13 fun winter towns

Cool finds, festive neighborhoods, cozy cafés, and artsy winter days

Fresh Flours

José Mandojana

Ballard shopping day

For a while, it seemed like all the boutiques along Ballard Avenue Northwest were closing, but once again this hip old hood is full of good finds,  making the Seattle neighborhood a goldmine for gift hunting. In between browsing, refuel at cozy cafes or stick around for dinner.

Check out the best of Ballard

Holiday shopping in San Francisco's Inner Richmond

Photography by Rachel Weill

Holiday shopping in San Francisco's Inner Richmond

Avoid the holiday shopping masses and find hip boutiques and specialty stores in this San Francisco neighborhood.

More:  To do in the Inner Richmond

Adams' Pack Station

Amanda Friedman

Holiday fun in Sierra Madre

The throwback town just 7 miles east of Pasadena makes an art of the old-fashioned folksy Christmas like nowhere else. Discover this (sunnier) North Pole—snowman included—while you can. And if you can't make it over the holiday, don't fret. Gorgeous hikes, great shops, and more are yours to discover at any time.

Explore Sierra Madre, CA

Portland's green boutique Ink & Peat.

Photography by Andrea Gomez

Start the new year in Portland

North Williams Avenue―with its bike lanes, yoga studios, and organic eateries―makes it easy to jump-start your New Year’s resolutions. Warm up at a yoga class, followed by teatime at one of the local cafés.

More:  Go green on Portland's North Williams Avenue

Festive holiday lights hanging in downtown Santa Fe.

Photography by Eric Swanson

Catch the spirit in Santa Fe

It's easy to fall in love with Santa Fe during the holidays. Streets glow from flickering farolitos, those luminous little bags of candles and sand that are lit by hand, while snow dusts the tree branches and pueblos. Soak up the festive holiday atmosphere, shop for creative Southwestern-style stocking stuffers, and spend the night in a cozy casita with a kiva fireplace.

More:  Christmas in Santa Fe

Inside Willo Antiques in Phoenix's Willo District.

Photography by Gabriela Hasbun

Cool finds in Phoenix

Thanks to new cafes, boutiques, and the Metro Light Rail, Phoenix’s Willo District is on the rise. Check out the vintage homes, postage-stamp gardens, and quirky one-off shops you won't find anywhere else.

More:  Explore Phoenix Arizona's historic Willo district

The Cupboard cooking store in Fort Collins Colorado.

Photography by Jenifer Harrington

Celebrate in Fort Collins

Just an hour north of Denver, Colorado’s "best place to live" is also one of the best places to visit over the holidays. Old Town is packed with shops, restaurants, and watering holes perfect for chasing off early-winter's chill. Order a pizza, sip a locally brewed beer, catch an innovative play, and check out the town's pre-holiday celebrations, which continue into December.

More:  Celebrate in Fort Collins

Outer Sunset surfers

David Fenton

San Francisco's Outer Sunset district

Here’s a little locals’ secret―winter is when the sun comes out in the famously foggy Outer Sunset. A bevy of new restaurants and cafes have suddenly put the Avenues area on the map.

Where to go and what to do

Razor clamming in Westport, WA.

Photography by John Clark

Winter clamming in Westport, WA

December is high season for clams and Dungeness crab in this throwback fishing port, which has all the seaside charm (lighthouse, saltwater taffy shop, jetty for coldwater surfing) you could want.

More:  Day trip to Westport, WA

A sign for Dr. Wilkinson's hot springs in Calistoga, California.

Photography by Rob D. Brodman

Perk up in Calistoga

Bubbles of all sorts make this Napa Valley wine country town an ideal―and effervescent―winter getaway. It’s home to Old Faithful Geyser of California and is a hot spot for hot-air ballooning. Plus you can slide into mud baths and sample our favorite kind of bubbly delight, sparkling wine. You just might float away.

More:  Perk up in Calistoga

Chasaengwon Tea House in Santa Clara, California.

Photography by Jen Siska

Get cozy in Santa Clara's Koreatown

Warm up with steaming tofu soups, pots of tea, and Korean day spas in this little slice of Asia in the Silicon Valley. Treat yourself to a day of winter indulgence: gorge on authentic Korean BBQ, sip fragrant blends at the teahouse, and treat yourself to a budget-friendly massage.

More:  Things to do in Santa Clara's Koreatown

The Art Deco interior of Spokane's Martin Woldson Theater.

Photography by David Fenton

An artsy winter day in Spokane

Get out of the cold and into Spokane’s Davenport District, where dozens of galleries and restored art deco gems have made it a wonderful indoor town.

More:  Spokane details

Get your Christmas twinkle in Glendale, AZ

Photo by Brandon Sullivan

Get your Christmas twinkle in Glendale, AZ

Get into the holiday spirit Southerwestern style with palms strung in white lights, gingerbread festivals in the park, and fun seasonal shopping.

More: See all activities in downtown Glendale.

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