10 Memorable Winter Escapes for Sun or Snow Adventures

Find a getaway that suits your style whether you love chilly escapes or basking in the sun.

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February 07, 2020
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St. Barts, Lesser Antilles Islands

Forecasters are predicting this winter will be colder than normal weather in two-thirds of the U.S. and warmer than usual in parts of the South. Not to worry. Our list of destinations for sun and snow will help you find the getaway — and the temperature — you want.

St. Barts beckons sun-lovers with the new Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf, shown here, where the suites and bungalows have private terraces, plunge pools and breathtaking views of the Caribbean. From January to March, average daytime temperatures on the island, known in French as St. Barthélemy, are in the mid 80s. Spend some time at Shell Beach, where the water is calm, seashells cover the shore and you can cliff-dive if you’re game. Later, dine at Fouquet’s Saint-Barth, where Michelin-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire puts his own twist on classic French cuisine.

BOOK NOW: Hotels.com, $3059/per night

Quintana Roo, Mexican Caribbean

You get more than tropical temperatures when you visit Quintana Roo from the U.S. at wintertime. This Mexican state on the Yucatan peninsula is also known for its inviting beaches, fishing, diving and golfing. Playa del Carmen, a popular tourist town, is home to little-known Rio Secreto, where an underground river once held sacred by the ancient Mayans flows through an amazing cave system. Guides will lead you as you bike or swim past spectacular mineral formations and experience the clear, turquoise water. Archeology buffs, don't miss nearby Mayan ruins like Tulum, pictured.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Peak season in the Dominican Republic runs from March to May, but the weather is warm in February, with temps in the low 70s to low 80s, and prices start to drop in March. Punta Cana is a resort town known for its nightlife, markets, waterfront boutiques, surfing and sandy beaches, ATV jungle safaris and more. Stay in the Hyatt Ziva or Hyatt Zilara, both located on Juanillo Beach in Cap Cana, a luxury resort and real estate community. All-inclusive Hyatt Zilara, for adults only, shares some amenities with the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva, which is great for multi-generational travel. Head out to a nearby championship golf course, go deep-sea fishing or salute the sun with yoga on the beach.

BOOK NOW: Hyatt Ziva | Hotels.com, $504/per night, all inclusive

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Don't want to go far to escape the cold? Greater Fort Lauderdale has you covered. Slather on the sunscreen and hit the new restaurants, bars, art exhibitions and attractions like Crave, the annual South Beach Food and Wine Festival. If that’s not enough, head to the certified user-friendly Blue Wave Beaches. Divers can explore 18 major shipwrecks in the near-shore waters of the Atlantic, while landlubbers in search of gators and other wildlife can book an airboat tour at Everglades Holiday Park. Stay at the new Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood and swim in the 13.5-acre pool, play water sports in the lagoon and catch spectacular daily light and sound shows that play on the hotel's guitar-shaped exterior.

BOOK NOW: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino | Hotels.com, $342/per night

Montego Bay, Jamaica

Escape the cold and tee up on a sunny course in Montego Bay, Jamaica, where daytime temperatures range from the low to mid-80s in February and the weather is dry. That's also peak tourist season, so book early if you go. The recently remodeled Sugar Mill Falls Water Park at the all-inclusive Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa, on the island's northeast coast, is ideal for a family getaway. Bring your bathing suits for the 280-foot waterslide, the lazy river, three terraced pools and splashing waterfalls. While you relax at this oceanfront resort, think about your freezing friends back home. Shown here: The golf course at Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa.

BOOK NOW: Hilton Rose Hall | Hotels.com, $347/per night, all inclusive

Lake Placid, New York

Some parts of the U.S. may be too warm for winter sports this year, so if you're looking for snow, opt for a chilly clime like Lake Placid. In 1980, the United States Men's Ice Hockey Team pulled off a sports "miracle" to beat the former Soviet Union in the Olympic Games. February 2020, the 40th anniversary of their win, is a great time to visit. This village in the Adirondack Mountains will relive the opening ceremonies, open Lake Placid Olympic sites to visitors and offer more to see and do in February. You can play pond hockey, sled, snowshoe, ski in the backcountry or ice fish here all winter. Stay at the Forbes Four-Starstar Whiteface Lodge, known for its beautiful Gilded Age decor, or the Lake Placid Lodge, the only hotel located directly on the lake.

BOOK NOW: The Whiteface Lodge | Hotels.com, $398/per night

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho

Most people visit Yellowstone National Park when it's sunny and warm, but they're missing out. In winter, the crowds are down, the landscape is hushed under a blanket of snow and the icy beauty is stunning. From the comfort of a snowcoach, look for bison and other animals gathered around steaming geyser basins and hot springs, or bundle up and go for a thrilling ride on a snowmobile. Winter means many roads are closed, along with stores, campgrounds and lodges, but you can still book a stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge or Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins. Adventurous souls can cross-country ski or take a 40-mile snowcoach shuttle from West Yellowstone to Yellowstone Expeditions Yurt Camp. By mid-March, crews start plowing the roads, which may start to re-open in April.

BOOK NOW: Old Faithful Snow Lodge | Hotels.com, $287/per night

Park City, Utah

If you love snow sports, head to Utah's Park City Mountain Resort, the biggest ski and snowboard resort in the U.S. The resort's heated ski lifts and ski beach stay open into early April. The Waldorf Astoria Park City, shown here, makes a great base for exploring and offers a winter-conditioning program along with world-class skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding and snowboarding. Pros can book a heliski trip into the backcountry or bobsled around curves at a scream-worthy 80 mph. Prefer to look at the snow rather than get in it? Opt for nightly s'mores at the outdoor alpine pool or soak in the adults-only hot tub.

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Imagine you're in a snowglobe when you visit Banff National Park during the winter. You're actually deep in the Canadian Rockies, where you might spot a moose, elk or bear as you take an ice walk — that's a hike over snowcovered, steel catwalks — through Johnston Canyon. If riding is more your style, catch the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain for bird's-eye views. Vacations By Rail offers an eight-day Banff & Jasper Winter Magic Tour to the major tourist attractions in the town of Banff, Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The tour ends with a train trip from Jasper to Vancouver.

Swan Valley, Montana

Montana's Seeley Swan Valley is a winter wonderland, averaging 38 inches of snow each year and temperatures that range from the 20s in January to just below freezing in March. It's a great place for winter sports, and it's considered one of the last truly wild places in North America, home to big mammals like grizzly bears, mountain lions and elk. Come for the snowy beauty, the wildlife and outdoor sports like cross country skiing and ice fishing. Book your stay at Holland Peak Ranch, an exclusive mountain retreat with three residences that house up to 18 guests. Then take a spin on the private ice-skating rink or use the in-room binoculars to marvel at the thousand acres of powder snow that surround you. Warm up with board games, ping pong or foosball in the dedicated recreational barn.

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