Winter holidays are just around the corner, and now is an excellent time to start planning some fun, family-friendly trips for you and your crew.
Whether you enjoy skiing or escaping the cold, these spots are packed with activities for kids — and maybe even a little grown-up relaxation time, too.
Whatever kind of adventures you’re seeking, one of these winter holiday destinations can help your family create some wonderful new memories.
1. Winter Park, Colorado
Ski buffs of all ages and abilities will find plenty of thrills in Mile High country. The Amtrak Winter Park Express takes you from Denver International Airport to Winter Park, the heart of ski country. Like most ski resorts, Winter Park Resort offers ski lessons to children as young as three years old, and child care is available starting at six months of age, offering parents a break to hit the slopes or enjoy a quiet fireside meal.
Older kids can check out ski biking, a unique hybrid of skiing and mountain biking. For a unique place to stay, check out YMCA of the Rockies’ Snow Mountain Ranch, which includes a full slate of family activities each day, as well as cafeteria-style dining. Cabins, lodge rooms and yurts are available for rent year-round.
2. Sarasota, Florida
Florida is a family-friendly hot spot year-round, of course, but there’s no better place to go when you want to escape the winter chill. For some of the best beaches, check out the western coast, including Sarasota’s Siesta Key Beach, which consistently earns top ratings for its white sand.
While you’re there, check out the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, a working research station that lets visitors get up close and personal with rays, sharks and other sea creatures. Or visit The Ringling, the estate of circus pioneer John Ringling that includes a circus and art museum. Further south, take the kids hunting for shark teeth on the beaches of Venice, Florida.
3. Taos, New Mexico
New Mexico is a great off-the-radar destination filled with outdoor and cultural adventure. The ski resorts here, including Taos Ski Valley and a bit further away at Angel Fire Resort, tend not to get as crowded as others in the western U.S. And keep in mind, skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only ways you can enjoy the powder — snowshoeing, sledding and tubing are among some of the great offerings, followed of course by a mug of steaming hot cocoa.
For a rich cultural educational experience, take your kids to Taos Pueblo, the site of a 1,000-year-old indigenous American community and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.
4. Frisco, Texas
Are your kids into sports or video games? You’re in luck in this ultimate sports fan destination, located 25 miles from the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Frisco is home to five professional sports teams, including a new headquarters and practice facility for the Dallas Cowboys.
The National Videogame Museum opened there in 2016 and is chock-full of interactive and fun exhibits especially designed for old-school and new gamers alike. Closer to the airport in Grapevine, you’ll find two Texas-sized family resorts, Great Wolf Lodge and the Gaylord Texan, in addition to the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, which runs year-round in this adorable wine-themed downtown.
5. Maui, Hawaii
Why not make this the year of a truly epic family getaway to Hawaii? Maui is a great choice for a mix of activities for your kiddos and, with ocean temperatures averaging 75 degrees Fahrenheit, swimming, snorkeling and surfing should definitely be on your itinerary. Locals recommend Napili Beach for families traveling with kids, as waves tend to be calmer.
Be sure to schedule some time for a whale watching tour. Whales visit the Hawaiian islands from November through May. If you want to bring your kids to a luau, check out Legends of Ka’anapali, which has the largest tiki in the Hawaiian Islands. For older kids, plan a sunrise trip to Haleakala and bike down the crater for a guaranteed top family memory.