Embrace the Cold at These 12 Affordable Winter Destinations
In many parts of the country, the grueling days of winter have truly settled in with frigid temperatures and only rare appearances by the sun. But there are many places where winter's arrival actually brings out the best in the destination -- communities that transform into the embodiment of a Normal Rockwell painting or a winter wonderland offering days of snow-filled fun. Think snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and sleigh rides, topped off by a steaming hot cocoa, a warm fireplace, or a bubbling Jacuzzi, and you're getting the picture. Here's a look at 12 places celebrating all things white and frozen that are offering special winter vacation discounts or packages aimed at making a winter getaway even more tempting.
Related: 13 Budget-Friendly Destinations for Winter Sun
Snowshoe Mountain, with its idyllic mountaintop village, looks as if it jumped straight from the pages of an age-old holiday book. Located about 5,000 feet above sea level, Snowshoe Mountain is typically snow central from December through March. In addition to abundant skiing, activities include snowmobile tours, snow tubing, back-country adventure dining, and horseback riding. Until March 23, the resort is offering the Easy Inn Stay & Ski Package, which includes nightly lodging and skiing for $69 a person.
Few places are more striking or beautiful than Bryce Canyon when it's dusted with a blanket of white. For a unique twist on snow-themed fun, visitors could spend an entire day walking through the ethereal canyons filled with dazzling red rock formations, which stand in stark contrast to the snow this time of year. The famed Ruby's Inn offers ice-skating, sleigh rides, horseback rides, snowshoeing, and more. A Winter Warmer Deal allows visitors to stay one night and get half off each additional night through March 25.
About a half-hour outside the renowned artists' community of Taos is the strikingly picturesque retreat of Taos Ski Valley. With a population of just 69 people as of the 2010 census, there's plenty of open space to enjoy the great, snow-covered outdoors. Popular pastimes include tubing, snowmobile tours, snowshoeing, and, of course, skiing. While it's tough to find discount package deals this time of year, given that the place is practically made for winter, Natural Retreats offers cabins that sleep four to 17 people, with prices starting at $149 a night.
In addition to all the usual activities -- skiing, snowshoeing, skating, snow tubing -- Boyne Mountain boasts winter zip-lining and the Avalanche Bay Indoor Water Park (in case a break from the outdoors is in order). The Ski & Stay Package starts at $126 per person, per night. While that may not sound like a bargain, kids age 8 and under sleep and ski for free. In addition, kids 9 to 15 receive reduced rates on lodging and lift tickets. The price also includes a complimentary breakfast buffet and admission for snow tubing.
With more than 500 acres of slopes, there's plenty of skiing to be done in the Angel Fire area, as well as tubing, sledding, and snowboarding. The community of Angel Fire, where the resort is located, hosts horse-drawn sleigh rides and snowmobile tours. Other outdoor activities include ice fishing and snowshoeing. The Stay & Ski package at Angel Fire Resort, available until March 19, offers 10 percent off nightly lodging rates and lift-ticket prices. In addition, kids under 6 ski free. Chalets start at about $179 a night.
Snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, and snow tubing are among the offerings at this 1,600-acre resort set at the foot of two mountains, just outside the historic mining city of Kellogg. Silver Mountain is also home to Idaho's largest indoor water park, which is about the size of a football field. The temperature at Silver Rapids Indoor Waterpark is a balmy 84 degrees, perfect to warm your bones after a day in the snow. Weekend prices for the Ski & Stay package start at about $95 a person, which includes accommodations, lift tickets, and unlimited access to the water park for a family of four. Weekday rates start at $69 per person, per night.
Jackson Hole is a legendary winter hot spot. Not only is it consistently ranked a top ski destination in North America, but it has long attracted a who's who of celebrities, thanks to the charming town of Jackson and the stellar beauty of Grand Teton National Park, just 5 miles away. The area is also home to the National Elk Refuge, where winter visitors can enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides. For all these reasons and more, finding a winter vacation deal here is not easy. But Rendezvous Mountain Rentals, just 4 miles from Jackson Hole Resort, is offering a special on condo rentals -- rent four nights and get the fifth night free. Fully furnished condos that sleep four people start at $149 a night.
Located in New York's Finger Lakes Region, Greek Peak Mountain Resort is offering a variety of special packages to entice winter travelers. The resort is home to Hope Lake Lodge, which serves as a base for activities such as skiing, snow tubing, and zip-lining at the Outdoor Adventure Center. The Family Fun Package, available January through April, lets families stay two nights at Hope Lake Lodge and get the third night free. The package includes four water-park passes, four snow-tube passes, and tokens for the arcade. A Ski & Stay package starts at $99 per person per night.
Estes Park in northern Colorado serves as a picturesque base for exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. On top of skiing and sledding, popular activities include snowshoeing on pristine trails, wildlife viewing (spotting elk and bear is not unusual), and riding the Estes Park Aerial Tramway to the summit of Prospect Mountain. For the particularly adventurous, there's ice climbing. Among the winter deals offered here is $20 off the nightly accommodation rate at River Stone Resort when staying at least two nights. Another package allows four people to stay in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for $169 a night.
Trendy outdoor ice bars, winter carnivals (throughout February), and polar plunges are just some of the options in Lake George this time of year. This spectacular winter wonderland also features snow tubing, ice-skating, ice fishing, and guided snowmobile tours. Among the lodging deals available is the Winter Call Off special from The Lodges at Cresthaven, which allows four nights (Sunday through Thursday or Monday through Friday) at a discounted rate. The cost is $400 for two people, $500 for four, and $700 for six.
The mountain community of Steamboat Springs is known as Ski Town USA for good reason -- it's a world-renowned ski destination. For those seeking an extended winter retreat, a Ski Town USA Package includes 30 percent off lodging and lift tickets when staying eight nights. In addition, kids ski and rent free. Keeping busy for eight days in this snowy destination is not likely to be a challenge, even for the ski-averse. Options include snowboarding, a winter carnival, dog sledding, ice and fly fishing, ice climbing, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, and helicopter tours.
This former silver-mining boomtown is one of the world's top winter vacation destinations. It claims to be the largest resort in the United States, with a combined ski and snowboarding area of about 9,326 acres. Other activities include dog sledding, skating, snowshoeing, and tubing. Park City's village is home to more than 100 bars and restaurants, art galleries, and museums. Finding a deal in such a trendy and popular place is no easy feat, but the Spring Stay & Savor package offers savings of up to 40 percent on lodging Feb. 26 to April 16. Chateau Apres, just 150 yards from the main Park City Mountain Resort lifts, is offering a March Spring Special rate of $120 a night March 22 to March 31.