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Road Trip Ideas for the Winter

Awesome Winter Road Trips

Winter gets a bad rap – it can be cold and dreary.  Summer vacations start to feel like eons ago.  But why should summer have all the fun? There are plenty of cold weather activities and sights to see.  Hit the open road just you and your wheels (and maybe the family).  Or a road trip this winter might offer escape from the cold.  Either way the winter blues will be long forgotten.  Here are 6 of the coolest places to go this winter:

1.  St. Paul’s Winter Carnival, MN

One of the largest winter carnivals in the country, St. Paul’s has been perfecting its winter festivities since 1885.  Sip on hot cocoa as you wander through the ice castle, then take a ride down the giant snow slide.  The festival usually runs the month of January.  St. Paul’s is just 20 minutes from Minneapolis and then it’s just over a 4 hour drive to Bear Head Lake State Park for some prime ice fishing.  The ample state parks here are also perfect for snowshoeing.

2.  Philadelphia, PA to Washington, D.C.

Instead of watching The History Channel all winter, why not visit the source yourself?  From Independence Hall to the White House you’ll see plenty of historic sites.  While Philly can be a bit on the cold side, nothing will warm your soul like a classic Philly cheese steak sandwich.  Ideally, you’d want to plan your trip around D.C.’s restaurant week, which usually falls on the 3rd week in January.  You can dine on a three-course meal at some of D.C.’s finest eateries for around $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner.

3.  Vermont’s Route 100

Follow Route 100 through Vermont and you can practically ski your way through the state.  Mount Snow, Sugarbush, and Stowe are just a few of the places to stop for the slopes.  Don’t miss the famous Vermont Country Store where you can find just about anything including the coziest slippers to warm your feet.  I’m of the opinion that it’s never too cold for ice cream, so don’t forget to stop by Ben and Jerry’s Waterbury Factory for a tour and a scoop or two.

4.  Colorado

Colorado’s a great place to road trip anytime of the year because odds are if you’re looking out the window you’re seeing something beautiful.  It’s even better in the winter, though, because of all the cold weather activities available from skiing to ice climbing followed by warming up in a hot spring bath.  Because there’s so much to do and see there’s a lot of leeway concerning where you go.  Glenwood Springs is a great place to start because Vail and Aspen are no more than an hour away and Denver only 4.5.  If you want a home base, Glenwood Springs has a lot to offer and is a little less expensive than other nearby cities.

5.  L.A. to Death Valley National Park

L.A.’s a busy city year round but in the winter months you’ll be met with considerably less congestion on the roads, in line at amusement parks, and shopping.  When you get tired of the city, hop in the car and take the scenic route to Death Valley (Route 395 to Route 190), allowing you to drive along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  Winter is the perfect time to appreciate Death Valley’s strange beauty as the temperature ranges from 60 to 70 degrees F, as opposed to summer’s scorching 115.  Parts of Death Valley can be remote so be sure your gas tank is full and you pack extra water.

6.  Asheville, NC to New Orleans, LA

Asheville is ideal for taking in winter’s beauty at places like the snow capped Blue Ridge Mountains, with temperatures usually above freezing.  The city is also known for Christmas festivities like the National Gingerbread Competition. If you time things right you can hit New Orleans in early January when Mardi Gras fun has begun but nothing’s too crowded.  Break up the drive with stops in Atlanta and Birmingham and some smaller towns for a different taste of America.  Be prepared to have some serious fun once you arrive.  New Orleans is not only a party city, but also offers diverse culture, colorful history, a top-notch musical scene, and some delicious and unique cuisine.

As with any road trip, you need to make sure the car you are driving is equipped to handle the drive and terrain, whether it’s yours or a rental.  If you’re using your own car have it checked out by a qualified mechanic before you depart,  and if you’re going to be driving through snowy/mountainous areas make sure you take steps to ensure tire safety.  Keep in mind that many mountainous states require that you drive with chains.  Always pack extra water and snacks, and when you hit the road each day make sure your cell phone battery is charged and your gas tank full.  Take extra care to listen to road reports.  Then relax and enjoy – it’s winter and you’re on vacation!

Do you have a favorite winter road trip adventure?  We here at would love to hear about it – tell us what you think below!

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