicious food from one of the many restaurants. You can also take a tour of Rockefeller Center before you hit a show at Radio City Music Hall (I hear the Rockettes put on quite a show!). If you prefer upstate New York, don’t forget about Niagara Falls. The Niagara Falls State Park is open 365 days a year. In the winter, snowfall has a way of highlighting the beauty of the falls and gives it a very magical feel. It is a wonderful winter outing for the family. The Niagara area also has a variety of shopping, wineries, and the Seneca Casino to make for a great getaway.
Wyoming has entrances to two major national parks within the state which are both open in the winter months. The Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park neighbor Jackson Hole making it a prime vacation spot. Take a tour of Yellowstone on a snowmobile or in a snow coach and see the wild beauty of the landscape and the snowcapped mountains. You can also take advantage of the miles of trails and do some snowshoeing at either park and see some of the most mazing natural sights in our country. At the National Elk Refuge you can also explore with a festive sleigh ride! You can stay at the luxurious Jackson Hole Mountain Resort where there is much more to do than ski. There is a variety of entertainment including the Jackson Hole Public Art Winter Block Party, a performance of The Wizard of Oz and the Backcountry Winter Bash.
This rainy city is anything but sleepy. Teaming full of gourmet food and quenching local brews, you will find plenty to do in snowy Seattle. Take a ride on the Argosy Christmas Ship™ , a tradition since 1949, to see over 60 waterfront communities along the Puget Sound decked out for the season. While you enjoy the twinkling of lights, the experience is accompanied by choirs on board that sing Christmas carols and create a cozy, festive experience. For the family, try the activities available at Suncadia. They have plenty to do including ice skating and snow tubing. If you stay at the Suncadia Resort you can take part in a variety of events like the guided winter fly fishing tours, horse drawn sleigh rides, and snowshoe and brew tours. After all that fun in the snow, head inside and warm up at the Banya 5 Spa and enjoy the wonderfully warm waters where they offer hydrotherapy and body treatments. Then, see a fun show like Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door Theater.
The mountains of central Idaho are an amazing place to vacation especially in the winter. At Sun Valley Trekking they offer a chance to experience the wildness of Idaho. You can take a hut tour and see the network of huts they have built and even spend the night in one of the cozy, heated buildings too. If you don’t feel comfortable being out in the open with all that snow, take advantage of their avalanche education and familiarize yourself with proper safety practices. You can also rent a yurt! Equipped with wood stoves, propane stoves for cooking, solar power for electricity, and some even have hot tubs, it is a romantic getaway in the snow. For a day of fun, take a ride through Island Park for an incredible snowmobiling experience. This beautiful sanctuary is a popular area to see some great sights. You can bring your own snowmobile, rent a snowmobile, or take a guided tour in the over 40 miles of trails. If you love a party, visit the Winter Carnival in McCall. It is a wonderful winter celebration with snow bike racing, daily events, comedy shows, auctions, parades, live music, snow sculptures and a wide variety of attractions.