By Erika Hueneke
Whether you want to escape the cold or embrace it, head to these convenient U.S. spots during snow season.
Beach Scene: Naples, Florida
If the winter chill wears on you, retreat to the land of endless summer: South Florida. December through February, temps average in the mid to high 70s. The powder-sand coast provides a place to relax, savor a Gulf sunset, and snuggle up by a beachfront fire pit at the 189-room LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort. The hotel pulls out all the stops for the holidays. A four-course stars local seafood on Christmas Eve. On Christmas, expect a traditional Christmas dinner served on elaborate tables piled high with fixings.
The whole Naples area gets in on the fun, including the mid-December Christmas Boat Parade on Naples Bay. At the Naples Botanical Garden’s annual Night Lights event, thousands of twinkle lights illuminate the garden’s tropical plants, accompanied by live music and gourmet food (November 29 through December 23). With New Year’s Eve comes a spectacular fireworks display, followed by the Naples New Year’s Art Show. It features works by more than 250 artists from around the country.
Urban Exploration: Newport, Rhode Island
Newport thrums with activity during the high season (Memorial Day through Labor Day). But during the destination’s unsung prime time, winter, a festive vibe infuses the city’s historic inns, colonial neighborhoods, and Gilded Age mansions.
November 23 through January 1, poinsettias, wreaths, and Christmas trees swathe the famous summer “cottages” of the Vanderbilts and other wealthy families. When attention shifts to New Year’s resolutions, Newport hosts a mid-January Wellness Week with spa treatments, fitness classes, and healthy-eating workshops. Come February, attend the Newport Winter Festival for a chili cook-off, concerts, and ice sculpting.
Where to stay? There’s nothing more intimate than the 20-room The Chanler at Cliff Walk’s period suites, outfitted with in-room Jacuzzis.
Ski Retreat: Avon, Colorado
For purists in search of a traditional winter getaway, The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch delivers. This 202-room ski-in, ski-out lodge sits on more than 1,800 acres of Beaver Creek Mountain terrain. Take advantage of the ski and snowboard school, as well as other handy services such as ski concierges and a ski-nanny program. For a change of pace, frosty fun also takes the shape of snowshoeing outings with the resort’s canine ambassadors, Bachelor and Scout.
Warm up afterward next to a fireside bar hosted by Moët & Chandon Champagne. Or, the pinnacle of hygge: ride a horse-drawn sleigh to a turn-of-the-century log cabin to dine on bison chili and Colorado trout next to a wood-burning fire.
Arrival between December 21 and January 1 also means celebrating resort’s 12 Days of Holiday Wonder. Highlights include holiday decor, a tree lighting, crafts, cookies, Santa visits, and a New Year’s Eve party.