Where to Go

10 Winter Vacation Gems: Use Your Hilton Honors Points™ And Beat The Winter Blues

Winter vacation spots you might not know about — from frigid to fair

The Vacationeer
Rear view of a family of four walking happily down an evergreen tree-lined and snow covered road.

There are two types of travelers between December and March — those who escape winter’s chill and those who chase it.

Whatever temperature you prefer, there’s a long list of popular winter vacation spots to add to your bucket list. Hilton Grand Vacations has properties in sunny and snow-filled locations, such as the ski slopes of Breckenridge, Colorado, and the Hawaiian islands. After all, there’s a reason these destinations are hot spots in the colder months.

However, between the Aspens and Arubas of the world, there are plenty of uncommon — and underrated — winter vacation destinations peppering the United States. 

For a getaway off the beaten path, Hilton Grand Vacations Members can convert HGV ClubPoints to Hilton Honors™ Points and access the Hilton portfolio worldwide.

Here are 10 unique winter vacation spots in the United States that are worth checking out. 

Low-Key Winter Vacation Destinations With Snow            

A snow biker in the snowy woods near Traverse City, Michigan 

1. Traverse City, Michigan

Why: Head to this charming small town to satisfy your need for heart-pumping winter fun. Traverse City in Northern Michigan promises enough powder for outdoor sports enthusiasts of all skill levels. 

What to do: Visitors can snowshoe, snowboard, cross-country ski or downhill ski to their heart’s content across 58 downhill trails, 102 skiable acres and three terrain parks. When you’re ready for a break from your ski boots, hit the bike trails on a fat tire bike, hop aboard a snowmobile or explore Sleeping Bears Dune

This Midwestern gem also offers plenty for travelers who prefer a slower pace — from winter shopping to regional sights. Day trip to one of the six historic lighthouses in the area, or enjoy a Traverse City Wine Coast tour to warm up with libations in outdoor tents, yurts or igloos. 

Where to stayHampton Inn Traverse City

Downtown Asheville, North Carolina, at sunset in the winter 

2. Asheville, North Carolina     

Why: Asheville, crowned the Paris of the South in the early 1900s, maintains its artisan culture today. Patrons enjoy this eclectic mountain city for its winter festivals, theater performances and live music throughout the season. 

Things to do: Art and culture aside, mountain lovers will appreciate a trip to the oldest mountain range in America, the Appalachian Mountains — stretching 2,000 miles long and estimated to date back 480 million years. Additionally, Asheville’s striking vistas are due to the Appalachians’ famous Blue Ridge Mountains section, well-known for its hazy bluish glow.  

The region’s mild winter weather means visitors enjoy crisp hikes, including frosty waterfalls, dramatic winter sunsets and sunrises and long-range views unique to the season. Round out your trip by exploring Asheville’s historic attractions, iconic rooftop fireplaces and spas. 

Where to stayThe Foundry Hotel Asheville, Curio Collection by Hilton         

Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, during winter at dusk 

3. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Why: The Twin Cities is synonymous with winter weather, and for travelers looking to embrace the chill, a stop here is a must.

Things to do: A visit to The Great Northern is worthy of a spot on your winter bucket list. This snow- and ice-filled jubilee combines the U.S. Pond Hockey ChampionshipsSt. Paul Winter Carnival and City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival into a 10-day seasonal celebration, including a torch-lit event through Minneapolis. Between each major event is a sprinkling of regional food and beverage, art and music events.

If you can’t make it during The Great Northern, don’t fret. You can twirl on ice skates, sled, ski or hurl snowballs all season long. But no matter when you visit, consider saving time for a day trip to Minnehaha Falls, a 53-foot-tall waterfall in Minnehaha Park that freezes into a remarkable wall of ice during winter.

And when you need a reprieve from the elements, Minneapolis boasts a Skyway System — 11 miles of climate-controlled pedestrian footbridges offering a comfortable way to explore the downtown area. Finally, for the complete Twin Cities experience, don't leave before checking out Mall of America and grabbing a famous Juicy Lucy

Where to stayEmbassy Suites by Hilton Minneapolis Downtown

Two sledders walk up a snowy hill in Hanover, New Hampshire 

4. Hanover, New Hampshire     

Why: Located along the Connecticut River and home to the nation’s northernmost Ivy League school, Hanover is just the spot for a white winter weekend away.

Things to do: Here, visitors enjoy the quaint charm of a small New England college town, with good food and plenty of nature, including the Appalachian Trail and the arts.

While Dartmouth Skiway offers travelers a winter playground to partake in favorite seasonal activities, Dartmouth College’s annual Winter Carnival stirs up local excitement. Since 1911, this winter festival has featured ski races, an ice sculpture contest, a polar bear swim and other snow-filled fun in February. 

Where to stayHilton Garden Inn Hanover Lebanon         

Aurora borealis over pine trees 

5. Anchorage, Alaska

Why: For a winter experience like no other, make your way to one of the most northernmost cities in the United States: Anchorage. The city is well-known for its natural elements, such as trails, wildlife and glaciers.

Things to do: Adventure travelers can enjoy wintery outdoor activities, from glacier hikes to dog-sled tours. However, few people know that Anchorage is also home to a vibrant arts community brimming with life-size murals, galleries and museums.

For more cultural experiences, head to Fairbanks and visit the Museum of the North to learn about Alaska’s natural history. As for the best way to get to Fairbanks? Travelers can hop aboard the Aurora Winter Train to experience a winter wonderland. You might even spot some wildlife.

To top off the Alaskan experience, look to the sky above and soak up the visual delight of the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.

Where to stayHilton Anchorage

Manatee swimming in water 

Warm-weather Winter Getaways In The U.S.

6. Crystal River, Florida     

Why: Home of the manatee. Just 80 miles north of Tampa, Kings Bay in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the few places where, on any given day, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of at least one of these gentle giants. 

Things to do: Hundreds of manatees make their way to the perennially 72-degree freshwater springs during winter. Explore the Crystal River area further, and you’ll find plenty of other reasons to make the trek. 

An average winter day is a pleasant 70 degrees and boasts sunshine, making it an ideal time to enjoy Crystal River’s outdoor attractions. Check out Crystal River Archaeological State Park — home to possibly the country’s oldest prehistoric human settlement — and Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Active travelers can try kayaking the Chassahowitzka River.

Round out your time in the Sunshine State with a sunset picnic at Fort Island Gulf Beach to take in the Gulf Coast-painted skies. 

Where to stayHampton Inn Crystal River, FL         

Aerial view of the coast of Puerto Rico 

7. Puerto Rico

Why: The Caribbean is no stranger to snowbirds seeking sun and sand. Puerto Rico — the “gateway to the Caribbean” — is an ideal destination to get your fill. The island’s tropical climate makes for warm weather year-round.

However, winter affords visitors less rain and humidity, making for near-perfect weather to enjoy all the island offers.

Things to do: Outdoor-loving travelers can explore El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. national forest system, home to 26 unique tree species and La Mina waterfall. To add a little history and culture to your trip, discover Old San Juan on a walking tour, and check out the UNESCO World Heritage site, La Fortaleza, and San Juan National Historic Site.

Of course, stunning beaches and water activities are always a go-to to dig your toes in the sand or enjoy a catamaran sunset cruise

Where to stayHilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort

Colored lights and businesses next to the river at night in San Antonio, Texas 

8. San Antonio, Texas     

Why: San Antonio is a warm-weather destination the whole family will love, thanks to its top-notch theme parks (think: Six Flags® and SeaWorld®) and world-famous historical and cultural sites.

Things to do: Consider kicking off the winter season by strolling the River Walk and admiring the 200,000 twinkling lights adorning every available surface — from stone bridges to tree limbs and storefronts. Then, make your way to La Villita, home to 25 local artisan shops and galleries featuring handmade goods and hosting more than 200 events a year.

Finally, no trip to San Antonio is complete without visiting the Alamo and Mission San José, the largest mission in San Antonio. Refuel at Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery, and shop for souvenirs at Historic Market Square to complete your Texan winter getaway. 

Where to stayCanopy by Hilton San Antonio Riverwalk         

Two people in the distance walk on the beach of St. Simons Island, Georgia 

9. St. Simons Island, Georgia

Why: If you’ve got a golfer in your travel party, make your way to this picturesque barrier island off the coast of Georgia. With six golf courses on St. Simons Island, another seven within 20 miles, and winter temperatures in the mid-60s, it’s a golf lover’s winter paradise. 

Things to do: Visitors with less draw to the fairways can enjoy fewer crowds along Georgia’s 90 miles of shoreline for brisk winter strolls and spotting migrating wildlife. Nature lovers will appreciate the diverse wildlife of more than 400 bird species, North Atlantic right whales and Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. 

For a truly unique experience, consider a day trip to Jekyll Island for ice skating at a beachfront skating village.

Where to stayHome2 Suites by Hilton St. Simons Island

Palm trees on the white sand beach of Key Largo, Florida 

10. Key Largo, Florida     

Why: As the southernmost point in the United States, Key West often makes many of the best warm-weather winter destination lists, but don’t discount the northernmost island in the Keys — Key Largo

Things to do: Known as the “diving capital of the world,” Key Largo is home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first undersea park. But, even if scuba diving isn’t your thing, the park is worth a visit. Embark for a day on the water, exploring the reefs from a glass-bottom boat. 

This underrated island also offers an ideal launchpad to South Florida and the Keys. Take the Overseas Highway for a scenic drive further south to Islamorada for shopping and feeding the tarpon at Robbie’s Marina. Then, make a pit stop at the famous Holiday Isle Tiki Bar on your way back. 

Thrill-seeking travelers can check out the alligators and other wildlife at Everglades National Park, or for a low-key excursion, channel Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn and enjoy a sunset dinner cruise on the fully restored African Queen.

Where to stayBaker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton

Read “7 Hilton Grand Vacations Owners Dish On The Perks Of Hilton Honors Membership” and see where vacation ownership can take you.

HGV Newsletter Sign Up

The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

Popular Articles