Fat snowflakes tumbling from the sky, steaming mugs of cocoa, and the adrenaline of winter sports like ice fishing and snowshoeing, thrive in pockets around the U.S. From Colorado’s snow-covered mountains to the forests of Vermont, and the stillness of Lake Michigan, too, here are three top winter-weekend destinations perfect for destressing after the holidays. Get ready to revel in small-town charm and cozy corners.
Photo Credit: GoStowe.com
After the first snowfall, this tiny town (pop. hovering around 4,000) in Northern Vermont is packed with cold-weather fun. Try snowshoeing on the southern slopes of Mount Mansfield or just hiking through the scenic area. Then, soak up the atmosphere and sample Vermont’s other allure: craft beer and ciders, with von Trapp Brewing (inspired by the real von Trapp family who lived here after leaving Austria) and Stowe Cider, two local favorites. Want to get into the outdoor holiday spirit but you’re not into skiing? Go for a horse-led sleigh ride through the snow (if there’s one occasion when you can get away with singing “Jingle Bells,” it’s this one. Take it).
Bring: Stuff a cozy sweater (for men, we recommend the Knox River Fair Isle Cardigan Sweater) into your bag for some lazy-afternoon antique-ing. For a live-music venue at night, ladies can slip into a heather-grey Providence River Dress and wrap up in Mount Madison Long Down Coat to stay warm.
Photo Credit: Vail Resorts and Jack Affleck
This city is a bustling town near some of the best skiing in the world. A quick two-hour drive from Denver International Airport, once in Vail you can summit some of the state’s highest ski lifts with a snowboard or skis. But if you’re not into the slopes, you can find plenty of après-ski fun (where you’ll find us). Browse the alpine-style shops in downtown Vail and spend an evening bowling while sipping wine at Bol Vail. Dive into Colorado craft beer and Baja fish tacos at the slopeside Tavern on the Square and warm up with 10 specialty lattes at Yeti’s Grind.
Bring: Wrap up in the Mt. Moriah Iconic Down Jacket paired with warm gloves, of course. Change into his-and-hers flannel shirts (this is only ok on vacation) for après-ski cocktails in front of a crackling fireplace at your lodge.
Photo Credit: Door County Visitor Bureau
A favorite vacation spot for Chicagoans, this slender peninsula wedged between Lake Michigan and Green Bay is less crowded in winter – and that’s a good thing. Whether you’re ice fishing on Lake Michigan in Sturgeon Bay, cross-country skiing in Peninsula State Park or snowshoeing at Ridges Sanctuary, a local nature preserve, it wouldn’t be a trip to this far Northern region without a slice of cherry pie (remnants of the region’s most famed summer crop can still be found in winter). A handful of wineries here craft vino with grapes but also use locally-grown fruits (from cherries to cranberries), and Door County Distillery produces fruit-infused vodkas. The wineries have tasting rooms so make an afternoon of it.