Nonstop flights from Denver: 7 vacations to break up the monotony of winter in Colorado

Colorado’s mid-winter palette typically consists of two drab hues: white (everything that’s covered in snow) and brown (everything else). If you could use a little more color and zest in your life right now, a mid-winter or spring break trip can help break up the monotony.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, a few days of quiet relaxation or a mix of both, these diverse domestic destinations are easy to get to, thanks to nonstop flights from Denver International Airport.

Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Fly into: Eastern Sierra Regional Airport (BIH)

Skiing California’s eastern Sierra Nevada mountains got easier this winter, thanks to new daily flights between Denver and Bishop. A quick 45-minute drive or shuttle ride from the airport gets you to Mammoth Lakes, your home base for skiing the region’s two resorts: Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain.

Mammoth is the larger of the two, offering more than 3,500 skiable acres and 163 trails. But June Mountain, located about 30 minutes north of Mammoth Lakes, is also worth exploring, thanks to gorgeous views and family-friendly terrain.

If your legs need a break from all that downhill carving, head to Tamarack Cross-Country Ski Center for serene cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on more than 19 miles of trails, many that offer views of alpine lakes. Stay at The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth for easy access to the slopes and the breweries, restaurants and shops in town.

Virginia Beach, Va.

Fly into: Norfolk International Airport (ORF)

The weather may be a little too chilly for traditional spring break sunbathing and swimming in February and March, but you can still immerse yourself in art, culture and history (and avoid the crowds that flock here in the summer).

From the airport, make the 20-mile journey to Virginia Beach and check into the historic Cavalier Hotel. Built in 1926, the hotel has hosted 10 presidents and countless celebrities, from Elizabeth Taylor to Frank Sinatra. Though it recently underwent an $85 million renovation, the property has retained its historic charm; today, it’s also home to an on-site distillery.

Take a self-guided tour of the city’s African-American cultural sites, then climb to the top of Cape Henry Lighthouse, which was commissioned by President George Washington in 1792. Wander the galleries of the free Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, which is launching the “Maya Lin: Ways of Water” exhibit this spring.

San Luis Obispo County, Calif.

Fly into: San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP)

San Luis Obispo County’s sunny weather, peaceful nature areas and laid-back disposition provide the perfect antidote to the mid-winter doldrums. Book into Hotel Cerro in downtown San Luis Obispo, then venture farther afield for hiking, birdwatching and other coastal activities.

In February and March, you’re likely to catch a glimpse of migrating gray whales from spots like Morro Bay, Avila Beach and Pismo Beach. You can also observe elephant seals at the Piedras Blancas rookery just off Highway 1 (at this time of year, newborn pups are just learning how to swim and adult seals are mating again) and take a guided edible seaweed foraging expedition along California’s Central Coast with Marley Family Seaweeds.

St. George, Utah

Fly into: St. George Regional Airport (SGU)

Zion National Park — and the greater Zion region in southwest Utah — is incredibly popular during the summer and fall. You can skip the crowds and enjoy mild, comfortable temperatures by visiting now instead.

This region is brimming with outdoor adventure opportunities (St. George is even hosting the Ironman triathlon world championships this May): mountain biking, gravel biking, golf, hiking, off-highway vehicle riding, via ferrata routes and horseback riding, to name a few.

Though you’ll have more of the national park to yourself right now, there are also four state parks and lots of other public lands to explore. Rest up at Inn Santa Clara, a new boutique hotel that opened last fall.

Albuquerque, N.M.

Fly into: Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ)

Albuquerque’s unique blend of Native American and Hispanic culture shines in its many restaurants, museums and cultural centers, architecture and art galleries. Visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to explore the history and values of New Mexico’s 19 pueblos, then sample indigenous cuisine at the on-site Indian Pueblo Kitchen restaurant.

This diverse Southwest city in the Rio Grande Valley also offers easy access to the pink-hued Sandia Mountains, which are ideal for uncrowded hiking, mountain biking and sightseeing from the Sandia Peak Tramway. After exploring, check into Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm, a tranquil 25-acre lavender farm a few miles north of downtown. Treat yourself to dinner at the on-site restaurant Campo and a botanical treatment at Hacienda Spa.

Louisville, Ky.

Fly into: Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF)

There’s plenty of delicious craft bourbon being made right here in Colorado, but if you’ve always wanted to plan a vacation around this sippable spirit, there’s no better place to immerse yourself than north-central Kentucky.

There are 10 bourbon distilleries in Louisville, including five on the city’s Main Street. Wander along a stretch of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to tour and taste the wares of Michter’s, Evan Williams, Old Forester, Angel’s Envy and Rabbit Hole. You can also learn about the many contributions of African-Americans in the bourbon industry on tours led by the Frazier History Museum.

Spirits aside, Louisville is also home to some serious sports history: The Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory (where professional baseball bats are made), the Muhammad Ali Center and the Kentucky Derby Museum are all here.

Napa Valley, Calif.

Fly into: Sacramento International Airport (SMF)

Visiting Napa in February or March provides a much-needed shock to the senses. It’s mustard season, which means the vineyards are alive with a bright, golden-yellow hue (grape growers plant mustard among the vines to prevent soil erosion and provide valuable nutrients). And since it’s off-season in wine country, hotel rates tend to be cheaper and crowds are smaller.

Fly to Sacramento, then rent a car and make the 60-mile drive to Napa. Book a cozy cottage (equipped with a handy in-room wine dispenser) at Carneros Resort and Spa, which is celebrating mustard season with charcuterie and garden mixology classes.

Stop by Jessel Gallery and Bougetz Cellars for art and photography shows featuring pieces inspired by the cheery yellow plant. And, of course, be sure to sample plenty of wine at relaxing spots like Bouchaine Vineyards, Cliff Lede Vineyards and Frank Family Vineyards.

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