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20 of the best getaways to banish the winter blues

Whether you're into the great outdoors, food, shopping or culture, there's a fit for everyone on this list.

With summer now just a distant memory, it's time to start planning a winter vacation, which can provide a boost to your spirits without emptying your wallet.

For many cities, winter marks the off-season for tourism, which means fewer crowds, lower prices and easier access to top-notch restaurants and hotels. Have you ever fancied a visit to wine country in California's Napa Valley? During the winter months, the region is cheap, mellow and full of holiday spirit.

When planning your trip, consider your top priorities. Are you looking to spend time outdoors? Relax on the beach? Or spend a weekend at a ski resort with friends?

Holiday travel can be stressful enough, so we've compiled a list of the top 20 places you should consider visiting this winter.

Nashville, Tennessee

Broadway pub district in downtown Nashville Tennessee USA
Neon signs at the landmark Broadway pub district in downtown Nashville, TN.Getty Images

Nothing says winter like festive music, which is why Nashville is a perfect destination to venture to once there's a chill to the air. The Music City is full of good food, museums and holiday spirit. Book a tour through the Country Music Hall of Fame or find yourself roaming down the historic Nashville streets on a trolley. During the holidays, the city is vibrant with holiday spirit. Be sure to visit Gaylord Opryland's "A Country Christmas" event for fun activities including ice tubing, gingerbread-making and live music.

Whistler, British Columbia

Looking to spend some time exploring nature this winter? Whistler is a perfect getaway for you. With snow-covered mountains and breathtaking views of alpine lakes, the Canadian resort town offers a great mix of winter activities including skiing, snow tubing, and hiking. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, check out one of Whistler's Nordic-inspired outdoor spas or explore the local shops and restaurants in Whistler Village. And, if you happen to find yourself with some spare time, take a journey to the town's Olympic Park, where Canada hosted some of the 2010 Winter Games.

The Adirondacks, New York

Adirondack Mountains - Frosted Ski Slope
Visit the Adirondack Mountains for all your snow-filled activities. Getty Images

Up for an adventure? The Adirondack Mountains offer access to roughly 500 miles of snowmobile trails and 46 peaks for hiking. With a new winter carnival every weekend, you're guaranteed to have a good time. And if you visit during New Year's Day, dare yourself to participate in the annual Polar Plunge at Shepard Park Beach in Lake George. If you're coming later in the winter months, check out the Adirondacks Ice Bowl, an annual pond hockey festival, or the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.

Lake Tahoe (California-Nevada border)

Drive about five hours outside of San Francisco and you'll come across the beautiful mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the clear waters of Lake Tahoe. Although this destination is popular year-round, Lake Tahoe offers top-notch slopes with breathtaking views in the winter. Choose from a variety of local ski passes that grant you access to many of the best resorts, including Heavenly and Northstar.


Pier Over the clear blue sea Against Blue Sky
Leave your jacket at home because white sandy beaches and clear water await you.Jeroen Lucas / EyeEm / Getty Images/EyeEm

Eager to escape the cold, dreary winter weather? Book a vacation to Aruba for a tropical getaway. The island is full of white sand beaches and warm breezes that will have you feeling relaxed in no time. Lounge by the water with a good read and lots of sunscreen, and you're set to go. Aruba also offers a variety of fun activities for kids, including snorkeling, sailing and surfing.

Austin, Texas

Austin's temperature in the winter ranges between the 50s and 60s, making it a perfect destination for both indoor and outdoor activities. During the holiday season, Austin hosts a number of festive events, including the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, full of music and art, and ice skating on the rooftop plaza of Whole Foods. If you happen to be in town during February, make sure to cheer on those running in the Austin Marathon. And don't forget to grab a bite of Texas barbecue.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Highlining and camping in Joshua Tree National Park in California.
Hike, camp, or walk the many trails of Joshua Tree National Park.Scott Hardesty / Getty Images

Grab your loved ones and venture down to Joshua Tree National Park for your annual holiday vacation this year. While temperatures can soar in the summer, wintertime offers a respite from the heat and a chance to explore the wilderness. The national park is filled with old mining trails, including the Lost Horse Mine, a 6.5-mile scenic hike around the park.

At night, you can also stargaze near one of the park's most treasured boulders, Skull Rock. While there are many great hotels to stay at around Joshua Tree, camping in the park is also a great choice. However, if you plan to camp during the winter, be sure to pack lots of layers; temperatures in the desert often drop below freezing.

Mount Hood, Oregon

Mount Hood is a skier's paradise. The mountain has five ski resorts with slopes of all levels; so, whether you are a beginner or an expert, you are guaranteed to find a run that best fits your skills. Aside from skiing, you can also explore Mount Hood's Tamanawas frozen waterfall, snowshoe Trillium Lake or slide down Snow Bunny's 20-foot snow hill.

Kauai, Hawaii

Hana Kauai Hawaii beach
Hana bail hie point north shore of Kauai, Hawaii.Getty Images

There's nothing like a vacation to Hawaii. But this time, escape the more crowded islands and book a trip to Kauai. This rural island with a rich history is full of beautiful beaches and hiking trails. Besides being home to Waimea Canyon, the so-called Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Kauai is filled with many waterfalls and cute cafes. In the winter, humpback whales can be spotted migrating back to the warm Hawaiian waters.

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is a quaint town surrounded by green forests that turn white with snow during the winter. Ranked as one of the top 10 ski towns in America by Forbes, Stowe is full of holiday spirit in the winter, with traditional events including a Christmas tree lighting, cookie decorating and a children's lantern parade. The city also hosts an annual LGBTQ Pride celebration during its Winter Carnival.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Saxophonist in Louisiana, New Orleans
Jazz cruise? Never heard of anything better.Siegfried Layda / Getty Images

With less humidity, winter is a great time to visit the Big Easy. Venture on a city bike tour around New Orleans' historic streets, take a jazz cruise down the Mississippi River, or head to the Roosevelt Hotel's lobby to see its incredible holiday lights. If you happen to be in New Orleans to ring in the new year, be sure to head over to Jackson Square to watch a fireworks show over the river.

The Bahamas

What better way to spend your winter break than in the Bahamas? The islands, which were largely spared by Hurricane Ian, are packed with clear-water beaches, where you and your family can scuba dive, snorkel and swim. Each winter, the Bahamas also hosts Junkanoo, a cultural festival filled with colorful costumes and extravagant dances. The festival takes place on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, starting at midnight, as well as on New Year's Day. While the festival takes place across 16 islands, the biggest celebration is in downtown Nassau on Bay Street.

Sun Valley, Idaho

A woman enjoying an evening sunset in a hot spring.
Ski the slopes for the first half of the day and relax in these hot springs right after. Getty Images

Home to the ski resort where chairlifts were invented, Sun Valley continues to draw in ski lovers. But besides its slopes, the small town also offers a ton of other great activities that make it a great vacation spot. Just outside of Sun Valley on Warm Springs Creek sits the Frenchman's Bend Hot Springs. The temperature of the water averages about 124 degrees Fahrenheit, making the pools a great location to spend a relaxing afternoon. Sun Valley also offers ice skating, sleigh rides and good food.

Napa Valley, California

With more than 400 wineries, Napa Valley is a great destination for a romantic trip. Throughout the valley, you'll come across hidden gems, including restaurants, boutiques and stunning views. During the winter months, Napa hosts a variety of events including festivals celebrating truffles and lighted art. Consider traveling in December and January, the town's slowest tourist months. Reservations at some of Napa's top wineries often book far in advance, and fewer tourists mean more open tables.

Park City, Utah

The Ski Town II
Park City, Utah. is a ski and snowboard enthusiasts playground. Jason Cameron / Getty Images

Park City has every winter sport you can imagine: snow biking, ice skating, dog sledding and more. But the city also flourishes in arts and culture. January brings the annual Sundance Film Festival, when celebrities and a big chunk of Hollywood descend on the scene.

Throughout winter, the town hosts a number of holiday-themed concerts and film festivals. You can also explore the Kimball Art Center to see the newest exhibits or book a ride on a hot air balloon over the Wasatch Mountains. At the end of every month, artists on the town's Main Street serve refreshments and open their galleries for a Last Friday Gallery Stroll.

North Conway, New Hampshire

From ski races to a city-wide chocolate fest, North Conway has plenty of holiday events. It's also home to nearly 250 miles of cross-country trails. So be sure to pack your skis or snowshoes if you're planning a trip out here.

Every year, the Conway Scenic Railroad turns into Santa's Holiday Express, an 11-mile round-trip journey filled with sweet treats and holiday spirit. Your family won't want to miss out on this magical event.

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston Street Scene
Walk through cobblestoned streets and historic buildings in Charleston, SC.S. Greg Panosian / Getty Images

Winter is a great time to visit Charleston, which has been named the best U.S. city for 10 years in a row by Travel + Leisure. The temperature is perfect for exploring the city's hidden alleys and history. During this time of year, the city hosts a number of exciting events, including a wine festival that takes place in January and February. Charleston is also known for its seafood, but many consider its winter season to be the best time to eat oysters.

Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs has just about everything you're looking for in a winter vacation: great weather, shopping and endless outdoor activities. The city offers a beautiful contrast of scenery with its myriad palm trees surrounded by gorgeous snow-topped mountains. There are tons of boutiques, along with the Street Fair at College of the Desert, where you can find local craft ventures and artists. If shopping isn't your thing, the city also has museums and gorgeous hikes.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

A whale shark off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
Dare to swim with a whale shark (and other marine wildlife) off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.Getty Images

Grab your swimsuit because it's time to go to Cabo! The warm weather, beaches and great food are calling your name. Get ready to snorkel along the shore, swim in the refreshing water and see whales swimming in the ocean. For those into scuba diving, December to May is the best time to go if you're looking to spot bigger marine animals, according to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors.

And if you're hungry, there's lots of local food to try. Visiting Cabo in the winter means lower prices and fewer crowds; it's the perfect opportunity to fight the winter blues.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Although Sin City is buzzing with excitement all year round, during the winter, Las Vegas becomes even more festive with its holiday spirit. The Cosmopolitan turns its Boulevard Pool into an ice rink, while other parts of the city are lit with holiday lights and decorations. Be sure to see the water show at Fountains of Bellagio and also take a stroll through the Bellagio Conservatory's holiday display.