Winter Vacation Ideas: 4 Incredible Snowy AND Tropical Trips Not To Miss

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If you are like us, you are torn between the winter vacation ideas of snow skiing at a rustic lodge or escaping the frigid cold for a tropical getaway.  I have good news!  There’s no need to feel like you have to break out a island passport or head to Colorado to ski because the Southern states have the best places to visit in winter you’ll find this year.  Escape the chilly weather on a sun-drenched balmy beach or seek that winter wonderland with the family and make some incredible memories.  Here in the South, we’ve got ya covered.

view of snow and skiier - winter vacation ideas



If alpine skiing is out of your reach, give Tennessee or North Carolina a chance.  Known in these parts as incredible winter wonderlands from January through March, the smokies and Boone may be your most memorable of all winter vacation ideas yet!


It’s as if East Tennessee comes alive after the Christmas holidays when winter truly sets in.  If you’ve never been to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, you are missing a world of adventure that goes beyond skiing the slopes. Speaking of the slopes, Smoky Mountain weather can never be fully predicted, the best time to see snow in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee is after Christmas between January and the end of February each year.

view of winter vacation ideas road covered in snow
Winter snow in Tennessee, lisa zins, cc

How about a sweet cozy cabin to warm up by the fireplace after enjoying parts of Gatlinburg’s Winterfest: ski slopes, incredible shops and dining, ziplining, the Winter Magic Trolley Ride of Lights, or the Tennessee Winter Special Olympics?  If your toes get too cold, there’s also an aquarium, museums and many other fun Gatlinburg attractions


Just so you know, Boone, North Carolina is known as the ski capital of the South.  With three ski resorts in the area (Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Resort, and Sugar Mountain Resort) you’re set to ski, snowboard, snow tube, or even ice skate.

Grandfather Mountain Winter Hike March 13, 2018
As you noticed in the video above, hiking at Grandfather Mountain State Park during wintertime is no joke but a dream come true for adrenaline junkies. If snowtubing is your family’s thing, y’all don’t want to miss Hawksnest, the largest snow tubing park on the East coast of the country!  Shopping, skiing, snowtubing, hiking, ziplining, and visiting gem mines are just a few of the most popular Boone, North Carolina things to do.


If it’s chilly temps that are rattling your nerves and you can’t wait to escape the cold this winter season, I think I hear the ocean calling you (and me)!


If you’ve been following our family travel adventures for a while, you know that Islamorada, Florida was our top choice on our week-long best East Coast beaches hunt last summer.  A small sportsfishing town, Islamorada is quiet, quaint, and has the quintessential Florida Keys laid-back vibe.

We absolutely loved it.

Just yesterday, seven months since our trip, Princess said she was ready for a beach vacation.  After all of the Southern travel trip ground that we’ve covered, her top choice was to head back to Islamorada.  That says a lot.

Read our full review of Islamorada Florida Keys.

winter vacation ideas view of Islamorada Bay
Islamorada, Florida, Marker 88 Restaurant & beach


The delightful little area of Apalachicola is known as the forgotten coast of Florida whose average temperatures from January through March range perfectly in the 60s and 70s.  They love their annual events such as the Farmers Market, Apalachicola Oyster Cookoff,  Butts & Clucks Cook-off on the Bay, concerts, Eco-outings, History Festival, and the Mardi Gras Barkus Parade in downtown Apalachicola.  And that’s just in the winter!

view of one of the winter vacations ideas ~ St George Island beach
St George Island Beach, arturo donate, cc

Don’t miss visiting St. George Island when in the Apalachicola area.  We enjoyed our day trip to the 22-mile barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico because of its unspoiled, serene beach and quaint little “town.”  Although the beach homes seemed upscale, there were no high rises to be seen anywhere on this untouched island.


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Do you have any winter vacation ideas you’d like to add?  Let your thoughts in the comments below!



Published on HuffPost, Okefenokee Living Magazine, and more, Shan is a Family Travel Journalist with a passion for helping women lose the overwhelm of planning family-friendly trips in the south. She shares travel reviews & insider secrets that Women REALLY want to know about Georgia, Florida, & the Carolinas vacations.

☕️ It’s THE REAL DEAL around here ☕️


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