Cold Winter Family Getaways in the USA
Why cold winter family getaways? If you are anything like me, the cold and snow is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about your next dream getaway. But although there are those who shy away from venturing out into the cold and snow, there are those who find the winter months being their favorite season! With winter comes snow, and with snow comes the opportunity to enjoy a diversity of winter sports, from sledding to snowshoeing to skiing and even tobogganing!
In the last post, we explored fifteen destinations around the USA that make great warm winter family getaways. Now we will explore 15 destinations around the USA that fit the bill and definition of great cold winter family getaways.
Some of the attractions listed in this post may not be available or have limited availability at the present time due to COVID restrictions. Please be sure to check any restrictions for the destination you are traveling to prior to planning your trip.
15 Cold Winter Family Getaways in the USA
Lake George, NY
Average Temperatures: 10-35° F | Average Snow Fall: 63 in.
Lake George is a small village in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State. It is common to see several feet of snow each year, making it a great cold winter family getaway for those looking to make the most of the snow and experience some thrilling winter sports. Lake George tends to freeze over entirely during the winter months, giving visitors the perfect platform. Activities include visiting a Ski Center that offer skiing opportunities for both newbies and experienced skiers, snow tubing and sledding at the Lake George Rec Center’s Tubing Hill or West Mountain, snowshoeing, ice skating on frozen Lake George, and ice fishing on Lake George. Many visitors simply enjoy a family stroll across the frozen lake.
There are a few ski resorts options near Lake George that provide visitors with access to winter sports, warm fires and hot cocoa, and nearby accommodations. The Gore Mountain ski resort is a forty minute drive from Lake George and features the largest trail and lift system in the state. West Mountain is a ski area about 15 minutes outside of Lake George that is very family friendly and offers trails for all skill levels.
Another great activity in Lake George is the annual Winter Carnival that takes place every weekend in February. The festival includes various family friendly activities, ranging from bon fires on the beach, pony rides, smores on the beach, horse-drawn carriage rides, wood carving, and multiple vendors set up on the frozen over Lake George.
Indoor options for family fun include go-karting and laser tag at the Adventure Family Fun Center, getting wet at the Six Flags Great Escape Indoor Waterpark, bowling at the Lake George Lanes & Games, and rock climbing at the Rock Sport Indoor Climbing Center.
Average Temperatures: -15 to 10° F | Average Snow Fall: 61 in.
Fairbanks, Alaska is a given for as one of the best cold winter family getaways. The year round cooler temperatures get even colder in the winter months, but it is also prime time for viewing the Northern Lights. A Northern Lights tour is an absolute must when visiting Fairbanks. Alaska Wildlife Guide offers Chena Hot Springs and Northern Lights tours, where you can take a tour of the Chena Hot Springs Resort, relax in the hot springs and then take the walk to the Aurorium (heated cabin) to view the Northern Lights (as visibility allows). There are also plenty of other tour companies that will help maximize your chances of viewing the lights while waiting in a heated cabin.
Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service Dog Sledding offers guided snow mobile tours and kids as young as 5 can ride along as a passenger. They also offer ice fishing excursions in heated fishing cabins and there is an option to combine an ice fishing trip with a Northern Lights adventure. Families can glide around on fields of ice at the Big Dipper Ice Arena Ice Skating Rink or the Patty Center Ice Arena. For some cross country skiing visit the White Mountains Recreational Area and Ski Loop.
For some animal encounters visit the Running Reindeer Ranch, Fountainhead Wedgewood Wildlife Sanctuary, or the Large Animal Research Station. The Aurora Winter Train is a great way to get some scenic views between Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska while aboard a heated train. The train runs between the two cities, so you could even use it as a way to take a day trip and experience Anchorage.
For some indoor fun, visit the Fairbanks Children’s Museum which features many hands on exhibits, explore science at the Museum of the North with over a million artifacts to explore, or get a hands on gold mining experience at Gold Dredge 8.
Park City, Utah
Average Temperature: 14-37° F | Average Snow Fall: 300 in.
Park City, Utah is a city in Western Utah bordered by the Wasatch Range, Deer Valley Resort, and Park City Mountain Resort. Park City offers much in the way of outdoor snow adventure fun. Families can enjoy snow tubing at Woodward Park City, snowmobiling with Park City Peaks Snowmobiling, ice skating at Quinn’s Recreation Complex, and snowshoeing on the many trails throughout Park City on your own or with a tour company. Families can enjoy a 2 hour train ride on the Herber Valley Railroad through the Deer Creek Reservoir and past Mt. Timpanogos. Kids at least 8 years of age can enjoy a fly fishing experience with All Seasons Adventures.
Families can stroll the historic Main St. in Park City for shopping and entertainment. Visit the Park City Museum to learn about the history of the Park City. Visit the Paint Mixer and create your own masterpiece with the direction of a guide. Visit the Kimball Art Center to view pieces of art and participant in classes, some specifically designed for younger children. Dive into the history of the winter Olympics at the Utah Olympic Park, where older teens (16+) and adults can experience a bobsled ride. Park City Escape Room is a great opportunity for families to work together to find clues and solve a mystery.
New York City, NY
Average Temperatures: 25-45° F | Average Snow Fall: 25 in.
NYC is composed of the five boroughs sitting near the Hudson River in Southern New York State. New York City is full of life any time of year, but the added décor, festivities, and beauty of freshly fallen snow make it one of the best cold winter family getaways. Families can enjoy some outdoor fun, including riding the Carousel at Bryant Park, ice skating at Bryant Park, The Rooftop at Pier 17 Winterland, or Lakeside Prospect Park, sledding at Central Park, stroll the streets of Manhattan and view some holiday themed sculptures, and view the tree at Rockefellar Center. If visiting in December you can also enjoy some Christmas markets that pop up around the city.
Indoor fun for families in NYC include rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders, visit the Museum of Ice Cream, take an art class at Playday, play at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, explore the Museum of Natural History, visit the New York Public Library, go shopping in Times Square, visit NYC’s famous toy store-F.A.O. Schwarz, which also has many interactive exhibits for play, get creative at the Children’s Museum of the Arts, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum.
You can also enjoy some classic NYC attractions, including riding to the top of the Empire State Building or One World Observatory, visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, catch a show on Broadway, and stroll through Central Park.
Average Temperatures: 6-35° F | Average Snow Fall: 189 in.
Vail is a small town located at the base of Vail Mountain in Colorado. Vail is a major hub for winter sports, including skiing and snowboarding. Families can enjoy ice skating at both indoor and outdoor skating rinks, dog sledding and panoramic views with Winterhawk Dogsled Adventures, snow tubing and sledding at Adventure Ridge, skiing and snowboarding with lessons offered for beginners,
For some thrills, check out the Forest Flyer Alpine Coaster at Adventure Ridge. Adventure Ridge also offers many other unique and fun activities for families, including ski bikes, mini snowmobiles, and a bungee trampoline. Hot tubbing or swimming in an outdoor heated pool is a common activity and many hotels/resorts will offer this option. At the end of the night, warm up beside a fire and enjoy some s’mores with the family at one of many resorts that offer it, including Arrowhead Ski Resort, Beaver Creek Park Hyatt, and Marriot Resort.
For a mix of education and fun, visit the Walking Mountains Science Center, where you can enjoy a number of different exhibits, nature walking tours, and snowshoeing tours. The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is another attraction loaded with family fun, including an alpine coaster, gondola rides, 4D theater, laser tag, and cavern tours.
For some indoor fun, visit Imagination Station, which is full of fun and educational hands on exhibits designed to get your child thinking while having fun.
Average Temperature: 10-38° F | Average Snow Fall: 27 in.
Ashland, Nebraska is a small city located about 25 miles outside of Omaha and in close proximity to many state parks. Its location near Omaha also opens up many options of fun things to do with kids! Families can spend time exploring the many state parks, including Mahoney State Park, Platte River State Park, Schramm SRA and Louisville SRA. Mahoney State Park has a combination of indoor and outdoor fun. The Activity Center offers an indoor playground, rock climbing walls, and ice skating rink. The Mahoney State Park Conservatory is a great option for those looking to get up close with some wildlife and explore the gardens. Outdoors families can enjoy a sledding hill and hiking through the park.
In Omaha, families can enjoy ice skating at one of many rinks, including the Motto McLean Ice Arena, Moylan Iceplex, Baxter Arena, and Ralston Arena. The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium has many indoor exhibits to explore, including an indoor rainforest and Desert Dome.
For some indoor fun and learning, visit the Strategic Air and Space Museum, enjoy hands on exhibits at the Omaha Children’s Museum, wander the indoor conservatory at Lauritzen Gardens, and see some art and enjoy Art Works, a program designed for younger kids, at the Joslyn Art Museum.
Average Temperature: 13-38° F | Average Snow Fall: 63 in.
Bozeman is a southern Montana city that sits within the Rocky Mountains. Families can enjoy sledding at Peet’s Hill in Burke Park (steep and better suited for older children) or 100-Acre Regional Park (which has better options for younger kids). For those looking to ski or take some family friendly skiing lessons, Bridger Bowl and Big Sky are great options, with both downhill and cross country skiing available. For a fun filled day of ice skating check out the rinks at Southside Park, Beall Park, and the Anderson Pavilion.
Hiking is another option for outdoor fun in Bozeman. You can find many snow covered and frozen waterfalls to admire, including Grotto Falls, Ousel Falls, and Pioneer Falls. The hikes for these are relatively flat and do-able for hikers of all levels. For both indoor and outdoor swimming, be sure to visit the Bozeman Hot Springs.
To break away from the cold, explore Bozeman’s many coffee and tea shops for some hot cocoa or chai and bubble tea. Head to Arts on Fire, a paint your own pottery studio open to kids of all ages and make your own souvenir to take home. The Museum of the Rockies is a great indoor option that offers a dinosaur exhibit and planetarium. The Montana Science Center is another great indoor option for combining fun and learning.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Average Temperature: 5-33° F | Average Snow Fall: 109 In.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a 50 mile long valley along the Teton Mountain Range. In the winter months Jackson Hole comes alive with plenty of winter fun opportunities, making it one of the best cold winter family getaways in the USA. For some thrills take a ride on the Cowboy Coaster, which takes visitors through twists and turns along Snow King Mountain. Also available on Snow King Mountain is snow tubing for the whole family with three lanes and tow ropes so you don’t have to carry the tube up the hill! Ice skating is available at Teton Village and Town Square.
If you can brave the cold enjoy a 4 hour sunrise safari tour through Grand Teton National Park or if you want to travel the 2 and a half hours, Yellowstone National Park aboard the snow coach. You can also choose to enjoy a family friendly snow mobile tour through Yellowstone National Park.
Kids (and adults!) will love a trip to Yippy-I-O Candy Company and picking out a variety of candy stuffed into old fashioned barrels. Kids can enjoy some interactive exhibits at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. The Jackson Hole Children’s Museum offers interactive and hands on exhibits for children to play, create, and discover.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Average Temperature: 12-35° F | Average Snow Fall: 36 in.
Lake Geneva is a city located along Geneva Lake in southeastern Wisconsin offering plenty of opportunities for winter fun. One of the best things to do in Lake Geneva is to view the ice castles. Ice skating is a common activity in Lake Geneva with one public rink at Flat Iron Park and four resorts with rinks open to the public. Sledding can be enjoyed at the City of Lake Geneva Sledding Hill, The Mountain Top at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, and the Rudy Lange Sledding Hill.
Cross-country and downhill skiing can be enjoyed by families at the Mountain Top at the Grand Geneva Resort. Families can enjoy some ice fishing on Lake Geneva, with shops Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle and Lake Geneva Fishing Guide nearby and professional guides available.
To get out of the cold families can book a room at the Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark and enjoy access to their indoor waterpark. The Geneva Lake Museum is an interactive museum outlining the history of Lake Geneva, with an old fashioned village replicated that visitors can walk through.
Average Temperature: 12-37° F | Average Snow Fall: 58 in.
Camden is a town along Penobscot Bay in Maine that is well known for its world class chefs and seafood. Camden offers visitors all the traditional winter fun activities. Families looking for a magical snowy winter getaway can find plenty of opportunities for winter fun, including skiing, snowboarding, tobaggan rides, and snowshoeing at the Camden Snow Bowl, ice skating at the Midcoast Recreation Center, and a walk through the Merryspring Nature Center for some wildlife sighting. If you are visiting in December, the whole family will be delighted by the Gardens Aglow display at the Costal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay (about an hour outside Camden).
If you are up for some winter hiking, you can enjoy a hike up Mount Battie at Camden Hills State Park, where you will be rewarded of beautiful views of Penobscot Bay. Maine’s fame for lighthouses doesn’t end in the winter and those willing to brave the cold can get some stunning views of snow dusted lighthouses and shorelines.
For some indoor fun, be sure to check out the Maine Lighthouse Museum, see Puffin chicks at the Project Puffin Visitor Center (open until late December), view some antique vehicles at the Owls Head Transportation Museum, or play at the Costal Children’s Museum.
Average Temperature: 25-53° F | Average Snow Fall: 9 in.
Gatlinburg lies on the border between being a cold winter family getaway and warm winter family getaway. With highs usually ranging in the 50’s, it is a little warmer than the other cold winter family getaways, but Gatlinburg does see snow and has plenty of winter activities to enjoy. Families can enjoy skiing, snowtubing, and snowboarding at Ober Gatlinburg. For a relaxing experience with stunning views families can drive through Cades Cove, where plenty of pull off and photo ops await.
Gatlinburg sits near the Smoky Mountains, and therefore hiking is naturally one of the most popular activities. You can choose between heading out on the trails yourself or booking a guided Smoky Mountain tour. Peep Jeep Tours offers a number of landscape tours in a comfortable jeep along paved roads, suitable for children 2+. A Walk in the Woods offers a number of different nature themed tours and walks through the Smokies, with some specifically geared towards children.
For some local, unique souvenirs visit the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, an eight mile loop of locally artisan owned shops and businesses. For some indoor fun visit the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, get a hands on experience at the Titanic Museum Attraction, get wowed at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and view over 100 hands on and educational exhibits at Wonderworks.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Average Temperature: 17-45° F | Average Snow Fall: 57 in.
Colorado Springs is a city sitting at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in the US state of Colorado. Colorado Springs offers many opportunities for outdoor fun, such as a visit to the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, where the family can enjoy walking on America’s highest suspension bridge or enjoy a gondola ride, exploring the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, go horseback riding through the Garden of the Gods or Pike National Park, or get up close with wildlife on the kids tour at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center (about 40 minutes outside Colorado Springs).
For an adventure filled day head out on a Colorado Jeep Tour (about 50 min. outside of Colorado Springs), where you can enjoy a heated jeep ride through the Red Canyon or Royal Gorge or go with Great Outdoor Adventures for some off-roading through Pike National Forest. If you are up for some hiking you can enjoy the short hike to the base of the Broadmoor Seven Falls and then ride the elevator up to the top of Eagle’s Nest for some stunning views. Families can also enjoy some snowshoeing at Mueller State Park or Garden of the Gods Park.
To escape the cold for a bit, head to the Penrose Heritage Museum, the Ghost Town Museum, Space Foundation, go rock climbing at CityRock Climbing Center, enjoy some bouncing fun at House of Bounce, step inside a foam dart battlefield at Dart Warz, or enjoy a scavenger hunt at Michael Garman’s Magic Town.
Lake Tahoe, California
Average Temperature: 26-44° F | Average Snow Fall: 215.4 in.
North Lake Tahoe is the area surrounding the Northern end of Lake Tahoe, a large fresh-water lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of California and Nevada. Family friendly snowshoeing tours are offered by NorthStar California. Winter fun activities include ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park or Granlibakken in North Lake Tahoe.
In South Lake Tahoe, families can enjoy tubing at the Adventure Peak tubing hill in the Heavenly Ski Resort. Visitors can take a gondola ride from Heavenly Village to Adventure Peak. UTV rides are available on select days and visitors can enjoy the Ridge Rider Mountain Coaster. For indoor fun, visit the KidZone Museum, which offers lots of areas for exploration, nature programs, and arts and crafts.
White Mountains, New Hampshire
Average Temperature: 5-30° F | Average Snow Fall: 60 in.
The White Mountains are a mountain range that make up a good portion of the state of New Hampshire. There is no lack of family friendly activities in the White Mountains. Families can marvel at the extensive and detailed Ice Castles, which feature tunnels, slides, fountains, and LED-lit sculptures. Loon Mountain offers downhill skiing, snowboard parks, cross country skiing, ice skating, and ziplining.
Alpine Adventures offers snowshoeing, off-roading, and ziplining tours. The different activities have different age restrictions, with some being as young as 3 years old, so be sure to verify before booking your experience. A Mount Washington Snow Coach Adventure is a great way to relax, enjoy the ride up to 4,200 ft. elevation, and stop for some stunning views and photo ops. The Cranmore Mountain Resort offers kid friendly ski snowboard lessons and tubing opportunities.
To escape the cold for a few hours families can visit the Living Shores Aquarium, go rock climbing at the North Country Climbing Center, and play some classic arcade games at one of the world’s largest arcades-the Funspot, which also features an 18 hole indoor mini-golf course.
Average Temperatures: 2-23° F | Average Snow Fall: 97.3 in.
Stowe is a small town in the US state of Vermont that is well known for its ski slopes on Mount Mansfield. If your family is not up for skiing, there are plenty of other options for outdoor winter fun in Stowe. Families with children at least 6 years of age can book the snowshoeing & snow tube tours through Umiak Outdoor Outfitters and enjoy a guided snowshoeing tour before heading to the hills for some snow tubing. There is also a snow dog sledding tour option, where you will enjoy a sled ride while learning about the history of the sport and the dogs.
For gondola rides, snowboarding, skiing, and sledding visit the Stowe Mountain Resort (who also offers daycare options if you are looking to get out on the slopes yourself!). If you are looking for some ice skating fun visit the Spruce Peak Village Center or Stowe Arena. If you are looking for an adventure you can enjoy a snowmobiling backcountry tour, with children as young as 4 being permitted to ride as passengers.
For some indoor fun, be sure to tour Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour to see how their famous ice cream is made, enjoy some indoor rock climbing with areas designed for kids under 12, see how glass blowing happens at Little River Hotglass Studio (no official tour, but admission is free and you can observe glass blowing at work), or visit the Swimming Hole for some swimming, with a heated kids pool with a slide.
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