When you think of the best winter vacations, chances are your brain starts churning out epic ideas like skiing famous Swiss peaks in St. Moritz, Zermatt, and Matterhorn; trekking Patagonia’s glacial tunnels and craggy mountains; or chasing the northern lights across Scandinavia. But there’s a ton of adventure to be had closer to home—so close, you might not even need to book a flight.
That doesn’t just mean strapping on your skis at your local mountain. You can try winter surfing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, airboarding in Scranton, PA, and ice biking in Buffalo, NY. And, of course, there’s plenty of skiing to be had, too.
This season, head to one of the 50 best winter vacations that are relatively easy to get to while whisking you away. From the Canadian wilderness all the way down to the mountains of Arizona, these are the best snowy destinations to get your thrills in three days or less.
50 Best Winter Vacations in the U.S. and Canada
1. Alta, Utah
Why go: If you’re a diehard skier who hates sharing the slopes with snowboarders, Alta is your spot. The ski resort has banned snowboarding since the sport was invented, leaving all 2,200 acres of fresh, fluffy powder to you and your sticks. Every level is welcome, with 25 percent of the ski area available for beginners, 40 percent for intermediate skiers, and 35 percent for experts. Plus, Alta teamed up with Snowbird Ski Resort for access to double the terrain. Most importantly, it’s an easy, 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport, which means getting there from most major cities is easy breezy. Oh, and Utah’s Cottonwood Canyons are one of the snowiest places in the world.
Where to stay: Rebuilt a few years ago on its original 1941 site, the Snowpine Lodge offers 78 rooms with ski-in/ski-out access to the area’s 500 feet of pristine annual snowfall.
2. Telluride, Colorado
Why go: As far as Colorado mountain towns go, Telluride isn’t the easiest to get to (limited flights connect to Telluride Regional Airport in the winter; the closest airport after that is in Montrose, a 60-mile drive; or you can drive six hours from Denver), but it’s worth the effort. The former mining town is surrounded on all sides but one by 13,000- to 14,000-foot mountains, which make for some spectacular views. Roughly 60 percent of the ski resort’s terrain is dedicated to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, and there are more extreme trails and four hikable terrain areas for experts. It offers some of the best skiing in the state.
Where to stay: For a less touristy, resort-y getaway, stay in town at the Hotel Telluride, a 59-room boutique hotel serving up European ski chalet vibes. It’s steps from the center of town and just a five- to 10-minute walk from the gondola—the first and only free public transit gondola in the U.S.—which’ll take you straight up to the mountain village in less than 15 minutes. Or make your basecamp on the mountain by staying at the Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection.
3. Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Why go: Michigan’s rugged northern section is home to some of the most extreme adventures in the U.S. January through March is prime winter surfing season, and you can actually catch 10- to 12-foot waves on Lake Superior, the largest and coldest of the Great Lakes. Or, try ice climbing frozen waterfalls. They range from 20- to 210-feet tall at the Grotto in Marquette or Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Grand Island. Water seeps from, and freezes on, the 190-foot sandstone cliffs above Lake Superior, forming a winter wonderland of ice curtains and pillars. The nation’s oldest ice climbing festival, the Michigan Ice Fest, is held in Munising in February each year.
Where to stay: The Upper Peninsula isn’t the most hospitable place, but you’ll feel right at home at the Landmark Inn, a 1930s-era hotel that overlooks Lake Superior in Marquette (with a population of approximately 21,000, this is the largest town in the U.P.). If you’re craving a little more seclusion, grab a room at Big Bay Point Lighthouse B&B, a lighthouse-turned-inn that sits on 40 acres of trail-filled woods.
4. Philipsburg, Montana
Why go: Fly into Missoula, then head straight out into the wilderness of southwestern Montana for a winter vacation that’s (mostly) off the grid. This historic mining town is interesting in its own right (make sure to visit the Sweet Palace candy shop and Philipsburg Brewing Company), but it’s its proximity to Discovery Ski Area, which offers the perfect mix of beginner slopes, steeper groomed runs, and mogul skiing across 2,000-plus acres that makes it a standout. If you’re not up for skiing 24/7, this part of the Rocky Mountain range is also ideal for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and more.
Where to stay: The Ranch at Rock Creek, a 90-minute drive from the Missoula airport, is an all-inclusive guest ranch with private log homes or classic canvas cabins. Every guest’s itinerary is customizable, so you can choose from several daily on-ranch activities ranging from horseback riding and fat biking to clay shooting and massage treatments.
5. Aspen, Colorado
Why go: Aspen is one of the most expensive and exclusive zip codes in the country. Obviously there’s world-class skiing at the four destinations that make up Aspen Snowmass: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk (that’s 5,000-plus acres of skiable terrain). But there’s also top-notch après-ski activities here, including Aspen Brewing Company in town; Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro on Aspen Highlands; and The Oasis, a pop-up mobile champagne bar that’s towed around Aspen Mountain by snowcat.
Where to stay: The Little Nell is one of the nicest places to hole up in Aspen, and the only one with ski-in, ski-out access to Aspen Mountain. It’s also a haven for oenophiles, with about 40 sommeliers on staff. Enjoy The Little Nell outside of Aspen: Nell Escapades include curated and bespoke getaways in the immediate area and further afield.
6. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Why go: One look at the majestic Grand Tetons is all the convincing you need to make a visit. There are three major ski resorts situated in the valley, surrounded by national forests: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain Resort, and Grand Targhee Resort. Even better than the skiing, though, is the access to Yellowstone National Park. In the winter, the park is only accessible by snowmobile or snowcoach, and a limited number of guests are allowed in per day. You’re more likely to run into the giant elk roaming the park than other people.
Where to stay: Cozy up in Jackson Hole’s historic downtown at the Anvil Hotel, a renovated 1950s motel. The minimalist Western vibe is a little hipster (it was designed by a Brooklyn studio), but the 49 rooms feature warm wood tones, handmade rugs, and custom Woolrich blankets. It’s minutes from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and one of the closest hotels to the southern entrance of both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. Best of all, the Anvil offers winter packages (like snowshoeing tours, snowmobile rides to the Granite Hot Springs, and a horse drawn carriage ride through the National Elk Refuge) right out of the property’s backyard.
7. Ouray, Colorado
Why go: Forget the ski adventures for a minute. At Ouray Ice Park, which sits at nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by snow-capped peaks, there are over 200 ice and mixed climbs less than a mile from town. It’s a free manmade park that’s re-iced each night, making it the perfect spot for experienced climbers and those who want to give a new winter sport a try. The best way to get there is by flying into a nearby regional airport and making the drive through the San Juan Skyway. Just note it’s only open from mid-December through the beginning of March, so plan accordingly.
Where to stay: The Box Canyon Lodge has the best possible remedy for a day out in the cold: private hot springs. Four redwood tubs have been terraced into the mountainside right behind the lodge, so you can warm up while enjoying the crisp mountain air and 360-degree views of the San Juan Mountains. Plus it’s just five minutes from Ouray Ice Park.
8. Conway, New Hampshire
Why go: Situated at the edge of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, Conway is within driving distance of 13 ski resorts, including Attitash Mountain Resort, Cannon Mountain, Loon Mountain, Wildcat Mountain, Bretton Woods, King Pine, and Waterville Valley. But it’s also home—just an hour’s drive from Mount Washington—to the highest point in New England and the second-coldest place on earth. In January 2018, the Mount Washington Observatory recorded a temperature of -36 degrees Fahrenheit. You can take a snowcat ride to the summit for exclusive views, then tour the famous weather station to see if you could handle working and living at 6,288 feet above sea level.
Where to stay: It may be frigid at the top of Mount Washington, but the historic Cranmore Inn (which opened in 1863) is cozy enough to make up for that. Before you venture outside, fill your belly with a cooked-to-order country breakfast. In the evening, warm up in the outdoor hot tub, in front of the fire pit, or snag a seat in front of the parlour fireplace.
9. Breckenridge, Colorado
Why to go: Colorado’s ski resorts have no shortage of peaks, but it’s Breckenridge that offers some of the best high-alpine skiing, with a base elevation of 9,600 feet above sea level spanning multiple peaks and 11 bowls. And before you even start skiing, there’s the exhilarating ride up the Imperial Express—the highest chairlift in North America—where you can choose to start skiing down or keep hiking up to nearly 13,000 feet. Because of its location, Breckenridge has one of the longest ski seasons of any major resort in the country.
Where to stay: If you’re there for the high-alpine adventures, make One Ski Hill Place your home base—it’s a luxury, ski-in, ski-out hotel right at the base of Peak 8, the heart of the ski resort. The BreckConnect gondola can take you right into town, but considering that The T-Bar, one of the world’s best après-ski bars, is right next door, you won’t have to leave. For off-the-grid accommodations, try Sisters Cabin. The secluded 2,090-square-foot lodge is only accessible by ski or snowshoe (a 3.5-mile trek at that), and is heated by wood stove.
10. Stowe, Vermont
Why go: Stowe has that European ski village feel—without the exorbitant price tag that comes with flying to the Alps in the middle of winter. It’s been nicknamed ‘The Ski Capital of the East,’ and it’s definitely one of the most popular ski destinations in New England. The lift lines can be a bummer, but east coasters can’t complain about the snow record. In a recent year, the resort got 258 inches of powder. And while Mt. Mansfield (the tallest peak in Vermont) and Spruce Peak can’t compare to the fourteeners out west, Stowe’s gondola can take you all the way up to 3,625 feet above sea level.
Where to stay: The Trapp Family Lodge (yes, The Sound of Music von Trapp family) has been hosting guests on its 2,500 acres since 1950. It’s also home to the first cross-country ski center in the U.S., as well as 100 kilometers of cross-country, snowshoe, and back-country skiing trails. Inside, Austrian-inspired architecture meets New England charm—and there’s an on-site brewery, Bierhall, for all your après-ski needs.
11. Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Why go: North America’s second-oldest ski resort is in Canadian territory, 80 miles north of Montreal. With its picture-perfect cobblestone streets and Old City-inspired pops of red, teal, and marigold buildings (not to mention all the French-speaking locals), it can feel a little manufactured. But beyond its cutesy facade are 662 acres of skiable terrain for all levels, with 96 ski trails across four slopes. Beginners will feel right at home here, despite the intimidatingly majestic Laurentian mountain range surrounding the resort (which you can view sans skis from the 2,871-foot summit). The ski school is also one of the best on the continent.
Where to stay: Come ‘home’ to a chic, grown-up suite at the Hôtel Quintessence, full of amenities like claw-foot tubs, wood-burning fireplaces, and king-size beds. All 30 rooms come with views of Lake Tremblant, and a balcony or terrace.
12. Bluefin Bay, Minnesota
Why go: “The North Shore” is more likely to conjure images of Hawaii than Minnesota, but the North Shore of Lake Superior—just 80 miles from Duluth—is a popular year-round destination for midwesterners. Between the lake, the North Woods (a part of Superior National Forest), and the Sawtooth Mountains (home to Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort—middle America’s largest ski resort), the area is a winter activity hub. The North Woods puts you smack dab in the middle of 14,000 miles of trails: 150 are groomed for cross-country skiing and 100 more for snowmobiling. Try your hand at ice fishing or snowshoeing, too.
Where to stay: Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts has guestrooms, suites, studios, condos, and townhomes, so you can come with as many (or few) people as you want—all have incomparable views of Lake Superior or the Sawtooth range. The resort also offers tons of activity hookups, from fishing charters to daily guided hikes.
13. Herber City, Utah
Why go: This area, about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City, is called Little Switzerland for a reason. There are 1,000 miles of trails to explore in Heber Valley, whether you’re downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling (more on that in a minute), or snowshoeing. And here’s the really interesting thing: You can actually scuba dive down a 10,000-year-old geothermal crater hidden inside a 55-foot tall, beehive-shaped limestone rock at the Homestead Resort, located in the next town over. How’s that for a winter adventure? It’s also minutes from Deer Valley and Sundance ski resorts.
Where to stay: Herber City is snowmobiling central, and Daniels Summit Lodge is the best place to start. There are over 100 vehicles and a 200-mile-long network of trails, some of which run right through the property. There’s no better place to rev your engine.
14. Bayfield, Wisconsin
Why to go: It’s a truly special experience to see the Apostle Islands Mainland Sea Caves—mostly because you have to walk at least two miles out and back across iced-over Lake Superior to get there. But when the conditions are right, it opens up a world of frozen waterfalls and ice-encased cliff faces. You better be brave, though, because even the National Park Service warns tourists that traveling across lake ice is never completely safe.
Where to stay: Make yourself at home at one of Bayfield’s historic properties. The Isaac Wing House dates back to 1872, and is one of Bayfield’s oldest homes. It’s been fully restored and boasts five different suites. And the 20-room Rittenhouse Inn sprawls across three buildings, one of which is a Queen Anne Victorian mansion built in 1908.
15. Whistler, Canada
Why go: Situated in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Whistler Blackcomb’s ski season lasts nearly six months, one of the longest in North America. If you don’t mind driving, it’s relatively easy to get to from three international airports: Vancouver, Seattle-Tacoma, and Bellingham International in Washington. You can also get there by float plane and helicopter, depending on ice and weather conditions. The two separate mountains, connected by the Guinness World Record-breaking Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which spans nearly two miles—unsupported at that—give you access to more than 200 trails, five terrain parks, and more than 8,100 acres of skiable land.
Where to stay: Westin Whistler Resort & Spa is literally steps away from the main Whistler Gondola, a major plus if you want to maximize your time on the slopes (there’s a free ski valet, too). The hotel was recently renovated, and each suite includes post-ski day necessities like a fireplace, soaker tub, and Westin’s signature “Heavenly Bed.”
16. Mammoth, California
Why go: California isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you think of ski destinations, but Mammoth Lakes—a nearly six-hour drive east of San Francisco or north of Las Vegas in the Sierra Nevada mountain range—sits at 7,880 feet above sea level, making Mammoth Mountain the highest chairlift-accessible ski resort in California. And it gets an average snowfall of 400 inches a season, significantly more than the other mountains in the Eastern Sierras. It has more than 300 days of sunshine, which means you can shred under bluebird skies all the way into June. After a day on the slopes, make time for a soak in one of the countless natural hot springs bubbling up in the valley.
Where to stay: It doesn’t get more convenient than The Village Lodge at Mammoth, which has prime real estate in the mountain’s idyllic pedestrian village, right near the free gondola connecting skiers to Canyon Lodge (there’s also a free shuttle that takes you anywhere in town within a five-mile radius). Skiers in town for Olympic qualifying competitions have been known to stay here.
17. Portneuf Mountain Range, Idaho
Why go: The Portneuf Range, extending about 60 miles across southeast Idaho, is known for climbing, even in the winter (although you need permission to summit Mount Putnam and South Putnam Mountain, both of which are on Fort Hall Indian Reservation). You can get to the range in under two hours from Salt Lake City, UT, or Jackson Hole, WY, and five hours from Boise, ID. This is a remote stretch of wilderness tailored to backcountry and cross-country skiers.
Where to stay: For a really unique trip, rent one (or more) of Idaho State University’s yurts. There are four traditional Mongolian dome structures with clear skylights for stargazing. You can use just one yurt as your basecamp, or plan a yurt-to-yurt skiing or hiking trip.
Courtesy of Idaho State University
18. Bend, Oregon
Why go: Less than 200 miles from Portland’s rainy climate is a snow bum’s paradise on Mt. Bachelor, a stratovolcano that has a perfect conical shape for skiing. On the mountain, the ski resort’s 3,100 acres gets an average of 400 inches of snow each year. The town itself is also home to 48 miles of recreational trails, not including the Bend Ale Trail. Fun fact: Bend has more breweries per capita than any other city in Oregon. Take a tour of Deschutes’ production facility, then grab a pint at the original brewpub downtown. Smith Rock State Park is less than an hour away. It’s a top-notch rock-climbing destination with 14,000 climbing routes open all year.
Where to stay: The 221-room Riverhouse on the Deschutes is one of the few properties right along the Deschutes River. Unsurprisingly, the river views are excellent, as is the central location—about five minutes north of downtown and 30 from the mountains.
Jonathan Kingston / Getty Images
19. Glacier National Park, Montana
Why go: Glacier National Park is tucked in the northwest corner of Montana, along the edge of the Rocky Mountains. It’s within driving distance from Missoula and Spokane, and is accessible by several regional airports. The glaciers here are estimated to be at least 7,000 years old, and while the park is stunning year-round, there’s no better time to view them than in the snow. During the winter, you can still drive the famously scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road (it’s typically plowed for about 11 miles to properly ogle them). But with few roads actually inside the park, it’s a paradise for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Where to stay: You can’t stay in Glacier National Park in the winter (unless you camp), but you can base yourself in nearby Whitefish, a picturesque mountain town at the foot of Big Mountain, where you can ski Whitefish Mountain Resort. The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, just 30 minutes from the park, is as rustic as you’d hope, but with all the modern amenities. It also has killer backyard views of Whitefish Lake.
20. Lake Louise, Alberta
Why to go: This might just be the most photographed lake on Instagram. The deep turquoise color of glacial Lake Louise is gorgeous in the summer, but it turns into an ice-covered playground in the winter. You can skate, watch ice-carving competitions, and play shinny hockey. There’s also dogsledding through Kicking Horse Pass; horse-drawn sleigh rides along the lakeside path, a 4.1-kilometer cross-country skiing loop across and around the lake; and downhill skiing 10 minutes away at Lake Louise Ski Resort. Of course, there are plenty of places to sit and take in the unbelievable scenery of the surrounding Banff National Park.
Where to stay: The Post Hotel & Spa—40 minutes from Banff and a two-hour drive from Calgary—can trace its roots back to 1942, when the original lodge was built by a Banff guide. Now, it’s a Relais & Chateau property at the heart of Lake Louise village, with polished pine beams, grand stone fireplaces, and rich, red accents that scream rustic luxury.
21. Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Why to go: The Sierra Nevada mountains don’t quite compare to its neighbors in terms of height, but Lake Tahoe’s average four feet of powder and 300-plus sunny days a year, is all you need for a successful ski weekend. On the south side of the lake, Heavenly Ski Resort offers 4,800 acres full of tree-lined, off-the-grid terrain, as well as wide-open groomed runs, and panoramic lake views. Even cooler: You can actually ski two states in one day. And with its proximity to Las Vegas, you know the nightlife here takes après-ski to the next level.
Where to stay: A modern take on a ski lodge, Basecamp has expected perks, like hot tubs and fire pits, plus fun communal amenities, including family-style meals and an on-site beer garden with pours from Outpost Brewing Co. It’s also walking distance from the Heavenly gondola.
22. Katahdin Region, Maine
Why go: For intrepid New Englanders, Mount Katahdin is a major winter challenge. The northernmost point of the Appalachian Trail in Baxter State Park tops out at 5,267 feet, but its terrain is especially rugged: Pamola Peak, the eastern summit and entry point to the Knife Edge Trail, which leads to the actual summit is known for its unpredictable weather conditions. If you’re not looking for a major hike, there are 235,000 surrounding acres to explore, and the Katahdin Region has more than 350 miles of curated trails perfect for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
Where to stay: Millinocket, ME, is the base camp for all things Katahdin. Just seven miles out of town, on a private peninsula, you’ll find 5 Lake Lodges. Every room in the log-and-stone bed and breakfast looks out at Mt. Katahdin.
Portland Herald Press / Getty Images
23. Grafton Notch State Park, Maine
Why go: Maine’s isolation at the tip of the east coast makes it the perfect spot for indulging in some of your favorite winter activities—minus the crowds. Grafton Notch State Park in Maine’s Mahoosuc Mountain Range spans 3,192 acres, some of which cross Maine’s Appalachian Trail. Snowshoers, cross-country skiers, and snowmobilers can all take advantage of the trails. The popular snowmobile route ITS 82 runs from Andover to New Hampshire’s Trail 18, and hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the park from Table Rock at 4,180 feet above sea level.
Where to stay: The Bethel Inn Resort looks exactly like the kind of resort you’d want to kick back at in the mountains. It’s close to the Sunday River Ski Resort, which boasts New England’s most dependable snow, and is just a 20-minute drive to the park.
24. Ottawa, Canada
Why go: If it’s not cold enough in the U.S., Canada’s got you covered—and Ottawa is a five-hour (or less) drive from Rochester, NY, Albany, NY, and Burlington, VT (not to mention a short flight from plenty of other cities). The capital city is famous for ice skating on the Rideau Canal from December through February. It’s actually the world’s largest skating rink, according to the Guinness World Records. The 7.8-kilometer skateway, which draws over a million visitors each winter, covers the canal in front of the European-esque parliament buildings and the regal Chateau Laurier hotel.
Where to stay: Post up in one of the 200 modern rooms at the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, in the trendy commercial district, where you’ll be in walking distance of the city’s trendiest bars and restaurants.
25. Hawley, Pennsylvania
Why go: Hawley is just a little town in the Poconos, but there’s one big draw: the sprawling Woodloch Pines Resort. This family-friendly destination features tons of activities, with winter staples like snow tubing and ice skating. They even host their own Winter Olympics on the frozen Lake Wallenpaupack. If it’s too frigid to stay outdoors, there’s an indoor water park with an epic corkscrew water slide.
Where to stay: If you want to avoid the crowds and retreat somewhere geared toward couples, head to sister resort The Lodge at Woodloch. It’s a private, adult-only retreat and spa. In the winter, they offer snowshoeing, ice-fishing, and more, plus seasonal spa treatments and kid-less outdoor whirlpool access.
26. Sugarbush, Vermont
Why go: You’ve probably never heard of Waitsfield. But the town (population: under 2,000) is home to two major east coast ski resorts: Sugarbush and Mad River Glen. That makes it a pretty popular spot as soon as the snow starts falling in New England, but it’s far less crowded than the resorts at Killington and Stowe. Sugarbush resort comprises two mountains, three terrain parks, six peaks, 16 lifts, nearly 30 wooded areas, and 4,000-plus total acres. And with snow-making machines covering 70 percent of that terrain, you can expect some solid powder (not east coast ice) any time you go.
Where to stay: In Warren, the next town over, you can have yourself a quintessential Vermont experience at The Pitcher Inn, a Relais & Chateau property that’s as charming as it is luxurious. And it’s just three miles from Sugarbush and 15 minutes from Mad River Glen—win-win.
27. Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana
Why to go: Fort Peck Reservoir is Montana’s largest body of water—stretching 134 miles long and 220 feet deep. With 1,520 miles of shoreline, it’s home to over 50 kinds of fish, making it a year-round fishing destination. From December through March, it’s a hot spot for ice-fishing tournaments and derbies. Serious anglers try for walleye northern pike, paddlefish, sauger, lake trout, smallmouth bass, and chinook. Off the water, there are nearly one million acres to explore in the Charles M. Russell (CMR) National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Where to stay: If you’re making the trek out here, make it easy on yourself and snag one of the few no-frills rooms at Hell Creek Marina. Otherwise, you can make the 26-mile drive through cowboy country and stay at the family-operated Motel 200 in Jordan, MT.
Aliyev Alexei Sergeevich / Getty Images
28. Ketchum, Idaho
Why go: If Hollywood stars and Olympic athletes are sharing space, you know there’s something good going on. We’re talking about Sun Valley Resort, the oldest ski resort in North America (it was built in 1936). The resort has 2,000 skiable acres, 40 kilometers of cross-country tracks, and can claim sunny days 80 percent of the year thanks to its high mountain desert climate and low humidity. No snow in the forecast? No problem. Sun Valley has bragging rights to the largest snowmaking operation in the world, with 578 snowmaking guns.
Where to stay: The Limelight Hotel was the first new new hotel to open in Sun Valley in two decades. With 3 to 7 p.m. happy hours and a lounge that turns into a dance floor featuring local bands from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays, you won’t mourn coming home from the slopes.
29. Truckee, California
Why go: A half hour northeast of Lake Tahoe, on the California side, Truckee sits within 10 miles of 12 downhill and eight cross-country ski resorts (including Squaw Valley, Northstar, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Tahoe Donner, and Royal Gorge). If you prefer lake activities, there’s paddleboarding (wetsuits provided) and winter lake cruises (which may be freezing, but offer a whole new perspective on the mountains). If you’re not into the Lake Tahoe “scene” you might experience on the Nevada side, you’ll feel right at home in Truckee without sacrificing any of the outdoor adventures.
Where to stay: The Truckee Hotel dates back to 1873 when it served as a stagecoach stop. It’s been renovated, but it’s Old Western motif makes it the perfect entry point into the Sierra adventure world.
Keri Oberly / Getty Images
When you think of the best winter vacations, chances are your brain starts churning out epic ideas like skiing famous Swiss peaks in St. Moritz, Zermatt, and Matterhorn; trekking Patagonia’s glacial tunnels and craggy mountains; or chasing the northern lights across Scandinavia. But there’s a ton of adventure to be had closer to home—so close, TravelMen’s Journal