The Commoner
An online travel magazine which shares useful travel information, destination guides, and recreational highlights — all from local bloggers, independent writers, photographers, small business owners, and industry professionals.

Beat Those Winter Blues!

A Collection of the Best Wintertime Activities in Every State

© The Commoner

We get it.

The holidays are over and we have complacently slipped into the Winter Blues as most would call it. For much of the country, gray skies and leafless trees suggest a hopelessness as the promise of spring feels so far away. Its a shame, really, to have all the hopeful enthusiasm of the new year, only to succumb to these blues a few weeks later.

But winter is not all bad. For the most part you’re not sweating and you can ‘layer up’ to conceal the sins of all those holiday meals! It’s a season of hearty soups and nice, crusty breads. Your crockpot is finally getting some use after months of collecting dust. And believe it or not, you’re secretly intrigued by the epicness of the barren landscape that sits before you.

So whether you love winter or hate it, the team at THE COMMONER is here to help with a multitude of great activities for anyone to enjoy!

We’ve asked hundreds of travel bloggers, writers, and journalists from across this great country of ours, “What is your favorite thing to do or favorite place to go during the winter in your home state?” We’ve chased up local, regional, and state-wide tourism boards. We’ve meticulously researched, fact-checked, and sourced the details of the hundreds of responses we’ve received, all in the name of defeating those pesky winter blues!

Below you’ll find a wide range of the best wintertime activities in every state, including our nation’s capital. From guided tours through wolf country in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park, to watching live bluegrass performances 333 feet below the surface in a Tennessee cavern, to snow tubing down the nation’s largest man-made snow slope in downtown Oklahoma City – its all here, ready for you to get out and experience the best your region has to offer. And if you think we’ve missed something really cool, tell us about it in the comments below!

© Wikipedia

Ice-skating at the National Gallery of Art

“What’s better than some good old-fashioned outdoor ice-skating? Why, ice-skating in a sculpture garden, of course! Head to the National Gallery of Art during the winter months for some quality opportunities to glide around the ice. Sculptures include installations by Roxy Paine, Tony Smith, Sol LeWitt, Louise Bourgeois, and Roy Lichtenstein. Be sure to bring your camera! You can rent skates or bring your own, and even have the option to sign up for some ice-skating lessons. It’s great fun for the kids during the day, and is even a bit romantic in the evening.”

Smart Destinations

Museums Galore in Washington, DC

During the winter months I like to spend my free time visiting my favorite museums since there are so many in the area. It’s a great way to get together with different friends over the weekends. In DC, I love to visit the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, and The Phillips Collection.

April Altamira, Travel Blogger
Encompassing Compass

Free Movies?! Sign Me Up!!

“During the month of February, the free-to-visit Library of Congress hosts a special movie series in its Pickford Theater. All screenings are free, but you will need to secure tickets beforehand. This year, the theme is ‘Monster Melodies: From Magic Dances to Audrey Tunes,’ with screenings of classics like Little Shop of Horrors (2/1), Labyrinth (2/8), Beetlejuice (2/15), The Neverending Story (2/17), and Gremlins (2/22).”

Other Interesting Ice Skating Venues in Washington, DC

“Washington, DC is home to some of the most unique ice skating rinks in the country. How many people can say they’ve skated under twinkling Edison bulbs on the National Mall, on the waterfront in Georgetown (a neighborhood older than the United States, itself), or on the rooftop of The Watergate Hotel?”

Destination DC

© The Commoner

It May Sound Strange, But Go Hit Alabama’s Gulf Coast Beaches!

By far, my favorite place to go in Alabama during the winter is the beach. Alabama’s Gulf Coast has white sand beaches that are some of the most beautiful in the world. Because the beaches have grown so popular, visitors have a wide assortment of activities and attractions to chose from. This includes fantastic seafood restaurants, endless shopping opportunities, fishing expeditions, top golf courses, and amusement parks. The problem is that all these popular attractions are, well, so popular. My family used to do what so many others do and plan a week at the beach every summer. It was nice, but it was also hot and crowded. There were long waits to get into the good restaurants, plenty of traffic on both the roads and the beaches, and crowds everywhere.

Then one year we went to the beach in winter with friends. The area was different and wonderful. Average temperatures on the Gulf Coast in winter are between 61 to 68°F. The coldest water temperatures along the Alabama coastline reaches 60°F. Accommodation is cheaper and the pace is perfect for relaxing. Interesting shops and other tourist attractions have increased in amount because of the mild weather, with nearly all remaining open all year ’round.

Rick Harmon, Publications Director
Alabama Tourism Department

Alabama – Where Mardi Gras Originated

Here’s a fun fact: New Orleans likes to take all the credit, but the very first Mardi Gras celebration in America actually originated in 1703 in Mobile, Alabama, 15 years before it started in Louisiana. If you live anywhere in the southeast and have never been to a Mardi Gras celebration, you definitely need to add it to your travel bucket list – it’s a great wintertime activity!

Beth Bryan, Travel Blogger
Unskinny Boppy

Golf on the Coast

“Looking to escape to warmer weather? The Alabama coast has several deluxe golf courses that are near the beach. From Kiva Dunes Resort and Golf to Orange Beach Golf Center, golfers can enjoy the perfect weather for their favorite sport during these winter months.”

Alabama Sunshine

“It may be snowing in other parts of the country, but in Gulf Shores, the sunshine is out. Experience the many biking and hiking trails Gulf Shores has to offer near the beautiful seaside. Winter is alsothe perfect time to visit the Gulf State Park Pier. Enjoy perfect weather and good fishing in the scenic Gulf of Mexico. At 1,540 feet long, 20 feet wide, they are the second longest pier on the Gulf and Alabama’s only public pier.”

Best Things Alabama – American Towns Media

Alabama Oysters

Winter on the Gulf Coast provides a luscious treat: oysters! Sure, you might be used to serving a Christmas ham, but when they’re so fresh and delicious, why not save some room for these succulent bites?

“In the wake of hurricanes and oil spills, oyster harvests in the Gulf of Mexico remain lower than ever, and conclusive explanations for the decline don’t exist. But down on the Alabama coast, a new breed of oysterman — a farmer, not a tonger — is rising. And their farming methods might help keep the Gulf’s oystering tradition alive.”

Jennifer Stewart Kornegay, Writer, Journalist
The Bitter Southerner

© The Commoner

Hot Spring Action in Fairbanks, Alaska

There is something you can never refuse to experience in winter Alaska: enjoying an outdoor hot tub at Chena Hot Spring Resort is definitely one of them. I got a quick dip in the hot spring after dinner. It was extremely cold outside. Hot water kept my body warm. My hair and eyebrows were frozen with icicles forming on them after exposed in the open air. I looked like I was eighty as my hair was frozen to a snow white color. However, I am addicted to the outdoor pool since it allows me to hang loose while watch the breathtaking Milky Way overhead.

Julie Cao, Contributor
Bucket List Publications

Photograph the Rare Beauty of Alaska’s Winter

I have a cabin in the Alaska Range mountains, which is nestled amongst spruce trees and beautifully flanked by snow covered mountains. I made my first trip to this area when I was 18 years old and am so grateful to still make such ventures 34 years later! Abundant snow in the area made for some great skiing and exploration. Clear skies and a little northern lights action make for some classic photography of rustic cabin life.

There is a rare beauty in Alaska’s winter, both in the quality of light and color, and its silence and simplicity. But the cold temperatures can be extreme, particularly in the interior and arctic regions. I grew up experiencing nature’s seasons in Wisconsin, and perhaps it is the nostalgia of my youth that makes me appreciate all of the seasons’ distinctive characteristics. If you have ever attempted to hike across the autumn tundra you already know what kind of challenge that can be. In contrast, put on a pair of skis in winter and you can easily cruise across the snow covered tundra.

Photographing in winter has its intrinsic challenges, and I’ve written an article about photographing in the cold if you have interest in learning about some of the ways I prepare to do that. I’m not a die-hard cold lover, I like being warm. I do like winter however, and to best enjoy it, means to be best prepared to get out in it.

Patrick J Endres, Photographer
Patrick Endres Photography
Alaska Photo Graphics

Alaska’s Winter is Best Experienced Outside

“Winter is an increasingly popular season in the Interior Region of Alaska, where visitors flock to see the glorious aurora borealis, or northern lights, shining overhead, or to marvel at the handiwork of world-champion ice carvers. Winter is also dog mushing season in Alaska, with the 1,000-mile Iditarod sled dog race. Or you can join in wacky events that would only happen here, like the Annual Outhouse Race (in which outhouses are mounted on skis and pulled or pushed down a racecourse by teams of people) and the Running of the Reindeer (think running of the bulls… but with reindeer), both part of the Fur Rendezvous festival in Anchorage.”

“Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights, or aurora borealis, dancing overhead. Caused by supercharged solar particles colliding with the earth’s atmosphere, these ethereal streamers of green, white, purple, blue and even red light draw awestruck travelers from all over the world. The best time to see them is from late August through April. Make sure you ask your hotel staff to wake you up if the aurora comes out, or take a tour that specializes in spiriting you away from light pollution for the best possible views of the aurora. We recommend the Northern Alaska Tour Company or Fairbanks Aroura Tours.”

State of Alaska

© The Commoner

Discover the Beauty of Arizona’s Many Canyons

Exploring Northern Arizona with an extended weekend is a favorite. A dusting of snow changes the landscape and brings an added level of depth to the barren beauty of the landscape, while a bit of moisture on the rocks can bring out some of the rich colors. Sunset on the Rim of the Grand Canyon, Carefully taking in the view out over Horseshoe Bend and time spent in one of the numerous Antelope Canyon sub-canyons is a perfect trifecta. If there’s time, Lake Powell and Monument Valley are the perfect additions giving you as much flexibility as you need.

Alex Berger, Travel Writer & Photographer

An Arizona Winter Equals Great Hiking Conditions

My favorite activity in the winter is hiking/walking. And my favorite place to go is around the Grand Canyon!

A lot of people disregard the Grand Canyon during the Winter months, but it is absolutely beautiful with the snowy canyons. Even better is that there are less people during this time of the year! If you go mid-January through February, the weather is a perfect amount of snowy cold with the blazing Arizona sun. Winter is the best time to go hiking on the West Coast without it being too hot or cold. Enjoy the fresh air!

Yvonne Lanot, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger
Lost With Yvonne

Northern Arizona in Winter

Flagstaff, Arizona is home to the Arizona Nordic Village, where they have a number of activities for the snow-bound enthusiast. From nordic or cross-country skiing, to exploring through the forest on snowshoes, they also have the newest trend in mountain biking, the fat-tire variety for riding in the snow… so much fun! The facility also offers several cabins and yurts for overnight camping, each with a real wood-burning fireplace.

Mike Shubic, Travel & Video Blogger
Mike’s Road Trip

© Nathan Anderson

A Favorite Family Hike in Arkansas

Arkansas offers great winter weather for outdoor activities. Mild temperatures make hiking a great choice for warming up in cooler weather while also enjoying nature. The leafless trees of the season provide vantage points for sightseeing that are covered up when leaves deck the branches.

The Lost Valley Trail is 2.2 miles round trip, but it is a very easy hike. I’ve done this one a lot with my family and friends. The trail is located near the magical Buffalo National River. You’ll see a sign for Lost Valley off of Arkansas 43 between Boxley and Ponca. The trail follows a creek up to its headwaters to a waterfall treasure at the end, which is Eden Falls. You’ll also encounter caves, so don’t forget your flashlight.

Jill Rohrbach, Travel Writer
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Arkansas is a Great Place to View Bald Eagles

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t grab the kids and head outdoors for some fun! The average temperature this time of year in Arkansas is 29°F. While that is a bit nippy, it’s not too cold to enjoy the beauty of winter in The Natural State! So grab some gloves, a scarf and your coat and head outside to do some wildlife watching. Kids of all ages like seeing animals in their natural habitat and we’re lucky in Arkansas to have some of our native birds and wildlife remain in-state during the season, but also a variety of visiting critters! A great example is the majestic Bald Eagle. One of the best places to see a variety of native and visiting wildlife is at Moro Bay State Park near Jersey. Located where Moro Bay and Raymond Lake meet the Ouachita River, the park is considered one of the state’s most popular fishing and water sports areas. The park is also abundant in native mammals, and winter is a great time to get out and see them.

Kim Williams, Travel Writer
Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism

Take a mini cruise right here in central Arkansas! If you dress appropriately and it isn’t 10°F, you won’t freeze. Head to the Jolly Roger’s Marina in Pinnacle Mountain State Park for an Eagle Lake Cruise or Winter Discovery Lake Cruise in January and February. Visitors will try to spot wintering bald eagles and other wildlife on and around Lake Maumelle.

Alexis Crowe, Contributor
Little Rock Family

Often Ignored, Eureka Springs, Arkansas is a Great Wintertime Destination

Best known for festivals in the Spring and Fall, Eureka Springs is a classic vacation town. Unique Victorian architecture set in the hills and hollows of the Arkansas Ozarks, it is often overlooked in the colder months. Prices are usually pretty good and there are few things more romantic than one of the historic hotels or a beautiful bed and breakfast. There is also great hiking and mountain biking nearby and many of the shops run deep discounts during the ‘slow’ time of year.

Joe Jacobs, Contributor
Arkansas Outside

© Annie Smith

Lake Tahoe is California’s Winter Wonderland

My favorite place in California to go in the winter is Lake Tahoe! It’s one of those unique destinations that’s actually equally amazing in both winters and summers and has something for everyone. During the winter, you have snow sports like skiing and snowboarding, as well as snowshoeing, tubing, aprés ski, hot tubs in the snow, and cozy cabins!

Megan Peters, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger
The Urbanite Insight

My favorite place to visit in the winter in California is South Lake Tahoe. I grew up snowboarding in this area and love heading back during the winter months to play in the fresh powder.

Christy Woodrow, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger
Ordinary Traveler

Winter Hiking in and Around the San Francisco Area

My favorite place to go in California during the winter is both the Golden Gate National Recreation Area (located in the Bay Area) and the Point Reyes National Seashore (located due west of San Francisco). Both have incredible hiking with beach and water access and are located close to San Francisco in Marin County.

Annie Yearout, Travel Blogger
Outdoorsy Mama

Los Angeles is a Great Place to Bring in the Chinese New Year

Lunar New Year celebrations in Los Angeles last into mid-February with plenty of events and things to do, from a century-old Chinatown parade to kids activities like paper-lantern making. Need to feed your belly for an auspicious year ahead? Slurp some of the city’s best noodle dishes and cheap eats or check out our favorite dim sum. Whether you’re celebrating a long-running family tradition or experiencing the holiday for the first time, join the Chinese New Year festivities for a year of good luck and fortune. Chinese New Year — and the Year of the Dog — begins on Friday, February 16, 2018.

Michael Juliano, Contributor
Time Out – Los Angeles

Family-Friendly Activities in California

My favorite place to visit in California’s winter is the desert! Palm Springs and Palm Desert have lovely crisp weather that’s perfect for enjoying all the area has to offer, and it’s just far enough away from Los Angeles to feel completely different without dealing with flights.

Check out our favorite family-friendly activities in Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

Melissa Conn, Travel Blogger
The Family Voyage

San Diego has made my list for many seasons of the year because it is truly blessed with weather that works just about any time. And there is just so much in the greater San Diego area for families to do! Both Legoland and Sea World have holiday decorations and special events in December and early January worth a visit to get into the holiday spirit. The winter months are also peak whale watching season in San Diego. Families can also enjoy a little beach time on nearby Coronado Island.

Leslie Harvey, Travel Blogger
Trips With Tykes

© A. Soggetti

Beat the Crowds at Colorado’s Copper Mountain

I can never get enough of Copper Mountain in the winter. The skiing is incredible, it’s never too crowded, and I adore the cute little resort town. Plus, January and February typically bring some of the best snow of the year. A day spent out on one of my favorite Colorado mountains is a day well spent!

Marissa Sutera, Founder, Travel Blogger
Little Things Travel

Experience Colorado in Wintertime at any Speed

“Combine the thrill of a high-speed ride with snowy alpine scenery and you’ve just discovered why snowmobiling is so popular in Colorado. With more than 3,000 miles of snowmobiling trails throughout the state, you won’t have trouble finding a place to rent a fleet and take a snowmobile ride in Colorado. Our national forests are laced with snowmobile trails that provide one of the fastest and most exhilarating ways to explore Colorado’s beautiful backcountry. Many of the snowmobile trails are groomed and maintained by locals, and they can serve as great day adventures. Depending on what type of experience you’re looking for, snowmobiles are easy to rent and easy to use, and there is a plethora of guided tours for first-timers.”

“Or, wrap up in a wooly blanket next to your loved ones, inhale the fresh, pine-scented air, sit back and behold the spectacular scenery as you coast through the snow on a horse-drawn sleigh. Many of Colorado’s sleigh rides offer gourmet treks that range from full-course meals in rustic cabins reached by sleigh to rides that offer champagne and dessert or cookies and hot chocolate.”

Colorado Tourism Office

Take a Break at Breckenridge

My favorite activity in Colorado during the winter is currently skiing! And Breckenridge is perfect for skiing with families.

Tanya Raedeke, Family Travel Blogger
Rad Family Travel

© Connecticut Office of Tourism

Ice Climb in Connecticut

“Climbing centers are all the rage these days. They’re a great way to get the adrenaline pumping, while you build strength and skill. If you think you’re ready to attempt to climb a wall of ice, experts like Ascent Climbing and Ragged Mountain Guides can connect you with some of the best places to climb in Connecticut.”

Night Skiing is Epic!

“There’s something extra thrilling about skiing at night, whether it be by firelight, luminaries, or even spotlights that make the snow come to life in the dark. In Connecticut, you’ll find night skiing opportunities at Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall, Ski Sundown in New Hartford, Power Ridge Mountain Park & Resort in Middlefield, and Mount Southington Ski Area in Plantsville.”

Connecticut Office of Tourism

Who Didn’t Have a PEZ Dispenser?!

If you grew up collecting PEZ dispensers and sharing the candy with your friends, you must experience the PEZ brand in person. With over 4,000 square feet dedicated to all things PEZ, The PEZ Museum features the largest, most comprehensive collection of PEZ memorabilia on public display in the world. This includes a PEZ motorcycle built by Orange County Choppers and the the world’s largest PEZ dispenser. Additionally, there is a viewing area into the production area, as well as the PEZ trivia game, retail area, and interactive historical time line.

Nathan Hayes, Travel Writer
The Commoner Magazine

Snow Tubing is the Cure For Cabin Fever in Connecticut

Family feeling a little stir crazy? Kick cabin fever to the curb and embrace the snowy tundra with a snow tubing excursion. No skill or expensive gear needed, plus guaranteed fun. Not far from Westchester County is Woodbury Ski Area. The largest tubing park in Connecticut, it has 14 Snow tubing trails serviced by two lifts. That’s close to a mile of tubing trails, all designed in accordance with National Ski Area Association Guidelines.

Gretchen Kunz, Contributor
Red Tricycle

© Hotel Rehoboth

The Best Gumbo Along Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach

Now that the New Year has come and gone, you may think it is time to put away the champagne glasses and festive attire, right? Wrong! Mardi Gras is right around the corner. The perfect local celebration venue? The Rehoboth Beach Gumbo Crawl. Everyone’s favorite seafood stew will be on display at a wide variety of delicious area restaurants. Typically held on a Saturday afternoon in mid-February in downtown Rehoboth Beach, this annual tradition offers the chance to sample different gumbo recipes from some of the Rehoboth Beach area’s best-loved restaurants.

Stay for the whole weekend and enjoy other Rehoboth Beach wintertime activities, such as BASKERVILLE: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery by the Clear Space Theatre Company, a screening of The Opera House at the Rehoboth Beach Film Society, and various exhibits put on by the Rehoboth Art League around town.

Nathan Hayes, Travel Writer
The Commoner Magazine

The Solace of Delaware’s Brandywine Creek State Park

My favorite place that we used to hang out as kids were the back roads in the Valley and the hiking trails of Brandywine Creek State Park. I found the most solace here. These are especially great in winter months because there are less people hiking around and we had it all to ourselves.

Brian Cray, Gypsy
Brian Cray – Budget Travel

Plenty of Wintertime Kids Activities in Wilmington, Delaware

“Delaware might be one of the country’s smaller states, but it still holds some pretty big fun-filled places to go with kids during the winter months! There are some pretty big dinosaurs at the Delaware Museum of Natural History. And active kids will have a great time at Altitude Trampoline Park, burning off their big energy.”

Family Days Out

© Key West – Visit the USA

Communing With Nature

It’s a little too chilly for most of us to swim in the ocean during the winter but that doesn’t mean you have to skip the beach! If you’re into surfing, it’s actually perfect weather with a wet suit on. If you’re travelling with children, escape the hustle and bustle of the city and take the Blue Heron River Tour, which leaves from DeLand, Florida. It’s not the toes in the sand on the beach kind of tour but it’s fun nonetheless. The tour is about two hours long, and takes you through the manatee refuge at Blue Spring State Park. You’ll most likely get to see alligators, wading birds, and turtles of all kinds.

Danielle, Teacher, Blogger
Fun Learning For Kids

“Since the weather is going to be quite lovely, it would be shame not to spend some good quality time communing with nature. If you’re a big fan of the wilderness, then a tour of the Everglades via Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures may be perfect for you. Can’t get enough of the gators seen on your adventures? Then head to the world famous Gatorland, the official alligator capital of, well, just about everywhere. Both are near enough to Orlando, Florida for a daytrip.”

Smart Destinations

Central Florida’s Living History & War Re-Enactments

We live in Central Florida, and enjoy doing anything outdoors during the winter because the humidity is low and the temperature is mild. Jerry and I are avid roadtrippers, so we are always looking for a unique destination as an excuse to get on the backroads. A favorite outdoor activity that just so happens to occur most often during the winter months are living history and war re-enactments.

One such example is the Dade Massacre. The annual reenactment of the Dade Massacre is hosted on site at the Dade Battlefield Historic State Park. Although the reenactment includes lots of action, men on horseback, bloodcurdling screams, and gunfire, this narrated presentation feels more like a play on an outdoor stage. For this and seven more living history and war re-enactments in Central Florida, follow the link to a full write-up.

Howard Blount, Travel Blogger
Backroad Planet

Best Places to Winter Camp in the Florida Keys

One of the best things to do during winter in South Florida, is to go camping. The ideal place? The Florida Keys! There are numerous locations, including Key Largo, which is on the northern end only about 45 minutes past Miami. For the best locations at the best rates, you would want to try Hidden Key or Islamorada. Certainly the most popular destination in the Keys to camp would be the fortressed Tortuga, but it’s a bit pricey and you have to ferry over. There are other great places, such as Ginnie Springs near Gainesville (though the Springs are incredibly cold this time of year), or Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine. We often rely on TripMasters, which is great travel site.

Justin Uselton, Travel Blogger
A Couple for the Road

© Olivier Guillard

The Sky’s the Limit for Kids and Adults, Alike

If you are looking for a fun, inexpensive outing with kids during the winter, try the Fernbank Science Center and the Fernbank Planetarium, in Atlanta, Georgia, which is one of the largest in the United States. The Fernbank Science Center has free admission, while the planetarium shows are only a few dollars.

Lesli Peterson, Owner & Editor-in-Chief
365 Atlanta Family

Cozy Cabins North of Atlanta, Georgia

There are so many winter activities in Georgia that it’s hard to pick a favorite. It usually doesn’t snow in Atlanta, but the more north you go the better chance you have of seeing snow. Helen, GA is a cute town that is the perfect location for a cabin getaway. You can go for a hike or cozy up by the fire and hope for some flurries.

Kaleigh Allen, Travel & Food Blogger
KK Travels and Eats

Family Hiking in North Georgia

My favorite activity to do in my home state of Georgia is to put on some boots, gloves, and a coat, and go hiking in the North Georgia mountains with my family.

Kristin Winet, Travel Writer & Photographer
Bon Touriste
Kristin Winet

Georgia Snow Tubing For All Ages

Cruise Avalanche Alley at Stone Mountain. During the coldest months of the year Stone Mountain creates its own snowy mountain experience without the help of Mother Nature. The result is impressive. Guests to the mountain have the chance to slide down the famous Memorial Lawn on fresh snow (weather permitting). The highlight of Snow Mountain is 400-foot tubing hill which offers an energizing family tube ride known as the Avalanche. For the youngest family snow bunnies, SnoBoggans are available on smaller snow hills for mini tubing adventure.

Nancy Nelson-Duac, Contributor
Family Travel Files

© Teddy Kelley

Maui Whale-Watching

Whales head down from Alaska to Hawaii every year for the winter, from December through April. The peak time for sightings runs from late February through early March, after the calves are born. Whales can be spotted from the coast on every island, but tend to concentrate between Maui’s western shores and the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai. This is capped off by the Maui Whale Festival held throughout February.

David Hogg, Owner, Travel Blogger
Santorini Dave

Oahu Winter Wave-Riding

Our favorite thing to do on Oahu during the wintertime is drive to Pipeline which is located on the North Shore. This spot is legendary for its winter waves and we could watch it for hours. Sometimes, you can even spot some of the best surfers in the world riding the waves!

Reid & Maryrose Hicks, Travel & Lifestyle Bloggers

I’m On Top of the World!

Standing atop the summit of majestic Mauna Kea in Winter is more than just a breathtaking experience. Mauna Kea is located on Hawai’i’s Big Island and is one of the few places on earth where spiritual, scientific, and cosmic forces collide to create a memory that will last you a lifetime. You can take a tour with knowledgeable guides to the summit for a sublime sunset and an exploration of the night sky with their powerful telescopes. It’s a worry-free way to experience Mauna Kea with dinner and parkas provided for an amazing evening under the stars. I recommend Mauna Kea Summit Adventures or Hawaii Forest & Trail.

Kirk Lee Aeder, Contributor
Hawai’i Traveler

Getting Lost on Maui

I think the best thing to do in any beautiful location at any time of year is to try your best to get lost. All of the Hawaiian islands feature roads that circumnavigate the island. Maui is shaped like a figure eight and thus has two different routes to get lost on. The southern route takes you down the Piilani Highway from Kula to Kaupo, before hugging the cliffs along the Hana Highway and ending up in Hana. There are many photo ops and reasons to stop along the way, including the understated St. Joseph Church in Kaupo, dating back to 1862. The northern route starts and ends in Kahului, following the coastline very closely and passing by beach after beach. Lahaina is a great midpoint to stop at length with lots of places to eat and shop.

Nathan Hayes, Travel Writer
The Commoner Magazine

© Alden Skeie

Snowmobiling & Hooky Bobbin’

As kids, our parents never paid for us do things like staying in fancy winter resorts, so my husband’s favorite winter activity was snowmachining (snowmobiling) in the Saint Joe National Forest. Mine was hooky bobbin’ with friends (having a friend pull us on a giant inner tube behind a truck or 4-wheeler in the snow). Probably not the kind of thing you can recommend to your readers, but it is wicked fun. It’s a wonder we survived childhood.

Ski Idaho on the Cheap

As an adult, though, our recommendation that is more mainstream and less dangerous is skiing at Lookout Pass, a resort area right off I-90 just shy of the Montana border. The mountains are beautiful and the resort offers perks like skiing for free on your birthday and “Boomer Fridays,” when folks over the age of 40 ski for $30 instead of $45.

Carrie & Travis, Travel Bloggers
Two Small Potatoes

Downtown Boise, Idaho

The best way to get to Idaho is the international airport in Boise. It is serviced by Southwest, Delta, American, Alaska, and of course, United (United Airlines was started in Boise!). Getting around will require a car, however, if you are a little more adventurous, we would recommend an SUV. We do get serious winters. There are a number of nice accommodations in the Boise area. There are an additional five hotels currently being constructed in the downtown area! There are a host of dining options spanning from quick to fine dining. We highly recommend Luciano’s Italian Restaurant. Hard to get in. Totally worth the wait.

Head for the Hills

Located roughly two hours drive north of Boise is a little resort town of McCall. It remains largely undiscovered. There are two prime ski resorts near town if you are into skiing or boarding. For us, we love the McCall Activity Barn. It is a serious snow tubing hill. They rent you the tube, and even have a tram that pulls you up the hill! If you have ever wanted to learn to ice skate, there is a community center at the heart of town that offers a great rink with skate rentals.

Warm Up Your Taters, Idaho-Style

After a day on the slopes, head to one of the many hot springs in the McCall area. Idaho is located over a huge subterranean hot tub. There are a number of nice hotels and lodges nearby. Shore Lodge is the top of the food chain. If you have deeper pockets, renting a cabin on the lake is really fun.

Mike Willits, Travel Blogger
The Fighting Couple

Getting Away From it All

My favorite places to go in Idaho are Sun Valley and McCall. Both of them are wonderlands in the Winter and small enough to get away from it all. Plus, they both offer a plethora of outdoor winter activities and have amazing ski mountains.

Katie Williams, Travel Blogger
The Traveling Spud

© Afif Najib

Chicago, Illinois Ice Skating

A great activity is ice skating at Maggie Daley Park on the ice ribbon. It’s free to skate if you bring your own skates.

Meghan Leigh, Lifestyle Blogger & Photographer
Meghan Leigh

I honestly love my city of Chicago year-round. Even though it can snow and be a bit cold in the winter – okay, sometimes freezing – it can be so beautiful as well. Millennium Park is always festive around the holidays and you can ice skate right under the Bean. If you want to stay warm indoors, I highly recommend the views from Cindy’s Rooftop across from Millennium Park or the beautiful hidden gem, 3 Arts Club Cafe, with it’s chandeliers and stunning indoor atrium garden.

Lisa Lubin, Travel Blogger
LL World Tour

Midwest Winter Hibernation is a Myth

Winter hibernation isn’t a must in the Midwest – a common misconception. There’s still plenty to do and vacations to be had during the winter months – many of them can be found in Illinois’ Starved Rock Country along the picturesque Illinois River. Sitting just 90 minutes from downtown Chicago, Starved Rock Country is a Midwest oasis with outdoor fun, exceptional dining and shopping, and a community chock full of unique, singular activities that can’t be found in the same mix, anywhere else.

Amanda Hart, Contributor, Designer
Heritage Harbor – Ottawa

Indoor Farmers Market is the Perfect Winter Distraction

The Logan Square Farmers Market is a Summer favorite among Chicago residents, but you can enjoy also it in the cold Winter months! Since 2005, the Logan Square Farmers Market has been an open-air food market and weekly community gathering. Their goals center on building an alternative food system, fostering entrepreneurship, and building community in the nearby neighborhoods. The market runs indoors every Sunday between 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM, from November 6, 2016 until March 26, 2017. Stop by for local produce and seasonal staples.

Nathan Hayes, Travel Writer
The Commoner Magazine

Weekend Getaway With the Kids in Sheboygan, Illinois

Parents wishing to get a way for a winter weekend with the kids without spending a fortune and without having to hear “are we there yet?” more than once or twice during the car ride should consider a trip to Milwaukee’s northern neighbor, Sheboygan. The city harbors a quaintness coupled with unique, kid-friendly opportunities that make it feel like you’ve really gotten away. For families visiting Sheboygan, lodging is a no-brainer at the Blue Harbor Resort, which features several restaurants, a spa, and a large indoor waterpark.

Molly Snyder, Senior Writer
On Milwaukee

© Visit Indiana

Indiana Has a Thing For Speed, Apparently

My favorite winter activity in Indiana is the Toboggan Run at Pokagon State Park. The run is a quarter mile long and can reach speeds of up to 42 mph! Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935, the twin tracks were renovated to add refrigeration in the 1980s, which means no snow is needed for this thrill ride. It opens after Thanksgiving each year and closes in late February. Even Katie Stam, 2009’s Miss America, gets in on the action.

Kyle Johnson, Digital Communications Specialist
Indiana Office of Tourism Development

Experience Natural Indiana Indoors or Outdoors

“Whether you enjoy hiking a rugged trail, taking an easy stroll to view the birds and wildflowers, cross-country skiing in the gently falling snow, or riding your horse amidst the vibrant fall foliage, the Indiana Dunes is sure to have the perfect trail for you. The Indiana Dunes State Park offers seven trails through the park which are available for both hiking and cross-country skiing. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore provides 45 miles of trails for visitors to explore the park’s various habitats.”

“One of the most unique attractions you will find in Indiana is Fair Oaks Farms. Visitors are encouraged to spend a day exploring, questioning, and learning about the dedication and practices that go into food production on the Fair Oaks Farms campus. Fair Oaks is a working dairy farm – and one of the largest in the nation – but also provides fun ways to learn with their Dairy Adventure, Pig Adventure, and Crop Adventure. An on-site restaurant, café, and the seasonal Mooville are also located on the Fair Oaks Farms campus.”

South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority

Get Lost in Parke County, Indiana

“You won’t find many other visitors in Indiana’s Parke County when snow begins to fall – and that’s the best reason of all to come here in winter. You’ll have the picturesque historic bridges practically to yourself, making it easy to imagine you’ve stepped back in time. Pick up a map at the local visitors center, and make a special trip for the flaky biscuits at the Clabber Girl Museum and Bake Shop in Terre Haute. Overnight at the Turkey Run State Park Inn, which has both a lodge and cabins set in 2,382 acres of woods and sandstone gorges. Or try the country-style Bubble Gum Bed and Breakfast in Rockville, where bubble gum and chocolate are among the treats guests receive at this 1909 home.”

Along Lake Michigan

“Every winter, lake-effect storms leave Lake Michigan coast cloaked in ice and snow creating a stunning winter landscape. Of course, the Lake Michigan coast in winter is also perfect for warming up over wine tasting at a vineyard or breakfast at Tryon Farm Guesthouse in Michigan City, Indiana, where breakfast includes fresh-laid eggs.”

Midwest Living

© Tomasz Proszek

Making Wreaths

This is the third year in a row that I’ve headed to the Carlson Tree Farm to create a wreath and it’s not just because I love the family that owns the place. It’s an experience. I go every year with the some of the North Iowa Bloggers and we always have such a fun time.

Taking in Some Iowa History

I love to learn about local things around me. One of my favorite places is the Jane Young Museum in Webster City, Iowa. Jane Young was the wife of Kendall Young, a farmer, soldier, and participant in the gold rush. They were married in 1858 and built a home there. You can take a tour of the house to learn more about them. In 1888 the Youngs were asked if they would make a donation to help build a library. Mr. Young chose not to which is why it was surprising that when he died in 1896 he left his estate to the city for the express purpose of building a free library. The library opened in the Kendall Young Home on July 27, 1898. The home was moved to its present location at 623 Elm St. so construction could begin on a new building on the spot where the Young home previously stood, 1201 Willson Ave. The Kendall Young Library building was finished in 1905. The home, the Jane Young House, today is the home of the Webster City Women’s Club.

Donna Hup, Travel Blogger

Snow Sporting Opportunities Abound in Iowa

“After days of below-zero wind chills, it may seem a challenge to embrace Iowa’s winter and spend any length of time outside. But fun winter activities abound in Cedar Valley and it’s a great opportunity to make memories, get a little exercise and have fun with family and friends. Adventurists can participate in cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and ice climbing.”

Cedar Falls Tourism & Visitors Bureau

A Sleigh Ride Together For You!

Jester Park Equestrian Center’s mission is to educate people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds about horses, natural resources and themselves. Get those sleigh bells jingling with a 45-minute carriage or sleigh ride (snow dependent) through the park, located in Granger, Polk County, Iowa, to fully enjoy the beauty of the season. Rides are $10 per person with a $50 minimum fee for registration.

Taylor Eisenhauer, Communications Intern
Off The Beaten Path – Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

© Beth Pledger

Don’t Loose Your Marbles in Kansas

Visit Moon Marble Company in Bonner Springs, Kansas, the only store in the country where you can buy handmade toy marbles and watch them being made. Artisan and owner Bruce Breslow frequently demonstrates his marble making. During demonstrations, Bruce will explain the process of glass working, marble history, and other fascinating areas of marble interest. They also exhibit and sell the work of several dozen prominent glassworkers from across the country.

Kelli Hilliard, PR & Travel Development Manager
Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, & Tourism

Immerse Yourself in the Rural History of Wichita, Kansas

Bundle up he kids and visit the Old Cowtown Museum. Breathe fresh air as you walk outside and pop into heated shops and houses to warm up! Cowtown’s unique programming tells the story of Wichita’s transformation from a frontier settlement to a cattle town to an agricultural and manufacturing area. Wichita’s storied past is vividly brought to life through daily activities, special events and education programs.

Lauren Davis, Contributor
Wichita Moms Blog

Kansas is a Geological Playground of Interesting Elements

Towering rocks and vast salt deposits aren’t the first thing you think of when considering Kansas landscape. However, millions of years ago, the state was covered by an inland sea that evaporated, leaving behind geological wonders. Tunnel 650 feet below the Earth’s surface while visiting Strataca, the Kansas Underground Salt Museum, where kids can touch remnants of an inland ocean. Then hop on the Salt Mine Express underground train and ride through the Permian Playground where scientists have discovered the world’s oldest bacterial organism. Above the Earth’s surface, the ancient sea left behind distinct rock monoliths of Dakota Sandstone, Niobrara Chalk, and Greenhorn Limestone dotted throughout the state. Explore the unique rock outcroppings at Rock City and Mushroom Rock State Park where kids will feel like they’re on another planet, or admire a landscape fit for an old western movie at Castle Rock Badlands and Monument Rocks. Whether tunneling below or bouldering above, families will discover a geological playground in Kansas, courtesy of its ancient inland sea.

Ann Anderson, Contributor

© Newport Aquarium

Head to the Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, Where Kids Get in Free

“With record-breaking cold winter weather throughout the region, now is a great time to head indoors. The Newport Aquarium hosts Winter Family Days, where one child between the ages of 2 and 12, gets in free with each full price adult! Better still, a new species of stingray has just arrived at Stingray Hideaway – the Ribbontail ray. This makes Newport Aquarium home to the only Ribbontail rays in the entire Midwest. The aquarium is open every day, including holidays, and will operate with extended hours on select days in January and February.”

Lex Fun 4 Kids

Staying Warm in Berea, Kentucky

The Historic Boone Tavern in Berea, Kentucky will certainly warm you up during the cold winter months. Formerly a travelers inn, the Boone Tavern was built in 1909 at the suggestion of Nellie Frost, the wife of the College president, William G. Frost. As the reputation of Berea College grew, so did the number of guests that Mrs. Frost received, reaching a total of 300 guests in one summer.

Stephen M. Vest, Editor & Publisher
Kentucky Monthly Magazine

Winter Activities in Kentucky State Parks

“Get away from the cold weather and relax by the fireplace in a cozy cabin or cottage. Nine Kentucky State Parks provide accommodations that include a fireplace. Some are traditional wood burning fireplaces and others run on gas powered logs.”

“If you want to see some Kentucky wildlife, look no further than the Kentucky State Parks! There are numerous tours planned for winter, including elk viewing tours, looking for eagles in Western Kentucky, and watching sandhill cranes as they migrate through Kentucky.”

“Hiking can be an adventure no matter what time of year. Join the Park Staff and John Robbins from the Sierra Club, for a hike through the woods of Big Bone State Park. The fresh air and still landscape is sure to keep you from getting cabin fever!”

Kentucky State Parks

Science Fun in Louisville, Kentucky

The Kentucky Science Center is one of my kids’ favorite ways to kill an afternoon when the weather is frightful. The Science In Play exhibit is always the kids’ favorite and it doesn’t get old, even as the kids get older. Plus, they have a 4-Story theatre! I recommend a membership combined with a Louisville Zoo membership so you can visit often without the pressure of staying the entire day.

Stephanie White, Founder & Owner
Louisville Family Fun

© The Commoner

A Glimpse Into the Past

Many plantations have fallen ruin to the passage of time, but Oak Alley Plantation, Restaurant, & Inn in Vacherie, Louisiana is a restored beauty. In 1925, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Stewart participated in ‘adaptive restoration.’ The plantation was given modern plumbing and an updated kitchen. Since 1976, the site has been servicing the local community as well as visitors from around the world as they explore the vast history of this River Region. Now the plantation hosts tours and events and is a great venue to explore during the mild Louisianan winter. You can even stay the night and benefit from fine dining options.

Brianna Sage Poche, Contributor

Winter Beer Festival in Lake Charles, Louisiana

“If you enjoy a good brew, make your way to the Historic Calcasieu Marine National Bank building for the 4th Annual Louisiana Winter Beer Festival on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018 from 1-5 p.m. This beer-tasting event will feature over 100 different craft beers of the highest quality from a variety of American brewers, including Louisiana favorites and local brews from Crying Eagle Brewing Company. The event will showcase special releases and unique brews. Several of the brewers will have beers special to the festival, providing a unique opportunity for those who attend. In addition to beer sampling, the event will feature live music and a variety of food from local vendors.”

Lake Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau

Revelers Flock to Louisiana for Mardi Gras

After the beginning of the year, many people in Louisiana enjoy Mardi Gras! The Carnival season begins January 6 and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. Cities and towns all across the state celebrate with parties, balls, live music, food, drinks, and wonderful parades.

Organizations called krewes plan the parades and build elaborate floats. Krewe members costumed in purple, gold, and green throw beads, doubloons (Mardi Gras coins), moon pies, toys, and other trinkets to the crowds. The floats, along with marching bands, cheer and dance squads, high school sports teams, local organizations, and police and firefighters, wind along the parade routes where revelers tailgate and enjoy the festive atmosphere and parade. “Throw me something, Mister!”

In Louisiana, we love great music, spicy food, parties, and festivals, and we know how to have a good time. Mardi Gras is all of that, so laissez les bons temps rouler – let the good times roll!

Candy Ray, Travel Blogger
Trueheart Travels

© Kim Kalicky

Snowshoeing & Skiing in Maine

You’ve gotta go snowshoeing at Wolfe’s Neck State Park in Freeport, Maine. While we love walking the park trails in the fall, it seems that we go there more in winter, when we can see the blue/gray/green of the ocean through the trees, many bare of leaves.

On an early winter morning, there are so few people in the park and those who are there are just the friendliest like-minded folks who smile and remark on the beauty and recent snowfall. Trails pass over tiny wooden footbridges and curve along the cliffs that overlook a smattering of small islands – Bustins, Little Bustins, Eagle, Moshier, and Crab, as well as Chebeague and Cousins off to the far south.

Kim Kalicky, Travel Writer
Living Maine Seasons

During winter, you can usually find me in Carrabassett Valley, Maine, either skiing the trails at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort or snowshoeing the Maine Huts & Trails system. Both are a great way to spend a day or a week in Maine’s Great Outdoors.

Hilary Nangle, Travel Writer, Author, & Editor
Maine Travel Maven

Novice Ice Climbing in Maine’s Acadia National Park

I’m not all that experienced a climber of any kind – rock, ice, jungle gym – but learning to ice climb just sounded cool. Intimidating, too. In my novice climber’s mind, ice seems delicate and unstable, like it might shatter beneath me at any moment, which makes the idea of climbing it even more daunting, in that scared-excited way. There’s a whole world of things I don’t know about ice and climbing, which is why guided climbing trips with outfits like Acadia Mountain Guides Climbing School are so fantastic. They supply the gear and expertise to keep us safe, which means we get to focus on having a good time and swinging those axes like champs.

Doing It All in Maine

Cross-country skiing, an outdoor heated pool, and the splendid sweat of an end-of-day sauna. It’s a winter trifecta that combines a bit of outdoor activity with plenty of well-deserved relaxation. And then more relaxation. Toss in a pit stop at the tavern for a beer and a burger and you’ve got yourself a day worth writing home about. The ski-swim-sauna package is offered by the clever folks at Bethel Village Trails at the Bethel Inn Resort – they understand how the addition of an outdoor heated pool makes every adventure even better. Especially during the winter.

Shannon Bryan, Fitness & Travel Blogger
Fit Maine

© The Commoner

Maryland Skiing

The mercury may drop, but in Maryland the excitement never stops! Cozy up by the fire after an exhilarating day on the slopes at Wisp Resort, in McHenry, Maryland. The resort features a lot of activities beyond skiing and snowboarding – snow tubing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, a ‘mountain coaster,’ and NASTAR Racing – as well as a full calendar of events.

Visit Maryland, Maryland Office of Tourism Development

Museums & Munching in Baltimore, Maryland

The Walters Art Museum is an oasis on any day, but especially on a blustery winter one. A unique collection of art, interactive exhibits, and weekly free activities for families this museum is a rare gem.

Hungry after all that artful exploration? Stop in across the street at Trinacria Cafe for some classic Italian deli eats and live music on weekends.

Lara DiPaola, Travel Blogger
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom

During the winter months I like to spend my free time visiting my favorite museums since there are so many in the area. It’s a great way to get together with different friends over the weekends. In Baltimore, I like to go to the Visionary Arts Museum, Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walter’s Art Museum, and the National Aquarium.

April Altamira, Travel Blogger
Encompassing Compass

Wear Those Kids Out, Then Throw Them in Bed!

If you’re looking to wear out your little ones who have been diagnosed with cabin feverous, you must check out Stratosphere Trampoline Park in Eldersburg, Maryland. Your kids will jump, bounce, flip and twist their way around wall-to-wall trampolines, on their way to an early bedtime or afternoon nap. There is even a Ninja Warrior Training Course for any interested crazy people!

Nathan Hayes, Travel Writer
The Commoner Magazine

© Newton Court

Experience Boston, Either Indoors or Outdoors

My favorite outdoor activity during Boston’s winter, is a scenic and snack-filled walk from Copley Square, up Newbury Street, past the Boston Public Garden to the Esplanade. During colder months, the esplanade can be blustery and frigid as the wind whips off the water, but odds are just as good that the sun will be sparkling off the ice under a bright blue winter sky, and you’ll see some unforgettable scenery.

My new favorite indoor activity is the Boston Public Market – indoors and yummy! When Boston Public Market opened in 2015, revitalizing a cavernous space in downtown Boston that had been empty for 12 years, I swore I would check it out immediately. Alas, weeks turned into months, as my two young children marauded all over my plans. One by one, each of my friends visited the market, returning with glowing reviews. “The BPM is the best addition to our city in forever,” they raved. “It’s delicious. Get yourself down there!”

Lillie Marshall, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger
Around the World “L”

Ice Skating in Downtown Boston, Massachusetts

My favorite wintertime activity in Massachusetts is ice skating at the Frog Pond in Boston Common. The Frog Pond has ranked as the best ice skating rink in the US and the second overall in North America by USA Today. Its a great activity for all ages!

Adrienne Miller, Travel Blogger
Destinations & Desserts

Western Massachusetts is Great for Cross Country Skiing

Though I haven’t done it much this year, cross-country skiing is always a nice activity here in the Berkshires. There are many places to go, such as Hopkin’s Memorial Forest in Williamstown, MA, and Kennedy Park, in Lenox, MA. A great resource is the Western Massachusetts Cross Country Ski Area Association.

Museum-Hopping Throughout the Rural Berkshires

The Berkshires is dotted with quaint villages and towns with a variety of museums to visit. Some examples are the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Clark Art Institute, and the Berkshire Historical Society, as well as the Hancock Shaker Village. Another great resource is Berkshire Links featuring a list of more museums and historic sites.

Craig A. Chicoine, Writer, Poet, Lyricist
New England Pride

© The Commoner

Frankenmuth, Michigan For The Win

When the weather isn’t bitterly cold, we like to go Zehnder’s Snow and Ice Festival. There are amazing snow and ice sculptures created from people around the world. Additionally, Frankenmuth, Michigan is a great place to visit any time of the year. They have horse drawn carriages, great restaurants, and Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, where it is Christmas 360+ days of the year.

Margaret Clegg, Lifestyle Blogger
MI Gluten-Free Gal

Your Own Winter Wonderland in Northwest Michigan

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a national park located in northwest Michigan just outside of our hometown of Traverse City, is a magical place all year round, but we especially love visiting there in winter. It’s a great place to snowshoe, cross country ski, and sled through majestic terrain. The top of the snow covered dunes offer expansive views of Lake Michigan. The best part about visiting Sleeping Bear in the Winter is that it makes you feel like you’re in on a secret – while throngs of people from around the world visit during the summer, it’s virtually empty during the winter. You can make it your own winter wonderland!

Jay & Heather Harrington, Travel & Lifestyle Bloggers
Life & Whim

The Perfect Backdrop

In the winter, my favorite place to go is the Huron-Manistee National Forest north of Grand Rapids. There is a beautiful calmness about the forest in the wintertime that makes for great photography or peaceful meditation.

Robyn Porteen, Photographer
Porteen Gear

Wine Country, Michigan

“Even if you don’t see the workers harvesting frozen Riesling grapes at Chateau Chantal, be sure to try the sweet ice wine the vintners will make from them. In winter, visitors duck in from the cold to sample wines at Old Mission Peninsula’s wineries, sipping warm reds and dry whites while watching the sun set over frozen Lake Michigan.”

Midwest Living

© The Commoner

Brainerd, Minnesota is a Winter Paradise For All

“No matter how you like to travel, Brainerd, Minnesota (about 2 hours north of Minneapolis), fills the bill. Go adventurous and try snowboarding at Mount Ski Gull, dog sledding at Cragun’s Resort, or cross-country skiing at Northland Arboretum and Boyd Lodge. Take it slower and stomp a path through new snow or ski on a frozen pond. Or, if you’d really rather just stay warm, browse the shops in Nisswa and Pequot Lakes. No matter what you do, also make sure to book a massage at the lovely Glacial Waters Spa at Grand View Lodge.”

Along the St. Croix River

“One of the prettiest rivers in the Midwest, the St. Croix becomes downright gorgeous in winter, when the forested cliffs that form its banks are covered in fresh, white snow. In little towns like Stillwater, shoppers bustle on historic streets, while hardy hikers of all ages strap on snowshoes or cross-country skis to explore Interstate State Park, which sprawls between Wisconsin and Minnesota.”

Midwest Living

Exploring Minnesota’s Frozen Waterways

There are so many wonderful places/things to do in Minnesota. I think my favorite, though, is exploring frozen waterfalls and rivers that you can only visit in the dead of winter. The Land of 10,000 Lakes also happens to have quite a few waterfalls, though not quite 10,000 of them. Minnesota also has this crazy reputation for being cold. Like, really cold. But picture how amazing cold weather combined with a waterfall can make for some spectacular winter sight-seeing!

Greta Alms, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger, Photographer
Pickles Travel Blog for Food & Family Travel

Saint Paul, Minnesota is the King of Winter

“Saint Paul celebrates the chill of winter unlike anywhere else in the world! From outdoor skating in downtown to downhill skating with the Red Bull Crashed Ice World Championships, Saint Paul is the king of Winter. Enjoy the exciting family-friendly events of the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, watch the Lighting of Rice Park powered by Xcel Energy, or practice your triple Salchow on the Wells Fargo WinterSkate. Don’t let a Minnesota winter scare you. Find an exciting event to attend and come chill out in Minnesota’s capital city.”

Visit Saint Paul – Official Convention & Visitors Bureau

© Crooked Letter Brewing Company

Head to Mississippi for Mardi Gras

Winter in Mississippi really doesn’t get started until January. We usually only get one or two snows a year, with just a couple inches of accumulation. Because we get so few snowy and icy days, we are totally unprepared for them, and it’s not uncommon for the whole state (or large sections) to shut down because of icy conditions. Definitely be aware of this if you’re planning travel to the Magnolia state! In late January through February, head down to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for the best Mississippi winter fun – Mardi Gras season! While you may associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, it actually began in Mobile, Alabama, which means the whole Gulf Coast becomes one big Mardi Gras party each year! You’ll find parades and celebrations in many Mississippi coastal towns including Biloxi, Ocean Springs, and Gulfport. So head south to the Gulf Coast for wintertime fun!

Jennifer Campbell, Travel Blogger
Just Chasing Rabbits

Experience Mississippi, Either Indoors or Outdoors

For all Outdoor Adventure types, we recommend hiking at Clark Creek Natural Area, which is just about the only place in the state to get steep elevation hiking (and by steep, I mean severe) and waterfalls! That’s right – waterfalls in Mississippi!

Or, if you’d rather be indoors during the (relatively) coldest part of the year, then we recommend a museum tour, including the brand-new Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, followed by the Mississippi Music Museum in Hazelhurst, followed by the McComb City Railroad Depot Museum. These three museums are fabulous collections all within about 90 miles of each other (straight shot down Interstate 55). Together they thoroughly highlight Mississippi’s interesting and peculiar history! When you finish with the McComb Railroad Museum, you are only one block away from a fabulous restaurant and bar, The Caboose Restaurant.

The Parker Family, Travel Bloggers
The Roaming Parkers

Mississippi’s Craft Beer Scene

“Sometimes a nice craft beer is all you want on a cool day, and with four great breweries on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, you have plenty of options to choose from. Lazy Magnolia in Kiln is the state’s oldest and most famous craft brewery, and the food served at their ‘Porch’ is among the best you’ll find at a brewery. In downtown Gulfport you’ll find Chandeleur Island Brewing Company and its excellent selection, to go along with a fun taproom and a variety of games. Biloxi Brewing Company is also a fan favorite, with its unique seasonal brews, and did we mention it’s a two minute walk from the Shuckers stadium? Crooked Letter Brewing Company recently re-opened and Ocean Springs locals couldn’t be happier!

Wiley Anderson, Contributor
Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau

© Smallin Civil War Cave

Road Tripping Missouri

“Travel Missouri’s section of Route 66 to see sights such as Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield. Or maybe you’d prefer to travel across northern Missouri’s Highway 36 to connect with notable Missourians at places such as the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal and the General John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site in Laclede.”

Missouri is a Great Place for Entertainment Options

“Branson is known as the ‘Live Music Show Capital of the World.’ With an internationally known tagline like that, you’re sure to find fun and excitement at one of countless Branson attractions. Whether you’re choosing from among the popular shows found along the famous Highway 76 Strip in Branson, or a touring act visiting venues such as the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City or the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis, you’re never far from a great live show the entire family will enjoy.”

Warm Up in a Cool Cave

“When it’s 20°F or below outside, a trip underground to one of Missouri’s caves feels like a warm spring day. After all, it’s usually 55°F or warmer in places like Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, Meramec Caverns in Stanton, Bridal Cave in Camdenton, and Smallin Civil War Cave in Ozark.”

Missouri Department of Economic Development

Learn All About Coffee in Kansas City, Missouri

If you love coffee then this is the perfect winter activity for you. The Roasterie is one of the best spots in Kansas City to stop in and grab a cup of joe on a cold day. Even better than that, they offer a complimentary coffee tour where you can learn all about the process used to create their signature air-roasted coffee. Take a step back from the traditional winter activities and warm up with a free coffee tour this year.

Kate, Travel & Local Blogger
Travel Far, Eat Well

© Michael Hoyt

Winter Sporting Options in Central Montana

My favorite place/activity during a Montana Winter is definitely Kings Hill Winter Recreation Area just off US Hwy 89 near Kings Hill Pass. It is south of Neihart, Montana and north of White Sulphur Springs, Montana. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing are awesome there. The area also has over 200 miles of marked, uncrowded snowmobile trails. It’s a great place for either snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or snowmobiling!

Gayle Fisher, Contributor
Central Montana

A Peaceful Montana Wilderness Area

Mystic Lake is the largest lake in the Beartooth Mountain Range. Most people will travel there in the summer to explore the pristine shores, but I find it has an almost ethereal feel to it during the winter. Very few people visit in the off season, the lake has several feet of ice covering it, and everything is snow covered and peaceful.

Scott Sery, Freelance Author

Soaking Up Montana, Literally

We love to soak at Quinns Hot Springs Resort! It’s perhaps the most beautiful setting you can imagine, nestled right at the base of a mountain and river. You can soak for 3 hours for $11 a person, and it’s just magic. We just went there for my birthday!

Of Course You Can Downhill Ski in Montana!

We also love downhill skiing on Whitefish Mountain Resort. Amazing powdery long runs and a beautiful lodge for coco and drinks. Plus, we love to grab some fries and sit on top of the mountain and watch the views. You can see all the way into Glacier National Park on a clear day!

Hard-Working Dogs

My friends at Base Camp Bigfork, MT run a dog sled company and I really want to go try it! Maybe this year or next. Every picture looks amazing. Plus they are just finishing building an incredible rental property nearby. We might just have to do a stay-cation there!

Jillian Johnsrud, Financial Writer, Speaker, and Mentor
Montana Money Adventures

© Lauritzen Gardens Conservatory

Nebraska’s Mahoney State Park, Indoors & Outdoors

My favorite Nebraska place during the winter is Mahoney State Park. This Nebraska State Park is located halfway between Omaha and Lincoln. They have a huge indoor playground area, an ice skating rink, and a few great toboggan runs when the weather is right. Plus, they have wonderful little cabins and great hotel style rooms – some include lofts. They are discounted during the week in wintertime.

Gretchen Garrison, Local Blogger
Odessey Through Nebraska

Explore Nature at Two Indoor Venues in Omaha, Nebraska

“The opening of the Lauritzen Gardens‘ $21 million conservatory provided just one more way to ward off Winter’s chill in Omaha. At the Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory, take in the Tropical House, Temperate House, and seasonal displays. Then head to the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, where you can stay toasty in the Desert Dome, explore a rainforest at the indoor Lied Jungle, or see colorful creatures at the aquarium.”

Midwest Living

Art on Display in Kearney, Nebraska

“Discover the art of Nebraska. More than 6,000 works by artists of regional, national and international importance. The Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, Nebraska is constantly changing exhibitions honor the art of the past, focus on the present, and provide a glimpse of the future.”

Visit Nebraska – Nebraska Tourism Commission

© The Commoner

Getting Paid to Fish? Yes, Please!

A great event which starts on New Year’s Day is the Topaz Lake Fishing Derby – I mean, where else can you get paid for fishing?! At the Topaz Lodge! Every year the Topaz Lodge Fishing Derby pays you for catching fish. Lucky anglers compete for chance to win $25, $100, and $300 per fish. And throughout the derby, you can collect drawing entries for a chance to win tons of fishing gear.

Jan Vandermade, Executive Director
Visit Carson Valley

Las Vegas is the Gateway to Many National Parks

For me, one of the best things about winter in Las Vegas is the temperate weather, which makes it a wonderful time of year to explore the great outdoors. Las Vegas is a gateway to a number of national parks and other outdoor areas, including Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, and Mount Charleston, to name just a few.

Maria Phelan, Communications Manager
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

A Better Time of Year to Explore Nevada’s Death Valley

With summer temps topping 120°F, this Death Valley National Park is far more welcoming in winter when you can explore its alien landscapes without melting from the heat. Snow-capped peaks can make for stunning scenery, and cool days allow for better hiking. Hang out on the rolling sand dunes or take a stroll along the Badwater Basin salt flats, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. The park’s eastern entrance is a short drive from Beatty, Nevada, on Highway 374, where you can base yourself at the retro-styled Atomic Inn and grab the evening’s post-hike food and drinks at the laid-back Happy Burro Chili & Beer.

Ski Across State Lines

Heavenly Ski Resort isn’t just a resort with 97 trails, 28 lifts, and the most terrain in Lake Tahoe. It’s also where you can venture across state lines from Nevada to California while on your skis or board. And when you hit the top of the mountain, the view of both sides is as epic as the trip back down to the bottom. Grab your camera and remember the No. 1 rule of outdoor Instagram: Little person, big scenery.

Sarah Feldberg, Contributor
Travel Nevada

© Ice Castles

Obviously, New Hampshire Features Great Skiing

New Hampshire winters are perfect for skiing! Downhill resorts boast some of the best skiing in the East and cross country resorts bring you into the woods for a winter wonderland.

Cathy & Frank, Regional Travel Bloggers
Nothing But New England

In the Heart of the White Mountains

Bear Mountain Lodge has been rated amongst the top bed and breakfasts in the United States. This charming New Hampshire inn is located in Bethlehem, which is right in the heart of the gorgeous White Mountains. In addition to a stunning log cabin design and tremendous views from the floor to ceiling windows, the inn offers complimentary snowshoes and guided tours (for a small fee) for guests. Ski resorts Bretton Woods and Cannon Mountain are both just a 15-minute drive away for guests interested in downhill and cross country skiing.

Maureen Therese, Travel Blogger
Top Ten Travel Blog

Frozen, Just Like the Movie!

My favorite place/activity to go to in the wintertime is the Ice Castles in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Crews grow roughly 10,000 icicles every day and place them throughout the Ice Castle to provide something for the water to freeze to. Over time the icicles just get absorbed into the ice structure. Check out this video by a local family!

Marcia Passos Duffy, Publisher & Editor
The Heart of New England Online Magazine

You’ve Got to Make the Trip to Littleton, New Hampshire

As the sixth best small town in America, Littleton offers quaint storefronts and historic buildings. Littleton’s famous natives include Eleanor H. Porter, author of the famous children’s book, Pollyanna. To honor her, there is a statue of Pollyanna welcoming the tourists.

If you’ve ever dreamed of being inside of Candyland, Chutters Candy Store brings you as close as you can get. Gummies, gumballs and candy Legos are just some of the items you can find on the 112-foot candy counter. For chocolate lovers, you can find a variety of fudge, as well as truffles that can cure any sweet tooth.

Two floors with a bar on each floor, its no wonder Schilling Beer Company is the place to be in Littleton. It has a beer menu offering 10 to 15 taps that include German-style beers as well as experimental brews. So whether you are looking to have dinner or grab some drinks, stop by Schilling’s and enjoy the company of dedicated locals and adventurous tourists.

Victoria Dutra, Contributor

© Julian Lozano

The Serenity of New Jersey State Parks

My favorite wintertime activity in New Jersey is visiting the State Parks in the Northwest part of the state. These natural treasures are relatively empty during the winter months so you have the places pretty much all to yourself. Bundle up and enjoy a serene, peaceful scene dotted with Instagram worthy shots. I particularly enjoy observing wildlife in this mountainous, charming region. Wawayanda State Park is my favorite spot but Hacklebarney State Park is closer to home and provides me with a smaller, more intimate hike through a beautiful forest setting.

Ryan Biddulph, Travel Blogger
Blogging From Paradise

Are You the Pinball Wizard?

A great Wintertime activity is the Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park. Lots of oldtime (and new) pinball machines, plus some classic arcade games and skeeball – all for an hourly price (no quarters needed). In winter it’s easier to find parking and is much less crowded.

Debbie Abrams Kaplan, Travel Journalist
Jersey Kids

There are Tons of Indoor Activities for Kids During New Jersey’s Winter

If the winter weather is too frosty for you, there are a ton of indoor activities for kids! Try indoor stargazing at the Robert J. Novins Planetarium in Toms River, or visit a kid-friendly exhibit at the Newark Museum. Dreaming of summer days? Check out the indoor water park Sahara Sam’s Oasis in West Berlin, where kids can splash the day away, or visit Adventure Aquarium in Camden to see penguins, sharks, and stingrays in action.

Liz Alterman, Contributor
Mommy Poppins

© Ron Behrmann

Balloons Over Albuquerque

“Bring your family, a warm cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and enjoy the view as a close-knit group of local balloon pilots launch up to 135+ hot air balloons at the annual Friends and Lovers Balloon Rally in Albuquerque, New Mexico in early February.”

Visit Albuquerque

Solitude in New Mexico at 10,000 Feet Above Sea Level

My favorite place to go in the wintertime is the San Pedro Parks Wilderness in north-central New Mexico. These wildlands are owned by the public – by all Americans. There are no fantastic sites or towering peaks, but miles and miles of high mountain parks and meadows at 10,000 ft. There is also an abundance of wildlife and a chance for true solitude. For snowshoeing and cross country skiing, this wilderness is ideal.

Jim O’Donnell, Freelance Writer, Photographer
Around the World in Eighty Years
Jim O’Donnell Photogrpahy

Snowy Adventures in Beautiful New Mexico

“New Mexico is home to eight alpine and three nordic ski areas, all of which will provide you with the stunning scenery you’d expect in New Mexico, plus the exceptional skiing and riding that you expect from top ski areas. Downhill skiers or snowboarders will enjoy Ski Santa Fe and the Sandia Peak Ski Area, while nordic enthusiasts can explore the trails at the Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area. You can still enjoy the stunning views atop Sandia Peak, even if you aren’t an adrenaline-pumped outdoor enthusiast. Just take a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway, where you’ll enjoy an 11,000 panoramic view of the Rio Grande Valley from the observation deck at the top of Sandia Peak.”

Hacienda Vargas

New Mexico Ice-Fishing

“Most New Mexico State Parks are open year round, creating opportunities for winter recreation. Ice-fishing is just one of the things to do during the winter season, at Bluewater Lake State Park east of Gallup, Eagle Nest Lake State Park north of Angel Fire, and Sugarite Canyon State Park north of Raton, near the border hared between New Mexico and Colorado.

New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department

Loving New Mexico!

During the winter, I love to ski at Ski Santa Fe or Taos Ski Valley, eat green chile at local restaurants, sit around the fire at Del Charro Saloon in Santa Fe with a libation, walk Canyon Road on Christmas Eve, where you’ll find over a hundred galleries, boutiques, and restaurants in a half mile stretch.

Buneesa Terry, Travel & Local Blogger, Real Estate Agent
I Love New Mexico

© Brushland Eating House

Hide Away During Winter in Bovina, New York

For a secluded winter weekend getaway, we’d retreat Bovina, specifically, to this converted one room schoolhouse located on a quiet country road in Bovina Center, NY. This 1800s schoolhouse, restored with rich wood interiors and rustic accents, offers a calm respite from typical day to day stresses. With no internet access, there’s nothing to distract you from soaking up the gorgeous natural landscape that surrounds.

While there, try the hidden gem that is Brushland Eating House, which “embodies the simple life, with a romantic view from the porch into the past.” We love its community-centric dining experience and menu of comforting classics like roasted carrots with almond dressing or the half roasted chicken with green bean ragout and smashed potatoes. This restaurant is a destination unto itself, aside from Russells General Store – the only store in town.

Alyssa D. Benjamin, Contributor
And North

Rich, Chocolatey Goodness

Go to City Bakery in Flatiron and get a small hot chocolate with one of their homemade marshmallows. It’s the perfect treat on a snowy day! That chocolate is so rich – trust me, you won’t even finish the small size!

Kate McCulley, Travel Blogger
Adventurous Kate’s Solo Female Travel Blog

New York City, As You Like It

For us, we tried to do it all since we knew our time in New York City wasn’t forever. We loved walking through the parks while it snowed, especially in the morning before everything got dirty. The city is absolutely beautiful after a little snow storm. We also loved to see the lights and window displays during the holidays. Wintertime in Manhattan is magical. I know, that sounds pretty cliché but it’s true. And you wouldn’t think the city could have more lights but it can!!

Our absolute favorite thing to do during the wintertime is see as many Broadway shows as possible. Not only are they incredible, but they are inside where it’s warm! Ha. (And I include the Radio City Rockettes in this genre of Broadway shows too) And if we were on a budget, we would usually just go grab dinner and drinks at a local restaurant in our neighborhood.

Tyler, Travel & Local Blogger
Tyler the Tourist

Quirky NYC

If you’re needing to escape the cold in winter, head to Williamsburg and check out the unusual City Reliquary Museum. This small institution packs a punch, with quirky artifacts telling the story of New York’s history. Think a rotting birthday cake, chunks of stone from local bridges and subway rat bones. Afterward, go for a beer nearby at one of Brooklyn’s best craft beer bars, Spuyten Duyvil.

Jessica Festa, Editor, Travel & Local Blogger
Epicure & Culture
Jessie on a Journey
NYC Photo Journeys

Snow Tubing is the Cure For Cabin Fever in New York

Family feeling a little stir crazy? Kick cabin fever to the curb and embrace the snowy tundra with a snow tubing excursion. No skill or expensive gear needed, plus guaranteed fun. As the closest to NYC, Campgaw Mountain offers ten tubing runs to choose from with small bumps and valleys. The mountain isn’t very big, so it’s great for a ‘get in, get tubing and get out’ kind of day. Known for a family-friendly vibe, Holiday Mountain Ski and Fun Park is a small ski resort complete with a brand new ‘Magic Carpet’ lift for easy-on/easy-off. Because it’s a manageable size, you can often skip the crowds you might find at other tubing spots.

Gretchen Kunz, Contributor
Red Tricycle

© The Commoner

Lanterns Over Cary, North Carolina

My family really enjoys the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival at Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary. They hold it every winter and it ends mid-January. The lanterns are bright and marvelous to see. The atmosphere of the event is magical!

JaMeka Ramnath, Lifestyle & Travel Blogger
Got the Travel Bug Too

Up and Down the Mountains of North Carolina

We love driving to the top of Pilot Mountain to look out over the Piedmont Plateau. While it’s beautiful in all seasons, it’s an especially great activity in late winter as the region thaws. The views as the glistening ice melts are stunning.

For a more intense winter adventure, Hawksnest Snow Tubing park in Seven Devils is fantastic for families… or fun-loving adults!

Chanelle Smith, Lifestyle & Travel Blogger
Eat. Move. Make.

Sugar Mountain Resort is the most popular snow tubing location according to feedback from our readers. It is a happy place for everyone to vacation with snow tubing as an extra benefit. The Resort offers snowy choices so no one will be left out. The multi-lane tubing facility features 700-foot runs in tandem with a conveyor lift return open for tubing both day and night with snow making equipment ready when needed. The resort complex spans 115 acres of ski and snowboard terrain with a 1,200-foot vertical drop.

Nancy Nelson-Duac, Contributor
Family Travel Files

The Many Rewards of Winter Hiking in North Carolina

First of all, you’ll appreciate the refreshing temperatures as you climb a mountainside. Often, you’ll have the trail all to yourself since there are fewer fellow hikers. In addition, see the best views of the year thanks to leafless trees and deep blue skies.

The Bearwallow Mountain Trail is less than 20 miles from downtown Asheville is a short hike that rewards with 360-degree views from a treeless summit on the western rim of the Hickory Nut Gorge. Cattle often graze on top, but they will gladly share the meadow with you for a picnic by the historic lookout tower. Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy recently protected the mountain and built the one-mile trail for all to enjoy. The uphill climb will quickly warm you up!

Mark File , Contributor, Local Blogger
Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau
Romantic Ashville

© The Commoner

Downtown Ice-Skating in Fargo, North Dakota

“Fargo’s newest rink – Downtown On Ice – is a welcome addition to the downtown area with its festive feel. And what better way to conclude an ice skating session then to cross over main and visit Babb’s Coffee House for a delicious hot chocolate?!”

Fargo Monthly

Slap Happy in North Dakota

I am addicted to hockey! Our number one favorite thing to do in North Dakota during the winter is go the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey games. We are technically no longer called the Fighting Sioux (we are now the Fighting Hawks) but that does not stop any of us from cheering loud and proud for our team.

Samantha Ray, Lifestyle & Travel Blogger
Busy Sweet Life

North Dakota Cross Country Skiing

“Within Icelandic State Park, five miles west of Cavalier, trails wind throughout the 200-acre Gunlogson Nature Preserve and natural wooded area along the river. Most of this 3-mile trail system is groomed for cross-country skiing. The new Hillman Loop will be packed for snowshoeing. Sled the hill near the boat ramp, or ice fish Lake Renwick. Songbirds and sometimes moose may accompany your journey.”

Midwest Living

Minot, North Dakota is a Great Town for Kid’s Wintertime Activities

Take the kids to Minot’s Discovery Center, the first phase of a permanent children’s museum. Admission is only a few dollars. Supporting this mini-museum will help raise funds for a bigger, awesome, permanent museum for Minot’s curious kiddos. Afterwards, go ice-skating at the Maysa Arena. Rentals are cheap and the skating is cheap too. If you aren’t very confident, get skating lessons from the Magic City Figure Skating Club. Then head over to Sweet & Flour and build your own hot cocoa. It’s the best in town!

Amy Allender, Lifestyle Blogger

© The Commoner

Three Indoor Gardens Across Ohio

“At the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati, aluminum-and-glass walls built at the height of the Art Deco period shelter 3,500 species from all over the world. Exhibits change throughout the year, but a favorite is the butterfly show, where thousands of butterflies are released in a special garden area. Permanent displays at this Eden Park spot include the palm, tropical, desert and orchid house.”

“The Cleveland Botanical Garden offers both a tropical escape on a cold winter’s day and a serene space to explore the snow-covered outdoors. The Eleanor Armstrong Smith Glasshouse stays close to 80 degrees all winter long with its two unique ecosystems—the tropical rainforest of Costa Rica and the spiny desert of Madagascar. Every day, colorful butterflies are released into the 18,000-square-foot conservatory, and desert animals such as tortoises and tenrecs are introduced to garden guests. Outside, walk through 10 acres of snow-covered evergreens and woodlands.”

“Combining art and nature is the specialty at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, built in 1895. Dale Chihuly glassworks brighten the plant collections, which include Himalayan mountains, tropical rainforest, desert, bonsai, and cloud forest. And the Victorian-style palm house not only has 43 species of palms but is a light show itself, with computer-controlled LED show beginning at dusk.”

Midwest Living

A Great Activity for All Ages in Columbus, Ohio

I would have to say that our favorite Wintertime activity is a trip to the Center of Science and Industry. We love to take my daughter there and there are a ton of activities for any age.

Amanda Hamman, Lifestyle, Fashion, & Travel Blogger
Girl About Columbus

Skiing In Ohio

Located in Zanesfield, >Mad River Mountain Ski Resort offers 144-acres of snow-filled adrenalin-rushing fun! The resort offers 23 runs, and for the adventurous skier/snowboarder, check out one of the three terrain parks to test your skills and show off tricks. Don’t miss their enormous Avalanche Tubing Park – go for an exhilarating ride down one of the ten snow covered chutes, each measuring 900 feet long! Another mountain getaway opportunity within 90 minutes is at Snow Trails Winter Resort in Mansfield.

Ohio Development Services Agency, TourismOhio

© Lisa Johnson

Oklahoma For Oysters?! Yes!!

“In 1952, a man by the name of Bramlett Johnson brought a bucket of oysters from the Gulf Coast of Texas to Oklahoma. He fried up the muscles and served them to the school board, who soon after began holding an annual oyster fry fundraiser. The Oyster Fry serves thousands of people each year. Consumers come by busload from all over the country. The recipe for frying up oysters has not changed since the 1950s. Whether fried or raw, there’s plenty to go around. The Frederick Fantastic Oyster Fry & Craft Show has no history of running out of oysters!”

Frederick Chamber of Commerce

Bricktown, in Oklahoma City, is a Fantastic Collection of Indoor Activities

Winter is a great time in Oklahoma City, though it is somewhat cold. Bricktown is full of restaurants, a movie theater, Brickopolis U, Hey Day, and more. We also have Chesapeake Arena where the Thunder Plays in that same area as well as the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. I also recommend checking out the Omniplex Science Museum for families as well as the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. There are a ton of things to do here but these are a few suggestions. We also have a ton of outdoor things to do as well.

Melissa Garcia, Travel Blogger
Consumer Queen

Road Trip Oklahoma

Oklahoma is a state filled with great opportunities to explore. What’s my favorite? During the winter months, I can’t think of anything better than a road trip along The Mother Road, Route 66, or the Adventure Road, I-35 corridor between Texas and Oklahoma City. Our family loves to climb into the car and explore the state. Along Route 66, there is the Blue Whale statue, the Round Barn, historical markers, and countless towns rich in history that are fun places to stop and rediscover. When we want to be outdoors, we could be hiking inside the Chickasaw National Recreation Center in Sulphur or spelunking in Robbers Cave State Park whether outlaws were once believed to hide out from the law. Somewhere along the way, we’ll probably stop for barbecue or an onion burger (founded in El Reno, Oklahoma).

Nicky Omohundro, Travel Blogger
Little Family Adventure

Downtown Snow Tubing Adventures

“Set your heart racing this winter by snow tubing down the nation’s largest man-made snow slope at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City during Downtown in December. Hang on tight as you take off from the top tier of the stands and ride the snow down to the infield.”

This Coffee Will Warm You Up, Trust Us

“As temperatures dip, there’s no better way to stay warm than with a hot cup of coffee. Sip a mug of Bricktown Coffee at Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse for a sinful mix of dark cocoa, amaretto and Irish cream. This specialty drink, which is topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a red cherry, gets an extra kick of sweetness from a cinnamon-sugar rimmed mug.”

Swim Year-Round in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“If you just can’t wait for summer to begin, the Water-Zoo Indoor Water Park in Clinton will keep you cool until the warmer months. This climate controlled water park is kept at an ideal temperature for swimming all year. Enjoy over 28,000 square feet of activities for all ages including a Cub’s Cove for tiny tots, the Tornado Bowl for the adventurous and even a Lazy & Crazy River for a relaxing dip.”

Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department

© Travel Portland

Snow Vs. Books in Portland, Oregon

My favorite wintertime activities are playing in the snow for hours and spending some time quietly perusing the books at Powell’s City of Books. Started in 1971, Powell’s mission is to be “a place that fosters a culture of reading and connects people with the books they’ll love.

Rachel Cossette, Life & Style Blogger
The Things She Likes

Skiing, Snowboarding, and Hot Chocolate by the Fire

We love to visit Mount Hood where we can enjoy skiing and snowboarding. You can rent accommodation at the beautiful Timberline Lodge and enjoy drinking hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. Family-operated since May 1955, the lodge and surrounding snowfields are a great place to get away.

Raz Cullen, Lifestyle, Travel, Style, and Food Blogger
Raz on a Roll

Experience the Epic Oregon Coast in Winter

My favorite place to go in Oregon during winter is definitely Manzanita, a cute little beach town about an hour and a half from my home in Portland. During the winter the beach is often dark and stormy, but there is something so special about being inside, all cuddled up with some wine and games, and watching the rough ocean through the windows.

Rachel Bernhardt, Realtor, Travel Blogger
Rachel – Pacific Bliss

© The Commoner

Those Who Can’t Ski, Snow Tube

Southwestern Pennsylvania is fortunate to be fairly hilly and is home to three ski resorts. We’re not the best skiers, but we always love heading down to Seven Springs, Hidden Valley, or Laurel Mountain to improve each season. When we are all practiced out, you can then find us spending the last few hours of the day on the snow tubing course at Seven Springs!

Jeremy Jones, Local & Travel Blogger
Discover the Burgh

Camelback Mountain Resort is the biggest snow tubing park in the country, with up to 42 lanes of tubing, two Magic Carpets, and both single and double tubes to race your friends and family! At night you can go Galactic Tubing through a colorful LED light show. Tickets are sold first come, first served and due to the tremendous popularity of this place, the resort recommends arriving an hour before your desired session time.

Sometimes bigger is better. Imagine fitting your whole gang on one huge snow tube. You can do that at Blue Mountain Resort, the only tubing park in the Poconos with family-size tubes, which can hold four to six people. (Plus, you can switch back and forth between single and family-size tubes.) This snow tubing park offers up to 39 lanes, too – think that’s room enough?

Gretchen Kunz, Contributor
Red Tricycle

Premier Indoor Garden in Southeastern Pennsylvania

One of my favorite winter activities at any time of day is to visit Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. During the Holidays, much of the property is transformed into a lights and music spectacle, with millions of lights and lighting effects. After mid-January, this event ends, yet Longwood is no less desirable to visit. My recommendation is to walk the grounds as long as you can stand the cold, then retreat to the East Conservatory. Inside the conservatory, you’ll find section after section of awesome gardens and landscaping, with lights, water features, and sometimes music. Its a great place for visitors of any age and accessibility.

Pennsylvania is a Hotspot For Historic Indoor Markets

Indoor markets are nothing new and Pennsylvania features a few really good ones which are great retreats from the cold winter weather. The Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia has been around since 1893 and is one of the United States’ oldest public markets. Here you’ll find great prepared foods, produce, meats, cheeses, and baked goods, as well as fresh cut flowers, books, gifts and other oddities, and various random merchandise. If you like Chinese food in the American style, you have got to try Shanghai Gourmet. There is also, surprisingly, a whole host of Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish fare to try, including Beiler’s Donuts and Salads which is one of the best dessert spots around.

Harrisburg’s Broad Street Market forty vendors and is the perfect venue for those struggling with what to eat – we all have that one friend, right? Though significantly smaller than the Reading Terminal Market, Broad Street is much older, tracing its lineage back to 1860. Many of the market vendors offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For lunch, I recommend the Slap Yo’ Mama Twice sandwich from Mel’s BBQ. Or a classic cheeseburger with fried onions and fries from The Harrisburger.

Nathan Hayes, Travel Writer
The Commoner Magazine

© Kathy Borchers

Rhode Island Local Fare, All Winter Long

My absolute favorite winter activity is the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmer’s Market. It has expanded over the years because of its popularity and the abundance of goods from farmers and other food producers in the area. It’s surprisingly bountiful all winter long, with root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, baby greens like pea greens grown indoors, as well as honeys, pastries, breads, cookies, pickles, jams, and of course, farm eggs and meats. On a perfect day, I’d follow the Saturday morning market by heading upstairs at Hope Artiste Village to Breaktime Bowl & Bar for a snack, cocktail, and bowling, which keeps adults and children entertained alike.

Ice Skating in the Heart of Providence, Rhode Island

Another one of my favorite things to do in Rhode Island during the winter is ice skating at the Alex & Ani City Center Providence Rink in Kennedy Plaza. I love that our city has such a rink right in the heart of the city on a park. As a break, I enjoy my favorite chocolate chip cookies and a cocoa from the North Bakery stand there.

Michele Meek, Local Blogger
The Rhode Island Less Traveled

Environmental Education Opportunities Throughout Rhode Island

You may think the zoo is more of a summer location, but Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence is just as much fun in the winter! While some of the warmer climate animals are off exhibit, some of the colder climate animals are even more active in the winter months! Winter is a great time to see the Snow Leopards! And zoo guests enjoy half-priced admission in January and February!

Biomes Marine Biology Center is a hands on aquarium in North Kingstown. They specialize in teaching children and adults about the marine animals of Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. My daughter loves playing in the sand table, and visiting all the ‘fishies’ They even have story times and other family events.

We love the Audubon Environmental Education Center. It’s a fun place to relax, play and learn. We love to spend time enjoying the toys and puzzles, as well as learning about our local wildlife.

Sarah Hovey, Local Blogger
Sweet Lil’ You

© Doug Coldwell

Indoor Toddler Excercise in and Around Greenville, South Carolina

Tot Time at Acrosmith Gymnastics is awesome! Sessions occur on Mondays and Thursdays from 10:00-11:00a and 11:15a-12:15p. No signup is required and kids get to bounce around on trampolines, try the balance beams, and test their ninja skills on the obstacle course. USA Play lets kids play on their indoor playground equipment on Tuesday through Friday between 11:00a and 4/5:00p. The Pavilion has no time limit and is open seven days a week. Children will be well on their way towards naptime after an hour or two here. Gravitopia is a trampoline park that features the KidsJump hour every Monday-Friday from 9:00a-10:00a for younger kids. And if you haven’t ventured over to the Greenville area’s newest trampoline park – Big Air – it is worth the easy drive over to Spartanburg! They offer open jump as well as Toddler Time, Homeschool Jump and Cosmic Nights.

Kristina Hernandez, Local Blogger
Kidding Around Greenville

Duck Hunting & Fishing in Lowcountry South Carolina

Winter weather in the south typically sees chilly mornings give way to pleasant afternoons, and I’ve found that the best places to enjoy both are right on the coast – the “Lowcountry” of South Carolina. Water temperatures have dropped, which means red fish are in high demand and ducks have made their way south. You can duck hunt in the morning on a blustery morning, and spend the afternoon fishing the sunny marshes, without having to travel too far in between.

Hollis Lumpkin, Local Blogger
Bright Side of the Road

Out and About in South Carolina

Lately, my son and I have been a fan of museums like Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, or Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. When the weather is warmer and mild, we like to venture out to one of South Carolina’s State Parks or Brookgreen Gardens, which is just south of Myrtle Beach. We often like to find someplace good to eat. We prefer a nice sit-down restaurant with a seasonal menu like Rivertown Bistro in Conway. My son is a big fan of Red Bone Alley in Florence, which resembles an entire South Carolinian small town, yet is completely indoors.

Selah Linder, Local Food and Travel Blogger
Grand Stand Gastronome
Pause and Think About It

Walk a Mile Through History

Charleston’s Museum Mile features the richest concentration of cultural sites open to visitors in downtown Charleston. Stroll along the one-mile section of Meeting Street you will find six museums, five nationally renowned historic houses, four scenic parks, a Revolutionary War powder magazine, and an array of historic houses of worship and public buildings, including Charleston City Market and City Hall.

Bailey Laskowski, Contributor
Traveler of Charlston

© The Commoner

Wintertime Gardens are Great Opportunities to Snowshoe and Cross Country Ski

“The Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum & East Sioux Falls Historic Site are a newly-opened 145-acre landscape in Sioux Falls that showcases trees, shrubs, and gardens against the remains of the old quarry town known as East Sioux Falls. McCrory Gardens & South Dakota Arboretum are on a 40-acre site in Brookings, operated by South Dakota State University. Explore each of the grounds on cross-country skis or snowshoes.”

Warm Up Among Marine Life and Butterflies

“Head indoors at the Butterfly House & Aquarium. Surrounded by tropical flowers, you’ll watch as colorful butterflies from around the world flit around Sioux Falls’ 3,600-square-foot indoor garden. View hundreds of vibrant marine fishes and corals in more than 20,000 gallons of aquariums, including the Pop-Up Dome Aquarium, Jellyfish, Shark & Stingray Touch Pool, and Pacific Tide Pool.”

Midwest Living

Don’t Miss the Serenity of South Dakota’s Black Hills

“The Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are a winter playground that draws hundreds of thousands each year for so many reasons. Its a great time to experience another side of the region as it truly is an all-seasons wonderland. The parks and great offerings don’t close for the season and whether its the ski slopes, the snowmobile trails, or the serenity of this magical landscape resting beneath a clean blanket of snow, the passion for the winter in the Black Hills is high.”

Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association

Gamble. Ski. Gamble. And Then Ski Some More.

I think Terry Peak Ski Area, South Dakota are pretty gorgeous in the winter months. Terry Peak is the premier skiing and snowboarding resort in the Northern Black Hills of South Dakota, located near Deadwood and Lead. Can you go wrong with gambling in Deadwood? I think not!

Jenn Zeller, Photographer, Artist, Designer & Cowgirl
The South Dakota Cowgirl

© Public Broadcasting System

Not Just Music in Nashville, Tennessee

Our family loves to see the Christmas decorations at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, where they have over three million twinkling lights and even feature ICE which is classic story, changes every year, made of two million pounds of Ice! This year it is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, hand carved by 40 artisans. My daughter loves to go there and watch the ice skaters while sipping on some hot chocolate.

Vrithi Pushkar, Food & Travel Blogger
Epicurious Passport

Truly Underground Music

“Middle Tennessee is full of incredible music venues, but the Bluegrass Underground at The Caverns is unique. At 333 feet below ground in a cave, you can catch some of the best music around. The acoustics are incredible, and the setting is surreal. You have to see at least one show here, but you will probably keep going back for more!”

Nashville Museums

“Few people have had such an impact on Music City as the Man in Black. Johnny Cash lived a remarkable life and it is fitting that he is honored with a museum dedicated to telling his story. Located downtown, the Johnny Cash Museum provides an intimate look at the life and career of a country music legend. Located just upstairs from the Johnny Cash Museum, you will find a museum celebrating the life another legendary country artist. The Patsy Cline Museum opened in 2017, and tells the story of her incredible life. From her humble beginnings in rural Virginia to her tragic death in Tennessee, the Patsy Cline Museum tells the story of a legend.”

Along the Tennessee Whiskey Trail

“Located in beautiful Cannon County, Short Mountain Distillery carries on the rich tradition of making some of the finest moonshine in the country. When the distillery got started, it partnered with local moonshiners to ensure the product they were making was 100% authentic. The commitment to good moonshine is just part of what sets Short Mountain Distillery apart from the pack. The tour at Short Mountain Distillery has been one of my favorites. After the tour we returned to the cafe to taste some of the Moonshine that they are making at the farm. They have a great selection and you are bound to find something you like.”

John & Miranda, Local Travel Bloggers
Middle Tennessee Travel

© Ksenia Kudelkina

Weird, Wild, and Well-Fed in Austin, Texas

As a foodie living in Austin, two of my favorite things to do in the winter is to enjoy a meal in one of the several heated patios, my top choice being Easy Tiger Bake Shop & Beer Garden, and warm up with a cup of coffee or tea at Mañana coffee shop. Their pastries are to die for. Two more classic winter activities are seeing The Nutcracker presented by Ballet Austin, and ice skating at Omni Barton Creek Resort. As a plus, all proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Central & South Texas!

Mani Villafane, Food & Travel Blogger
A New Life Wandering

It’s hard to choose just one thing to do, but I would have to say going on a food tour would be top of our list. We had a friend visit Austin this winter. We took him to some of our top places to eat in Austin and had a blast. Not only were our stomachs full but it reminded us of one of the reasons we love Texas so much. Whether it is in Austin or any other Texas city, I would highly recommend going out to find the best tacos, barbecue, and any other specialties you can find, having just a few bites in each place.

Dan Bagby, Travel Blogger
Honeymoon Always

What is my favorite winter activity/location in Texas? I have to say Austin. Austin is far enough south so it is generally warm-ish, and I absolutely love to walk or kayak in the city. An outdoor lover’s city, Austin has outdoor activities any time of the year! Walking and running trails, biking lanes, kayaking, university campuses and museums, dog parks, the list is endless. Yes, dog parks! Dog lovers abound in the Texas capitol, and there are several wonderful dog parks. My favorite is Red Bud Isle! Keep Austin weird!

Tam Warner Minton, Travel Blogger
Travels With Tam

Texas Outdoor Sports in Winter

There’s quite a bit you can do in Texas during the winter months. Many people don’t realize it but you can actually go snowboarding and skiing in Northern Texas. While it’s certainly not skiing in the Swiss Alps or Rocky Mountains, it can still be a great weekend getaway for the family or a couple. During the drier days of winter, I would most recommend one of two activities: hiking and mountain biking. This time of year, the bush on the trails have died back some so it really clears a nice path for exploring in the backwoods. The weather is perfect, unlike Summer when it reaches upwards of triple-digits. You can also do a lot of caving (spelunking) as well as some kayaking, but I’d recommend going kayaking if you don’t go in the water as it’s pretty frigid.

Ron Robbins, Travel Blogger
Active Planet Travels

© The Commoner

Playing Outside in Northern Utah

My favorite place to go in winter is Millcreek Canyon. It is just a few minutes from Salt Lake City, but feels so much further away. It offers great cross country skiing, fat biking, and even camping at the winter yurts.

Kristen Bonkoski, Travel Blogger, Cyclist
Rascal Rides

Utah Ice Skating

A classic winter activity, Utah provides many opportunities to check ice skating off of your winter ‘must do’ list. You can either find a recreation center to skate indoors or to really experience the brisk winter days, go to an outdoor rink. The Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake City is an old favorite or you can find a smaller outdoor rink such as the one in Murray Park in Murray or Merlin Olsen Park in Logan.

Alyssa Craig, Contributor
My Mommy Style

Experience Utah’s Park City as a Non-Skier

I snowshoed for the first time a few years ago, and let me tell you, snowshoeing was even more of a workout here in Park City! A great way to work off the desserts I consumed the night before, right? We show-shoed with White Pine Touring and had a fantastic experience. Yes the snowshoeing is good fun, but yes, your muscles will hurt like no other as well! We scheduled massages at Montage at Deer Valley Spa, and I can 100% recommend this place to others. Whatever you do, make sure you leave some time at your resort for the pool, hot tub, and relaxation rooms in the spa.

You’ll find Utah’s longest Alpine Coaster here in Park City, which is comprised of over a mile of loops, curves, and hair-pin bends at speeds up to 30 mph! Being a die-hard fan of roller coasters myself, I can honestly say this was worth the few bucks, especially with the mountain scenery changing at every curve. Nestled between Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort, Historic Main Street is full of quirky shops and boutiques (carrying more than ski gear), bookstores, galleries, and cafes.

Jessica, Travel Blogger
A Passion and a Passport

© The Commoner

Skiing in Vermont

If you’re in Vermont during the winter, you’re probably there to ski. If so, you must spend some time at the ski resorts in Jeffersonville and Stowe. Smuggler’s Notch is like a winter wonderland, nestled above the small town of Stowe, and features skiing and snowboarding on all kinds of terrain, plus snow tubing.

Michelle Raponi, Travel Blogger
Wandering and Searching

Late Winter and Early Spring is Sugaring Season

“Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the United States and sets the standard by which maple syrup is judged. Sugaring season, first instituted by native North Americans, begins in early spring and is a time to celebrate the return to warm weather. Tour sugarhouses statewide to experience sugaring and our rural heritage during the annual Vermont Maple Open House Weekend, March 24-25, 2018, established by the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association & Vermont Maple Foundation.”

Vermont Chamber of Commerce

Dog-Sledding in Vermont

“Experience winter as never before. Be pulled by a team of Siberian huskies on an exhilarating 2-hour sled ride through Vermont’s scenic winter landscape. With mushers as your guide you will get a chance to witness true working sled dogs in action! Tours are offered as single or double sled adventures, begin at the kennel, and take a scenic route up and down a mountain. We recommend Husky Works Mushing Company in Wardsboro.”

Mount Snow

© The Commoner

Virginia’s Indoor Waterparks are a Great Winter Activity for the Whole Family

“The Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg is 67,000 square feet of splashing good times. How does a four-story treehouse, 1,000 gallon tipping bucket, four pools, eight slides, two giant hot tubs, and a wave pool sound? Stay the night and enjoy the waterpark all you want; passes are included. Arrive early to maximize your park fun time! The Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville has a 50,000 gallon centerpiece called The Flow Rider – an indoor surfing attraction with a five-foot incline. In addition, an adventure river, eight slides, a frog pond for little swimmers, water cannons, and a giant tipping bucket make this a fun place for any age to hang out. An overnight stay is not required.”

Official Tourism Travel Blog of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Virginia on the Half Shell

Winter in Virginia can be a little hit or miss, but we can normally expect at least one big snow storm. When that happens, snowy activities abound… sledding, snowman making, snowball fights – you name it. Aside from that, we can count in some pretty cold weather between December and February, so one of our favorite winter time activities is staying in with friends and having board game nights. Our area is also known for it’s seafood, and oysters are best in the winter. We love to go grab a bite to eat somewhere local and indulge on the half shell. Surprisingly, there are also a few good ski resorts in Virginia as well, including Wintergreen and Massanutten. Getting out on the slopes is always a treat, especially because the weather tends to be a little bit warmer than further north – less hand-warmers, more runs!

Emily Richey, Lifestyle, Design, Food, & Travel Blogger
The Gallivant

Revolutionary Fun in Yorktown, Virginia

“At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, explore new expansive gallery exhibits and films that explore the stories of ordinary people during extraordinary times. Check out the introductory film, Liberty Fever, and an immersive film that transports visitors to the Siege of Yorktown, with wind, smoke, and thunder of cannon fire.”

Visit Williamsburg

© The Commoner

Winter Hiking Throughout Washington

“Spirit Falls is a 0.8-mile out-and-back trail located near Home Valley, Washington. Take in this scenic waterfall with turquoise blue water. If you’re lucky, you may see kayakers running the falls.”

“There are no signs or trail head for the falls, but it’s a popular spot for kayakers and photographers, so look for a faint boot path directly from the pulloff on Cook Underwood Road and follow it to the river. The hike is short, but very steep, down a talus slope of loose rock and moss. There are sudden drop offs near the falls, so it is better to leave children and dogs at home. The climb/scramble back up to the road will definitely get your heart pumping.”

The Outbound Collective

We love to explore the spit at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge in Sequim during the winter. It’s on the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula and is perfect for enjoying wildlife, from eagles to orcas, or for beach hiking. Amazing in the summertime too!

Rob Taylor, Travel Blogger
2 Travel Dads

Sit Back and Watch the Snow Fall

Washington State is a winter paradise for snow sport enthusiasts. I’m not one of them, but I love heading up to Mount Baker and spending a relaxing weekend watching the snow fall from inside a cozy cabin. The mountains are so clear in the cold air and the forest is so pretty covered in snow.

Stephanie Yoder, Travel Blogger
Why Wait to See the World?

Leavenworth, Washington is a Not Just a Winter Shopping Excursion

“Leavenworth is a beautiful, Bavarian style, mountain town located 134 miles East of Seattle. In Leavenworth, you don’t just shop… you discover. Unearth imported treasures you expect to find in the Bavarian Village: nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, beer steins, music boxes, and holiday decorations, of course. Linger to smell our handcrafted soaps and candles. Swirl and sip our budding wineries. Let our specialty chocolates, cheeses, meats and sweets dance across your tongue. Run your fingers across our boutique clothing, fine china, and jewelry. Get geared up for your next run, hike, ski, or bike through our backyard we call the Cascades.”

Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

© Andrew Bain

Hiking During the Winter in West Virginia

“You might not think of winter as a prime hiking season in the Mountain State, but some of these trails are even more majestic in the winter. Seeing the rhododendrons and beech trees of the Appalachian forests in a winter wonderland is a completely unique experience. Some of our famous waterfalls even freeze up into beautiful blue cascading pillars.”

“USA Today voted the Endless Wall Trail ‘America’s #1 National Park Hike,’ and it’s just as show-stopping (and manageable!) in winter. The loop is less than 3 miles long and mostly flat, plus it winds through old-growth forests on a very easy-to-follow trail. Because of the tree cover, it doesn’t accumulate too much snow, either. Best of all, you’ll get amazing snowy views of the New River Gorge National River, its gorge, and the huge bridge that spans it all. Just take extra care around the sandstone overlooks, since the snow may be slippery.”

West Virginia Tourism Office

Pagan Traditions in a West Virginian Swiss Hamlet

My favorite place in the winter is also one of my favorite places in West Virginia: the little Swiss Village of Helvetia, West Virginia in Randolph County. The activity that I enjoy most is Fasnacht – a Swiss Winter festival held the 3rd Saturday of February every year. The small community gathers in wild home made costumes. There is dancing and singing, all while waiting for the effigy of Old Man Winter to be lowered from the dance hall ceiling. It is then carried outside to be burned in a public bonfire at the stroke of midnight. A wild wintertime costume party with all the best music, dancing and pagan traditions!

JoLynn Powers, Local Blogger
West Virginia Mountain Mama

© Justin Meissen

What to do During Winter in Wisconsin? One Word, “Ice”

It depends on Lake Superior’s mood. If the ice is thick and stable enough – and some years it’s not – a visit to the Meyers Beach Ice Caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is amazing. Visitors walk a mile over ice along the shore to reach caves in the sandstone cliffs that show awesome ice formations. Otherwise, every February, Ashland hosts Book Across the Bay, a 10K ski and snowshoe race across the frozen Chequamegon Bay lit by the stars and a long line of candles.

Kevin Revolinski, Author, Travel Blogger
The Mad Traveler

It doesn’t happen every year and whether it will be accessible or not is highly unpredictable, but when it’s open there is no cooler place to visit in the winter than the Meyers Beach Ice Caves. In the summer, people flock to the area to kayak into the caves on calm days. In the winter, it is possible for the ice shelf to freeze and stack solid enough that the caves are accessible on foot. It is a hike in, but once there you an explore the caves that are covered in ice crystals. It’s good exercise and a fabulous site to see. Afterwards, head to Bayfield for a hot coffee in one of the toasty cafes.

Lina & David Stock, Travel & Adventure Bloggers
Divergent Travelers

Great Little Town on a Great ‘Little’ Lake

Although I moved up the road a bit 15 years ago, Port Washington still holds a special place in my heart. Located right on Lake Michigan about 30 miles north of Milwaukee, Port Washington has shopping, street fairs and lots of small-town charm – with many historic buildings, art galleries and great restaurants. Lake Michigan adds a dynamic unlike inland cities, since her mood is never predictable. With gentle rolling waves or the violent crashing of frigid water, it demands respect and admiration. Since it’s 90 miles to Michigan and there’s no sign of land out there, I always say, “Who needs the ocean when we have such a Great Lake.

Barbara K. Olson, Local Blogger

A Few Laps Around the Rink, Then Coffee (And Maybe Some Wine!)

Being from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, one of my favorite things to do is to go downtown to Red Arrow Park and go ice skating outdoors. The rink is small and attached to a Starbucks so you can warm up with a drink in between laps! It’s so cute and very festive and fun. I love ice skating so I always try to go at least once a winter.

Fran Acciardo, Fashion & Travel Blogger

I can’t possibly choose just ONE favorite Wisconsin wintertime destination, but I’ve narrowed it down to a three-way tie: ice skating beneath the Christmas tree at Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee, sipping red wine at the Iron Horse Hotel (also Milwaukee, in the Walker’s Point neighborhood), or hunkering down at a Door County Cottage to read, write, and meditate. (Okay, there might be some red wine involved there, too.)

Rebekah Nguyen, Founder & Editor-in-Chief
The Happy Passport

© Yellowstone National Park

Experience the Beauty of Wildlife in Many Works of Art

“Nestled into a cliff overlooking the National Elk Refuge, the National Museum of Wildlife Art is a must-see for new and returning visitors to Jackson Hole. This collection details the history of wildlife in art with a focus on European and American painting and sculpture. Art lovers will also enjoy touring Jackson Hole’s more than 25 galleries featuring painting and photography by local and world-renowned artists. Check the schedule of ongoing events at the Jackson Hole Center for The Arts for nighttime fun.”

Jackson Hole Central Reservations

Taking the Scenic Route Through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

The South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park (north of Jackson Hole) is “open to commercially guided, tracked over-snow vehicles from December 15 to March 15, weather and snowpack permitting,” the National Park Service says. The West Entrance is a rather long haul, through Idaho, but an interesting and scenic trip if the weather allows. Personally, I like quaint Star Valley and Afton, a favorite source for dairy products and its famous cheese.

Jerry Garrett, Travel Blogger
Garrett on the Road

Wyoming is a Haven For Snowshoeing, Among Other Things

I love to snowshoe in Wyoming in the wintertime. Curt Gowdy State Park has miles of trails that are easily accessible and fun to snow shoe on. I like to take my 10-year old daughter with me and explore the foothills of the Rockies with her once the snow is on.

We just released a video with one of our local residents talking about experiencing Cheyenne in the Winter. Come live the legend!

Jim, Staff
Visit Cheyenne

Guided Wolf-Watching Tours

“Winter is the best time to look for wolves at Yellowstone because snow makes these powerful predators easier to spot. Yellowstone Forever offers guided snowshoe tours with a wolf ecologist in the park’s northeastern region; trips include several nights at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.”

My Yellowstone Park

  1. Jennifer says

    Thanks so much for letting us be a part of this fantastic winter guide! -Jennifer and Mark from Mississippi

    1. Nathan Hayes says

      We are grateful for your input! This year’s guide was over 15,000 words – a true testament to all the cool stuff to do around the country at this time of year. And we really only scratched the surface.

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