Whether looking for a magical place to spend the holidays, anxious to get out the snow board and skis, or just hoping to escape the dreary weather on a tropical beach, winter is an ideal time to do some traveling. Built in vacations in December send many jet-setters off on fabulous adventures but if you love to beat the crowds, January and February in some of the world’s hottest tourist traps can be perfect for enjoying the place without the people. Once the thrill of the season’s first snow falling in your front yard passes, anyone looking for a way to while away the time waiting for spring should check out one of these incredible winter travel destinations.
If winter sports are your delight, Whistler Mountain Resort is a must visit. Back country ski tours take visitors off the beaten path and into the unbroken silence of the mountains. Helitours lift sportsmen to slopes beyond hiking range. Mountain terrain parks offer a varied landscape in which to fly, jib, and slide. Spectators delight in the Fire and Ice Show and the Winter Ski and Snowboard Festival.
When skied out, visitors relax in one of the many local spas, or wander into the Whistler Museum to check out the local history. Shopping and dining are rife in the quaint village, and sunsets in the mountains are gorgeous.
Los Angeles, California
For an escape from the snow, Los Angeles has got your back. Travelers can enjoy a trip to Disneyland during the January lull when lines are short and crowds are thin, stroll the Hollywood Walk of Fame on their way to the Chinese Theater, or head on down to Rodeo Drive for an upscale splurge.
A little too chilly for swimming, the beach is still beautiful for wandering, and the Santa Monica Pier operates year round for boardwalk amusements the entire family can enjoy.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The world’s tallest building looks out over Dubai, taking in a bustling metropolis, jungle like parks, beaches, and the nearby desert. The historic district downtown provides a more intimate look, and insight to an earlier Dubai. Visitors can spend the morning shredding powder at Ski Dubai, an incredible indoor snow park, and the afternoon rafting the man-made river at Wild Wadi Waterpark. A short jaunt outside the city takes interested parties to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, where they can indulge in traditional camel treks, four-wheeling tours, and sand boarding.
Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Denver is a winter vacation destination everyone should visit once. Whether choosing to stop for a long weekend in the town itself, or pausing on the way to a nearby ski resort to be a hair’s breadth from the slopes, Denver keeps visitors enthralled. Egyptian mummies and dinosaur skeletons await discovery in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; a guided free tour of the United States Mint reveals the process of coin production from conceptual design to the cutting of each individual coin, and for history buffs, the Molly Brown House Museum is as unsinkable as the woman herself.
Santa Maria, Cape Verde
Santa Maria, with its world class hotels and sunny sands is the ideal place from which to base your Cape Verde adventure. A beloved beach destination, the African Archipelago also has a lot to offer in the way of windsurfing, whale watching, and nightlife. Hop a plane to head over to Fogo and climb the gorgeous volcanic peak, shop for souvenirs in laid back Sal Rei, or relax in the hotsprings of Ribeira Grande. The museum in Porto Novo gives insight to the lives of royals long gone, while hiking trails throughout the islands offer up the natural beauty of the country at every turn.
World famous home of the matterhorn, Zermatt is an iconic destination for winter wanderers. Take the Cog railway along wooden bridges and up a steep incline to the Gornergrat observation platform to see for yourself the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains in all their glory. Visit the Mountaineers’ Cemetery which stands as testament to the climbers who have lost their lives in scaling the peaks, lose your breath along the wooden walkways leading between the cliffs of the incredible Gorner Gorge, over crystalline blue water, and take the village walking tour in Zermatt, which shows off both ancient tradition and modern tourist delights.
When visitors can tear themselves away from the beach, Havana has much more to offer. From rum and cigar tours, to museums highlighting the lives and accomplishments of Napoleone Bonaparte and Ernest Hemmingway, Havana is a cultural smorgasbord. Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes hosts an art collection spanning ancient Greek pottery to modern Cuban pop art, Havana Vieja offers fine dining and shopping for all occasions, while El Morro, a castle sitting off shore, provides historical insight and beautiful views of the Havana skyline and surrounding waves.
Head down to New Orleans the next time the winter doldrums start getting to you, and you’ll be smiling again in no time. In the French Quarter, a national historic landmark, you’ll find Bourbon street, aptly named as the booze flows free and the party never ends. When you need an escape from the rollicking good time, a walking tour of the garden district makes for a nice change of pace. Swamp tours explore the Louisiana Bayous for a taste of local scenery, while more serious minded visitors find endless fascination in the National World War II museum.
When not zipping down Niseko’s world renowned ski slopes, snowshoing around the mountain, or snowmobiling across the fresh powder, tourists enjoy traditional Japanese onsen in the natural hot-springs around the resort. When the bath is done, dinner reservations at A Bu Cha, or one of the other savory eateries near by completes the evening. For a little cultural enlightenment, the Kutchan Natural History Museum or the Shu Ogawara Museum of Art are fine choices, and the Arishima Takeo Memorial Museum celebrates the renowned author for his contributions to world literature.