Editors' Picks: Hot Winter Vacations

Heat things up! Our staff chose 10 picturesque destinations for travelers to escape cold winter weather. Plan your next vacation to one of these hot spots.

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Brooklyn Bridge in the morning snow
Brooklyn Bridge in the morning snow

Brooklyn Bridge in the morning snow

This brave jogger makes her way past the Brooklyn Bridge in the morning snow. When Jack Frost hits, plan your own jog for midday, when the sun is high up. Also, don’t forget to rehydrate; all those extra layers of clothing will make you sweat even more. 960 1280

Spencer Platt/Getty Images  

The February 2010 North American blizzard, aka Snowmaggedon, dumped 20 to 35 inches of snow across the Northeast, bringing highways to a halt. Here, one DC-area resident treks by the White House on skis. 960 1280

Yuri Gripas / Reuters'  

Two MCTS Buses Stuck on Humboldt St. Milwaukee

Two MCTS Buses Stuck on Humboldt St. Milwaukee

When there’s a severe winter storm, factor in bus delays or detours. Probably a good idea for passengers of these 2 buses stuck in the Milwaukee snow. 960 1280

Jeramey Jannene, flickr  

When all the city’s covered in snow, it’s time for a snowball fight. That’s what these guys did in Times Square for 45 minutes. 960 1280

Dan Nguyen, flickr  

Snowstorm in Rockville, Maryland in 2011

Snowstorm in Rockville, Maryland in 2011

These snow-covered trees in Rockville, MD, may look pretty. But all that snow bearing down on them can break tree limbs -- and come crashing through a house roof or window. Use an extension pole, like those used by house painters, to wipe the snow away. Just make sure no electric power lines are around. 960 1280

DeusXFlorida, flickr  

Football in front of the US Capitol

Football in front of the US Capitol

The winter flurries are the perfect excuse for a snow game: jump snow hurdles, rope tow, flag in a snow stack, and of course, a good ole game of football, like this one in front of the US Capitol in February 2010. 960 1280

Reuters  

Early snowfall in Worcester, Massachusetts

Early snowfall in Worcester, Massachusetts

Maybe not the best idea: parking your car beside a big tree before a snowstorm hits, as one driver did in Worcester, MA, in October 2011. 960 1280

Reuters  

snowstorm in Louisville, CO

snowstorm in Louisville, CO

The snow experts agree: Tap the branches of your property’s trees with a broom soon after snow falls or even as it accumulates, so you’re not left with heavy, icy tree limbs later on. That's what this woman is doing after a snowstorm in Louisville, CO. 960 1280

Reuters   

Snow storm in Boulder, CO

Snow storm in Boulder, CO

These 2 guys are looking for a place to build a snowboard ramp, after a snowstorm the previous night in Boulder, CO. If you’ve got the snowboarding itch, wear a helmet with adjustable inner pads for a custom fit. 960 1280

Reuters  

January 2012 Seattle snowstorm

January 2012 Seattle snowstorm

Who needs the Alpine slopes? This Seattle-area resident sees the heavy snowfall as an opportunity to ski cross-country from his home in Kirkland to Bellevue, WA, a 20-mile round trip. Get a non-bulky insulated pair of gloves for skiing ease. 960 1280

Reuters  

If you know a big snowstorm will hit, make sure you have enough food to sustain your family for at least 72 hours. Here, a residential-area stop sign is buried under nearly 20 feet of snow in Ontario, Canada. 960 1280

John Talbot, flickr  

Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive

Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive

A man walks between stranded cars on Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive in February 2011. If you must park or abandon your vehicle, avoid leaving it in a bus stop area or at a corner; this slows down transportation recovery efforts and may lead to your car being towed. 960 1280

Reuters   

Before sending your kids out to play in the snow, pile on the sunscreen. A sunburn in winter may sound far-fetched, but snow can reflect up to 85% of the sun’s UV rays. Here, a 4-year-old Amish boy enjoys a day off from school in St. Mary's County, MD. 960 1280

Getty  

Buried magazine stand

Buried magazine stand

Yesterday’s news: a magazine stand buried in snow. For the latest weather report, check out NOAA’s National Weather Service for state-by-state forecasts and warnings. 960 1280

David Goehring, flickr  

Joe Farhat, an employee at a produce stand in Pike Place Market

Joe Farhat, an employee at a produce stand in Pike Place Market

And when the snow hits, have fun -- like this guy in Seattle sledding down a closed snow-covered street in January 2012. 960 1280

Getty  

National Christmas Tree
National Christmas Tree

National Christmas Tree

Looking for ideas on where to travel in December? Kick off the month with a tour of the National Christmas Tree. Located on the White House’s South Lawn, a towering 40-foot evergreen spruce has been a seasonal fixture of the nation’s capital since 1923. 960 1280

Getty Images  

San Antonio River Walk

San Antonio River Walk

Keep the Christmas spirit going in San Antonio. Every December, more than a mile of the San Antonio River Walk comes alive with over 100 underwater lights, as well as LED rope lighting crossing from one side of the river to the other. 960 1280

Getty Images   

Hobbit Tour

Hobbit Tour

Hobbit fans, rejoice! With this month's release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Tolkien fans have a reason to follow the Hobbit trail to New Zealand. Besides being a great time to visit (December is the start of New Zealand’s summer season), the country has a Hobbit movie set tour on upper North Island. 960 1280

Jeff Hitchcock, flickr  

Ice Fishing, Colorado Style

Ice Fishing, Colorado Style

This December, put Colorado on your outdoors adventure map: Colorado's robust winters lure ice-fishing enthusiasts to gear up and head out for the thrill of the catch. Prime spots include Wolford Mountain Reservoir, a 1,550- acre reservoir, about 100 miles west of Denver. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Caribbean Cruise: Early December

Caribbean Cruise: Early December

For an impromptu December getaway, set sail for the Caribbean. The first 2 weeks of December are your best bet for bargain prices on cruises and hotels, before fares rise come Christmas and New Year’s. Combine your warm winter escape with cool events, like the Bahamas International Film Festival. 960 1280

Royal Caribbean International  

San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker

San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker

The holiday season wouldn’t be quite the same without catching a performance of The Nutcracker. We suggest heading to the City by the Bay to see the sparkling 2-act ballet performed by the San Francisco Ballet, which first introduced Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece to American audiences in 1944. 960 1280

Erik Tomasson  

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating

Rockefeller Center Ice Skating

For the quintessential NYC Christmas experience, take a whirl on the ice at Rockefeller Center. The world-famous ice-skating rink at the famed commercial complex, in the heart of Manhattan, has been a fixture of Rockefeller Center since 1936. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Stonehenge Winter Solstice

Take in the winter solstice at Stonehenge. Every year, more than 5,000 people gather at the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England, to mark the time when the sun appears at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. And good news in 2013: Visitors can explore a new visitor center close to the ancient site that's set to open this month. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Santa Claus House in North Pole

Santa Claus House in North Pole

Just where does Santa Claus live? North Pole, AK, of course. Head to this small, wintery city in the heart of Alaska to see Santa Claus House: A storefront, built in the early 1950s, it’s the spot from which the Original Letter From Santa is mailed out, proclaiming the bearer to be “on Santa’s Good List.” 960 1280

Rosie Rosenberger, flickr  

Hit the Slopes

Hit the Slopes

Hit the slopes this month at North America’s most popular ski resort. In addition to being home to more groomed terrain than any other resort in the world, Vail, CO, boasts the country’s largest ski school for all skill levels. For the more seasoned skier, head to Jackson Hole, where over 90% of the trails fall into intermediate to expert categories. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

NOLA Christmas Bonfires

NOLA Christmas Bonfires

Add a little spice to the holiday season with a trip to The Big Easy. Come Christmas Eve, dozens of bonfires light up along the Mississippi River levee to make way for Papa Noel, as locals in bayou country call Santa. Arrive by 7 p.m. to watch the fiery feu de joie (“fires of joy”)! 960 1280

Douglas and Charlene Guilliams of Baton Rouge, LA: A Father and Daughter Photography Team  

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Christmas Village in Philadelphia

Come December, the City of Brotherly Love transforms itself into a Christmas Village. This annual holiday market in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park features traditional German Christmas market items, displayed by more than 60 vendors in decorated booths and tents. Get your fill of holiday goodies like gingerbread cookies and mulled wine. 960 1280

Christmas Village in Philadelphia  

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days

Learn dog sledding in … Chicago? Yep, for outdoor winter adventure, head to the Windy City’s Northerly Island, site of the 9th annual Polar Adventure Days. Beginning in early December, the family-friendly event includes a toddler zone with outdoor “ice fishing,” an REI winter activity station and a dog-sledding demo with huskies. 960 1280

Chicago's Polar Adventure Days  

Walt Disney World Marathon
Walt Disney World Marathon

Walt Disney World Marathon

Kick off the New Year by earning your Disney medals! The annual Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend unfolds in mid-January, with 4 days of events that include a 5K, 10K and half marathon. Here, Adriano Bastos of Brazil crosses the finish line to win the 20th annual marathon. See more ideas for where to travel in January. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Tournament of Roses Parade

Tournament of Roses Parade

Head to the granddaddy of all college bowl games this January. The famed Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, has been played annually since 1916. Cap off festivities with an even older tradition -- the annual Tournament of the Roses Parade, “America’s New Year Celebration” since 1895. 960 1280

Getty Images  

New Year's Plunge (Coney Island)

New Year's Plunge (Coney Island)

Go ahead, take the New Year’s plunge! Every year, since 1903, the Coney Island Polar Bear Club has taken a dip in the chilly Atlantic come New Year’s. All you need is a bathing suit (or wacky costume), plus a little suspension of disbelief that you are actually immersing yourself in ice-cold water in the dead of winter. 960 1280

Getty Images   

South Padre Island

South Padre Island

Coney Island’s waters too cold for you? Take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico at South Padre Island. With average water temperatures in the 50s and 60s this time of year, you can brave the annual South Padre Island Polar Bear Dip and still feel all your toes and fingers afterward. January is also a great time to stroll the Laguna Madre Nature Trail or go on a dolphin cruise. 960 1280

Getty Images   

North American International Auto Show (Detroit)

North American International Auto Show (Detroit)

New Year, new car! See what the leading automakers have in store at the annual North American International Auto Show. As one of the largest auto shows in North America, the annual event reveals brand-new, shiny offerings like the 7th-generation Chevrolet Corvette, the C7, (pictured), at Detroit’s Cobo Center. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Off-Season Pick: Florence, Italy

Off-Season Pick: Florence, Italy

Looking for a great off-season destination? Skip the crowds, and head to Florence, Italy. Sure, it’s one of the Tuscan city’s coldest months, so just pack a scarf; with hardly any tourists, you’ll have ample room to explore Florence’s sites and attractions like the Duomo and Uffizi Gallery. 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Mexico City in January

Mexico City in January

For an off-season pick closer to home, set your sights on Mexico City. January is one of the best months to visit, with thinner crowds and weather still warm enough for sightseeing. Explore any number of museums (the city is home to more than 170!), plus stroll the oldest park in North America and check out trendy neighborhoods like La Roma. 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Year of the Snake (Chinatown, Boston)

Year of the Snake (Chinatown, Boston)

Ring in the Year of the Snake in Boston’s Chinatown. Right behind NYC and LA, Beantown’s Chinatown is the third-largest in the US, with roots stretching back to the 1880s. Pass through Boston Chinatown’s opening gate, flanked by 2 guardian lions on either side, and enjoy Cantonese cuisine served in small dishes at restaurants like Hei La Moon. 960 1280

Simon Law, flickr   

Learn-to-Ski-and-Snowboard Month

Learn-to-Ski-and-Snowboard Month

Did you know January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month? Hit the slopes in New York State, home to more than 50 ski resorts -- more than any other state in the country. Among the top draws is Whiteface Mountain; just a short drive from Lake Placid, the ski area offers diverse terrain for both beginner and expert skiers. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Grammys' Big Night in Los Angeles

Grammys' Big Night in Los Angeles

Didn’t get an invite to the Grammys this month? Don’t let that stop you from touring the City of Angels, especially anything to do with the Beatles this year. 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles taking America by storm; while the Grammys will hold its own commemoration, tour sites like the Hollywood Bowl, where the Beatles performed 2 outdoor concerts. 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Yosemite’s Chefs’ Holidays: The Ahwahnee

Yosemite’s Chefs’ Holidays: The Ahwahnee

Take a tour of the Ahwahnee, the grand Yosemite National Park hotel that has hosted its share of famous guests through the years, from Walt Disney to Queen Elizabeth II. Visit this January for the annual Yosemite’s Chefs’ Holidays, and embark on a Northern California cooking adventure. 960 1280

Kenny Karst/DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.  

Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival

This January marks the 31st anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival. The American film fest, held annually in Park City, UT, showcases dozens of films. There’s still time to book with the festival’s official carrier, Southwest Airlines; meanwhile, no registration is required for individual tickets to the festival in 2015. 960 1280

Getty Images  

National Cheese Lover’s Day (Vermont)

National Cheese Lover’s Day (Vermont)

Don’t let New Year’s be the one day you celebrate this month; pencil in time for National Cheese Lover’s Day, too. Jan. 20 marks a very special day for cheese gourmands everywhere. Celebrate with a trip to Vermont, home to cheesemakers since the 1800s, and let this Vermont cheese trail map be your guide. 960 1280

iStock   

MLK Day of Service

MLK Day of Service

Celebrate the life of the civil rights leader during the MLK Day of Service. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., hundreds of nonprofits and volunteer centers nationwide observe the federal holiday, named in King’s honor back in 1983, as a day of giving back to local communities and shelters. Grab a hammer and lend a hand. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Elvis Presley's Birthday

Elvis Presley's Birthday

Celebrate the life of another King: On Jan. 8, 1935, Elvis Presley was born in a 2-room house in Tupelo, MI. This month, Elvis’s Graceland estate hosts a 3-day-long birthday celebration. Rise bright and early for the Elvis Birthday Proclamation Ceremony on Graceland’s North Lawn, and stay for the birthday-cake cutting. 960 1280

Ed Schipul, flickr   

Aspen's Winterskol Fest

Aspen's Winterskol Fest

Raise a toast to winter in Aspen’s annual Winterskol fest. The winter tradition is more than 60 years strong, and was started by a lodge owner who wanted to enliven the Aspen winter season following Christmas. Today, the 4-day winter fest includes a snow sculpture competition, a soup cook-off and a downhill race, with apple strudel at the finish line. 960 1280

Aspen Chamber Resort Association