Some people try to escape the winter at all costs, heading to warm spots that can thaw their chilly bones and help them keep their summer tan. Others, however, revel in the snowy weather, taking every opportunity to spend time out in the cold with friends who also enjoy winter sports and other active pursuits. Those individuals are always in search of great winter holiday locations, and though they may have their favorites, most are open to a new adventure in a new place they’ve never experienced.
If you’re a snow bunny, where you travel for your winter holiday is probably largely dependent on your budget. Some individuals are fortunate enough to have good winter destinations within short driving distances of their homes. Others need to commit to a long drive or travel by air.
How much you pay for your winter holiday may also depend on when you go. Prices, including package vacation deals, tend to be lower after the Christmas holidays when the slopes empty out and business is not quite so brisk. And remember, some of these winter sports destination offer activities like skiing well into the month of April if the weather cooperates. That’s also a good time to head to fun winter vacation locations.
Below is a list of potential destinations that offer ideal winter weather and all the accompanying fun to go with it.
The beautiful country of Canada is home to a number of excellent winter destinations and they’re not all concentrated in one part of the country, making them convenient for visitors on either side of the continent.
- Whistler-Blackcomb – Located not far from Vancouver, Whistler-Blackcomb is truly one of Canada’s best ski areas. For the downhill fanatic, this is certainly the place to be – with 200 different trails on two mountains and a total of 8,100 skiable acres. There are also 6 parks and a super-pipe for boarders, plenty of room for cross-country, skiing, 17 mountain restaurants, and a beautiful village with shops and a variety of lodging options. Non-skiers will find enough to do to keep them busy as well.
- Mont Tremblant – Located in the province of Quebec, Mont Tremblant is one of the best-known ski areas on the eastern side of Canada. Skiers head to 94 runs via 13 state-of-the-art ski lifts and boarders can enjoy acres of ramps, rails, and jumps. For some après-ski action, the Mont Tremblant Village has cafeterias, sit-down restaurants, bars, pubs, and plenty of shopping, all in a European-style setting.
With several mountain ranges traversing the United States, ski resorts are abundant here as well. Here’s a list of a few great winter holiday locations in various parts of the country.
- Aspen – Not affordable to everyone but certainly world-class, Aspen is the favored ski resort of the rich and famous. But regular people can ski there too! Once an old Colorado mining town in the Rockies, this area has been converted to an upscale European-style village that offers the best of everything, including skiing, boarding, sledding, and much more. Skiers can choose from 4 different mountains for a top-notch experience that fits their level.
- Deer Valley Resort – Located in Park City, Utah, Deer Valley was used for the skiing events at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games. The terrain is spread over four mountains and appropriate for skiers of all levels. Extreme skiers can even try their hand at heli-skiing and snowcat-skiing. There’s also 800 miles of snowmobile trails.
- Killington – The largest ski and snowboard area on the East Coast, Killington, Vermont offers seven interconnected mountains and the greatest diversity of skiing in the area. It’s also home to the longest terrain park in the east, ideal for avid snowboarders. In addition, Killington is surrounded by charming New England towns – like Woodstock and Manchester – that are a joy to explore.
While it’s difficult to narrow the list down to just a few great winter holiday locations in Europe, some have gained an international reputation with cold weather sports enthusiasts.
- Chamonix-Mont Blanc – One of France’s most well-known ski areas, Chamonix/Mont-Blanc is located in the eastern portion of the country. It tends to be a very “hip” resort, popular with young skiers and snowboarders. And if you’re looking for extreme terrain, this is the place to go. (Take a guide if you want to check out the off-piste areas.) Accommodations range from very cheap to quite expensive, allowing for a variety of budgets.
- Cortina d’Ampezzo – Better known as simply “Cortina”, this magnificent winter holiday resort is in Italy’s Dolomite region. Sort of the Aspen of Italy, Cortina has slowly become a very upscale ski resort, attracting the beautiful people of Europe. But don’t count it out, even if you’re an ordinary person. The skiing here is magnificent and it is said that the slopes are rarely crowded because many visitors arrive just to enjoy the abundant sunshine found here nearly all the time. The town of Cortina is lively and so is the après-ski scene.
- The Jungfrau Region – Switzerland’s Jungfrau Region is home to some of the most famous summits in the Alps, including the Eiger, the Schillthorn, and – of course – the Jungfrau. Guests exploring the region stay at three main resort areas: Grindelwald, Wengen, and Murren. The area is best suited to intermediate and advanced skiers and attracts one of the largest English-speaking ski populations in Europe – mostly Brits – which makes it easy to communicate.
- Val d’Isere – This French winter holiday location was made famous in the 1960s by men’s downhill skier Jean-Claude Killy. Thanks to the 3-time Olympic medalist, this area is now one of the most popular ski areas in the Alps. Often paired with neighboring Tignes, Val d’Isere has slopes for all levels, lots of space for Nordic skiing and snowboarding, and a lovely old village that’s enjoyed plenty of updates to satisfy the needs and wants of modern vacationers. Affordable accommodations aren’t hard to find and the resort attracts visitors of all ages, including families with kids.