110 Coziest Winter Towns in America for a Magical Getaway
Alex ParkerStudies •
As the colder months approach, it’s wonderful to plan a getaway to a cozy winter destination. Ice skating on a charming ice skating rink while admiring Christmas lights, enjoying beautiful mountain views, having a delicious cup of hot chocolate by a bonfire, and Christmas shopping at quaint shops, there is a lot to do during winter in America’s small towns.
But which are America’s coziest winter towns?
To determine this, the travel experts at New York Travel Guides conducted a study to find the 110 coziest winter towns in America for a magical getaway.
We gathered data to compare 575 small towns in America across three categories: (1) popularity during winter with the general public and photographers, (2) cozy weather, and (3) cozy activities and atmosphere.
See our methodology to learn more about how we ranked the small towns.
Below, you can find a table with the data for each of the 110 coziest winter towns in America for a magical getaway, including the scores for each category.
Winter popularity score (general public and photographers)
Cozy weather score
Cozy activities and atmosphere score
The 110 coziest winter towns in America for a magical getaway are shown on the map below.
Top 20 Coziest Winter Towns in America for a Magical Getaway
Below, you can find information about each town that made the top 20.
1. Leavenworth, Washington
Modeled after a German Bavarian village, Leavenworth, WA, which was founded in 1906, is America’s coziest winter town for a magical getaway. The town offers many options for winter fun, including skiing, taking a sleigh ride, enjoying authentic Bavarian food, strolling the town’s beautiful streets, and Christmas shopping at unique stores. In addition to that, Christmas lights are on daily from Thanksgiving through February, and the Christmastown festival takes place from November 24th to December 24th, which includes live entertainment, Santa photo opportunities, Gingerbread house displays, and much more.
2. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge, CO, known for the Breckenridge Ski Resort and surrounded by scenic mountains, is one of the coziest winter towns in America. The town is a popular place for skiing, but there are other fun things to do during winter in the town. From riding the Gold Runner Alpine Coaster to seeing a performance at the Riverwalk Center to taking a scenic gondola ride, the winter activities will surprise you. Many winter festivals and events take place in Breckenridge, such as the annual International Snow Sculpture Championships.
3. Stowe, Vermont
Stowe, also called “The Ski Capital of the East”, is a cozy town in Vermont with a history that dates back to the year 1763. One can choose to do any of the town’s winter activities, including ice skating at the Ice Rink at Spruce Peak Village Center, learning to snowboard, and riding the scenic Gondola SkyRide to the top of Mt. Mansfield where you can have food while enjoying a mesmerizing view at the Cliff House Restaurant. The Stowe Winter Carnival also takes place during the winter season, which is an event with ice carving competitions, stargazing, and many other activities.
4. Vail, Colorado
The mountain town of Vail, CO, home to the Vail Ski Resort, is one of the country’s coziest winter towns to visit. With wonderful events during the winter season, such as the Vail Film Festival, the Vail Kris Kringle Market, and the Vail Skating Festival, there’s much to experience in the town. One can also take a scenic gondola ride, do a ski tour, go Christmas shopping at hundreds of unique shops, relax at a spa, or do any of Vail’s other fun winter activities.
5. Aspen, Colorado
Founded in 1881 and named for the large number of aspen trees in the area, Aspen, CO, is a wonderful cozy mountain town to visit in winter. In addition to skiing, there’s much more to do in the town. From riding the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster to doing a snowcat dinner ride to enjoying a guided snowshoe tour, the town offers many fun winter activities. Lots of events also take place in Aspen, such as the annual Wintersköl event, which is a four-day festival with concerts, fireworks, and more.
6. Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid is a cozy winter town in New York that is known for hosting the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. From ice skating at the historic outdoor Oval to relaxing at one of the town’s spas, there’s much to do in the town. In addition to that, the town is home to luxury resorts and cozy places to stay, with many offering mesmerizing views of the lake and the surrounding Adirondack mountains.
7. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Established in 1623 and situated on the Piscataqua River, the small town of Portsmouth, NH, is a cozy winter destination. There are many things to do in winter in the town, including ice skating and shopping at local shops. The annual Gingerbread House Contest and Exhibition is also great to attend. In addition to that, the town’s quaint houses, when covered in a layer of snow, add to the town’s charm during the winter season.
8. Frankenmuth, Michigan
Frankenmuth, also known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” for its German heritage, is one of America’s coziest winter towns for a magical getaway. From ice skating at the outdoor Frankenmuth Ice Rink to seeing incredible Christmas lights during a driving light tour to enjoying the town’s 7-minute musical tree show during which you can see beautiful lights and listen to Christmas songs, Frankenmuth has a lot to offer during the holiday season. In addition to that, one can shop at unique shops on Main Street and see Bavarian architecture.
9. Petoskey, Michigan
Petoskey, MI, is one of the country’s coziest winter towns for a magical getaway. One can do the Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner experience at The Highlands during the winter season. This experience includes taking a sleigh ride, enjoying the warmth of a bonfire, and having a three-course dinner illuminated by candlelight. Besides that, there’s much more to do, including ice skating at an ice skating rink and visiting a local brewery.
10. Stillwater, Minnesota
Stillwater, MN, known as “the birthplace of Minnesota”, is one of America’s coziest winter towns. During the winter months, the white snow on Stillwater’s beautiful, historic buildings adds a lot of charm. Furthermore, the annual Hometown for the Holidays event takes place in Stillwater. During this event, there’s a gingerbread house making contest, there are costumed Victorian carolers, and there’s much more to do and see.
11. Ketchum, Idaho
Founded in 1880, the mountain town of Ketchum, ID, is one of the country’s best towns for a cozy winter getaway. Besides skiing, there’s much more to do in the town during winter, including spending time at a spa while enjoying views of the surrounding mountains, listening to live music, ice skating at the Christina Potters Ice Rink, and taking a cozy horse-drawn sleigh ride.
12. Helen, Georgia
Helen, Georgia, is a cozy mountain town in the Blue Ridge Mountains with gorgeous Bavarian architecture. With its beautiful decorations, unique shops including a Christmas shop, and great events during the winter season, Helen is great for a magical winter getaway. Some of the events that take place during winter are the annual Christkindlmarkt and the town’s annual Christmas parade.
13. Frisco, Colorado
The town of Frisco, CO, is one of America’s coziest winter towns. From skiing to taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride to shopping at local shops on the town’s quaint Main Street to having a drink at a cozy coffee shop, there’s much to do in Frisco during the winter. The annual Wassail Days also take place in Frisco. During this event, one can sample wassail, see fireworks, meet Santa, and listen to carolers on Main Street.
14. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Gatlinburg, TN, is a mountain town that’s amazing to visit during the winter season. You can do the Gatlinburg Winter Magic Lights Tour during which you can see millions of twinkling lights and light displays throughout the town. Besides that, there’s much more to do. From shopping for local arts and crafts at quaint stores to ice skating at an indoor ice skating rink to enjoying live music to riding the scenic Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway, the winter activities in Gatlinburg are wonderful.
15. Lititz, Pennsylvania
Lititz, a town in Pennsylvania that was founded in 1756, is one of the coziest winter towns in the country. The historic town looks magical when covered in a layer of snow and there’s much to do during the winter season, including going to Christmas in the Park, during which you can see the lighting of the Lititz Christmas Tree and listen to Christmas carols, going to a cozy coffee shop, and shopping at unique shops. You can also attend the annual 10-day Fire & Ice Festival in the town, during which you can see ice sculptures, enjoy delicious food from food trucks, listen to live music, and do much more.
16. Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky, MT, known for its ski resort, is a cozy town with a lot to do during winter. Whether you want to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, have fun while ice skating, or attend a magical winter event, you can do so in Big Sky. One of the town’s most special events is the Enchanted Forest event, during which more than 10,000 beautiful lights guide you along a trail through the trees. You can also see Christmas Eve fireworks and a spectacular parade going down the Andesite mountain during the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade & Fireworks.
17. Crested Butte, Colorado
Founded in 1880, the ski town Crested Butte, CO, is great for a cozy winter getaway. In addition to skiing, there’s much to do during the winter season, including shopping at the quaint shops on Elk Avenue, ice skating at the Big Mine Ice Arena, and taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride. The annual Alley Loop Nordic Marathon, a ski race and costume party, is also great to attend during winter.
18. Deadwood, South Dakota
Deadwood, SD, founded in 1876, is one of America’s coziest winter towns for a winter getaway. There’s a lot to do in the town during the winter, including ice skating at Outlaw Square and having a cup of coffee at one of the town’s cozy coffee shops. In addition, the town’s historic buildings, when covered in a layer of snow, add to Deadwood’s charm during the winter season.
19. Bayfield, Wisconsin
From seeing beautiful holiday lights to having a cup of coffee at a cozy coffee shop, such as Wonderstate Coffee, to attending a holiday event, the historic small town of Bayfield, WI, is a great destination for a cozy winter getaway. One of the best winter events is the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, during which you can see beautiful holiday lights and listen to music.
20. Galena, Illinois
With a lot of things to do during the winter season, the town of Galena, IL, is one of America’s coziest winter towns for a magical getaway. The town’s historic 19th-century buildings, when covered in snow, make for an enchanting winter wonderland. From having hot chocolate at a cozy cafe to attending a holiday concert, there’s much to discover during winter. You can also go to the Galena Holidaze Festival and enjoy Christmas carols, shop for holiday items, and have local food.
To determine the 110 coziest winter towns in America for a magical getaway, New York Travel Guides compared 575 popular small towns in the country across three categories: (1) popularity during winter with the general public and photographers, (2) cozy weather, and (3) cozy activities and atmosphere. These categories were then assigned a weight based on the importance of each category. A description of the categories and their weights can be found below.
For each of the 575 small towns in the country that were analyzed, we gathered data for all categories from the data sources listed below. A standardized score was calculated for each category, with a higher score representing a better outcome, which we then used to calculate the overall weighted score for each town to rank the 575 small towns in our sample and determine the 110 coziest winter towns in America for a magical getaway.
Popularity during winter with the general population and photographers (25%) The score for this category was calculated by calculating the relative search interest in each small town during the months of December, January, and February, and the relative number of posts shared by photographers on Flickr during the months of December, January, and February in comparison to other months of the year.
Cozy weather (15%) The score for cozy weather was calculated based on the average high temperature, the total snowfall in inches, and the number of days with snow during the months of December, January, and February.
Cozy activities and atmosphere (60%) This score was determined based on several factors related to cozy activities and the atmosphere of each town, including the presence of Christmas and/or winter festivals, the total number of historic performing arts theaters, the total number of cozy restaurants according to reviews, the total number of cozy coffee shops, an assessment of each town’s cozy appearance, and the total number of cozy places to stay according to reviews.
Data sources: Flickr, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Google Search, National Register of Historic Places, Google Maps, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Google Trends, Booking.com