Last Updated on February 10, 2023 by Sammie
12 Unique Winter Trip Ideas for 2023
The holidays are lusciously magical but what happens when we are back to the grind and freezing our booties off and need some life inspo? I don’t know about you but when the mystical snowflake-covered ground turns brown and crappy I don’t feel like getting off of the couch. But that’s silly. Because even though it’s cold, there are some pretty unbelievable winter trip ideas to take this 2023 season. So bundle up, grab your thermos (I’m not gonna ask what’s inside), and get on board with a winter wonderland vacation!
1. Witness The Northern Lights- Fairbanks, AK
The Aurora Borealis AKA The Northern Lights are all the rage in Alaska. A phenomenon of Earth’s magnetic field interacting with charged-up particles from the sun, meaning you get some gnarly curtains of dancing color lighting up the sky. It’s seriously incredible. There’s no need to grab a passport, just make sure you grab a good jacket. Fairbanks, Alaska is one of the most popular viewing destinations in Alaska for the Northern Lights, and with good reasons. Due to its accessible airport and minimal light pollution, you merely have to walk outside to witness the outrageous color spectacle above your head. Don’t worry about crowds, just because it’s popular doesn’t mean you’ll be elbowing people out of the way to watch the show. Visitors who stay in Fairbanks for 3 days have a 90% chance of witnessing this craziness.
Fairbanks, Alaska has a great selection of accommodations to make your winter vacation a lifetime memory. Try staying in an IGLOO, or relax under the colored display in the Chena hotsprings.
2. Book an Amtrak Train Trip- Chicago to the West Coast
Train travel is underrated. There was a time when travel was simply the romance of moving from point A to point B. By planning a train trip you can bring that magic back. Take in the remarkable sights while winding through deep canyons, onto the red rock country of Utah, and eventually settling in the Bay Area near the Golden Gate Bridge. Witness sights inaccessible to cars and relax knowing someone else has the travel under control. Plus if you haven’t noticed, America is pretty gorgeous. Sometimes it’s better to go simple rather than overcomplicate things and a perfectly simple train trip to the west coast is exactly that.
3. Roadtrip to Your Next Ski Vacation- Phoenix, AZ to Taos, NM
Summer gets all the buzz for road trips but there are some unique road trips that are extra special once our bikinis and speedos are put away. A great example would be taking a road trip from Phoenix, AZ to Santa Fe, NM to Taos, NM. This route will make your jaw drop. Along this route, you can stop in Sedona to “ooooo” and “awwww” in the vast canyons and Red Rocks right before taking a pitstop at a hot spring in town. Santa Fe is a must-stop to explore its historic streets and maybe enjoy a toboggan ride in Hyde Memorial State Park. With Taos as your final destination, you’ll be able to stretch your legs while snowboarding deep in the fresh powder at Taos Ski Resort. I think I just talked myself into doing this trip this season.
4. Spend a Few Days in A Treehouse- Montana
As seen on HGTV, DIY Network, and mentioned in Time and Outside magazine this treehouse is epic (and I really don’t like using that word). It’s the perfect winter escape with an even more ideal location! Only minutes away from Whitefish ski resorts and a mere 30 minutes from Glacier National Park. You can have your cake and eat it too people. This winter trip idea is a perfect whimsical vacation stay for the family and kids or a romantic getaway for you and your boo or an escape to write that novel that’s going to crack Oprah’s book club. It’s living within nature while embracing complete luxury. It’s crafted around a ginormous Douglas tree, has 500 square feet of living space, and can accommodate up to 4 people. Happy planning!
5. Take A Dog Sledding Vacation- Minnesota
Based in the heart of Superior National Forest in northern Minnesota, White Wilderness is a genuine escape from the everyday. Perfect for a wide range of ability levels, particular wants, and needs, White Wilderness lets you customize your trip. You will be able to choose between multi-day trips or day trips if you are shorter on time. And to make it more suitable for you, you can decide if you would like the unique experience of staying in a yurt or going more traditional with their lodge accommodation. They train their dogs on their grounds, which is perfect because they are miles from another residence or business. This gives the doggos lots of room to explore and learn! Can you imagine explaining this vacation to your coworker?
6. Plan a Winter Hiking Trip
I’m guilty of it. Many of us tend to put away our hiking gear the second we hear of a snowflake coming near us. But that is entirely unfair to these beautiful hiking trails. The beauty of hiking in the wintertime is being immersed in nature with not another soul in sight. In reality, it’s the perfect time to hit the trails. Fewer crowds and picturesque sparking snow blankets will bring you just as much zen as a yoga trip to Bali (to be clear, totally here for both). With the right gear, you don’t need to be nervous about braving the brisque temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to try to make sure all parts of your body are covered, as well as wear light layers that you can add or take off to adjust as you go. And don’t forget the snowshoes!
7. Check out a Winter Festival
Nothing says winter like mulled wine and sipping hot cocoa while gazing at glimmering lights. So Sparkly. Make a trip of it and plan your holiday around these winter festivals going on throughout the winter.
Vermont, Stowe Winter Festival
Check out the ice carving competition or try your hand at snowvolleyball! There are activities for everyone here, there’s stargazing or even lessons to try ice carving yourself. Kids would love to know there is a kids carnival, as well as ski-in movies, and countless other winter activities for the whole fam.
Lake Geneva, WinterFest
At this special winterfest you can expect to see a serious National snow carving competition! And in between the intense competitive vibes, you can also take a relaxing walk to check out the professional ice sculptures on display. There are bonfires for the community to enjoy so you don’t have to worry about freezing your digits off.
January 6-March 5
Grand Rapids MI, World of Winter Festival
Travel easy knowing that ALL programming and activities are free at the WoW festival in Grand Rapids, MI. The fest goes on for a while which is good because there is too much to do in one weekend! There’s a human-hungry hippo competition (wish I could help explain that), drag shows, live dj, ice piano performances, and more.
8. Go on a Winter Safari- Yellowstone
Take advantage of the less typical time to visit Yellowstone and get ready to capture the roaming wildlife. Against sheets of pearly white snow, it is much easier to see magnificent bison with their white frosty snow beards, wolves, and elk. Altogether making the winter trip a remarkable experience. Summer months at the park get quite crowded, and you may even need reservations as much as a YEAR in advance. However, in the winter months there are far less crowds. There are fewer roads to access the park which tends to deter people from coming. But you can use this as an advantage! Plan accordingly and you might just get one of America’s most prized National Parks all to yourself to enjoy.
9. Visit Ice Castles that would make Elsa Jealous
Experience breath taking displays of ice crystals crafted into awe-inducing castles. There are 5 locations; Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, New York, and Utah. What started as a project to get the founder, Brent Christensen’s kids out of the house has turned into a full winter phenomenon. These castles bring fairy tales to life for kids and adults. There are archways to crawl through, slides to slip down, and caverns to explore for the more adventurous. This is truly a memory worth sharing and reminds everyone just how magical winter can be.
10. Witness The Best Stargazing in the World- Death Valley, NV/CA
Winter is the BEST time to visit Death Valley. In the cooler months its more “impressive” valley than…death-ish. Average temps range from mid-60s to low-70s so you’ll be far more comfortable than visiting in the summer when temperatures hover around 110 degrees. Painful. With the dry dessert air and remote location away from light pollution, Death Valley can proudly boast about earning the title of a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park from the International Dark-Sky Association. So, if you’re one to wish upon a shooting star from time to time, I suggest saving up a few for when you travel to Death Valley.
11. Go Au Naturel in a Hot Spring- Dunton Hot Springs
This clothing optional hot springs is located in a restored 18th century Ghost Town. Thought to be one of the best Natural Hot Springs in the USA, this old timey refuge has 13 beautiful cabins set near an old western Saloon. It is an all inclusive resort set in the San Juan Mountains of the Colorado Rockies. Dunton is a one of a kind romantic getaway, seeing as to get to this picturesque excursion you might need to take a snowmobile to get the party started. Massages, fine cuisine, and hot springs set on the banks of snow makes this winter trip an easy decision.
12. Ditch your Car and Head to Mackinac Island- Michigan
What first needs to be said is that at Mackinac Island, on New Year’s Eve, a 70 pound fiberglass turtle drops at midnight to ring in the new year. That’s enough of a reason to go for me. But other than that, over 80% of the island is a state park and is car free. Meaning feel free to indulge in a horse drawn carriage and live out your best Hallmark Movie Dreams. You’ll want to visit in the winter because you won’t have to fight the crowds to enjoy this adorable island in northern Michigan.
There’s plenty to keep you occupied. Don’t miss out on the Twilight Turtle Trek, where you can enjoy a lantern-lit groomed cross-country ski trail. Could it get more adorable? Oh and don’t forget to preorder your fudge from the mainland and have it delivered to your bed & breakfast.
See?!? Winter doesn’t have to be so bad. The US has plenty of winter trip ideas for all of us to indulge in when the snowflakes start to fall. Embrace your Hygge and let’s welcome hot cocoa season with a big snowsuit hug.
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