Unsurprisingly, mountains and snow figure heavily in the holiday fantasies of our coastal California crew.

Santa on Skis
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Telluride: Is This Town Big Enough for the Two of Them?

People fat tire biking through a valley with giant mountains in the background in snowy Telluride

Ryan Bonneau/Courtesy Visit Telluride

If I could go anywhere, I’d go to Telluride. I’m a California girl, but I went to the University of Colorado Boulder, so I miss those big snowy, Colorado Decembers. My heart aches for them! ―Deanna Kizis, garden editor

I think I’d most like to spend my holidays in Telluride. When I was younger, my dad had to take several work trips to Telluride, and always talked about how beautiful and amazing it was. And to a kid growing up in the South where 70-degree Christmases weren’t uncommon, a little town way up in the cold, snowy Rocky Mountains sounded like the perfect place to spend the holidays. I guess that notion never went away. ―Frederick Tippett, intern

Holidays Are Better in Banff

Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Noel Hendrickson

We spent the best Christmas vacation in Canada’s Banff National Park a few years ago, and when I hear the words “winter wonderland,” memories of that trip surface. The Fairmont Banff Springs knows how to do snow. The hotel itself is like an imposing castle in the wilderness, but outside is where the magic happens. On the property, there was the perfect sledding hill and toboggans, an outdoor skating rink with a hot cocoa bar, and bonfires to warm chilly fingers. We took a horse-drawn carriage ride through a frozen forest, let the kids play around a massive ice sculpture, and had dinner in a cozy restaurant that served perfect fondue and German pretzels. Back when my kids were little, I knew that a vacation was a success when it became material for their creative writing assignments months later. When I saw the story my daughter wrote about the steam coming off of the hotel’s indoor/outdoor heated pool, describing the surrounding evergreen trees and a blanket of white snow, I knew that we’d hit peak December travel. And we’ll definitely be heading back some day. ―Christine Lennon, home & design editor

Christmas in the Cascades

Holiday lights in downtown Leavenworth, Washington at dusk with snow

Connie Coleman/ Getty Images

There is no other winter wonderland I’d wish to explore than Leavenworth, Washington. Hidden beneath the foothills of the Cascade Mountains this small mountain town is the essence of Christmas. Straight out of the backdrop of a Christmas movie, Leavenworth has garlands of lights and a Gingerbread shop. What more can you ask for out of a holiday trip? Ok, maybe snowfall on Christmas Eve but for now I’m just dreaming of walking the streets underneath rows of Christmas lights and Pacific Pines. ―Teaghan Skulzski, intern

Let It Snow—I’m Staying In

David Fenton

My family used to take ski vacations together in Colorado. I always enjoyed these trips, but secretly, my favorite part of the experience was not so much the skiing, but the enormous breakfasts I would tell myself were utterly justified by the vigorous downhill plummeting I was about to do, and the family card games later around the fire. So now that I’m an adult, and get to choose my own vacation activities, I’d love to plan a holiday at one of the great Western lodges, with “great” being defined as having a curated sausage list and a fantastic fireplace. It hardly matters where because I’m barely going to venture outside at all. (Unless it’s to get in the hot tub while it’s snowing, an outdoor bathing experience every Westerner should try at least once.) But I’ve got my eye on the Ahwahnee, the Broadmoor, and the Timberline Lodge, just for starters. If this fantasy holiday tradition catches on, I may make it my new purpose in life to find all the great hotel fireplaces in the West. ―Nicole Clausing, digital producer

Read the Current Issue Here!

Get one year of Sunset—and all kinds of bonuses—for just $24.95. Subscribe now!