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Top Destinations for Cold Weather Vacations

7 Great Pacific Northwest Winter Getaways 

Many Pacific Northwest cities and towns make for great escapes even in the cooler temperatures of fall and winter. Whether you want to stay closer to home or plan a road trip, we have got you covered. 

Here is a sampling of just seven cold weather destinations that offer a myriad of staycation fun, outdoor activities and more.

Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish village at night. Photo by Chuck Haney

Whitefish, Montana

As the gateway to the lakes, rivers and peaks of Glacier National Park in the Rocky Mountains, Whitefish is a resort town without the crowds of Vail and Aspen, Colorado. It’s a natural base of operations for skiers, snowshoers and mountain bikers that just want to get away.

Long Beach Peninsula Cape Disappointment State Park Lighthouse
Winter waves crash into rocky cliffs near the lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park. Photo by Richard Dawson

Long Beach Peninsula, Washington

Summer always draws big crowds to Long Beach, but winter brings many delights, too. Swells crash against 200-foot cliffs at Cape Disappointment State Park’s Waikiki Beach with the lighthouse as a backdrop. Locals walk beautifully maintained paths on some of more than 2,000 acres of the misty, green park year-round, including the Discovery Trail along the beach, where migrating gray whales can occasionally be seen.

A bison at Yellowstone National Park in winter
A bison at Yellowstone National Park in winter. Photo by LifeJourneys/iStock

Bozeman and Yellowstone, Montana

There are some places where you travel to escape cold weather. Then, there are places where you go to experience the sensations that only winter can provide. Here’s a look at winter thrills in and around Yellowstone National Park from West Yellowstone and Bozeman, Montana, including Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Big Sky Resort and other great settings.

Hockey skaters on frozen waters in Northern Idaho
Playing hockey in Northern Idaho. Photo by Chris Bessler/Idaho Travel Bureau

North Idaho

North Idaho is blessed with frozen lakes in the coldest months, one of the many amenities that make the region an outdoor enthusiast’s playground in winter. As temperatures plunge below freezing, many residents and visitors seek warmth indoors from the cold weather. Others can’t wait to experience the ice and snow of North Idaho winters and to find picture-perfect, frozen destinations in this rugged landscape.

The Winthrop Emporium in downtown Winthrop, Washington
The Winthrop Emporium in downtown Winthrop, Washington. Photo by

Winthrop, Washington

Methow Valley boasts a legendary 124-mile skiing trail system under a vividly crisp blue sky in Winthrop. Although the trail network is rightfully the most famous winter attraction in this remote valley, the area, which is home to timber lodges, rolling ranches, lolling rivers and endless backcountry, has a lot more to offer to those seeking an invigorating cold weather getaway.

Leavenworth overview in winter
Leavenworth. Photo by Alamy

Leavenworth, Washington

Every winter, snow blankets the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth where more than a half-million twinkling lights hang from fairy-tale facades and chalet-style roofs. Wedged into a valley between Cascade Range peaks, this charming Washington town makes an ideal base for winter recreation and getting outside all year long. Backpacking, hiking, ziplining, snowshoeing and skiing are just some of the many outdoor activities in and around this picturesque mountain locale.

Snow biking
Snow bike racing in McCall, Idaho. Photo courtesy of Ride McCall

McCall, Idaho

Unlike the black bears that sometimes make an appearance, McCall becomes even more active when the mercury drops. Known as a skiers’ haven, McCall’s ski hills include nearby Brundage, offering 18,000 acres of backcountry terrain and more than 26 feet of annual snowfall. For those looking to explore, McCall’s five cross-country ski areas boast more than 70 miles of both groomed and untouched trails.

–Compiled by AAA Washington staff, last updated in September 2022.

Top image of Leavenworth by Getty Images.

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