The chilly weather’s here; bring on the festive mood! Whether you prefer oohing and ahhing over lights or breaking in your new snowshoes (or just taking a selfie with Santa), there’s plenty of merry-making to be done this season.
Not sure where to find your frosty fun? Check out our five top winter wonderland cities for an awesome winter getaway!
The Mile High City is one of our favorites for so many reasons: sports, beer, and skiing are just the first ones that come to mind. And now we’ll have to add to its rep with a new designation, as one of our favorite winter wonderland cities.
Kids of all ages (even the grown-up ones!) will love Denver in the winter. From the instagram-worthy Holiday Carousel to its Mile High Tree to the over one million bulbs lighting up the Denver Zoo, the city is a family-friendly glitzy holiday spectacle!
And if you want to hit the slopes, Loveland is just a quick 1-hour car drive from Denver and sure to be snowy. Fresh powder, anyone?
Best Winter Wonderland City for: Christmas fun for the whole fam.
You guys, it’s Alaska… it’s pretty much always winter here. Frigid jokes aside, though, winter is the ideal time of year to visit Fairbanks. The seasonal activities alone are enough to make it one of our top winter spots. Think dog sledding, ice fishing, sleeping in an igloo, and watching the Northern Lights. Oh, and did we mention Reindeer Yoga? Because that’s a thing, too.
Still not convinced? Fairbanks is just 20 minutes away from… (drumroll) the North Pole! That’s right. That’s right, the North Pole is an actual town in Alaska, and you can visit Santa—well, his workshop, anyways.
Best Winter Wonderland City for: petting reindeer and sled dogs.
A quaint mountain town in the Great Smoky Mountains with a jaw-dropping lights display… is it any wonder Gatlinburg earned a spot on our list of the best winter wonderland cities?
Aside from the traditional ski resort activities, Gatlinburg’s big draw is its legendary Lights Over Gatlinburg. The most popular holiday lights event in Tennessee features thousands of light bulbs, dancing trees, and its famous 200-foot tunnel of lights.
When it’s all said and done, head home to one of Gatlinburg’s cozy chalets or cabins for an evening of hot cocoa by the fire.
Best Winter Wonderland City for: a Hallmark movie Christmas.
If you prefer your winters with a Bavarian feel, head over to this charming city. Leavenworth transports you to another place and time, with German holiday foods, abundant Christmas displays, and even carolers in the town’s gazebo.
Stroll through the Leavenworth Village of Lights for your holiday shopping, especially traditional handmade Bavarian arts and crafts. Or rent a snowmobile and explore the more than 150 miles of snow-covered trails.
And if Jack Frost is making you feel like a kid again, BYOS (bring your own sled) and head over to the Leavenworth Golf Course to race down the hills.
Best Winter Wonderland City for: a Frohe Weihnachten (that’s “Merry Christmas” in German).
New York City, NY
We know, it’s a cliche, but the Big Apple really is magical in the winter! All the scenes you’ve seen in countless holiday movies are there: the giant tree at Rockefeller Center, the Christmas Market in Bryant Square, ice skating in Central Park, The Rockettes Christmas show, the store window displays. How could it not be one of our winter wonderland cities?
And there’s one neighborhood that’s an absolute must: Dyker Heights, in Brooklyn. Every year, homeowners battle it out to see who has the most over-the-top Christmas lights extravaganza.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are a couple of mountains close by. Take a day trip to squeeze in skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing.
Best Winter Wonderland City for: the classic Christmas feel.
Are you already on the “Nice” list? Then make sure you ship your luggage (and gifts) to your hotel or Airbnb with LugLess. No dragging sweater-filled suitcases through the airport, no impatient waiting at baggage claim. The only thing better would be if Santa dropped it down your chimney! (But the Big Guy won’t; we already asked.)