23 exceptional winter family vacations in the US you and your kids will love (snow + winter sun ideas!)

winter wonderland ski resort with snow and lights

Our selection of the best winter family vacations in the US, perfect for a family winter getaway: inspiration for winter family vacations in the snow, hiking and winter sun holidays in the US perfect for all ages!

What is your dream winter family vacation?

A winter wonderland family break with snow and hot chocolate, a sun-filled vacation to leave the winter blues behind or maybe something in between, like a hiking vacation with the kids? 

If you cannot decide, I am with you!

This is why in this list of ideas for winter family getaways in the U.S., I have listed a mix of vacation ideas ranging from ski holidays to beach winter vacations.

I have gathered these vacations ideas on the base of our own family experience and of US based friends who are lucky enough to have these marvellous destinations as their backyard!

I hope it helps you plan (or even just daydream) about a family winter vacation to remember.

Safe travel planning! 

The best winter destinations in the USA for families who love snow – our picks

If you are looking for a winter wonderland family destination in the US, you will love the following suggestions.

Vail, Colorado with kids

Vail is a great town for a winter family vacation with the kids. 

View of Vail, Colorado, in winter

The famous Vail slopes will keep busy the more experienced skiers in the group; however, there are plenty of family activities in Vail in the winter that makes it perfect even for families with small kids or beginner skiers.

If you want to immerse yourself in the snowy wonderland of Vail, you can go winter hiking, snowshoeing, snow tubing and ski biking, all activities that will keep even the most adventurous kids entertained. 

If you have toddlers and very small kids, they will love spending time at Imagination Station, Vail’s children’s museum.

Here, kids ages 2 to 12 find a great indoor play area with kids’ hands-on installation and easy access to kids’ activities such as pottery making and science projects.  

The whole family is guaranteed to love Vail’s stunning hotels and the many opportunities to cozy up in front of the fire with chocolate and marshmallows. 

Vail is perfect when it comes to winter family getaways in the U.S. to embrace the snow!

Ski and relax in stunning Park City, Utah, with kids

We first visited Park City on our way to Bryce Canyon, and we fell in love with its stunning mountains and scenery, which seemed painted in blue and green hues.

Park City is known for its world-class ski resorts and has many perfect activities for families with kids.

Here, you can go snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice skating, snow tubing, and you can even swim in the Homestead Crater Geothermal Pool!

The town of Park City is lovely too: pretty and very well organized, and it has plenty to keep kids occupied away from the slopes.

Things they are sure to enjoy are the Park City escape room, Kimball’s art center offerings of kids classes and the Rocky Mountains chocolate factory, perfect for a chocolate and pie break!   

Mount Hood, Oregon

Mount Hood is one of the best places to visit in Oregon with kids all year round and this includes the winter, when the places turns into a veritable winter wonderland for children and adults alike!

In Mount Hood, kids can go skiing, sledding, snowboarding, cosmic snowtubing (aka tubing at night, with the snow lit up with led lights in different colors!).

During the Christmas season, you can also catch the Mount Hood Christmas train, a Christmas-themed magical rail journey through this beautiful area!

Perfect for a Christmas break!

Kids snowtubing

Relax in picture-perfect Telluride, Colorado, with kids

Telluride is the picture-perfect town you see in so many travel magazines: the one with a pretty main street at the foothills of a jaw-dropping, snow-covered peak!

Indeed, Telluride is one of Colorado’s most picturesque mountain towns and a fantastic family destination for a winter outdoor adventure break.

The main reason to come to Telluride with kids is to make the most of its fantastic ski slopes.

Telluride’s ski resort is nearby Mountain Village, a short gondola ride from Telluride.

Getting there is already part of the fun as the gondola ride is spectacular and offers fantastic views over Telluride’s winter wonderland scenery!

Once up, experiences kids can enjoy the great slopes, and beginner skiers can join an instructor and safely move their first ski steps. 

Other snow activities kids can enjoy in Telluride are snowmobiling, ice skating and sledding.

For downtime, the whole family can make the most of pretty Telluride high street and the fantastic hotels, perfect for enjoying the scenery from a cozy indoor space with all the pampering you may dream of!  

Marvel at otherworldly Yellowstone National Park

National parks are perfect for winter family vacations.

Yellowstone National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in the U.S. with children in any season, but it is simply magical in winter.

winter season at hot lake of Yellowstone National Park

The park is vast and seems to have it all: snow-capped landscapes, snow-covered forests, frozen lakes, steaming geysers are all spectacular in the winter and safe to visit with kids.

The park rangers do a spectacular job of making this wild area safe for families, and you will find endless activities to keep your kids entertained. 

To give you an idea of the options, West Yellowstone offers kids’n snow weekend during which kids can try out snowmobiling, skiing and ice fishing for free!

With the aid of specialized winter vehicles, you can visit Yellowstone’s most impressive sites lie Old Faithful.

Yellowstone is huge and you can choose between very many ski areas with activities for all ages.

The best way to visit Yellowstone with kids is to start from the visitors center and coordinate with a ranger: they are fantastic with kids and will be able to direct you to the best areas and adventures.

Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky is a fantastic winter destination for families who love to ski.

The area has over 5000 acres of slopes and has many activities on offer for skiers of all skill levels. Here, you and your kids can go on sleigh rides, try cross-country skiing, have snow tubing and explore with family-friendly, guided snowshoe tours.

Special activities for kids are at Big Sky Resort Basecamp, a great place for children who love adrenaline!

Zip-lining, laser tag, climbing walls and trampolining are all here for them to enjoy.

By Sky resort is also close to Yellowstone, you can combine it with a visit to the stunning park for a truly perfect family vacation!

Breckenridge, Colorado

The first two things I have ever heard about Breckenridge is that it has amazing chocolate (see what gems you learn, when you ask parents in the know?!) and it is often called Colorado’s playground.

It comes as no surprise then, that it makes this list of best winter family vacations in the US!

Breckenridge is just lovely for families.

As well as winter wonderland scenery, in Breckenridge you find fantastic kids playgrounds, a splash center for fun afternoons, opportunities to go sledding, tubing, skiing, ice skating and more.

A perfect destination for a winter wonderland family getaway.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park is the first National Park I have ever visited and I adore it.

In winter, its pristine Alpine peaks are even more impressive and there is plenty of things to do here for kids.

Here, you can have your ski fix at Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Area  ski resort, you can go snow tubing, enjoy ice skating in Half Dome Village and take long walks in Yosemite’s stunning scenery.

Yosemite is one of the best winter family vacations if you love the charm and stunning scenery of National parks.

Yosemite in winter with snow

Have great family fun in Gatlingburg & The Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Gatlinburg in Tennessee is a fantastic place for families who wish to explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Gatlinburg has a quintessential mountain town charm and has plenty to keep kids entertained.

For your fix of winter sports, head to Ober Gatlinburg, the area’s fantastic ski resort, perfect for the kids to try snow-tubing, have fun on ice bumper cars and just play n the snow (they have a dedicated area for younger kids too)

For even more fun, you can treat your kids to Anakeesta Theme Park, a winter wonderland with kids with lights, a playground and fun activities like breakfast with Santa.

To top it all, you can treat the kids to Gatlinburg’s Winter Magic Tour of Lights, a fun trolley ride with a festive feel.

Then, when you feel like winding down and relaxing, Gatlinburg delivers with many family-friendly restaurants. 

Enjoy winter hiking in Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park in Utah is one of the most spectacular parks in the U.S. for kids and adults.

Red rock formations in Arches National Park with snow on the groung

It is, blessed with otherworldly rock formations in stunning red colors, and, in winter, it gets a dusting of snow that makes it look even more magical!

Arches is perfect for an outdoor winter vacation with the kids; you will need to wrap up to hike, and you should expect snow on the ground in the colder months, but you will find many trails open and sage for children of all ages. 

The best way to visit arches N.P. in winter with kids is by joining their fantastic junior ranger program, a great way to engage with the park, learn and stay safe during your visit.

Explore the beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park in winter with kids

While Rocky Mountain is a popular summer destination but is enchanting in winter too!

The snow adds an extra touch of beauty to these stunning areas, and you find a fraction of the crowds, which is perfect for a safe and outdoors winter family vacation. 

This is actually one of the best US National Parks to visit with kids in winter if you love snow activities!

There are many fun things to do in the park with kids, depending on the amount of snow you get at any given time.

Weather permitting, you can hike to Bear lake, go snowshoeing to Chasm Falls, go sledding in Hidden Valley Ski Area and spot wildlife.

Make sure you equip your kids with kids’ binoculars for the most fun!

Marvel at incredible Death Valley National Park, California

Death Valley National park is always fascinating for kids, and it is at its best in winter!

At this time, the temperatures of this crazy spot are more manageable, and you can spend a little more time outdoors, making the most of the scenery. 

Badwater Basin info sign in Death Valley National Park
Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park

In winter, you can visit many of the best national park spots for kids. Not to be missed are the Badwater Basin Salt Flats, the lowest point in North America (282 feet below sea level!), Zabriskie Point, the incredible Artists Drive and Mesquite sand dunes.

Despite the inhospitable land, death valley has excellent family-friendly lodges that are wonderful to relax and switch off after a day in the valley. 

Sequoia National Park, California

Located on the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sequoia National Park is one of the best places in the world to admire sequoias, the biggest trees in the world. 

The sequoias are incredible for kids (you can read about our first encounter with them in Muir Woods here) and there is something magical about seeing the contrast of the snow against the bright red sequoia barks.

The park has family friendly trails that are fun on snowshoes and it is great for sledding, cross-country skiing, and just play at the Big Stump Snow Play Area, perfect for families!

Sequoia is fantastic for kids and adults alike and it is one of the best California winter getaways you can ask for!

Sequoia Trees in Sequoia National Park during the winter, USA
Sequoia Trees in Sequoia National Park during the winter, USA

Best family Destinations in the USA for Winter Sun – winter family vacations in mild to hot weather

If you prefer sun holidays but don’t want to leave the U.S., you will love these winter sun, family-friendly destinations in the USA! 

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

A visit to St Josh in the U.S. Virgin island is the perfect way to enjoy a Caribbean family vacation without leaving the country.

 St. John is one of the most untouched of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and while it is perfect for a resort vacation, it will also give you the chance to spend time in more unspoiled nature in the Virgin Islands National Park.

Here, you can go snorkeling, enjoy the beach or take to the trails and, of course, enjoy as much time on the pristine beaches of this stunning island as your heart desires!

Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, California

We first visited Palm Sprigs on a weekend getaway from LA to Joshua Tree, and we loved how easy it was to relax here with the kids!

Reinassence Indian wells

Palm Springs is in the middle of nowhere in the desert, and it is an otherworldly town with sky-high palm trees and a unique town center with trendy cafés, artsy shops, boutique hotels, and a retro-chic vibe.

There is plenty to do in Pal. Springs with kids.

If you just want to relax in town, you can stay in one of the many resorts and long between the pool and the main downtown area.

If you want children’s activities, you can visit the Palm Spring Living Desert Zoo Garden or take the local Aerial Tramway, which is very exciting! 

If you want to add a bit of adventure into the mix, make sure you spend a couple of days exploring the nearby Joshua Tree National Park.

Here, you can spend your days hiking in the desert, driving the most scenic routes ever, or simply taking in the desert magic of this area of California. 

Kauai, Hawaii

If you are like me, as the winter starts closing in, you start dreaming of a family vacation in luscious Hawaii or, more specifically, a family vacation in Kauai! 

beach in Kauaii with luscious vegetation in the background on cloudy day

Kauai is fantastic for kids.

In winter, the island goes through its rainy season; however, the temperature stays pleasant, and you can easily enjoy the nice hikes this beautiful island has to offer. 

There are many things to do on Kauai with kids, including kayaking, mountain tubing, taking a train ride through a plantation, going horseback riding and of course, enjoying the beach and the ocean to your heart content!

Kauaii is home the stunning Na Pali coast as well, a natural wonder you can enjoy from the water or, if you are very adventurous, by helicopter!

This is a fantastic island for adventurous families looking for a stunning, warm winter break with the kids.

You can find here >>> the best things to do in Kauai with kids.

Orlando, Florida 

A list of the best family winter getaways in the US wouldn’t even be credible without Orlando, top of the list for them-park loving kids!

Orlando in the early evening with lights on palm trees
Orlando, Florida, USA downtown skyline at Eola Lake at dusk.

Orlando is home to a plethora of amusement parks that will keep entertained kids of all ages, from toddlers to teens!

Just to give you an idea of the wealth of choices, in Orlando you find  Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal’s Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando Resort, and LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, Hollywood Studios, Epcot…and this is only the start of the list!

Blessed with beautiful weather all year round and close to fantastic Florida Beaches, Orlando is perfect if you want plenty of family entertainment and great tourist infrastructures.

There is so much to do here, it easily gets overwhelming. You can find tips for visiting Orland with kids here.

San Diego, California

San Diego is maybe the most family friendly city in the US and, in winter, a paradise of good weather and kids entertainment.

One day in San Diego with kids: Balboa park main esplanade

There is plenty to do in San Diego with kids.

Stunning beaches, plenty of theme parks, and Balboa parks are just the beginning: the city also has a fantastic food scene for parents, incredible museums for the whole family and it is on highway 1, one of the best and most scenic drives in the world, with plenty of cool stops for families!

You can read here >> our first experience in San Diego with kids and why we love it.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Ok, Arizona in winter is nothing like other destinations on this winter sun list, it is colder; however, blessed with dry weather and blu sky, it is a great State to get away from winter rain and grey!

We fell in love with Arizona the first time we visited this stunning state, and it has been one of our favorite family destinations ever since.

In winter, a fantastic family vacation spot in Arizona is Scottsdale. 

Scottsdale gets sunny skies year-round, and daily temperatures in winter hover around the 70s.

This means winter is the perfect time of the year to explore this quaint little town in the heart of the desert.

You can find here >>> fun ideas for desert adventures with kids around the world.

There are many things to do in Scottsdale with kids. Downtown Scottsdale is a delight, full of charming boutiques, cafés and a dynamic food scene. 

Outdoor attractions for kids you should not miss are Scottsdale’s McDowell Mountain Preserve and  McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park, a fun railroad themed park and playground young kids will love. 

In December, the festival Scottsdazzle brings to town workshops and events, including a change to write your letter to Santa and even get a response before the big day!

Sedona, Arizona

Another fantastic place for winter family vacations with kids is Sedona.

Downtown Sedona

Sedona is one of our favorite places in the US and one of the very best winter family vacations destinations in the US you can dream of!

We first visited Sedona on our way back from the Grand Canyon and it took us less then a minute to fall in love with it.

The town is surrounded by stunning red mountains, dotted with the green colors of conifer trees and has many nice hikes you can take with the kids.

Downtown Sedona has many wonderful shops and restaurants and a relaxed, chilled out, alternative vibe we love.

The whole area is well equipped for famailies with lovely lodgings and kids’ attractions and it is the kind of place that makes you want to come back year after year!

You can find here >>> our tips and best things to do in Sedona.

Disneyland, Anaheim, California

If you are looking for a winter family getaway filled with the magic of Disney, then Disneyland Anaheim is a must!

The park is as magical as you imagine it cane be and it is also a vast yet manageable size.

Depending on what your kids like to do, you can simply enjoy the atmosphere strolling down main street, hopping on the small kids’ rides such as Dumbo, Mad Hatters’s Cups or Winnie the Pooh adventures.

If you have Star War lovers they will adore the dedicated Star Wars Land and rides (even I loved it, and I am not a huge fan!) and thrill seekers also have their share of scarier ride to choose from.

With a pleasant temperature and clear sky, Disneyland Anaheim is perfect for a family winter getaway!

You can read >>> our guide to a perfect day at Disneyland

Clearwater beach, Florida

Gulf of Mexico’s Clearwater Beach one of the finest beaches on the East Coast and it is perfect for families with kids. 

clearwater beach Florida

This gorgeous beach has miles of sand to run around and build sandcastles and is lined with resorts that offer a variety of family-friendly activities that will be a blast for the whole family.

Here, you can take strolls along the pier, play in the fabulous beach playground, take wildlife tours and more adventurous kids can go jet skiing and parasailing!

Another thing that makes Clearwater Beach in Florida such a great place for a family vacation? 

The sunsets are breathtaking, the atmosphere is just right for that mix of family fun and relaxation that makes a perfect family beach destination.

Clearwater beach is one of our favorite beaches on the East Coast for families.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Another fun family destination in the USA with a Caribbean feel is San Juan Puerto Rico.

San Juan is a colorful, lively destination perfect especially for families with slighly older kids (school age and up)

Here, you can spend your days exploring its fun downtown, full of colors and curious corners, relax and play at the many palm-fringed beaches and immerse yourself in history at the historical El Morro fort.

If you are up for the drive, Torro Verde adventure park, outside of San Juan, is also guaranteed success with thrill-seeking kids!

I hope you enjoyed this selection of winter family vacations in the US and inspired your next trip. Safe travel planning!

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