The US states that are at their best during winter

·6-min read
Central Park and Skyline in Winter - Susanne Neumann/iStockphoto
Central Park and Skyline in Winter - Susanne Neumann/iStockphoto

The US is in the top five favourite holiday destinations among Britons. Around 3.8 million of us visit each year. So, after 18 months of exclusion, UK travellers will be rushing to American shores after November 8 – when the travel ban is set to lift.

A shopping trip in New York City may feature high on many winter wishlists. Christmas cheer, in short supply last year, can reach its full potential on the city’s ice rinks, while gazing up at its window displays or during a browse of its seasonal markets. Yet, upstate also deserves a closer look in the coldest season.

In fact, it can be argued that several states are at their best as a (relative) chill sets in. Skiing, nature-seeking, theme park hopping: activities abound among our selection. If you wish to be within the first cohort to reunite with our Atlantic neighbour, here’s where to try for a wintertime fix.

So why not celebrate our two countries' reunion with a trip across the Atlantic this winter? From Boston to the Texas coast, here are some holiday suggestions to get you started.

Florida

Where better to get children excited for the frivolities of Christmas than in bejewelled theme parks? Disney World’s festivities kick off on November 12. At Magic Kingdom, young-at-heart visitors will enjoy ‘Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ – this includes a parade and fireworks – on select nights from November 8–December 21.

Orlando is easily combined with a couple of nights in Miami. Quieter beaches and milder weather make the party city a winning winter prospect (particularly for New Year’s Eve).

Families could layer the two, together with a sweet filling of Palm Beach on a 13-night self-drive trip for four, from £5,300pp (020 8682 5099; scottdunn.com). Alternatively, the Florida Keys can be tacked onto a Disney sojourn. Key West excels at community events such as The Lighted Boat Parade – locals pretty up their boats with yuletide paraphernalia then present their efforts while sailing through Key West Bight Marina.

disney world florida - Getty
disney world florida - Getty

New York

Head to the city itself to begin your Christmas experience. To catch the start of the season, ensure your visit coincides with Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (Nov 25). Otherwise, soak up pleasingly gaudy decorations, such as those at Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, as well as traditional displays at Central Park and Saks Fifth Avenue. Beyond the city – as long as you prepare for icy temperatures – a trip upstate will open up a frosted wonderland. A frozen over Lake Placid, The Catskills and Letchworth State Park turn into postcard settings with a coating of snow (a hire car will be required).

If you’d prefer a quick hit of the city, however, Trailfinders offers five nights at the Hotel 50 Bowery on the Lower East Side with direct flights from London for £649pp, based on two adults sharing (020 7368 1200; trailfinders.com). Its rooftop bar is a perfect spot from which to drink up the drama of the skyline, preferably with a Manhattan in hand.

Colorado

If you put your skis on ice over the last couple of years, it’s time to warm up for the slopes. Crystal Ski Holidays has a week’s self-catering holiday at the Pine Ridge Condos in Breckenridge, Colorado for £1,870pp, based on two sharing, including flights (020 8610 3123; crystalski.co.uk). This departs on January 12 (and must be booked online). The resort has five peaks, some 2,908 skiing acres and 187 trails.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of alternative activities which still rely Breckenridge's ample snowfall – pick from dog sledding, snowmobiling, fat biking and tubing.

Further afield, thermal springs, including Orvis Hot Springs, Strawberry Park hot springs and Pagosa Springs, are among the state's natural assets.

colorado - Getty
colorado - Getty

Nevada

Seeking a smidge of hedonism? Then see out the year in Las Vegas. Start with a crawl of hotel Christmas displays. The Bellagio Conservatory is among the best: picture a 40ft-plus tree and a menagerie of animal decorations (think polar bears and penguins).

For something a little different, head to the Botanical Cactus Garden, a mere 15-minute drive from the strip. Wander around the three acres of cacti, which are lit up with over a million twinkling lights, while sipping hot chocolate (from the on-site Ethel M Factory). Cast your holiday net beyond the state’s main draw to find delight in its quirkier corners. Winter fairs are popular in Nevada, such as the Fire and Ice Winter Festival in the city of Ely (Jan 15–17).

Virgin Atlantic offers five nights at the Aria Resort and Casino with return flights from Heathrow, departing Dec 28, from £1,856pp (0345 454 1111; virginatlantic.com).

Massachusetts

We’d be remiss to discount New England; but its inclusion results in a battle of the states – Boston clinches it for Massachusetts. Christmas markets spring up all over the city come December, with European-style offerings and American craft fairs among the mix. Attending a seasonal service – such as Hanukkah or Midnight Mass – in one of the historic synagogues or churches can imbue you with a sense of community and calm. British Airways Holidays offers four nights at the Royal Sonesta Boston from £1,529pp (0844 493 0787; ba.com), travelling on selected dates in January, including return business class flights.

Rent a car to explore further. The Mohawk Trail State Forest is around two hours and 20 minutes drive from the city. Try a hike on Mohican-Mohawk Trail, best timed at sunrise or sunset.

Quaint towns, filled with wood-panelled houses and sprinkled with seasonal shimmer, should also feature on the itinerary. How about Shelburne Falls? It’s a sleepy spot on the Mohawk Trail and its streets will be chock-full of coloured lights and candles.

boston christmas - Getty
boston christmas - Getty

Texas

If you’ve already experienced the classic New York Christmas, the Lone Star State’s traditions may entice. Galveston, for example, turns into a Winter Wonder Island with some 50 days of events between November and January. Highlights include Dickens on the Strand (during which a city street is turned into Victorian London), a schedule of seasonal performances at The Grand 1894 Opera House and an ice sculpture event at Moody Gardens.

The drive-through Austin Trail of Lights is also quite the spectacle, and runs from November 27–December 31. It will feature two million lights, 70 displays and lighted tunnels and 90 lighted trees to enjoy. Meanwhile, in Dallas, the Christmas Parade takes place on December 4, with dancers, floats and plenty else to enjoy. Tickets range from $25–$100 (£18–£72). British Airways offers return flights to Dallas and seven days of car hire from £852pp (0844 493 0787; ba.com)

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