The holidays bring about a magical feeling as snow makes a perfect covering and frost brightens the dead limbs of the drooping trees.
While winter travel is split between sunny beaches and snow-capped mountains, embracing the seasonal changes could give you the memorable escape you need this year.
Give in to the winter wanderlust and visit one of these getaways to be transported to a far away world of sleigh rides, cuddling around an open fire, and skiing down a perfectly snow-coated mountain with a breathtaking view.
1. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Iconic scenes like Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring can only be seen at the oldest national park in the nation.
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming has everything you would expect in the great outdoors- open space, natural phenomenons, roaming buffalo and snow-misted elk amidst an enchanted forest.
The 2.2 million acre park gets between 50 and 200 inches of snow a year. But no worries if you don’t have a snowmobile because the snow is typically deeper at the interior of the park than the entrance so you can judge how far your SUV will make it.
However, if you do want to submerse yourself in the winter park experience you can take a snowmobile tour, go ice fishing, or ride on a authentic dog sled!
2. Nagano, Japan
Japan is a popular destination spot during the summer, but has so much to offer as a winter getaway.
The island’s northern alps offers the country’s best ski trails, but with over 86 ski areas in Nagano alone it may be hard to choose the perfect slope.
Hakuba Valley is the most popular ski destination and will probably not be as busy this year with Japan’s tight control of their borders.
A loophole is their new policy that allows entry from United State’s citizens who are visiting on business.
So, pack a parka and a briefcase to catch your meeting in the morning, ski in the afternoon, and soak in a magnesium-rich Onsen (hot spring) in the evening to be recharged for another day of adventures.
3. Dolomites, Italy
If you thought the Italian countryside was picturesque in the spring, you should see it in the winter when the rolling hills are covered in snow leading up to perfectly placed country homes and snow-capped mountains.
The alps get a lot of buzz in the winter for their epic ski towns, but the Dolomites offer all the perks without the crowds.
And with the perfect getaway only being a day trip from Venice you can spend time basking in the purity of the canals iced over and the snow-drizzled bridges; which make the perfect instagram picture.
Just book your vacation as early as possible because Venice has a capacity limit during the pandemic and the country is working on establishing fees for visitation from tourists.
4. Finnish Lapland
Want to visit the epitome of a winter wonderland?
Look no further than the Finnish Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region, where every snow-covered dream can come true.
Visit Santa Claus, ride in a sleigh pulled by real reindeer, and sleep under the northern lights in a bubble sled!
Unfortunately, Finland is still pretty strict about COVID-19 mandates and vaccinations, but with a bulk of the fun outdoors you can avoid the bureaucracy almost completely.
According to the US Embassy in Finland, the non-digital vaccination cards administered by the CDC are acceptable for entry into Finland, but they may not be sufficient at getting you into restaurants or bars.
Like most of tyrannical Europe these days, an EU Digital COVID-19 certificate is the conformity of choice.
Just check with the tourist attractions prior to visiting to make sure all the adventures you book are going to allow you the freedom to experience them without a vaccination card.
Whichever winter wonderland you choose this season you can’t go wrong if it involves snow and the great outdoors.
Sometimes what we need is the crisp air and crunchy earth of snow-washed terrain to be reminded of all the beauty traveling can still bring despite the ridiculous restrictions government tries to place on it.