There is something special about winter, from festive music and cups of hot cocoa to snowflakes that paint picturesque landscapes. Luckily, you can find a variety of climates in the US: from very hot to extremely cold, and something in between. Whether you are looking for a buzzing ski resort or a serene walk on the snowy beach, these places will take your breath away.
1. Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach is a small picturesque town on the coast, recognized by National Geographic as one of the world's 100 most beautiful places. You have the opportunity to see majestic Haystack Rock and Needles here. These unique basalt formations along the shoreline make the place extra exclusive. In the winter, you can walk on the snowy beach and enjoy the stunning views. Numerous marine creatures live in the tide pools at Haystack Rock, including crabs, starfish, sea anemones, limpets, and sea slugs. If you want to experience whale watching, the best time for a visit is from mid-December to mid-January when Gray Whales migrate along the Oregon Coast.
2. Fairbanks, Alaska
The aurora borealis is the number one reason to visit Fairbanks. The town is not far from the North Pole and inside the Auroral Oval. Such a location makes it one of the best places to chase the northern light. Only 25 miles from Fairbanks, you can find Borealis Basecamp which offers a night stay in the igloo-shaped domes in the boreal forest.
Another special event to enjoy the beauty of winter is the World Ice Art Championships. The ice from Fairbanks attracts carvers from all over the world, and the sculptures they make are truly amazing. The ice is crystal clear with a slight blue shade, called Artic Diamond. Among the other winter wonders here, you can visit Santa at the North Pole, explore Denali National Park & Preserve, and relax in Alaska hot springs.
3. Sitka, Alaska
Sitka is another Alaskan town to find yourself in a winter paradise. Located on Baranof Island, it faces the Pacific Ocean on the west and charming Mount Edgecumbe on the east. Numerous routes in the surrounding lush rainforest and steep mountains of Sitka provide excellent hiking opportunities. The Tongass National Forest, the biggest national forest in the US, is home to a vast number of these picturesque trails.
4. Sedona, Arizona
Sedona is a real oasis in the Arizona desert. Most tourists choose spring or fall for a visit, but you can also enjoy its natural serenity in winter. The iconic red rocks look even more impressive under the gentle snow blanket. It is a rare opportunity, so you are lucky if you witness high desert snow. Sedona offers great hiking trails through the red labyrinth. West Fork of Oak Creek is not far from Sedona, so consider putting it on your must-see list. Trails to check include the Boynton Canyon, Bell Rock Path, and Cathedral Rock.
5. Whitefish, Montana
National Geographic recognized Whitefish as one of the "Top 25 Ski Towns in the World". Located on the lakeshore at the foot of Mount Cleveland in Glacier National Park, it provides stunning winter vistas. Whitefish Mountain Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in the US and a real winter wonderland for passionate snowboarders, skiers, and snowshoers. For dog race fans, the Flathead Classic sled dog competition takes place in February.
6. Telluride, Colorado
Telluride is one of the best mountain resorts in the US. It offers stunning vistas of the San Juan Mountains and various winter activities. Skiing, snowmobiling, sledding, fat biking, ice-skating – everyone will find entertainment.
For something more relaxing, try the hot springs near Telluride. The most popular are Orvis Hot Springs, Ouray Hot Springs, Penny Hot Springs, and Dunton Hot Springs. There is no access to most of the trails in winter, except Bear Creek Trail. It is easily passable in summer but in winter it is suitable only for experienced hikers.
7. Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth is a bright winter wonderland. Bavarian-style houses, lights, and mountain landscapes make the town super attractive during the festive season. You can go for typical winter activities like skiing or sledding, or visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm where you can feed reindeer by hand. Strolling along the banks of the Wenatchee River on Leavenworth Park Trail is a spectacular way to enjoy nature and its serenity.
8. Park City, Utah
Park City is another town that welcomes skiers, snowboarders, and others who love winter adventures. With more than 300 trails, it is one of the largest ski resorts in the US. Park City also hosted the Olympics winter games in 2002. In addition to tours, the Utah Olympic Park provides bobsled rides.
If you are looking for something extraordinary, you can drive to Midway and visit the Homestead Crater Geothermal Pool. It is 45 minutes away from Park City and offers paddleboarding yoga in the geothermal crater. The water in the pool is warm in winter, so if you like yoga and swimming, try out this unique activity.
There is something for everyone in the prettiest towns in the US, whether it is watching the northern lights in Fairbanks, walking along the snowy shore in Cannon Beach, visiting red rocks in Sedona, or relaxing in hot springs in Telluride. All of these towns have a special winter atmosphere and unique attractions. No matter what you choose, be sure you are in one of the prettiest US towns in winter.