We all look forward to the magic of the holiday season, but many of us start feeling blah as January and February wear on. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is common in many parts of the United States. The winter blues can bring us down, but a trip can help lighten the mood and lift our senses! A change of scenery can help us maintain positive mental health as we wait for spring’s return. But, where should we go for fun this winter? We have uncovered some hidden gems that you and the whole family will love to explore on a wintertime vacation! Read on to learn about some extraordinary places to bring the whole family this winter.
1. Chicago Southland
Winter in the Chicago Southland suburbs offers easy access to an array of unique family fun and amusements. This area has 40,000 acres of forests, 600 holes of golf, and a beautiful downtown for dining and shopping. If you love winter sports, there are many areas for snowshoeing, sledding, and snow tubing.
In the nearby city, the kids will love ice skating surrounded by glittering Chicago skyline views at the famous Millennium Park Rink. Want more icy fun? Try the unique, winding curves of skating at the Skayk G Ribbon which offers unique views of the scenery at Maggie Daley Park. Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is free and open 365 days a year. In winter, you can see arctic creatures such as snow monkeys, polar bears, and penguins.
For a change of pace, get out of the cold and check out one of the many rooftop winter bars for a warming drink. Chicago also boasts several indoor winter curling rinks, complete with curling cocktails, hot cocoa, and indoor fires. You can also get cozy while enjoying one of the area’s free indoor botanical gardens or conservatories. The glorious Lincoln Park Conservatory features multiple rooms full of exotic flowers. Garfield Park Conservatory touts two acres of greenhouse life– making it one of the largest conservatories in the country.
For a thrill, go see a Chicago Bears, Bulls, or Blackhawks game! And, don’t forget to take in the striking winter views of frozen Lake Michigan. There is something for everyone in this area. Get your Chicago Southland Free Travel Guide.
2. Gulf Coast, Alabama
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama see many “snowbirds” over the winter months for a reason. The area features numerous fishing tournaments, ample golfing, beaches, and many other attractions. A strong arts scene includes exhibits, local music, theater, and museums for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Kids will love the 25-acre Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, which has over 300 species of animals to observe.
Are you a family that loves to be active? Gulf State Park features over 6,000 acres of unique segway trains for your family to explore on wheels! Arena The Next Level arcade at the Wharf is another fantastic and fun-filled spot for families. Play bazooka ball or enjoy a 4,000-square-foot laser tag arena, along with many other games. January in the Gulf Coast also means you can run the scenic Big Beach Marathon, Half-Marathon, or 7K. Or, let the kids get some energy out at the Factory in Gulf Shores, a 12,000-square-foot trampoline park. The venue is complete with batting cages, basketball, pitching machines, and an arcade.
Teens will go crazy for the Cool Shots Selfie Museum, a pet-friendly venue offering over 50 interactive background scenes for creative selfies! Prefer a more educational experience? Note that the world’s biggest Naval Aviation museum, the National Naval Aviation Museum, is easily accessible in this area.
Grab the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama Free Travel Guide and prepare for a winter family vacation to remember!
3. The Finger Lakes Region of New York
Have you heard of the Finger Lakes region of New York? The area is notorious for shimmering lake views, award-winning local wineries, fine dining, a vibrant arts community, and a rich regional history. It’s also a lovely place for a family winter excursion. Whatever your style, you’ll find delights to enjoy and activities to entertain. New York’s urban Syracuse and Rochester are also within driving distance!
Historically, this is a fascinating area. Indigenous myth says that the Creator places a hand on the region in blessing, leaving a handprint with five Finger Lakes. Harriet Tubman’s chosen home is in the region. History buffs will want to see the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park. You can also bring the family to explore indigenous local history at the Seneca Art & Culture at the Ganondagan State Historic Site. (This is a cozy activity if you want to stay warm.) Enjoy regional wine or beer plus stunning views of Seneca Lake.
Needless to say, outdoor winter sports are easy to pursue in these areas as well! Cummings Nature Center offers 15 miles of gorgeous snowshoeing trails. Both the Geneva Recreation Complex and the Greater Canandaigua Civic Center are wonderful places for kids to take the kids indoor ice skating. If you love ice fishing, remember that the Finger Lakes are full of rainbow trout, bass, perch, and more.
Lastly– don’t forget about wine! The Finger Lakes region is famous for over 100 unique wineries, which offer tours, tastings, and specialty shopping. Use your Cayuga in the Finger Lakes of NY Free Travel Guide to start planning your wintertime family escape today. You won’t regret the memories you’ll be sure to make.
4. Warren County, Ohio
Warren County, Ohio holds the nickname “Ohio’s Largest Playground” for a reason. This region offers a broad variety of family-friendly activities of all kinds. Parks, historic sites, sporting events, festivals, and museums abound. This means you can bring the whole family this winter and everyone will find amusement!
Explore local Native American history with your kin at Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve. Bring the family to the award-winning King’s Island amusement park for a day of adventure. If your family likes water park fun, check out the Great Wolf Lodge.
Need more ideas? Caesar Creek Park makes a refreshing daytime outing. Or, get your tennis game on at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. Take a ride in the air at one of the local hot-air balloon venues! You can even support local cowboys and cowgirls at the Fox Hollow Rodeo. A trip to Warren County will leave you with fond memories to treasure.
Pack your Warren County, Ohio Free Travel Guide into your virtual suitcase now and plan a getaway that your crew will enjoy this winter.
5. Wytheville, Virginia
Another amazing place to take the whole family this winter is Southwest Virginia’s Wytheville. Set against rolling hills, with views of both striking mountains and glistening lakes, the area offers something for travelers of all ages. Take in the gorgeous Appalachian mountain view backdrops of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Explore Jefferson National Forest, which along with George Washington National Forest offers 1.8 million acres of hiking, skiing, tubing, and photography opportunities!
Do your kids enjoy sports? Take the family to check out a Blue Ridge Bobcats ice hockey team at the Appalachian Regional Exposition Center (APEX Center). If you dine out, remember to sample the delicious flavors of Appalachian fare. You will love the biscuits and gravy, cornbread, chicken with dumplings, and delicious homemade fruit pies.
Visit Big Walker Lookout, with remarkable panoramic views of mountain peaks in several states, then check out the adjacent old-fashioned country store. Take a scenic drive along wooded roads to Beagle Ridge Farm. Here you will see pretty gardens, a butterfly house, and a quaint country shop full of locally-crafted jams, candles, scrubs, lotions, and gifts.
With your Free Travel Guide to Wytheville, Virginia, you can plan a lovely and entertaining escape for the whole family.
Book Your Winter Getaway Today
Winter can drag after the glittering lights and excitement of holidays like Christmas, Diwali, Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah fade. A winter vacation can keep spirits light and help you avoid those winter blues so you arrive at spring feeling like yourself. Don’t delay! Check out our free travel guides to plan your winter travel adventures today.Check Out Our Other Free Travel Guides