A Classic White Christmas Vacation
New York City, New York
There's nothing that says Christmas like walking in the winter wonderland of Manhattan. While skating in Rockefeller Center under the enormous Christmas tree or tubing down a snow-covered hill in Central Park might be a bit touristy, it’s something you’ve got to experience, especially if you’re in town with your significant other. The top of the Empire State Building is pretty freezing at this time of year, but it grants you the best view in the city, just make sure to sneak in a flask of something to keep you warm. Obviously the eating and drinking in NYC is unmatched so prepare properly. If you’re in town for New Year’s Eve, we recommend skipping the mob scene at Times Square and posting up for some cocktails or an awesome late dinner. Sure, counting the drop on the dancefloor at one of NYC’s best clubs is a no-brainer too. Whether or not you do any of these things though, New York City is always a fun place to visit, with more to do per square mile than probably anywhere else on the planet.
A Sun-Soaked Holiday with Palm Trees
Los Angeles, California
For the opposite of the NYC experience, there’s always LA. Even in the dead of winter, the palm trees and beaches will put you in a different, more relaxed state of mind. It’s not always warm, but it’s rarely “cold” in the way most of the rest of the country is. The star-gazing in Los Angeles is great--whether you want to look at the stars in the sky at a Star Party at the Griffith Observatory, the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on a stroll down Hollywood Blvd., or the real stars of Los Angeles, the celebrities themselves, after picking up a Star Map and driving Mulholland Drive to check out their lavish homes. The Hollywood Sign is a must-see, as is the Santa Monica Pier. The museums are second only to New York in quality and quantity (check out the brand new Broad Museum). LA’s food scene is officially next-level but don’t forget to get some authentic tacos at one of the many great local digs. Sunny Southern California is the most perfect anti-winter you can get, without leaving the continental U.S.
A Caribbean Adventure
The U.S. Virgin Islands
Of course, if the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland isn’t good enough for you, there’s always the actual Caribbean that you can hop on down to. The U.S. Virgin Islands offer truly sunny, warm weather year-round. And you don’t even need a passport to go! What better way to beat the Polar Vortex than with sun, sand, and a few rum-heavy cocktails. Whether you want to party or relax, snorkel or sunbathe, explore or hole up, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John have more than enough to offer. Make your way down to these West Indies and you can almost pretend it’s July instead of January. (Editor's Note: There are no actual Pirates of the Caribbean in the Caribbean)
The Best Ski/Snowboard Trip
If you’re dying to hit the slopes this season, there’s no place like Colorado’s premier ski resort town: Vail. Sure, Aspen is fancy and gets all the press, but trail for trail t doesn’t get better in the continental U.S. than Vail. WIth a massive variety of terrain, outdoor activities galore, and a killer town that packs nightlife that rivals the peaks, Vail is the place to be. Lock in a dope cabin on Air BnB, get your gear dialed in, find some snowbunnies, and hit the mountain, this is your mountain vacation.
The Mountains A Different Way
Grantham, New Hampshire
If you’re looking for something more rustic, New Hampshire and Vermont have some of the best cross-country skiing in the nation. In the Eastman Community of Grantham, NH, there are 36K miles of skiing and snowshoeing trails alone. Rent out one of the beautiful, rustic cabins or condos on the frozen lake, stock up on supplies for hot toddies and light a roaring fire. In addition to the amazing cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, there’s also skating, sledding, and tubing to be had nearby. For some local flavor, Dartmouth Campus is just a few miles away in Hanover, a great little college town with some nice restaurants and solid local bars. This is the way to do winter right.
A Canadian Two-City Trip
Niagara Falls & Toronto, Canada
It’s rare that Niagara Falls completely freezes over (though it has happened), but even if it’s not completely frozen, seeing the falls surrounded by ice and snow is a totally different way to view one of the world’s most gorgeous waterfalls. Make sure to bring your passport because though the American side of Niagara is better, the best place to view the American side is from the Canadian side. Also, since you’re going to Canada anyway, you might as well hit the road to Toronto, one of Canada’s best cities. Check out the CN Tower, the Bata Shoe Museum, and the Hockey Hall of Fame. In fact, go see the home team, the Maple Leafs, while you’re there, it’s going to redefine hockey for you. There’s nothing like seeing hockey in Canada--the ultimate winter sport in the ultimate wintry country.
European Vibes In Canada
Don’t let your fear of speaking French deter you from making it to the only Canadian city with better nightlife than Toronto. With an incredible old-world charm and scenery like Paris (only with a shorter plane flight) Montreal is incredibly beautiful. In addition to amazing nightlife, you can warm yourself with some of the best restaurants in the world. Gorge on all manner of pig at the justifiably famous Au Pied de Cochon or down some oysters and live the good life at equally renowned spots Joe Beef and Le Bremner. Walk off that hangover and visit the Old Port, the Biodome, the Biosphere, and the city’s namesake, Mount Royal. Then grab a nap, charge your phone and get out and light the fuse again.
A Little Fun & Gambling in the Desert
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sure, the pool scene in Vegas during the summer is legendary, but it’s so damn hot in the desert that you never want to leave the air conditioning of the casinos or leave the confines of the pool (not that there is anything wrong with that). But in the winter, you can still enjoy the casino but you can also go explore a bit more than you otherwise would in Vegas. Walk the entire Strip and see all the casinos--each one more elaborate than the last. See some sharks at Mandalay Bay, shop in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, drop some coins at the Cosmo, and watch the water show outside the Bellagio. Go see a magic, comedy, or Cirque show at one of the casinos, or party all night at Marquee, XS, or Omnia. Don’t sleep on downtown Vegas and the legendary Fremont Experience and if you miss out on shooting machine guns at Battlefield Vegas, you blew it. For some cool sightseeing outside the city, take a drive to the grandiose Hoover Dam or the absolutely stunning little-known state park, Valley of Fire (which doubled for Mars in the classic 80s dystopia Total Recall). You won’t need to win a jackpot for this trip to be considered a winner this winter.
The Perfect Place to Get Lei’d
The Hawaiian Islands
For another, entirely different sun-soaked trip, head to Hawaii. Whichever island you choose, you’ll be satisfied with the choice. O’ahu has some of the best beaches and most-visited sites. It’s main city, the capital Honolulu, has both world-famous Waikiki beach (where surfing was born), historically important sights like Pearl Harbor, and and scenic outdoor activities at Diamond Head park. Maui’s breathtaking beaches are legendary--whether you want some of the biggest surfing waves or some small snorkeling cove, they’ve got much to offer. The Big Island has one of the most beautiful national parks in the country, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Whether you want to see lava flows or black sand beaches, world class waterfalls or simmering steam vents, this park is jam packed with mind-blowing sights (check out a helicopter tour too). The other islands have their positives as well. If you can, go to all of them. If you can’t go to all of them, no worries, whichever one you choose will be better than the winter you’d be having otherwise. Shrimp on the beach definitely beats a can of soup from the bodega.