Even though we are only just getting into the thick of summer, perhaps it's time to start thinking about where you want to be over winter break. Whether you're into outdoor cold sports like skiing or you're looking for someplace warm to migrate for the winter months, we've got you covered. Here are some of the best and most diverse winter trip ideas for students this year. Have fun!
Bridger Bowl, MT
Let's start with the cold destinations, shall we? Bridger Bowl is a popular ski area near Montana's city of Bozeman. As a university town, both Bridger Bowl and Bozeman have an excellent nightlife, cultural, and eating scene that you can check out in between runs down the powdery slopes. With 2,000 acres of accessible terrain and 71 runs, Bridger Bowl's one of the best ski resort areas in the country. An added plus, Yellowstone National Park is only 90 minutes away, making for a nice day trip out to see Old Faithful.
Lake Tahoe, CA/NV
Perhaps you are aware of how stunningly beautiful Lake Tahoe is during the summer months but just picture how amazing that pristine landscape would look under a soft blanket of snow, the sunrise glinting off the individual ice crystals. Voted "America's Best Lake" by USA Today, Lake Tahoe is a popular year-round destination. Combining Lake Tahoe North and South, there are over 500 runs, an average of 400 inches of snow per year, and nearly 300 days of pure sunshine, making Tahoe a prime destination.
I know this is the coldest American destination you could imagine but it's worth the potential frostbite to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis ribboning through the night sky, illuminating the snow-covered hills and valleys in brilliant neon colors. If you go at the beginning of March, look into the Iditarod, the impressive dog sled race that treks 1,000 miles across the frozen Alaskan tundra from Anchorage to Nome. November and December only see about 4-5 hours of daylight per day but from January on, the longer days mean more sun and slightly warmer temps for some excellent outdoor activities.
Salt Lake City, UT
As the largest city in Utah, Salt Lake City is chock full of activities, both indoors and out, to bring you the absolute best experience on your winter holiday. As a nice change of pace, stay inside and visit the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Ballet West, or the Beehive House to learn more about the founders of LDS and the city. Or, take advantage of the outdoor activities such as the city's most excellent ski and snowboarding runs or even the ice skating rinks that they have situated throughout the city.
Okay, let's jump down into the Pacific for some serious island time in Hawaii. Literally anywhere you go on the 6 major islands is going to be great with pristine beaches, year-round warm temperatures, and crystal clear blue water. Island hop or spend all of your time on the Big Island, it's up to you. The Na Pali Coast, Haleakala Crater, Waimea Canyon, and Mauna Kea are but a few of the most beautiful natural wonders you can find here. Don't forget to check out the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you can walk up to an active volcano as it seeps lava or the Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu.
Instead of outdoor activities, which are great, head to one of the many theme parks in Orlando. Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a magnificent, magical attraction for any fan of the books and/or movies. Finally, last but not least, the Most Magical Place on Earth, Disney World, awaits you with four major theme parks and childlike wonder around every corner. Avoid large crowds during the offseason and find which times are the best to visit these majorly popular theme parks.
Santa Fe, NM
Perhaps one of the better-kept winter secrets, Santa Fe is a contradictory wonderland, coated in a light dusting of snow under the warm, oasis sun. See the adobes strung with chili peppers and Christmas lights, watch as the sun sets behind the mountains and lights up the landscapes with deep purples, and feel the warmth sink into your bones. Hiking in the mountains is great during the winter months when temps level out around the 70s as opposed to the summer 100s.
New Orleans, LA
The Big Easy is on a lot of lists for vacations, but there's a reason for that. The gloriously temperate climate during the winter plus festivals plus the amazing food makes it sublime. Come before Mardi Gras for a more affordable stay and visit the Audubon Zoo, take a tour of the French Quarter, or just sit and enjoy the beignets. There's nothing finer than southern comfort food and a vacation's ignorance of your routine diet. Let loose, you're in New Orleans!
San Diego, CA
Now, I can't say enough about San Diego. It's a brilliant city with year-long warm temperatures and myriad attractions ranging from Balboa Park (which includes the San Diego Zoo, several art and history museums, and the Old Globe theater) to the amusement park boardwalk of Belmont Park. If you're wanting some extra culture and sun, drive down to Coronado, a peninsular resort town fashioned to resemble a Victorian village by the sea.
In the most southerly point of Florida lies perpetual summer, sun, and surf. Key West is the obvious choice with white sand beaches, Dry Tortugas National Park, and a number of museums including Ernest Hemingway's Home and Museum and the Maritime Museum. Check out the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory or, if you're up for it, snorkel in the sea to see some of the most beautiful tropical wildlife, and perhaps shipwrecks, you are likely to find in U.S. waters.