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Best Winter Vacation Ideas for Snow or Sun in the US

by Megan

The beginning of the year is a great time to plan a family vacation. The kids are back in school and we are through the craziness of the holiday season. Now, you could use some fun and relaxation! There’s only one question…

Are you going to choose sun or snow?!

You can either embrace the winter season and choose a cold, snowy place for your adventures, or you can run from it and escape to a warm, sandy beach. Whichever you choose, there’s lots of fun to be had.

Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of both types of vacations, and then I’ll let you know which we chose this year!

Choosing The Snow

You don’t choose the snow. The snow chooses you.

I think a big determining factor here is whether you currently live in a cold or warm climate. If you’re already looking forward to a winter (and maybe a spring…I grew up in Maine) full of snow, then you might want to get away from it for a while.

But if you love the snow or don’t live where it snows much, then a chilly destination might be just right for you!


I just mentioned Maine, and that’s my first recommendation for a snowy getaway. I’m not biased at all, but New England in the winter time is a special thing. That whole region seems to transcend time periods, and it’s easy to imagine that you’re back in the 1800s…if they had Instagram in the 1800s, because you’re definitely going to be ‘gramming all that snowy goodness!

This pic is so old it might just be from the 1800s… That’s my brother and me!

For a specific recommendation, try Kennebunkport. It’s a huge summer vacation destination that is pretty quiet the rest of the year, but it comes alive again around the holidays.

New York

New York City is magical in the winter time, and I personally think that ice skating in Rockafeller Center should be a bucket list item for everyone (something I haven’t checked off yet!).


If you’re a winter sport enthusiast, then you’ll know Colorado is the hot (or rather, cold) place to be. We actually just made a three-day trip to Denver for the first time (spoilers)! The snow on the mountains was gorgeous to look at, even for those of us who are not skiers (ahem).

Those are three places I can personally recommend, but you’ll find lots more winter goodness in places such as Utah, Minnesota, and Vermont. Whether you’re on the east coast, west coast, or somewhere in between, just grab your winter coat and head north!

If you’re looking forward to a snowy winter, whether on a trip or while at home, be sure to check out Alamo’s Family Winter Travel Bucket List for lots of fun winter activities.

Alamo’s website hosts their series, “Scenic Route,” which is a collection of travel stories, videos and destination guides designed to inspire travelers to make the most of their vacations. It’s definitely a great resource to check out when you’re preparing for a trip!

Choosing The Sun

If heading north is the key to a snowy wonderland vacation, then heading south will get you the alternative experience! This is why you’ll find so many Midwesterners camping out in Phoenix all winter (we call them “snowbirds”) or Bostonites relocating to Houston during the chilly months (they call them “Winter Texans”).

And this winter, WE are Winter Texans! You may already know that we are on a family gap year, and when we were looking at a map, trying to decide where to travel in the winter, my husband scrolled, scrolled, scrolled to the bottom of the US, and we ended up on South Padre Island, off the southernmost tip of Texas.

So we got a taste of both snow and sun with our quick trip to Denver and our stay in Texas.


Southern Texas is a great place to go when you want to escape the cold. South Padre Island is a huge spring break/summer destination, but it’s still pretty great in the winter. Not every day is a beach day, but we’ve been in the ocean, and it’s a good 50 degrees warmer than most of the rest of the country on any given day!


Florida has mild-to-warm weather all winter, as well, and there are lots of destinations to choose from. Orlando is an obvious choice, but one of my favorite vacation spots is Key West. Island living, mon.


And if you can swing a plane ticket, since they haven’t built that bridge yet, Hawaii is gorgeous year-round. That’s where we honeymooned during Christmas, in 2005.

If you’re headed to the snow, be sure to check out Alamo’s Family Winter Travel Bucket List, and if you’re headed for the sun and sand, be sure to Instagram your fun to make all of your friends jealous.

But wherever you travel during the winter, I hope you are with family and friends and having an amazing time!

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