The best winter vacation varies depending on what you're looking for; some people want to immerse themselves in winter wonderlands and enjoy the festivities of the season, while others seek a warm reprieve from the frigid weather in their hometowns.
This list covers some of the best places to visit in winter right here in the US. Would you like to get a look at the Northern Lights? Explore Christmas markets and admire holiday light displays? Visit popular tourist destinations in the off-season where you'll benefit from fewer crowds? Take in snowy landscapes from the warmth of an observation car on a wintry train? If you're planning a winter getaway - odds are there's something on our list that's perfect for you.
1. Aurora Borealis Viewing in Alaska
The bright dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis, an astronomical phenomenon and one of nature's most magical dazzling displays, can be observed right here in the US in America's Last Frontier, Alaska. Alaska is the epitome of a winter wonderland, with snow-covered mountain tops, starry nights, wide-open expanses of backcountry, exciting cities, winter festivals and activities like snowmobiling, dog mushing, skiing and snowboarding. The legendary Alaska Railroad offers a journey to the heart of Denali National Park, connecting destinations that would otherwise remain unreachable, allowing passengers to soak in the most awe-inspiring views from window-lined carriages, elevating an already unbelievable winter vacation.
2. Winter Escape to the Grand Canyon
This natural world wonder is a must-see for travelers near and far, renowned for its indescribable beauty and unique history. Millions of people visit the Grand Canyon each year, most choosing to do so in the summer. Winter vacationers can experience the majesty of the Grand Canyon in a more intimate setting, with fewer crowds, shorter lines and more opportunities to marvel at scenic overlooks - or to capture that perfect photo. The Grand Canyon Railway also operates year-round, which means winter visitors won't miss out on a nostalgic journey that captures the Wild West's untouched beauty and recalls train expeditions of long ago.
3. Coast to Coast Adventure
Coast to coast adventures allow you to experience both the wintry landscapes of New York and the milder weather of California. There's no better way to see this great country than by looking out of the dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows of Amtrak's observation car. Scenic highlights on the route include the Rocky and Sierra Nevada Mountains, Moffat Tunnel, Colorado's Gore, Byers and Glenwood Canyons, Truckee River, Donner Lake, San Pablo Bay and the Carquinez Strait. There's also time to explore each destination in the less hectic off-season and if you're traveling during the holidays, enjoy holiday markets, seasonal festivities and elaborate light displays.