Ski-Free Cold-Weather Getaways
There's plenty to love about winter, even if you're not on the slopes.
Sipping hot chocolate by a crackling fire. Watching the moon rise over a frozen landscape. Bundling up in your favorite sweater for a brisk walk on a crisp morning. There is plenty to love about winter, even if you're not much of a skier. Whether you're looking for romance, adventure or both, here are four great winter getaways.
Northern Lights, Thermal Hot Springs
Iceland is quickly become a popular winter tourist destination, and not just because it's the off-season and flights are relatively affordable. Those long Nordic nights are the perfect time to take in the Aurora Borealis' spectacular light show, which is only on display from fall into spring. Winter is also the best time of year to take advantage of the country's geothermic activity, soaking in one of the dozens of hot springs and spas south of Reykjavik, the island nation's capital. www.visiticeland.com
Old-World Charm Meets Outdoor Adventure
Montreal is widely considered one of Canada's most diverse cities, combining the chic sophistication of Toronto with an old European elegance that is often compared to Vienna. It is also credited as the birthplace of snowshoeing. Its indigenous people built the first known snowshoes out of bent wood and leather strips, and it is still a popular winter sport, with dozens of trails for beginners and experts alike crisscrossing the numerous national parks surrounding the city. www.montreal.com
Summertime in the Antarctic
When the snow starts falling in the northern hemisphere, the sun is finally coming out in Antarctica. Temperatures soar to a balmy -18ºF in January, and the ice melts enough to give adventure seekers a chance to climb atop the bottom of the earth. Cruise ships are the best--and only--way for most tourists to visit the White Continent. Crossing Drake's Passage and skirting the Shetland Islands, cruises offer travelers a front row seat on some of the greatest natural wonders in the world, including four species of penguins, whales and other wildlife. Day trips include guided hikes on glaciers and kayaking among the icebergs. www.lonelyplanet.com/antarctica/tours
Snowmobile to Old Faithful
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is probably best known for skiing, but the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks nearby provide a wide range of outdoor adventures. Take an open sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge, where thousands of elk spend their winter. Hire a musher for a thrilling dogsled race through the forest or out to Granite Hot Springs for a soak. For a truly unique experience, tour Yellowstone on the back of a snowmobile. You'll ride past geysers and waterfalls, scanning for eagles, elk and bison, and watching as Old Faithful erupts. www.jacksonhole.com