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Best Winter State

author
Christina Perez
• Thursday, 29 October, 2020
• 16 min read

The kitchen had plenty of plates and cookware, oven, stove, full size fridge. They have cute little stores and many wine tasting rooms.

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It's definitely meant for a relaxing weekend and family friendly. “Fun stop during the Holidays, a well-organized and nicely orchestrated event with in the zoo.

Safe, comfortable whether you're attending with the little ones, a date, or with friends.” “Jones Family Farms is so fantastic, I couldn't stop taking photos.

Kwanzaa and Hanukkah get time in the spotlight too, as there is story time for the kids in the American section in the back in which a cast member tells how his/her group celebrates the featured holiday.” The park is lit up beautifully, they have an area for playing in man-made snow, snow tubing (our favorite) a parade, laser light show, singing and dancing shows, a Christmas Carol singing train around the mountain and fireworks.

Sun Valley truly understands 'customer service' -- from its gracious lift ticket manager and ski rental staffers to the coat rack, free overnight ski storage, water glasses and clean & elegant marble restrooms up at 9,000 feet (!!). No lift lines, stellar views, beautifully groomed trails and awesome sun-filled steep & open bowls for practicing moguls.

“I've gone to the winter lights at New fields for two years in a row now, and I plan on continuing! There are lots of opportunities for beautiful photos, and you are able to your Lily House.

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Apple cider, hot chocolate, and adult beverages are available for purchase as well as stores! My favorite part is that Santa walks around and talks to all the children passing by.

Photos with Santa at the mall run 40 dollars or more so this is a great opportunity to snap photos and save yourself from mall Santa!” “The Festival of Trees is a huge event during the holidays in the Quad Cities area.

It's an amazing garden in the summer and one of the best Christmas light displays in the winter. Last weekend they had a record attendance of 7000 people for their holiday display.

“I have visited the Miracle on 34th Street Christmas Lights in Hamden twice now and recommend walking around if able! The first time I went, my friend and I drove through, so we didn't have a chance to really take in the full experience.

Kids love that at the end of our walk we always go to the rides and the fried dough they have! We came after several recommendations, and knowing they were dog friendly, so we were able to bring our pups.

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The rink is outdoor with pretty lights and a bonfire for when you need to take a break.” I came for the lunchtime sleigh ride which was so cozy, entertaining cowboy with great stories, warm blankets, photo ops, etc.

We also snowshoe here two days prior which was also great fun. “The Old Market in Omaha retains a lot of character from the turn of the 20th century.

There are dozens of restaurants, shops, and galleries housed in heritage buildings and warehouses. Many structures, as well as streets and sidewalks, are still clad in brick, and the overall atmosphere is that of a historic downtown area with modern amenities.

The mix of restaurants, for example, ranges from generic pubs to ramen joints.” Head up to Chickadee Tahoe Rim Trail for fewer people.

Lots of snow and snowshoes were needed for heavy hiking if you decide to go. “Booked a private one horse open sleigh for my girlfriend and I as we stayed in North Conway for her birthday weekend.

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“Wonderful little farm store with so many great items to eat. You're also able to shop for groceries, although, there's a lot of gourmet type of items.

Snowbirds head south to Alabama's sunny coast for the winter, but Gulf Shores and its neighbor Orange Beach offer plenty to do for a family vacation as well. It might be a bit chilly for swimming in the sea, but the miles of pristine coastline is perfect for strolls and picnics.

Mild temperatures also create ideal conditions to enjoy the area's golfing, fishing, hiking, and kayaking spots. Take the Aurora Winter Train from Anchorage to Fairbanks for gorgeous views of the snow-covered country and the majestic Denali peak.

Check out the World Ice Art Championships beginning in February for amazing frozen sculptures, then visit nearby Cheney Hot Springs for an outdoor winter soak in this natural thermal spa. All of Arizona can be beautiful in winter, but the higher elevations and northern areas of the state (including the Grand Canyon) may be colder than you'd expect.

Outside of Phoenix, the town offers superb golfing and spa resorts for a relaxing mid- winter break. In addition to urban delights like art galleries, boutiques, wine-tasing rooms, and restaurants, venture outside the city for breathtaking desert and mountain landscapes, horseback trips, and hot air balloon rides.

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But our pick is the stunning Death Valley, the hottest spot on earth, for the simple reason that it's the least deadly this time of year. Hiking is actually not even recommended in the lower elevations in summer, and is restricted overall to early morning hours.

But winter visitors will be rewarded with ample time to explore the canyons, dunes, and peaks of the park. For family fun, ranger-led programs are offered throughout the winter months, and opportunities for nighttime stargazing reveal planets and meteor showers.

Families can explore a life-size snow fort, indulge in afternoon cookies and hot chocolate, and chill at the Victoria headquarters with crafts and games. Historic downtown boast boutiques, antique shops, and restaurants, including the lauded Aretha all taboo in Bantam, which sources its dairy products from Aretha Dairy Farm nearby, and Community Table in Washington, which also procures locally grown ingredients.

Winter is peak travel time in Key West, the southernmost point in the continental United States, for a reason. Warm weather, sun, and a dimmable ocean (for northerners anyway; Floridians might think the 70-degree water is too cold) make it a top destination to get away from frigid temps.

It does rain a bit more in the winter (often overnight and not usually enough to derail activities), which only serves to make the islands lusher and the waterfalls run stronger. Oahu's seven-mile North Shore's claim to fame, though, is its myriad winter surf competitions, which benefit from huge seasonal waves.

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Winter is also prime whale-watching season, with humpback whales on their annual migration often visible in the waters off the North Shore. For a unique dining experience, Bandage also offers “Bears Den Dinner After a Dark,” a rustic culinary outpost also reached by Snow Cat.

McCall features amazing scenery over Palette Lake, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing through Ponderosa State Park, relaxing hot springs, and winter “clamping” at covered (and warm) tents called yurts. If you want to brave the cold again, Millennium Park, home of the famous sculpture lovingly referred to as “the bean,” and Navy Pier are both open for wintertime strolling.

Architecture buffs can tour Frank Lloyd Wright's Allen House, as well as see the stunning design of Exploration Place science museum. Walking the illuminated pedestrian bridge leading to the Keeper of the Plains statue, lit by a ring of fire at 7 p.m. in winter, is a can't miss Kansas experience.

Venturing to the surface, the park's hiking and back-country trails are also more serene in winter without summer's crowds, and no leaves on trees means visitors can view the landscape and wildlife even better. What most visitors don't know is that the Carnival season actually kicks off on Twelfth Night of Christmas, January 5, with parades put on by groups called “troops” leading all the way up to Fat Tuesday.

This lake in the western part of the state hits a “sweet spot” for weather conditions that let it snow, all winter long. Visitors searching for outdoor fun can try dog sledding, sleigh riding, or ice fishing; intrepid adventure seekers can even go winter hiking or snowshoeing in Swallow Falls State Park to see several frozen waterfalls.

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If indoor delights are more your speed, cozy up by the fire with a book and a glass of wine at Savage River Lodge. The rural area of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts is known not only for its ski resorts and outdoor winter activities, but for cozy bed and breakfasts, top-notch restaurants, picturesque villages, and its focus and art and music.

Foodies can dine at the historic stagecoach stop The Old Inn on the Green or newer hot spot Alta. The stunning ice formations of Pictured Rocks Natural Lake shore on Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula are like something out of Frozen.

Water that seeps out of the sandstone cliffs freezes into dramatic curtains and columns that can appear blue, yellow, or white. Far from the bundling indoors you might expect, the Twin Cities come alive with outdoor festivals and events to celebrate the season.

Just east of Biloxi along the Gulf coast visitors will find this small beach town that's big on winter activities. It won't be as scorching hot as summer, so guests can enjoy comfortable weather for golfing, biking, bird watching, and nature treks through Gulf Islands National Seashore.

But besides the outdoor activities, the charming, historic downtown of Ocean Springs features a flourishing arts scene, with tons of galleries and shops to find unique treasures. Plus, choose from over 100 restaurants, including Murky Waters BBQ and Vestige, for delicious seafood and southern-style eats.

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It does get a bit chilly in the Gateway City in winter, but luckily there are lots of indoor offerings, as well as a burgeoning food scene. The Gateway Arch Museum, at the foot of the famous landmark, recently reopened after a five-year renovation (visitors also shouldn't miss the tram to the top).

Up on the mountain, take advantage of their moonlight dine and ski: Ride the lift to Summit restaurant for a meal with 360-degree views, then night-ski back down. In Glacier National Park, visitors can take a guided snowshoe walk, or the brave can winter camp by building their own igloos on multi-day excursions with adventure outfitters.

This pioneer city offers many fun and educational indoor activities for a cold winter on the plains. Considered one of the best in the world, the Henry Poorly Zoo has seven acres of indoor exhibits including the Lied Rainforest, Kingdoms of the Night, Hubbard Gorilla Valley, Scott Aquarium, and Desert Dome.

Visitors should also take a winter jaunt through the shops, galleries, and restaurants of the historic Old Market district; and check out Omaha's growing craft beer scene with breweries throughout the city. Rose offers the highest base elevation of any Tahoe ski area (California or Nevada); and the huge Heavenly resort straddles both states with countless trails to choose from.

Nestled into the state's White Mountains, the New England town of North Conway brings winter vacationers to an old-fashioned main street bustling with modern shopping and restaurants. Just a few miles north of the spot where George Washington crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey on December 25, 1776, Lambertville offers visitors a quaint village for their own winter travels.

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But for those searching for culture, Santa Fe also can't be beat, with an impressive array of artistic and culinary experiences for visitors. Visitors can experience Native American culture first-hand at Pueblo winter feast days (just be sure to follow proper guidelines for attending, like no photography).

Today, the area boasts skiing and other outdoor activities, as well as a creative atmosphere of artists' galleries, live music, and cosmopolitan restaurants in its postcard-worthy downtown. The town's healing traditions continue with a variety of wellness activities, including winter forest bathing.

Tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains, the “Paris of the South” is home to America's Downtown Abbey -like mansion, the grand Biltmore Estate. Winter visitors won't face the historic home's summer crowds, and can experience the exhibit A Vanderbilt House Party.

Downtown Asheville, known for its art, music, food, and beer scene, also makes for a lively winter getaway. After browsing the many shops and galleries, visitors have their pick of great restaurants like 12 Bones Smokehouse or Curate.

Bully Pulpit Golf Course, one of the top in the country, turns into a skier's paradise with miles of groomed cross-country trails that can also be used for snowshoeing and fat-biking. Visitors can also venture to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where the U.S. president hunted and ranched, to see the colorful layers of North Dakota's badlands topped with snow.

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The Hocking Hills region of Ohio is marked by the natural beauty of its landscape, as seen in the cliffs, waterfalls, caves, and gorges of its namesake state park. If ice isn't your thing, take the Comfort Food Cruise, offered weekends throughout the winter, featuring stops at 12 different restaurants.

While Portland and the coast is experiencing cold and rainy weather, just east of the Cascades, visitors will find the sunny high-desert climate of Bend. The Blue Cross River rink Winter fest runs through the season, with ice skating, cozy lodges and warming cabins, and magical lighting overlooking the Delaware River and Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Recalling the elegance of a bygone era, Rhode Island's top destination is wonderful all year round. Many of Newport's Gilded Age mansions are open for winter tours; then enjoy easier restaurant bookings and reduced rates at splurge-worthy hotels.

Newport Wellness Week in January features yoga, meditation, nutritional cooking, and more; the city's Winter Festival in February offers food, music, and events to celebrate the season. Hilton Head, one of South Carolina's Low country barrier islands, makes for a mild, relaxing winter getaway without the summer crowds or scorching heat.

In addition, throughout the winter visitors can enjoy the Public Art Exhibition, 20 sculptures along a one-mile walking path at the Coastal Discovery Museum. Then, take a break from the winter wonderland and head to the Old West with a stop at the legendary city of Deadwood.

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Take a free ride to the top of the Sunsphere, the amber globe that dominates the skyline and offers 360 degrees views. For those craving outdoor adventures, Knoxville is an hour away from Tennessee's only ski resort, Over Gatlinburg, and the Great Smoky Mountains, where visitors can experience winter hiking and spectacular (leaf-free) views.

With temperatures around 70 degrees, it may be a bit chilly to take a dip, but it's perfect for sailing, dolphin watching, fishing, horseback riding, and long walks on misty mornings. Visitors can also stop before the causeway to the island to climb historic Port Isabel lighthouse, which is often very hot inside in summer but more comfortable in winter.

Park City has two things going for it in winter : amazing skiing, and the world-renowned Sun dance Film Festival, which takes place here every January. With over 7,300 acres, 17 peaks and nearly 350 trails, Park City Mountain is the largest ski and snowboard resort in the United States.

Those interested in the area's cultural offerings can get tickets to Oscar-worthy films (and maybe even spot some Hollywood stars) during Sun dance, with venues in Park City's historic Main Street and other locations around town. The hills are alive in this picture-perfect Vermont village, complete with white steeped church, covered bridge, and one-room schoolhouse.

Intrepid outdoors-people can also try ice climbing in the famous Smugglers Notch, a narrow mountain pass near Stowe. The On Traps still own this Alpine-style resort, where sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, and family history tours are offered.

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This central Virginia city has plenty of indoor things to do, but is close enough to outdoor winter fun in the Blue Ridge Mountains as well. History buffs can delve into the life of Charlottesville's favorite son, Thomas Jefferson, at his home at Monticello and the gorgeous University of Virginia campus, which he founded and designed.

For outdoor activities, two Virginia ski resorts, Wintergreen and Massanutten, as well as Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway (open in winter), are all within an hour's drive. Soggy Seattle is in the middle of its rainy season, but on the other side of the Cascade Mountains, the Method Valley delights in a winter wonderland.

For more adrenaline-inducing outdoor fun, Blackwater Falls State Park has the longest sled run in the east (over a quarter mile). Acres ski, the small town of Thomas is one of the hottest new tourist spots in the country, with restaurants, galleries, and the eclectic live music venue The Purple Fiddle.

Jackson Hole may be one of the top ski resorts in the country, but an even more exciting experience awaits in the winter wilderness of Yellowstone National Park. Most roads are closed to regular traffic, which makes even getting there an adventure: Visitors enter through the northeast gate, then are transported by snowmobile or snow coach; two lodges (but only one is available for overnight guests this season) and warming huts remain open in winter.

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