Experience amazing coastline, wildlife, Aurora Borealis, Yosemite, and more
Yellow-slickered fishermen mix with just a sprinkling of iPad-toting tourists in this small riverfront town with San Francisco–steep
streets. Winter is a lovely time to visit, as rain can actually be romantic when paired with thundering surf—and fresh, crisp
beach walks when the storm breaks. Plus, in the off-season, you’ve got the typically packed place to yourself—particularly
fine stretches of sand with towering dunes, uninterrupted ocean views, and some of the most impressive storm watching anywhere.
Snuggle up in Astoria, Oregon
Within easy reach of Portland and Seattle, Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula is arguably one of the most visited oceanfront spots in the Northwest. In the summer, that is, when elbow-to-elbow crowds
jostle for a glimpse of Jake the Alligator Man, and traffic idles bumper-to-bumper on the “World’s Longest Beach” (as an iconic,
if not quite accurate, sign proclaims). In the off-season, though, this windswept peninsula—from the mouth of the Columbia
River to the oyster-rich Willapa Bay—is all yours. As empty and awesome as the clear, cold day in 1805 when explorer William
Clark declared, “Ocian in view! O! the joy …”
Escape to the Long Beach Peninsula
Bird-watching has its skeptics, but those skeptics probably haven’t seen a skyful of sandhill cranes angle into a pond at
sundown, legs unfurled like landing gear, and hit the water as the sun drops below the Chupadera Mountains.
Welcome to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.
Get into the wild
Tack this on to your life list: The Aurora Borealis. Think of it as the ultimate holiday lights display―a spectacle so soul
stirring that people see the lights and actually start cheering.
More: Aurora Borealis
Half Dome looks damn good in white. Stomp around the snow―and see another side of the West’s most famous national park.
More: Yosemite in Winter
Luxurious in a rustic-cowboy kind of way, Hidden Meadow Ranch offers a snowy serene stay in Arizona’s White Mountains. Or
choose one of 9 more of our favorite romantic cottages from Colorado to Kauai.
More: Top 10 romantic cottages
This fabled desert park cools down in winter. Hike, explore, and experience a world unlike any other
More: Journey through Death Valley
Head to the Northern California coast for the quiet winter season, where you get spectacular coastline, redwoods, off-season
discounts, and empty beaches. Just remember to bring a sweater.
More: Mendocino holiday