13 fun winter towns
Cool finds, festive neighborhoods, cozy cafés, and artsy winter days
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.