Winter has a unique way of transforming pretty little towns into magical wonderlands where snow-covered landscapes and snug hotels and rentals create the perfect ambiance for a cozy getaway.
As the year is quickly coming to an end, more Americans than ever are looking for hidden gems where they can live out their winter wonderland fantasies.
That’s why New York Travel Guides recently conducted a study on the best cozy winter towns in the U.S. based on criteria such as popularity, weather, activities, and general atmosphere.
These were the 5 destinations that scored the highest:
1. Leavenworth, Washington
Nestled in the majestic Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth is one of the country’s most stunning villages, which, during the colder months, transforms into the picture-perfect winter wonderland.
Be it the Bavarian-inspired architecture, snow-draped streets, or lovely ambiance, Leavenworth captures the type of comfort, festive spirit, and old-timey charm you’d usually only find in the winter markets of Europe.
In Leavenworth, you’ll even be able to enjoy authentic Bavarian food under the gorgeous Christmas lights that are usually put on right around Thanksgiving.
If you’re looking to do something more than just marveling at the pretty lights and sipping on hot cocoa during your winter getaway, don’t worry.
Here, you’ll be able to do everything from snowshoeing to enjoying an unforgettable sleigh ride.
After a long day of snow-filled adventures, you can wind down in one of the local pubs or cafes or, better yet, go to the Christmastown festival, which is set to open its doors on November 24th this year.
The village’s iconic event will welcome visitors for an entire month, so you still have a bit of time to plan your trip to Leavenworth.
2. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge, a charming town located right in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, is probably best renowned for its historic charm and world-class skiing pistes.
Right now, the place is currently on its way to transforming into America’s snow-covered paradise, attracting not only winter sports enthusiasts but all travelers looking for a cozy winter getaway, from the U.S. and beyond.
However, if you do get a chance to visit the magical town this upcoming season, I’d highly recommend giving skiing or any other snow-related sport of your choosing a try.
Breckenridge trails are varied and suited to all experience levels, not to mention that almost all resorts have instructors on call who can help even those who’ve never seen snow before get a hang of the sport within a couple of sessions.
After a day on the slopes, you can either unwind in the rustic lodges and indulge in some hot cocoa by the fireplace or, if you have any energy left, you can attend local festive events or ride the Runner Alpine coaster.
3. Stowe, Vermont
Located in the heart of Vermont, Stowe is an idyllic town that offers that quintessential New England experience.
The ski capital of the East is famously surrounded by rolling hills and pristine forests, creating the perfect scenic background for all your winter activities.
Here, you’ll find some of the country’s best skiing and snowboarding opportunities, especially on Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak.
4. Vail, Colorado
Throughout the years, Vail has become synonymous with winter indulgence.
The upscale resort town tucked in the Rocky Mountains offers the perfect blend of fun outdoor adventures and state-of-the-art amenities, complete with extensive ski terrains that cater to skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
The European-inspired villages are arguably as impressive as the slopes themselves, providing a certain type of festive atmosphere and comfort that sets Vail apart from other destinations of its kind.
5. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen is yet another world-famous winter destination beloved for its unmistakable charm.
Though the Colorado town is primarily known for being a playground for the rich and famous, travelers and skiing enthusiasts from all paths of life will be able to enjoy its slopes, cozy lodges, and awe-inspiring scenery.
If you’re planning on visiting Aspen this winter, though, I’d highly recommend going between January 11th and January 14th, 2024.
That’s when the 73rd Annual Wintersköl Celebration will take place, and between the stunning lights and eclectic festivities, it is sure to be an event to remember.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com