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America's 50 Prettiest Winter Towns

Winter is full of seasonal delights. From frosty sleigh rides to cross-country skiing to cozying up by a crackling fireplace after an invigorating day on the slopes, the season tempts us to escape from our hibernation to embrace cold-weather splendors in picturesque destinations near and far. Whether you're searching for a classic ski town, high-altitude aprés-ski pampering, a decked-out winter wonderland with twinkling light displays or a sunny coastal getaway, these bewitching places across the country beckon with small-scale charm and character. Read on for inspiration for your next winter trip, where you can celebrate the sights, sounds and spirit of the season in a storybook setting.

Cape May, New Jersey

This popular summer retreat on the Jersey Shore charms visitors year-round. "Its seaside Victorian residences and hotels look like elaborate gingerbread houses even when it's not winter," says Amy Alipio, senior editor at National Geographic Traveler. Washington Street, a lively pedestrian-only thoroughfare brimming with eateries and shops is a must, as is picking up holiday gifts at Washington Street Mall, which is decked with bright lights and decorations. And when you're not getting into the holiday spirit at Congress Hall, a storied resort that hosts a lighting ceremony and other seasonal festivities, enjoy admiring the iconic red-and-white Cape May Lighthouse and imbibing in leisurely meals at culinary institutions such as the Blue Pig Tavern and 410 Bank Street.

Burlington, Vermont

With easy access to pristine slopes, a flourishing food scene (don't miss the lovely cafes, galleries and shops at Church Street Marketplace) and quintessential New England charm, it's no wonder travelers flock to Burlington each winter. Don't skip the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, which boasts interactive, kid-friendly exhibits and is located "in a striking glass-walled building" Alipio says. And aside from a thriving craft brew scene (hat tip: savor a pint at Magic Hat Brewing Company), Burlington offers plenty of enticement for families. "You can get a behind-the-scenes look at how Lake Champlain Chocolates are made in its factory, which offers free chocolate tastings on weekends. Also, nearby is the classic family-friendly ski resort Smugglers' Notch," Alipio adds.

Jackson, Wyoming

"Jackson is just an absolute postcard of a town in winter," says Everett Potter, a columnist for Forbes and author of "Everett Potter's Travel Report." With the Teton and Gros Ventre mountain ranges rising in the distance, alluring ski resorts and eclectic galleries and bars in Teton Village, Jackson is the place for a laid-back winter getaway. Aside from tackling well-groomed runs, there are plenty of ways to indulge in simple seasonal delights, from sleigh rides in the National Elk Refuge to savoring s'mores, cookies and hot chocolate at Persephone Bakery to a memorable aprés-ski meal at The Kitchen. As for accommodations, retreat to Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa in Teton Village, where you can unwind with a soothing massage after hitting the slopes.

Camden, Maine

With postcard-worthy coastal scenes, Victorian bed-and-breakfasts and country inns and New England character, Camden is a laid-back, quintessential winter retreat. Admire the area's festive light displays and enjoy skiing, snowboarding and glade boarding at Camden Snow Bowl. For more active pursuits, make your way to Camden Hill State Park, where picturesque snowshoeing and hiking trails abound. After soaking in the seaside scenery, settle into cozy digs at Whitehall, where you can leisurely savor a cocktail and sustainable-inspired dishes (think: lobster rolls, shrimp and grits, and blueberry cheesecake) at on-site restaurant Pig + Poet.

Girdwood, Alaska

For fresh air and pristine powder, venture to Girdwood, a prime ski destination set amid the Chugach Mountains along the south-central coast. Take your pick from a variety of winter sports, from Nordic skiing to glacier tours to snowboarding to heli-skiing, before settling into cozy digs at Alyeska Resort, which offers access to the slopes along with a ski rental shop and family-friendly pursuits such as dog sledding and snowmobile tours. What's more, there are plenty of post-ski places to warm up, from the snazzy slope-side Sitzmark Bar & Grill to Coast Pizza, a casual venue. If you're looking for more adventure, head to nearby Anchorage, which is just 40 miles northwest of Girdwood and is accessible along the Seward Highway.

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

With its year-round sunshine, powdery white sand beaches and emerald waters, Santa Rosa Beach offers the perfect setting to beat the winter blues. Whether you want to search for holiday gifts at charming antique and pottery shops or embrace the great outdoors with stand-up paddleboarding, horseback riding or hiking at Point Washington State Forest, there's plenty of ways to pass the time. And the arresting coastal scenery along the Panhandle is even more enchanting at the WaterColor Inn & Resort, where guests can enjoy kayaking, canoeing and biking and beach-side cocktails and sushi at on-site dining venues The Gathering Spot and the Beach Club Grill.

Leavenworth, Washington

If you're looking for Bavarian-inspired backdrops and bright decorations, pack your bags for Leavenworth, a charming village about 2.5 hours east of Seattle with festive holiday events and plenty of cheer. Arrive in December to catch holiday films, a Christmas-tree lighting ceremony and a Village Voices Christmas concert. Plus, you can tackle the slopes at Stevens Pass Ski Resort, enjoy sleigh rides and even meet reindeer at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm. Breaks from snowshoeing, ice climbing and other activities can include shopping and indulging in alpine-inspired spa treatments at the Icicle Village Resort.

Seneca Falls, New York

For a cinematic winter retreat -- complete with holiday-themed activities, caroling, Victorian-era homes and a tree-lighting spectacle -- make your way to Seneca Falls in upstate New York, the inspiration behind Bedford Falls, from the cult Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life." Each year, the town hosts a holiday festival celebrating the film with special exhibitions at the It's a Wonderful Life Museum. Retrace your favorite character's footsteps (including the George Bailey Bridge where Jimmy Stewart had his life-changing revelation), before getting into the spirit as you stroll along the main street lined with quaint shops and dazzling lights. After taking in the storybook model town, you may just believe the hype that each time a bell rings, "an angel gets his wings."

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem draws visitors with its annual Christkindlmarkt "inspired by the Christmas markets of Germany," Alipio says. Christmas City, as locals say, also boasts an instantly recognizable 81-foot-wide electrical star beaming on its South Mountain. "The fact that Bethlehem isn't some quaint Bavarian village but a boom-and-bust Lehigh Valley steel town makes it even more interesting," Alipio says, adding "I love how the former Bethlehem Steel plant is now an arts venue." Breaks from holiday shopping, admiring delicate glass-blown ornaments and savoring candied sweets and time-honored traditions at the Christkindlmarkt can include checking out historic sites and catching a movie downtown at the Roxy -- Lehigh Valley's first-ever single-screen theater.

Sandpoint, Idaho

Sandpoint is a winter sports lover's dreamland, with cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and other snowy pastimes. Covered in approximately 300 inches of snow annually and surrounded by the imposing 8,000-foot Selkirk Mountains, Sandpoint has no shortage of fresh terrain. But hitting the slopes isn't Sandpoint's only draw. With a flourishing beer scene (don't skip the Laughing Dog Brewery) and a storied arts venue -- the Panida Theater -- not to mention opportunities for sleigh rides and ice skating along Lake Pend Oreille, the area appeals to ski-averse visitors, too.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, California

While this charming seaside village draws visitors with its iconic Carmel Beach, arresting trails and superlative wineries, in winter "there's something amazingly beautiful about it," Potter says. Soak in the fresh air, the captivating coastline and lovely boutiques and high-end bistros and cafes, such as Corkscrew Café and La Bicyclette. Then, cozy up at one of the quaint inns or bed-and-breakfasts in the area, such as the Wayside Inn or the Cypress Inn. Best of all, in December, you can secure discounted hotel rates and attend the annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Carmel Plaza Party at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Junipero Street.

Calistoga, California

Set in California Wine Country, Calistoga offers a low-key and cost-effective alternative to more glamorous neighboring towns in Napa Valley. From early December to early February, visitors can purchase a Winter in the Wineries Passport, affording them access to tastings at 17 wineries, along with reduced rates at spas and eateries in town. Aside from top-notch wine, you can also soak in hot springs, gallery hop around town or splurge for decadent stone massages and mineral-infused mud bath treatments at Spa Solage at Solage, an Auberge Resort. Calistoga Ranch, with its laid-back yet luxurious surroundings and lodges appointed rain showers and fireplaces, is also an ideal retreat for an upscale getaway.

Old Lyme, Connecticut

For ski-averse travelers looking for off-the-slope winter offerings, Old Lyme offers well-preserved 18th- and 19th-century architecture, a peaceful setting and Yankee charm, Potter says. With only 8,000 residents, American Colonial architecture, storied shops and quaint art galleries, Old Lyme offers an escape-it-all tranquility in the wintertime. Nearby is Old Saybrook, another charming old town with a beautiful white lighthouse. For a serene coastal retreat, consider staying at the nearby Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, which sits between the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound and offers festive holiday events, such as festive décor and a Christmas brunch. Back in Old Lyme, the Old Lyme Inn affords the perfect perch on Lyme Street across from the Florence Griswold Museum.

Beaufort, South Carolina

It's all about low-country antebellum charm, bright Christmas light displays and seasonal merriment in this quaint Southern town. In winter, the weather is still pleasant, offering ideal conditions for immersing yourself in nature, delighting in moss-canopied strolls in Huntington Island State Park and shopping at Scout Southern Market for souvenirs. The town also offers a mix of Victorian homes and bed-and-breakfasts along with delicious Southern staples at the Old Bull Tavern and Lowcountry Produce. At the end of the day, check into City Loft Hotel for a boutique retreat or Anchorage 1770 for picture-perfect water views.

McAdenville, North Carolina

With ornately decorated trees and wreaths and more than 450,000 twinkling bulbs, McAdenville, a small village located near Charlotte, North Carolina, touts itself as Christmas Town USA. As if that wasn't enough, the area celebrates the holiday season in style with a tree-lighting ceremony, a 5K and a yule log parade with free hot cocoa and kettle corn. After embracing the holiday cheer, head to Charlotte to check out other seasonal happenings, such as Gingerbread Lane at The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge and a German-inspired Christmas village, complete with chocolate, beer and gifts.

Scottsdale, Arizona

With the striking Sonoran Desert in the backdrop, lavish resorts and a vibrant art scene, this Arizona retreat packs plenty of scenery for R&R seekers in winter. The compact and walkable downtown is chock-full of notable restaurants and bars, Alipio says. But the main enticement is the "amazing, stress-reducing spas at the resort hotels such as the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess and the Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa," she adds. At the Sanctuary Spa, for example, guests are enticed with decadent treatments (imagine: wild lime blossom massages and citrus lavender softening scrubs). What's more, the area offers plenty of restaurants and bars in the Entertainment District.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

A beautiful mountain town set along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock offers easy access to prime ski destinations, including Sugar and Appalachian Ski mountains, along with plenty of seasonal thrills. Arrive at the end of January, and you can partake in WinterFest, complete with ice carvings, a parade and a polar plunge in Chetola Lake, when locals dip into the water. And of course, you can't miss checking out the Blowing Rock, a storied cliff formation with striking views of Grandfather Mountain. When you're ready to warm up, head to Chetola Resort at Blowing Rock or Westglow Resort & Spa.

Lanesboro, Minnesota

With its unique Scandinavian heritage and snow-blanketed craggy hills, Lanesboro charms visitors craving icy grandeur. Snowshoeing, hiking and cross-country skiing along the Root River Trail System are popular winter pastimes. When hunger sets in, make your way to Pedal Pushers Café or grab a slice at the Aroma Pie Shop in nearby Whalan. Arrive in February to partake in an annual candlelight cross-ski event along the Root River Trail. As for accommodations, retreat to one of the area's charming inns like the Habberstad House Bed and Breakfast.

Branson, Missouri

The banner event in Branson is the annual Ozark Mountain Christmas, when holiday happenings include live performances and drive-through light displays (hat tip: don't miss the Trail of Lights and Gift of Lights). Branson even boasts a Polar Express-inspired scenic railway train ride, along with special hotel festivities. The city's time-honored holiday traditions even include a light parade with ornate floats, costumed characters, a light-and-sound spectacle and music productions. Aside from Branson's seasonal splendors, you'll also find delicious dining spots (check out the retro-inspired Burger Shack), beautiful scenery amid the Ozark Mountains and charming bed-and-breakfasts.

St. Simons Island, Georgia

With pleasant temperatures in the wintertime, St. Simons Island beckons to visitors with few crowds and low-season prices. Stroll to the St. Simons Lighthouse, tour storied sites like the Fort Frederica National Monument and unwind at the King and Prince Resort, where you can take advantage of seasonal discounts and holiday festivities, including a gingerbread house contest and holiday concerts. What's more, you can cozy up by the resort fireplace, attend a hands-on art workshop at Glynn Visual Arts and enjoy farm-to-table cuisine at ECHO. Back in town, check out the area's antique stores, galleries and seafood eateries.

Oxford, Mississippi

Perhaps best known for its collegiate clientele (particularly during Ole Miss football games), Southern charm and ties to luminary William Faulkner, Oxford probably isn't the first destination that comes to mind for a winter getaway. But around Christmastime, Oxford exudes holiday merriment with its annual Gingerbread House Village in December, where spectators can admire the work of gingerbread crafters, attend a Christmas parade, check out a Santa's Workshop and catch a Celtic-themed concert. Breaks from the holiday hoopla can be spent enjoying a leisurely meal in the Historic Downtown Square at Bouré or City Grocery, followed by unwinding at the stately Chancellor's House or the Graduate Oxford, a boutique property.

Rockland, Maine

You might associate Maine with legendary lobster shacks and clapboard cottages, but this seaside town at the entrance to Penobscot Bay offers plenty of other allures, including boutiques and galleries along its main drag. Arrive in winter and you'll find few crowds and plenty of serenity. A must-visit is Primo, a small award-winning restaurant housed in a Victorian building with a seasonally changing menu (think: Pemaquid oysters with onion char and smoked butter and seared day boat scallops). And in January, you'll want to catch the Pies on Parade, where you can enjoy fruit pies, quiches, pizzas and other treats. Best of all, the museums, attractions and inns in the area keep their doors open in the wintertime.

Whitefish, Montana

A kid-friendly Western ski town and gateway to Glacier National Park, Whitefish offers a quintessential winter getaway. At the Lodge at Whitefish Lake, located just a mile away from downtown, you'll be rewarded with a covetable location and easy access to the pedestrian and bicycle trail system. Outdoor pursuits can include shredding powder along 3,000 acres of skiable terrain at Whitefish Mountain Resort, horse-drawn sleigh rides, cross-country skiing and exploring Glacier National Park. After an exciting day outdoors, unwind with a drink at the Bierstube, a lively pub, or spring for an indulgent spa treatment at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake (think: alpine deep-tissue massages and seaweed body wraps).

Paia, Hawaii

An idyllic, off-the-beaten-path town along Maui's northern coast off state Highway 36, Paia is a lesser-known gem, Potter says. Simple pleasures, like watching the windsurfers, surfers and other water sports enthusiasts at Ho'okipa Beach Park, is what Paia is all about. The tucked-away town sits along the Road to Hana and offers a variety of boutiques, galleries and inns with a low-key surfer town-meet-bohemian vibe, including popular haunts such as the Indigo Paia Gallery, Café des Amis and Tobi's Shave Ice. Follow locals to the Paia Fish Market, or unwind at the Paia Inn, a trendy boutique hotel with easy access to a sugary 3-mile beach and an ideal base for kayaking, hiking, snorkeling and stand-up paddleboarding, among other outdoor activities.

Vail, Colorado

Vail Valley transforms into a winter wonderland with snow-capped peaks, festive concerts and a tree-lighting extravaganza during its annual themed Holidaze and Snow Daze events. Savor aprés-ski drinks at Frost at The Sebastian -- Vail, hit the well-groomed slopes or enjoy off-the-slope pursuits, such as ice skating, tubing, dog-sledding and snowshoeing. In town, you'll find alpine-inspired chalets, ice skating rinks, twinkle lights and an outdoor market. Splurge for a memorable stay at the Four Seasons Resort Vail or the Sonnenalp, for Bavarian-inspired luxury accommodations outfitted with gas fireplaces and heated floors.

Ketchum, Idaho

Ketchum, a laid-back ski town and launching pad to the spectacular slopes of Sun Valley, is coming into its own with luxury resorts, a rising brew and distillery scene and easy access to Bald Mountain. Visit the Sun Valley Resort to enjoy a little holiday magic caroling, village light displays and even seasonally themed restaurant menus. Or, check into the new trendy Limelight Hotel, which offers a aprés-ski happy hour with live music at its lounge and rooms outfitted with creature comforts like 55-inch TVs and high-speed internet access. Round out your visit with a trip to Sawtooth Brewery.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Twinkling lights, elaborate window displays and snow-blanketed street corners add to Nantucket's off-season allure. In the beginning of December, check out the Christmas Stroll, when you can admire a brightly lit tree, enjoy holiday shopping, take wine tours and learn about the island's maritime past at the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Best of all, you can often secure discounted prices on accommodations and enjoy crowd-free attractions. When you're not strolling through town, check out the seasonal produce at Bartlett's Farm, grab a pint at Cisco Brewers and delight in a sweet treat at Downyflake Doughnuts or admire the enchanting Sankaty Head Lighthouse.

North Conway, New Hampshire

Ice skating, sleigh rides, downhill skiing and horseback riding are just a few enticing seasonal activities in this under-the-radar retreat. Set beneath the White Mountains and Mount Washington Valley, North Conway offers dramatic mountain scenery and abundant ski runs. Off the slopes, you can check out serene hiking trails, admire the town's storybook church and sample classic New England specialties (think: maple syrup and root beer) at Zeb's, a general store. Wrap up your day at White Mountain Hotel & Resort, where you can savor a glass of wine by the outdoor fire pit or soak in the on-site Jacuzzi.

Door County, Wisconsin

In winter, Door County attracts visitors with its striking scenery along this Wisconsin peninsula, icy Lake Michigan beaches and fun activities, from sleigh rides to snowmobiling trails to guided snowshoeing at The Ridges Sanctuary. Craving more relaxation? Join a Door County trolley ride or an Orchard County wine tasting. Beyond outdoor recreational activities, you can enjoy holiday shopping, gallery hopping and cozying up at charming inns like The Inn at Cedar Crossing. In December, Door Country also gets into the holiday groove with a tree-lighting ceremony, music and arts and crafts for the annual Harbor Holidays festivities at Baileys Harbor.

Port Townsend, Washington

Set near Olympic National Park, this Victorian coastal retreat is an ideal winter weekend escape for Seattle city-dwellers. Meander to the New Dungeness Lighthouse, or check out the elaborate window decorations, listen to revelers and catch the annual tree-lighting ceremony along Main Street. History buffs will also want to explore significant attractions, including the area's Victorian buildings and the Jefferson Museum of Art and History. In fact, the area's primary thoroughfare, Water Street, was recognized as a National Historic District in 1976. Cap off your visit with a leisurely meal at top local haunts dishing out authentic Pacific Northwestern fare, such as Alchemy Bistro & Wine Bar.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Perched between Lake Winnebago and Lake Michigan, Elkhart lake blends small-town charm and Yuletide splendor. Arrive in winter, and you can check out the area's Bavarian-style Christmas market, inspired by the vibrant markets of Germany, with authentic German staples such as bratwurst and schnitzel, along with art, crafts and other holiday festivities. Spring for a stay at the Osthoff Resort, a AAA Four Diamond property, to enjoy caroling, Christmas cookie-decorating, ornament-making workshops, hot chocolate and other seasonal pleasures.

Grafton, Vermont

A tiny retreat in the Green Mountain State, Grafton is a popular getaway for outdoor enthusiasts and R & R-seekers alike with its storybook Village Park, 2,000 acres of outdoor trails, Nordic skiing terrain and fun winter pastimes, like a Wine & Cheese Snowshoe Hike on Dec. 30. You won't want to skip checking out the area's notable museums, including the Nature Museum and the Grafton History Museum, or picking up cheeses at Grafton Village Cheese Company. Grafton also brims with galleries and lovely inns and B&Bs. The Grafton Inn, with its Georgian accents and New England décor, offers an ideal place to hang your hat, as does the Inn at Woodchuck Hill Farm, which offers a lounge area with a fireplace and arresting mountain views.

Ogden, Utah

With its downtown Christmas Village -- complete with twinkling lights, ornate parade floats and even a replica Polar Express train -- this northern Utah town knows how to get into the holiday spirit. Ogden's winter scene also includes a castle, where younger revelers can get their photo taken with Santa, charming cottages and spots to warm up with cups of hot cocoa. Ogden also lures cold-weather enthusiasts with fresh powder at three nearby ski resorts, groomed trails at the Ogden Nordic Center and the Wasatch Range's captivating mountain scenery. Retreat to the Atomic Chalet, a charming bed-and-breakfast for a tranquil escape and easy access to Ogden's top attractions.

Breckenridge, Colorado

Diehard skiers flock to this snowy Colorado mecca for good reason. Breck -- as locals say -- offers a blend of history, charming eateries and boutiques and well-preserved Victorian homes along Main Street. The area's much-loved Breckenridge Ski Resort offers an idyllic retreat for snowboarding and skiing. If you're a powder-seeker, you'll also want to venture to the Breckenridge Nordic Center, where you can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and other activities. Breckenridge also offers plenty of holiday happenings, including an annual Race of the Santas, when decked-out runners sprint along Main Street, a festive holiday lighting ceremony and a holiday market in the Arts District.

Cumberland Island, Georgia

With crowd-free beaches, majestic wild horses and myriad ways to explore the great outdoors at the Cumberland Island National Seashore, where visitors can kayak, hike and bike, among other recreational pastimes, this unspoiled getaway appeals to escapists looking to commune with nature. There are also storied attractions worth exploring, such as the First African Baptist Church and the Georgian Revival-style Plum Orchard Mansion. A must-stay here is the Greyfield Inn, where Southern charm and gracious hospitality reign supreme and the all-inclusive rate covers all meals, naturalist-guided tours and sports equipment.

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

For bucolic landscapes and an easy winter weekend getaway, consider Stockbridge in the Berkshires, Potter says. Festive light displays and jingling wreaths give the area a holiday sheen, and the annual Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas spectacle in December, with caroling, a concert, vintage cars and horse-drawn carriage rides. You may recognize the village's scenic holiday scene around Christmastime from the famous Norman Rockwell painting in the "Saturday Evening Post" capturing the winter splendor. If you're an art enthusiast, check out Chesterwood, the estate of the famous sculptor Daniel Chester French and the Norman Rockwell Museum. Best of all, the area offers plenty of affordable bed-and-breakfasts and inns, including the Red lion Inn and the Williamsville Inn.

Lewisburg, West Virginia

The main draw of this tucked-away West Virginian town is the Greenbrier, an 18th-century resort where its easy to delight in seasonal treats, dazzling light displays and plenty of holiday spirit. From November to Jan. 1, guests can admire thousands of light decorations, a tree-lighting spectacle and holiday entertainment. The property even hosts a Gingerbread Ball on Christmas Eve, a holiday wine tasting and a truffle workshop to get into the season. If you're traveling with little ones in tow, there's also caroling, cookies and hot chocolate served in the lobby and a family puppet show. Guests can also book preholiday packages for credits than can be applied to spa treatments, meals and even carriage rides and ice skating.

Sierra Madre, California

For holiday spirit and Yuletide splendor in Southern California, follow locals to this laid-back town tucked between Arcadia and Pasadena, California. Complete with a Christmas Tree Lane at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, Sierra Madre is the perfect destination to stroll past glowing lampposts, admire a life-size snowman at Kersting Court and enjoy other seasonal delights. The town's buildings and shops are decked with twinkling lights for the season, and you can't miss visiting nearby Pasadena to check out impressive art galleries, Beaux Arts architecture, botanical gardens, farm-to-table eateries and the iconic Rose Bowl.

Ouray, Colorado

A former mining town, Ouray offers all the charm and requisite Colorado snowy splendor of sister resort town Telluride -- without the steep price tags. Wander along Main Street to catch sight of beautiful Victorian buildings, and stop into quaint shops like Mouse's Chocolates before getting an adrenaline fix cross-country and back-country skiing and climbing amid the San Juan Mountains. When you're ready for a break from active winter sports and activities, kick back, unwind and soak in the alpine scenery from the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. If you're planning a January trip, check out the Ouray Ice Festival to watch athlete climbers test their limits.

Bend, Oregon

For a mix of spectacular skiing terrain at Mt. Bachelor ski area, budget-friendly accommodations and a top-notch microbrewery scene, consider venturing to Bend, an underrated Pacific Northwest ski destination. Take your pick from dog sled rides, snowmobile expeditions and other wintertime activities, before hiking along the Oregon Desert Trail or tagging along a Shoes, Brews and Views snowshoe tour with Cascades Lakes Brewery. If you would rather explore on your own, check out the Bend Ale Trail, which boasts more than 15 breweries. Back in town, you can also shop around, enjoy leisurely meals and retreat to a relaxing bed-and-breakfast, such as Hillside Inn B&B and Lara House Bed and Breakfast.

Woodstock, Vermont

It's hard to rival Woodstock's archetypal New England splendor and storybook setting, Potter says. And while Woodstock enamors visitors throughout the year, in winter you can embrace Yuletide cheer with hot cocoa around a warm fireplace at the Woodstock Inn & Resort, before admiring wreath-decked homes, picking up maple syrup from Sugarbush Farm and tackling the powdery slopes in nearby Killington or well-groomed Suicide Six hills. During Woodstock's Wassail Weekend in December, you can tour storied homes, enjoy holiday musical performances, catch an equestrian parade and Irish music. Cap off your visit with horse-drawn wagon tour to take in the snowy holiday light displays around town.

Taos, New Mexico

Set beneath the dramatic Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos offers postcard-worthy backdrops, staggering runs and Swiss-inspired chalets. Yet, the area also beckons to those with a penchant for art, culture and architecture, with its eclectic Southwestern charm and flourishing art scene. After an exhilarating day outdoors at Taos Ski Valley, admire the town's adobe buildings, brush up on the area's history and heritage at Rio Grande Gorge Bridge and Taos Pueblo. Then, museum hop through art-filled venues in town, warm up with an après-ski cocktail or retreat to at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa, where rooms are appointed with gas fireplaces and guests can indulge in locally inspired spa treatments like a Sagrado High Desert exfoliation ritual with desert salts and mineral-rich sea clay masks.

Bozeman, Montana

When you think of Montana, images of Yellowstone and Big Sky country likely spring to mind. But Bozeman, with its eclectic cowboy-meets-ski town culture, laid-back setting, snow-capped peaks and charming lodges offers a low-key and budget-friendly getaway. Along Main Street, you'll find plenty of cafes, galleries and boutiques. And Bridger Bowl and Bridger Ridge offer challenging terrain well-suited to experienced powder seekers. Off the slopes, enjoy dog-sledding or savor a pint at Montana Ale Works. Best of all, there are plenty of bed-and-breakfasts and inns where you can warm up at the end of the day and take in the mesmerizing backdrop of the Bridger and Tobacco Root mountains without bursting your budget.

Truckee, California

Convenient to both Reno and Lake Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Truckee is a lesser-known skier's paradise. Brimming with ski retreats, including Squaw Valley, Truckee offers ample opportunities to glide down powdery slopes, enjoy dog-sled rides at Sugar Bowl, ice skate and hike, among other cold-weather pursuits. Plus, Truckee boasts a variety of crowd-pleasing dining venues, including Cottonwood, which overlooks the Truckee River, along with Moody's Bistro Bar and Beats and Pianeta. When you're ready for a respite after a rosy-cheek tingling day outdoors, slip away to the nearby Resort at Squaw Creek for a replenishing high-altitude massage or warm up at one of the fireplace suites.

Crested Butte, Colorado

Thrill-seekers looking to delight in skiing, snowboarding and other cold-weather pastimes should look no further than Crested Butte. Tucked into the Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte, like Aspen, is beautifully situated, Potter says. A former mining town, Crested Butte offers plenty of charm and personality, paired with sublime mountain scenery. Drive along the Silver Thread Scenic Byway to cruise past former mining towns or stroll along the Crested Butte Heritage Walking Tour on Elk Avenue to meander past storied sights. Crested Butte Mountain Resort makes an ideal launching pad for tackling the slopes at Teocalli Bowl, North Face and Crested Butte Mountain.

Mystic, Connecticut

Embrace New England charm in its full glory at this quaint coastal village. Stroll along the lovely Mystic Seaport, brush up on the area's distinct maritime history, pop into eclectic galleries, boutiques and restaurants in Downtown Mystic and grab a delectable pie at the famed "Mystic Pizza," named after the 1988 romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts. After fueling up, make your way to River Road (or Captains' Row to locals), where you'll find quintessential cider mills and storybook wineries. When you're ready to warm up, check into Whaler's Inn or the opulent Spicer Mansion, a 19th-century boutique retreat with Victorian accents and unrivaled Mystic views from the Belvedere, a lavish restaurant located atop the mansion.

Lake Placid, New York

It's easy to fall for Lake Placid, with its dramatic Adirondacks setting, charming main street and world-class resorts. Known as the Winter Sports Capital of the World, with its pristine cross-country ski trails and adrenaline-pumping bobsled Olympic run, toboggan chute and luge rides at the Olympic Sports Complex -- where the 1932 and 1980 Olympics were held -- Lake Placid is practically tailor-made for cold-weather enthusiasts. Make the Whiteface Lodge or Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa your home base for easy access to Whiteface Mountain (approximately 10 miles northeast of the property grounds) and charming Main Street, which is within walking distance. Cap off exhilarating adventures outdoors with cozying around the property's crackling fireplace or a soothing massage or body treatment at the on-site spa.

Coronado, California

For a warm-weather retreat, escape to Coronado for consistent sunshine, pristine sands and requisite Southern California charm at the historic Hotel del Coronado. Roam past Victorian homes, pop into quaint boutiques, meander through well-kept gardens or get in the holiday spirit at the The Del with cookie-decorating, beachside s'mores during the annual Jingle Roast, ice-skating along a temporary oceanfront ice rink and bright hotel lobby light displays. Younger guests can even enjoy a Polar Bear Tea, with book readings from Mrs. Claus, a polar bear gift and kid-friendly dining options. And, of course, no trip to Southern California is complete without sunbathing, trying your hand at surfing or beachside yoga.

Ogunquit, Maine

This quaint coastal southern Maine town comes alive in winter with an annual Christmas by the Sea celebration in December, complete with carolers, a choir, chowder and a bonfire. Plus, during the festival, you can soak in the annual Christmas Parade on Main Street. Best of all, you'll find reduced prices and plenty of serenity at this time of year. Roam to Perkins Cove and stroll through Marginal Way for a calm and picturesque sea scene, with snow-covered docks and waves gently crashing against the shore. Stay at the nearby Cliff House Maine for striking ocean vistas and indulgent spa treatments, such as salt stone therapies and matcha green tea facials.

Stowe, Vermont

Snow-capped peaks, Swiss-style chalets, clapboard houses and double-black diamond runs are just a few allures of this quintessential New England village. And while you would be hard-pressed to find a more enchanting setting for skiing and snowboarding in the U.S., Stowe also offers plenty of off-the-slope offerings, from indulgent spa treatment at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa to savoring apres-ski hot cocoa at Stowe Mountain Lodge to tours at Ben & Jerry's Waterbury Factory. If you loved the "Sound of Music," don't skip checking out the Austrian-inspired Trapp Family Lodge, which was aptly named after the von Trapp family and offers maple sugaring tours, snowshoeing expeditions and more wintry pastimes.


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