When we think about traveling, most of us envision journeying to exotic beaches or tropical getaways. However, have you ever thought of planning a winter getaway to experience serene natural landscapes?
As someone who travels more than 300 days out of the year, I wanted to share some amazing travel options for the winter. Here are some of my favorite – and unexpected – places to check out:
Image by Michael Depetris
Located on the coast of Northern California, Big Sur is one of the most sought-after getaways due to it’s incredibly peaceful and nature-centered location. Here, you can stay in some of the U.S.’s top-rated hotels, dine on amazing food, and take long walks on the beach or through the redwood forrest. The hotels can be very pricey, as Big Sur is often thought of as the vacation spot for Silicon Valley’s elite. However, the secret is to come here in January, because this is considered the “off season,” and hotel prices drop by about fifty percent. This is the perfect spot for a serene winter vacation that you won’t get anywhere else: expect to connect deeply to nature, gaze at gorgeous natural landscapes, and eat some unforgettable food.
Post Ranch Inn is a gorgeous retreat that offers cliffside, forest, and ocean views. The decor is minimalist and rustic, yet still modern: think gorgeous natural wood juxtaposed against glass and white walls. Plus, the food is incredible. Even if you don’t end up staying here, be sure to make a reservation to eat at Sierra Marr for a decadent, four-course meal.
Ventana is another incredible Big Sur resort that is less expensive that Post Ranch Inn, but still has incredible amenities. Ventana is a five-star resort that’s perfect for a romantic retreat or a solo retreat for yourself if you’re feeling that you need some time to reconnect to deeper parts of yourself. The exposure to nature is incredible: at Ventana, you’ll feel like you’re tucked away in a forest, but have every amenity you could possibly think of.
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Sedona is without a doubt one of nature’s precious gems. People travel from all over the world to witness the natural beauty of Sedona’s red rock canyons and formations – it’s unlike anything else in the world! The best part about visiting Sedona in the winter is that you can still explore some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world, but also experience it in the off season when it’s much less crowded. Plus, Sedona has some fantastic spas, like the world-renowned Sedona Soul Spa, and some amazing retreats like the Vortex Yoga Hiking Retreat where you can take a yoga class against the backdrop of Sedona’s red rock formations.
L’Auberge de Sedona is a luxury hotel experience. You can book a private cottage that is secluded from other people staying at the resort. You have access to a private deck and fireplace, but can also dine at the hotel’s prix fix fine dining experience, Cress on Oak Creek. Here, they serve incredible dishes for the true food lover: salads of heirloom tomatoes, pickled strawberries, and beets, and amazing deserts like pineapple, coconut, and lime-infused panna cotta. This dining experience is truly one of-a-kind: expect rich and exotic flavors, artfully-designed portions, and a full fine dining experience.
For a more casual meal – but one that doesn’t skimp out on flavor or quality – be sure to also check out Etch Kitchen & Bar. Here, you can enjoy French-style scrambled eggs and homemade ricotta-filled beignets for breakfast, and fresh and aromatic chopped salads for lunch.
Outside of the resort, be sure to check out Gerardo’s Italian Kitchen for a casual but incredibly delicious experience. Here, you can find simple dishes of the highest quality – and plenty of vegetarian options.
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Yellowstone is one of the most inspiring winter getaways out there. While the park is often crowded in the summertime, Yellowstone exudes a much more peaceful and solitary vibe during the winter months. What’s especially incredible is that, during the winter, Yellowstone is one of the best places in the world to see the once-endangered gray wolves in their natural habitat. During the winter, the wolves come into parts of the park that they usually avoid, so it’s much easier to catch a glimpse of them.
Image by Travel Wyoming
Plus, the natural landscape of Yellowstone in the winter is unlike anything else – there are beautiful snowscapes and steaming geyser basins. Just be sure to pack for the frigid cold.
The Sage Lodge Inn was established especially for those who want to go wolf-watching. It’s situated far out into the wilderness, 35 minutes outside the park, and offers the ultimate Montana luxury resort experience. Expect to stay in a rustic yet cozy room, and have access to a full spa. The experience is serene, cozy, and unforgettable.