25 Underrated Winter Destinations in the USA, According to Travel Experts!

Are you ready to explore the top underrated winter destinations in the USA?

So, you have got to the right place! From the serene Crystal River in Florida, where you can swim with manatees, to the vibrant city of Los Angeles, where you can bask in pleasant winter weather, there is something for every traveler seeking an off-the-beaten-path winter escape.

In this blog post, we unveil 25 underrated winter destinations in the USA recommended by the top travel experts, that will ignite your wanderlust and leave you yearning for more. So step outside of the usual winter destinations and embark on a journey to these underrated treasures, and you’ll be rewarded with a deeper appreciation for the diverse beauty the United States has to offer.

Get ready to embark on a journey of snow-capped peaks in some of the best National Parks in the country, charming towns, and thrilling outdoor experiences that will redefine your winter travel plans. Embrace the road less traveled this winter, and unlock the secrets of these underrated destinations in the USA that are waiting to be explored.

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WINTER SPORTS: Underrated Winter Destinations in the USA

1. STOWE, VERMONT

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet

One of the most beautiful self-drive in the country is without a doubt a road trip to Vermont. Crossing covered bridges, catching amazing views of the Green Mountains covered in snow, and enjoying the amazing farm-to-table fresh food. Vermont in winter is fascinating, but the highlight is the town of Stowe.

The fact is that the whole state of Vermont is cold in winter – with temperatures that can drop below zero. But as long as you pack accordingly, you will love it because the snow makes Vermont’s landscape look and feel even more spectacular!

Winter in Stowe transforms into a snowy paradise, making it an ideal destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Hit the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, known for its world-class skiing and snowboarding trails. Explore the extensive network of cross-country ski trails that wind through the scenic countryside, offering breathtaking views at every turn.

Beyond winter sports, here you will find quaint village beckons with its cozy shops, inviting restaurants, and warm hospitality. Take a leisurely stroll along Main Street, adorned with charming boutiques and art galleries. Indulge in the delicious flavors of Vermont at local eateries, savoring farm-to-table cuisine and craft brews.

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: When visiting Stowe, consider staying at one of the charming inns or cozy cabins that capture the essence of the region. Take advantage of the après-ski scene, warming up by crackling fireplaces.


2. FAIRBANKS, ALASKA

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet

Fairbanks is an underrated winter destination in the USA, that is often missed by most people who visit the Last Frontier State. Offering a captivating blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and unique cultural experiences, Fairbanks embraces its winter wonderland status with open arms.

Here you will find pristine landscapes, mesmerizing northern lights, and thrilling winter activities, Fairbanks offers an authentic Alaskan experience that is often overlooked.

Some fun things to do in Fairbanks during winter are dog sledding, snowmobiling excursions, and ice fishing escapades. Plus, it is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. Another highlight in Fairbanks is the opportunity to soak in natural hot springs surrounded by snow-capped mountains

Fairbanks offers also many cultural experiences, such as the fascinating Ice Museum, crafted entirely from ice and showcasing intricate ice sculptures. Indulge in the flavors of Alaska at local restaurants, savoring fresh seafood and regional delicacies.

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: For your Alaska itinerary, I recommend top planning your visit to Fairbanks around the World Ice Art Championships, a renowned event that showcases stunning ice sculptures created by artists from around the globe.


3. LEAVENWORTH, WASHINGTON

Underrated winter destinations USA
Recommended by Angie Kunze from We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

I recommend Leavenworth Washington as one of the most underrated winter destinations in the USA. Leavenworth is a bit of a hidden gem but when I saw pictures of this tiny village located in the Cascade Mountains, it went straight to the top of my list! Leavenworth in winter is simply magical!

The downtown area, otherwise known as the Village of Lights, is magically lit with Christmas lights all winter. Warm yourself by one of the fireplace tables in the outdoor beer garden as you sip a German beer and watch the snowflakes fall from the sky.

After enjoying one of the many winter sports such as skiing, snow tubing, and snowmobiling, warm up at one of the spas in town, or a glass of wine at one of the wineries. The weather in Leavenworth is just right for that winter wonderland vacation! Snow Capped mountains are the backdrop for trees and rooftops heavily laden with snow. It’s a veritable snow globe come to life so bring your warm coats, snow boots, hats, and mittens and head for this perfect USA winter destination! 

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: Get up and close with Santa’s favorite 4 legged friends at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm or take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the mountains.


4. DAVIS, WV

Underrated winter destinations USA
Recommended by Anna Cook from Stuck On The Go

Davis, WV is one of the best winter destinations in the US and is perfect for anyone who loves winter sports. Skiing at Timberline Resort or Canaan Valley State Park is one of the most popular activities.

I recommend visiting the Blackwater Falls State Park to see the waterfall almost completely frozen. You’ll also find the longest sled run on the East Coast in the park which is popular with kids and adults alike.

If you prefer cross-country skiing, make sure you visit the White Grass Touring Center which is one of the best places for cross-country in the Southeast. While the area is known for its outdoor adventure, don’t miss spending some time in the charming towns of Davis and nearby Thomas.

There are tons of things to do near Davis and visiting the locally-owned shops is a fun one. We also love stopping in at Stumptown Ales to grab a beer while in town. Average high and low temperatures here in the winter months are typically mid-30s (Fahrenheit) and high teens respectively.

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: This area often gets overlooked for Snowshoe Ski Resort or people traveling to the northeast instead but the terrain here is great and they typically have good snowfall.


5. BERKSHIRES, MA

Underrated winter destinations USA
Recommended by Karen from Outdoor Adventures Sampler

Instead of visiting the popular and crowded ski resorts of Vermont and New Hampshire, I recommend you try out the underrated winter destination in the USA of the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. The Berkshires is a mountain area with picturesque villages, natural beauty, world-class museums, and unique dining experiences.

In winter, powdery snow covers everything, making for a magical snow globe of winter delights. Charming downhill skiing resorts with budget-friendly lift ticket prices are scattered over the Berkshires. Amazing places in the Berkshires for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing abound. Classically beautiful New England historic inns welcome visitors with stone fireplaces and cozy rooms.

Besides outdoor activities, the Berkshires area is home to the Norman Rockwell Museum and the innovative Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMOCA). I love to mix these cultural experiences with my snowy outdoor adventures. After a half day of skiing, I warm up in a cute cafe in the region and then visit one of the area museums.


6. MINNEAPOLIS, MN

Underrated winter destinations USA
Recommended by Tom from Travel Past 50

Winter visitors to the Twin Cities are warned about Minnesota’s famous cold temperatures and severe wind chills and are never handed a list of things to do in Minneapolis in winter.

Twin Citians wish for maximum cold and snow during major events to show off this hearty metro area. Locals want visitors to experience the outdoors and find fun things to do in Minneapolis and Saint Paul in the winter. Residents know it’s necessary to engage our minds and bodies to fight off cabin fever craziness.

Start with indoor activities by visiting the Mill City Museum, to understand how and why Minneapolis was established here on the upper reaches of the Mississippi River. In Saint Paul, check out The Como Park Conservatory is a popular spot to revitalize the winter-weary with a variety of indoor gardens, rare floral species, and free concerts.

If you’re hearty enough for the outdoors, try ice skating on Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. All Minneapolis parks with rinks offer free loaner skates on a first-come, first-served basis.

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: If you happen to be in town in late January/early February, don’t miss the City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival. Thousands of people take to the lakes and parks for X-country skiing and other events.


7. GRAND MARAIS, MN

Underrated winter destinations USA
Recommended by Susan from This Big Wild World

Nestled along the north shore of Lake Superior, Grand Marais Minnesota is a surprising and underrated winter destination in the USA. This adorable harbor town transforms into a snowy playground for hiking, cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, snowmobiling, and even dog sledding each winter. There are seemingly endless things to do in Grand Marais MN in winter.

Have you ever seen a frozen waterfall? Find them just outside of Grand Marais in nearby state parks such as Cascade River and Temperance River. Alternatively, hike through the snow-covered forest to the Pincushion Mountain Overlook for a beautiful view of the Superior National Forest and Lake Superior.

Winter temperatures in northern Minnesota vary by month but expect it to be close to 0F during the daytime. By staying active and wearing the right layers, you may be surprised at how warm you feel! Stop in at Sisu + Loyly Nordic Sauna to warm up after a long day outdoors.

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: While in Grand Marais, be sure to stop at Java Moose for coffee and Voyageur Brewing Company for a craft beer and tasty meal. For a true taste of the north shore, grab a meal at the Angry Trout. The menu features locally sourced ingredients!


WARM WEATHER: Underrated Winter Destinations in the USA

8. ANNA MARIA ISLAND, FLORIDA

Underrated winter destinations in USA
Recommended by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet

Anna Maria Island is a very popular destination in warmer months, but still an underrated winter destination in the USA. This coastal paradise offers a serene and laid-back atmosphere that sets it apart from the bustling tourist hotspots. Anna Maria Island boasts tranquil beaches, turquoise waters with some of the most beautiful clear water beaches in Florida, and a charming ambiance that beckons visitors seeking a peaceful winter escape.

In winter, Anna Maria Island experiences mild temperatures that make it an inviting destination for those seeking a warmer winter getaway. The average temperatures during the winter months, from December to February, typically range from the mid-60s to the low 70s Fahrenheit (around 18-23 degrees Celsius).

Explore the island’s hidden treasures, from the best beaches in Anna Maria Island to its local eateries serving fresh seafood delicacies. Immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant arts scene, browse through boutique shops, and discover the unique charm that makes Anna Maria Island a well-kept secret among winter destinations.

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: I recommend renting a custom Private Boat & Yacht Charter to explore this stunning region. Including Sunset, Sunrise, Dolphin Watching, and snorkeling. It is a perfect activity for the whole family while you are on your vacation.


9. CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA

Recommended by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet

This hidden gem in Florida offers a unique and unforgettable experience, especially during the winter months. With average temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the low 70s Fahrenheit (around 18 to 23 degrees Celsius), it’s the perfect escape from chilly northern climates.

The main attraction of Crystal River is its renowned manatee population, and it is one of the only places on the planet where you can have the opportunity to partake in activities such as swimming with these gentle creatures or taking guided eco-tours to observe them in their natural habitat.

The best time of year to see manatees at Crystal River, Florida is during the winter months, typically from November to March. Manatees are warm-water-loving creatures and are drawn to the warmer waters of the Crystal River and its surrounding springs during the colder winter season.

Additionally, take some time to explore the nearby Three Sisters Springs, which offers breathtaking views. Crystal River may be an underrated winter destination in the USA, but its winter wonders will leave you with memories to cherish.

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: I recommend Crystal River Small Group Swim with Manatee Tour. It is imperative we all respect these animals and only swim with them in the designed areas, to ensure that manatee swimming here remains sustainable so future travelers can have the privilege of a one-on-one experience.


10. SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

Recommended by Victoria of Southern Trippers

Looking for one of the most underrated winter destinations in the USA? Then you can’t beat Savannah, Georgia. Seel, this historic city is nestled along the coast and is well-located near the Savannah River. Therefore, daily highs usually don’t fall below 60 F while daily lows rarely sink to 40F. 

Additionally, the weather is fairly sunny with only 5 to 6 days of rain per month during the season. Accordingly, this is an ideal warm-weather destination in the United States

However, because Savannah isn’t as popular as iconic beach destinations in other states, winter is a great time to visit. You can avoid crowds and enjoy reduced prices on accommodations and flights. So, be sure to hop in a horse-drawn carriage and explore the quaint cobblestone streets of this charming place before doing a day trip to Tybee Island and Driftwood Beach. 

You can also get outside and explore Forsyth Park, Bonaventure Cemetery, and the Savannah Botanical Gardens, before taking a scenic ride on the Savannah Belle’s Ferry.

⭐️INSIDER TIP: If you’re not sure where to stay in Savannah, spend the night at the JW Marriott Plant Riverside near Riverside Street. The rooms are wonderfully luxurious and there are even cool dinosaur skeletons in the lobby.


11. WILLMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA

Underrated winter destinations USA
Recommended by Taylor Deer from Brown Eyed Flower Child

One of the best-underrated winter destinations in the USA. is Wilmington, North Carolina. Wilmington is recognized as one of the “Best Carolina Coasts” as it’s in the Southern part of the state and is surrounded by marshlands, aqua-blue ocean water, and a charming downtown.

When people think of a winter destination in the Carolinas, they usually think of Hilton Head Island. What is excellent about Wilmington is that there is something for everyone!

Enjoy long beach walks at Wrightsville Beach or Carolina Beach, and kayak at Carolina State Park. Stroll the Wilmington Riverwalk, immerse yourself in the incredible dining scene, cozy up to a campfire, admire the stunning nature at Airlie Gardens, and even take a historical ghost tour. The number of things to do during a 3-day weekend in Wilmington, NC is endless!

Even though Wilmington doesn’t have typical swimming and beach weather in the winter, it is comfortable and perfect for fun outdoor adventures and activities. From December through February, Wilmington, NC boasts temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-50s Fahrenheit. It can also get down to the 40s and high 30s Fahrenheit.

⭐️INSIDER TIP: The best hotel to stay at is Aloft Wilmington at Coastline Center by Marriott. It’s located on the Riverwalk and features beautiful views of the Cape Fear River. You must enjoy Oceanic Restaurant, which is on the beach at Wrightsville Beach; Seabird Restaurant, which is in downtown Wilmington; and Stoked, which is on the bay in Carolina Beach.


12. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by Chelsea from Adventures of Chels

A great underrated destination I recommend visiting during winter is New Orleans, Louisiana. I’d say New Orleans is an underrated winter destination because it gets overshadowed by the extremes of snowy destinations (for skiing/outdoor activities) and tropical destinations that are comfortably warm during winter. Though it doesn’t snow and isn’t tropical, New Orleans has some great aspects to enjoy during winter.

For starters, the temperatures are typically in the mid-60s (F) during winter.  Winter time (roughly mid-January to mid-February) is also when Mardi Gras is celebrated in New Orleans. The closer it gets to Fat Tuesday the more parades, beads, and people you can find around the city. It can get busy, but it’s a great experience to have at least once in your life!

While in New Orleans I recommend strolling around the French Quarter (particularly down Royal Street) to enjoy the best of the city’s quintessential architecture. Stop for a beignet at Cafe Du Monde, and enjoy listening to the street musicians who frequently play in Jackson Square.


13. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by Chris Heckmann of Around the World With Me

An often-forgotten winter destination in the United States is fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. While the hotel pools might be closed for the season, the mild winters make it the perfect time for hiking in the beautiful desert outside the city.

Most people associate Vegas with gambling and general debauchery, but Sin City is also blessed with stunning mountains and amazing desert nature every way you look. And while summer temperatures can be borderline deadly, winter offers pleasant days with perfect hiking weather.

Winter highs in Las Vegas range from about 57 F (14 C) in December to over 70 F (21 C) in March. When hiking through the desert, these temperatures are ideal.

The two main areas to get out and explore are Red Rock National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park. Each is gorgeous in its sense and each offers miles of trails through unique red rock formations.

⭐️INSIDER TIP: If you’re a skier you’re also in luck. Las Vegas even has its ski resort just north of the city on snow-drenched Mount Charleston. While very few people come to Las Vegas solely to ski, a morning on the slopes followed by an afternoon of red rock scrambling can’t be beaten! 


14. MOAB, UTAH

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by David & Intan from The World Travel Guy

The tourist city of Moab is an excellent choice for a winter destination because it’s not as crowded as normal, and the weather is relatively mild. This area is known for having some of the best hikes in Utah, and it’s a bit underrated in the winter.

However, places like Arches National Park are no longer packed with visitors during the winter, so you can enjoy some of the area’s most famous sights with unusual peace and quiet. In the summer, it’s hard to even visit the national parks near Moab because they’re so popular!

Moab is known for scorching heat in the summer, but winter temperatures are pretty tame, with the shoulder months of November and March having very comfortable daytime highs of about 60 Fahrenheit (15 Celsius). Even in the mid-winter months of December and February, temperatures hover around 50 Fahrenheit!

There may be a light dusting of snow in Moab town from time to time, but it’s generally not enough to interfere with travel plans or cause any problems, so life goes on here during the winter. The wonderful red rock landscapes of Utah remain relatively unchanged.

⭐️INSIDER TIP: If you really want snow, you can go skiing and sledding in the nearby La Sal mountains, the second-highest mountain range with nine peaks surpassing 12,000 feet.


15. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

LA in winter
Recommended by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet

Los Angeles may not be the first place that comes to mind for a winter getaway, especially if you are looking for a perfect warm vacation spot in the USA! L.A. offers a unique combination of winter sports, warm weather, and outdoor activities that make it a must-visit during the colder months.

The weather in Los Angeles during wintertime is mild and inviting, with average temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (around 18-23 degrees Celsius). This makes it an ideal escape for those seeking to avoid harsh winter climates.

When you plan a perfect itinerary in Los Angles, you will find plenty of things to do. From hiking in the picturesque Santa Monica Mountains to basking in the sun at iconic beaches like Venice and Santa Monica, outdoor enthusiasts will find endless possibilities in LA. You can even try your hand at winter surfing or paddleboarding along the stunning coastline.

Don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of the L.A. bucket list places, such as Griffith Observatory for panoramic views of the city, or take a hike up to the world-famous Hollywood Sign.

⭐️ INSIDER TIP: There are numerous hotels and boutique accommodations to choose from, depending on your preferences and budget. Whether you’re seeking luxury or a more budget-friendly stay, you can check my article on the best places to stay in Los Angeles.


16. CATALINA ISLAND, CALIFORNIA

places to visit in winter in the USA
Recommended by Ossama

Catalina Island is one of the top underrated winter destinations in the USA, with its pleasant weather year-round. During winter, the island’s already picturesque landscape becomes even more charming, as the cool air adds a touch of tranquility. The Island is only a short 1-hour ferryboat ride outside Los Angeles, so it is a perfect choice to combine both locations for your winter vacation.

With average temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the low 60s Fahrenheit (around 10 to 16 degrees Celsius), it’s perfect for leisurely walks along the shoreline and exploring enchanting trails.

In addition to the serene atmosphere, Catalina Island offers thrilling winter activities. Take to the skies with parasailing, soaring above the stunning Catalina waters, and enjoying awe-inspiring aerial vistas. For an adrenaline rush, try zip lining at speeds of 35 miles per hour, soaring 600 feet above Descanso Beach Club. The Catalina Island Zip Line Eco Tour provides this unforgettable experience, treating you to breathtaking views of the ocean, canyons, and towering eucalyptus trees.

⭐️INSIDER TIP: Want to explore more Catalina Island? Take a glass-bottom boat tour, a Nautilus semi-submarine cruise, go on a scenic hike or just relax and enjoy the Mediterranean-like atmosphere.


17. SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by Lisa Garrett of Waves and Cobblestones

I recommend San Juan, Puerto Rico as an amazing, yet underrated, winter destination in the United States.  People often overlook Puerto Rico since they forget that it’s part of the US.  But this Caribbean island is indeed a US territory, so you don’t need a passport to visit.

San Juan Puerto Rico is the perfect warm weather destination to escape the cold and is a popular winter cruise destination.  Winter temperatures in San Juan are tropical, with highs in the low 80’s and lows in the mid 70’s.  You may get a rain shower, so be prepared and bring along a mini-umbrella.

Old San Juan is brimming with history, so spend some time strolling the cobbled streets and enjoying the vibrantly colored houses, stunning fountains, and Spanish-style plazas.  History buffs will love exploring the city’s historic forts of El Morro and Castillo San Cristobal – some of the top things to do in Old San Juan!

⭐️INSIDER TIP: One thing you’ll learn about Puerto Rico is that the piña colada (one of my personal favorites) was invented here!   You can even learn to make classic cocktails during a mixology class at Casa Bacardí.


18. TUCSON, ARIZONA

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by Julie of Chickery’s Travels

If you’re looking for a warm-weather winter destination, I highly recommend Tucson, Arizona! With average winter high temperatures in the upper 60’s to low 70’s (Fahrenheit), it is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. I absolutely love biking and jogging on the Chuck Huckleberry Loop, a 131-mile network of paved multi-use trails

Hiking among the sea of cacti – some towering up to 40’ tall – at Saguaro National Park is also a must-do. My favorite place to visit is the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum. It’s equal parts botanical garden, natural history museum, and zoo, providing a little something for everyone.  

Another great thing about Tucson is that you don’t have to give up winter activities. On the outskirts of town is the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway. You’ll leave the desert cacti behind and enter a lush forest on this 27-mile paved road. Even better, there’s skiing and snowboarding once you reach the top! 

⭐️INSIDER TIP: My favorite place to stay is the Tucson Lazy Days KOA Resort. It has two-bedroom cabins with full kitchens and outdoor entertainment areas, in addition to RV and tent camping sites. Other amenities include two heated pools and hot tubs, pickleball, and basketball courts, as well as a bar and grill. Even better, there’s access to the previously mentioned bike path.  


19. SEDONA, ARIZONA

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet

Sedona is an underrated winter destination in the USA that offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and warm winter escapes. With its red rock formations, enchanting canyons, and mild winter climate.

Sedona often goes unnoticed during the winter months, but visiting Sedona in winter has its own unique allure. The crowd levels are lower, allowing you to explore the wonders of the red rock country at your own pace. Sedona offers a wealth of outdoor activities for winter enthusiasts. Take a scenic drive along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, capturing the picturesque landscapes from various viewpoints while you are hiking in Sedona.

Winter in Sedona brings comfortable temperatures, with average highs ranging from the 50s to the 60s Fahrenheit (around 10-15 degrees Celsius). This makes it an ideal time to embark on breathtaking hikes through the vibrant red canyons, such as the iconic Cathedral Rock or Devil’s Bridge.

⭐️INSIDER TIP:  Many of the area’s hiking trails are accessible by dirt roads, so a four-wheel-drive vehicle (specifically a Jeep) is highly recommended. If you’d rather let someone else do the driving, consider signing up for a guided Jeep tour.


NATIONAL & STATE PARKS: Underrated Winter Destinations in the USA

20. JACKSON HOLE

places to visit in winter in the USA
Recommended by Catherine Xu from Nomadicated

I recommend Jackson Hole, Wyoming, as an ideal winter destination for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Nestled between the Teton and Gros Ventre mountain ranges, Jackson Hole lies in the far northwest corner of Wyoming. It has everything that adventure-seekers could want in a snowy vacation spot, from epic ski slopes to amazing outdoor winter activities in Grand Teton National Park.

With over 2,500 acres of skiable terrain, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort consistently ranks among the top ski destinations in the country and the world. Hit some of North America’s steepest and most thrilling runs and jumps. Advanced riders also have an expansive backcountry playground to carve through among the Teton peaks. 

The weather during wintertime is cold, but the jagged snow-covered peaks and frozen trees bring a sense of drama to the landscape. Average highs average a frosty 20°F to 30°F with lows dropping to 0°F. With 76 snow days on average, the area transforms into a winter paradise for more than half the year.

⭐️INSIDER TIP:  Jackson Hole is not just known for its skiing and snowboarding. Grand Teton National Park is a wonderland of outdoor activities. Much of the park is inaccessible except for backcountry snowshoers or snowmobiling snow-covered trails. Elusive winter wildlife also makes an appearance on jeep safaris or sleigh rides across the National Elk Refuge. 


21. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

places to visit in winter in the USA
Recommended by Lynli Roman of Wanderbig.com

Olympic National Park is a unique winter getaway for both adventure seekers and coziness seekers. I recommend Olympic National Park as a top destination for indoor and outdoor activities, particularly during the winter season. 

The Washtingon Penennisula offers a winter vacation that won’t force you to choose between a sunny beach getaway and a snowy winter ski trip. Instead, in the temperate rainforests of the far northwestern US, it rarely snows. Temperatures hover between 35-50 degrees on average and the entire park remains clothed in vibrant green trees, ferns, and mosses. While (like any rainforest) rain is regular in the Olympic National Park, rain more often takes the form of mist or fog instead of downpours. With good rain gear, it’s easy to explore the park through the winter months.

I love the historic lodges of the Olympic National Park because they offer a cozy retreat for visitors. At Kalaloch Lodge, guest rooms and common spaces overlook the waterfront. There, from the comfort of indoors, you can watch the swells as storm fronts roll in from the ocean – a perfect winter destination for a honeymoon near Seattle or a romantic PNW getaway.

While warm destinations may be popular during the winter months, Olympic National Park’s winter allure is underrated. A quick trip to Hurricane Ridge, the highest elevation in the park, can offer the opportunity for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snow hiking. Lower elevations offer the opportunity to explore

⭐️INSIDER TIP: For dining options, consider visiting the historic Lake Crescent Lodge, which offers a cozy ambiance and delicious meals. Additionally, the Quinault Lodge provides a charming and comfortable stay for those looking for accommodations within the park.


22. MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

places to visit in winter in the USA
Recommended by Alec with Explore with Alec

2.4 million people visit Mount Rainier National Park each year. But most do it when the Washington temperatures are in the 70s with blue skies and surrounded by wildflowers

Unfortunately, these prime conditions are only around for a few months. But that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. For example, Mount Rainier National Park is an overflowing cup of adventure during winter when it receives upwards of 60 feet of snow. 

With little crowds, visitors can unlock the vast terrain around the Paradise Visitor Center to snowshoe, cross-country ski, and even downhill ski after skinning up to various high points on the mountain’s south side. I found so much joy in adventuring across the untouched snow; plus, the photography opportunities are stunning and endless

⭐️INSIDER TIP: During winter, all vehicles must carry chains, and the park’s gates are only open from 9 am – 4 pm. Additionally, check for avalanche dangers on the mountain to protect you and your party. 


23. REDWOODS, CA

places to visit in winter in the USA
Recommended by Jess from Uprooted Traveler

Most people visit Redwoods National and State Parks in the warmer summer months, which makes it one of the best-underrated winter destinations in the USA. There’s something special about visiting these trees (the tallest living organisms on earth!) in the wintertime. While the coastal climate keeps the temperature moderate year-round, the weather is reasonably pleasant, with highs in the mid-to upper-50s, and the moody weather, like low-hanging fog and light beams, adds to the mystical vibe of the landscape.  Plus, you’ll have most of the parks to yourself!

The best way to enjoy the parks is on foot, along with any of the best hikes in the Redwoods. For example, along the Fern Canyon trail hike, you’ll hike through canyon walls, dripping with primeval ferns—it’s so prehistoric-looking, in fact, that it was used as a shooting location for The Lost World: Jurassic Park.  The Karl Knapp Trail takes you through several dense groves of redwoods—and through two tunnels carved into massive, fallen trees. 

The parks are fairly spread out across northern California, so try to stay someplace central as a home base. The teeny town of Trinidad is a good jumping-off point—don’t miss Sue Meg State Park here, a hidden gem with some of the best sunsets along the Western coastline.


24. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK

winter travel in the USA
Recommended by Jamie of Photo Jeepers

If you’re a snow bunny at heart, love the great outdoors, and don’t mind a bit of cold weather then Glacier National Park in Montana is one of the most underrated winter destinations in the USA for you. Because while most people visit during the summer months, winter in Glacier National Park is magical.

Not only will you have 1,583 square miles of Montana’s Rocky Mountains all to yourself, but you’ll get to see stunning snow-covered peaks and explore 700+ miles of hiking trails that take you to the Canadian border. 

Yes, some higher elevation sections of the Going to the Sun Road will be closed and yes, the weather can be quite cold – with twenty days of snow per month and highs of 26 F and lows of 14 F – but you’ll avoid the crowds and can use your time to see the Northern Lights near Lake McDonald

However, other fun things to do include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing since the park’s best trails include Fish Creek, Apgar Lookout, and Lake McDonald West Shore. You can also see local wildlife like elk and moose before doing a bit of dog sledding through this veritable winter wonderland.


25. STARVED ROCK STATE PARK, ILLINOIS

places to visit in winter in the USA
Recommended by Alyssa from An Apple a Plane

Last but not least on this amazing list of underrated winter destinations in the USA is the Starved Rock State Park in Central Illinois brings visitors a frozen fairytale!  Winter wonderland adventures await as you dance through frozen waterfalls and snow-dazzled cavern walls.  You’ll hardly believe you are in the Midwest United States!  Just two hours outside Chicago, have your winter world rocked at this exceptionally underrated travel gem.  

Travelers often spend a vacation in the city, often forgetting to explore outside of the city itself.  If you are visiting from outside the Midwest, I recommend a long, three-day weekend to fully experience this underrated winter travel destination and take advantage of local attractions. 

Spend one full day exploring Starved Rock. I recommend dedicating a second day to visiting its neighboring state park, Matthieson, for an adventure with fewer crowds (frozen waterfalls still included!)  Both Starved Rock and Matthieson are budget friendly as there is no entrance fee for either state park.  Hours are from sunrise to sunset daily.

Winter months at Starved Rock State Park see an average high of 36 degrees Fahrenheit, and a low of 14 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pack your winter jacket and bundle up for your Midwest fairytale adventure!

⭐️INSIDER TIP: If you are visiting from the Midwest, a full-day trip is doable. Car access is highly recommended in order to spend your Starved Rock adventure at your own pace and provides easier access to its neighboring state park, Matthieson.  


Recap of the Underrated Winter Destinations in the USA

  1. WINTER SPORTS
    • 1. STOWE, VERMONT
    • 2. FAIRBANKS, ALASKA
    • 3. LEAVENWORTH, WASHINGTON
    • 4. DAVIS, WV
    • 5. BERKSHIRES, MA
    • 6. MINNEAPOLIS, MN
    • 7. GRAND MARAIS, MN
  2. WARM WEATHER
    • 8. ANNA MARIA ISLAND, FLORIDA
    • 9. CRYSTAL RIVER, FLORIDA
    • 10. SAVANNAH, GEORGIA
    • 11. WILLMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
    • 12. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
    • 13. LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
    • 14. MOAB, UTAH
    • 15. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
    • 16. CATALINA ISLAND, CALIFORNIA
    • 17. SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
    • 18. TUCSON, ARIZONA
    • 19. SEDONA, ARIZONA
  3. NATIONAL & STATE PARKS
    • 20. JACKSON HOLE
    • 21. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
    • 22. MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
    • 23. REDWOODS, CA
    • 24. GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
    • 25. STARVED ROCK STATE PARK, ILLINOIS

Underrated Winter Destinations in the USA Conclusion

In conclusion, you will find fascinating underrated winter destinations in the USA, each offering unique experiences and natural beauty.

These underrated winter destinations in the USA allow you to step off the beaten path and discover lesser-known treasures. So, if you’re seeking a winter escape that goes beyond the usual tourist hotspots, consider these underrated destinations and unlock unforgettable experiences in the diverse landscapes of the United States.

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Underrated winter destinations USA

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1 thought on “25 Underrated Winter Destinations in the USA, According to Travel Experts!”

  1. Olá, nesta matéria suas fotos me deixaram sem folego, que país maravilhoso sendo explorado de A a Z, incrível, quantos lugares cheios de pluralidade.

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