|Dave and Deb are well-known travel personalities in both online and mainstream media. Their highly acclaimed Travel Blog, won back to back Gold Medals by the Society of American Travel Writers. They’ve travelled to more than 100 countries on all 7 continents and live by the motto Adventure is for Everyone.
When old man winter sets in most people think of heading south to escape the cold. While my husband Dave and I love tropical beach vacations we find that winter getaways have offered us some of our most exciting adventures and romantic escapes. We love the snow and we’ve rounded up our favorite winter destinations that we’ve visited around the world. So dust off that snowflake sweater your grandma made you years ago, pull up your booties and get outside to embrace the snow.
Rocky Mountains Canada
Imagine taking a romantic sleigh ride along a lake at the foot of a massive mountain glacier. Then lace up your skates grab a stick and play a game of pond hockey on the world’s most beautiful skating rink on Lake Louise. In Banff, Alberta you can hit the slopes during the day and sip cocktails at night in the only distillery located within a national park.
The Rocky Mountains of Canada are a snow lover’s playground. Snowshoeing into a backcountry lodge takes you away from it all. There’s no electricity or city noise. It’s just you and Mother Nature where you can watch the snowfall as you sip a hot toddy by the wood-burning stove as you cozy up in a tick warm blanket.
Quebec City Canada
Quebec City, Canada is the most European city in North America. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site made famous by its old town. It’s cold in Quebec during the winter months, but this city knows how to embrace the snow. Quebec Winter Carnival happens annually starting at the end of January and running through to mid-February. It attracts 1 million visitors each year making it one of the largest winter carnivals in the world. The mascot Bonhomme hosts the events leading a parade daily. People enjoy winter by taking part in sleigh rides, dogsledding and watching the zany ice canoe race. It feels as if you have stepped back in time as you weave through the cobblestone streets of the old city dating back to 1535. Located on the St. Lawrence River, Quebec is one of the oldest European settlements in North America.
When in Quebec, make sure to try your hand at skating in the old square at Place D’Youville or rent some skis and try cross country skiing across the Plains of Abraham made famous for a great battle that took place in 1759 during the Seven Year’s War. Today it is a popular outdoor park running 11 km (7 miles) along the St. Lawrence River.
If you want to get out of town, there’s excellent ski hills nearby at Le Massif and Mont St. Anne.
Lake Placid New York
We mentioned the Rocky Mountains already in Canada and everyone already knows that Colorado, Utah and Montana are prime ski destinations, but what about the eastern seaboard? Stowe, Vermont has some of the best skiing on the East Coast of the United States and if you want to visit a little bit of history, we suggest heading to Lake Placid. Home to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, you can still tour some of the event sites like the epic ski jump. How athletes have the nerve to soar off one ramps is mind boggling. When you get to the top of one, it’s scary enough just being up there!
Whiteface mountain has the greatest vertical drop east of the rockies making it an excellent destination for skiiers and snowboarders of all levels. If you aren’t into skiing, but want an exciting vertical drop, try your hand at snowtubing where you don’t have to do a thing but sit on a tube and let gravity do its work.
There’s loads of outdoor adventures like ice climbing, snowshoeing, back country snowmobiling and our new favorite winter activity, fat biking. Fat biking is like mountain biking, only on snow. When the snow falls, die hards switch out their tires for fat tubes that cut through the snow turning your bike into an all-terrain vehicle.
It’s a hoot! Lake Placid is the perfect spot to embrace the snow all winter long for adventure and entertainment. It hosts World Cup luge and bobsled events and the Empire State Winter Games. The village has been a tourist destination for years offering an excellent choice for dining and entertainment making it the perfect spot for a well-rounded winter vacation.
Winter is wonderful in Iceland. Known for its thermal pools, massive glaciers, and volcanic landscape, Iceland is a winter vacation that truly feels out of this world. Swimming in the hot pools of the Blue Lagoon while snowflakes fall all around is like sitting in a fairytale. It’s no wonder so many movies and TV shows choose Iceland for their magical and otherworldly settings.
Rent a 4×4 truck and make your way all around the ring road. On this 10 day driving route you’ll see icebergs stranded on black sand beaches, massive glaciers plunging into glacier lagoons and an endless supply of waterfalls crashing into icy pools. This is a winter trip not to be missed.
When I think of Switzerland, I think of skiing. There’s no place more beautiful than the Swiss Alps. When hiking through Interlaken, every corner will take your breath away. The snow-covered Alps are strikingly beautiful towering over deep valleys dotted with ski chalets. Skiing or snowboarding down the slopes of Gstaad makes you feel as if you are gliding through history. People have been skiing here for more than a century. I don’t think anywhere has more of a ski culture than Switzerland. The Alps were made for winter enjoyment and you can do any outdoor adventure you like from cross-country skiing to snowshoeing.
After spending a jam-packed day outdoors, head to a classic tavern for cheese fondue and a bottle of wine. In Switzerland it’s all about the cheese so make sure to indulge in its flavorful goodness.
Europe’s Christmas Markets
Winter doesn’t have to always be about adventure. Many cities in Europe love to celebrate winter. Christmas markets attract families from all over the world. Cities like Vienna, Prague, Brussels and our favorite, Budapest turn into a winter wonderland as they celebrate everything Christmas. Markets are filled with stalls selling Christmas ornaments and crafts, lights and displays decorate the streets and food stalls are filled with holiday goodies. Make sure to try the mull wine to warm your cold bones. Mull wine is a warm red wine blended with mulling spices and sometimes fruit or raisins. It’s delicious.
Winter vacations can be as much fun as a beach vacation. All you have to do is dress for the weather, bring your sense of adventure, and get ready to try something new. A winter adventure is a great adventure. You just have to try it once to see what you’ve been missing.
What’s your favorite winter destination?