As we head into a winter season full of uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to feel down about how you’re going to spend your time. You may not feel comfortable traveling, getting together with friends, or going to parties, but that doesn’t mean you’re left with nothing. Every state offers amazing winter destinations that are fun, entertaining, and have an emphasis on safety and social distancing.
We worked with Yelp to find out the best winter destination in each state that will give you something to do throughout the holiday season and beyond. “With a mix of ice skating rinks, Christmas markets, and more, this list has something to get everyone into the holiday spirit, while staying outside and observing social distancing – and all are highly-rated on Yelp!” said Yelp trend expert, Tara Lewis. Don’t just take her word for it: check out the best spot in your state to visit this year.
Bellingrath’s Magic Christmas in Lights in Theodore
“The gardens are wonderful but even if you’ve been dozens of times this event presents them in a whole new ‘light.’ The website says that they use over 3 million lights for the event. The gardens aren’t small and so many parts are decorated. What I especially liked were the variety of displays. In some sections you’re walking through ornately decorated trees. In the open grass area you see things stuck into the ground. They even had constructed light ‘tunnels’ you could walk through.” – Yelp user Chris W.
Photo: Yelp/Rick S.
Santa Claus House in North Pole
“I am not a big Christmas fan, BUT there is something about this place that brings the Christmas spirit out of me. We drove up to the place where there were “reindeer stables”, a giant Santa Claus, and the Santa Claus house itself. As we got inside the building, it was covered head to toe in Christmas decorations! It was so mesmerizing just walking through the store, there was even a cookie shop in there! The owners (Mr. & Mrs. Claus) also dress up to make the house come to life.” – Yelp user Alex S.
Las Noches de Las Luminarias in Phoenix
“This is a holiday season MUST if you enjoy music. This year they had dueling pianos, folklorico, the Sahnas brothers, Apache flute player, and many other musicians playing around the property. They also offer a great selection of wines and mixed liquor-infused hot drinks to sip on while you are walking around, listening to the music-filled evening!” – Yelp user Tracy D.
Photo: Las Noches de Las Luminarias
Mt. Nebo State Park Cabin Rental in Dardanelle
“The cabin was AWESOME, especially for the price (being a state park it was pretty cheap compared to staying at like a private cabin). They bring you fresh linens every day, if you need something just ask. The kitchen had plenty of plates and cookware, oven, stove, full size fridge. There is a fireplace but they lock them during the summer. Out back we had our own grill & fire pit. Going on the trails was the best part. We went hiking for probably four hours and didn’t run into a single person!” – Yelp user Jason R.
Photo: Arkansas State Parks
City of Solvang
“Gosh what a beauty and quaint town! I would really recommend this little town as a mini getaway. It reminds me of a town from hallmark movies. They have cute little stores and many wine tasting rooms. It’s definitely meant for a relaxing weekend and family friendly. Worth your while for a weekend.” – Yelp user Yasameen M.
Photo: Yelp/Loretta C.
Denver Zoo Lights in Denver
“Fun stop during the Holidays, a well-organized and nicely orchestrated event with in the zoo. Safe, comfortable whether you’re attending with the little ones, a date, or with friends.” – Yelp user Daniel E.
Photo: Yelp/Michael T.
Jones Family Farms in Shelton
“Jones Family Farms is so fantastic, I couldn’t stop taking photos. Easily one of the largest and best wineries around! It is so great that there exists a place like this right in CT.” – Yelp user Kelly S.
Photo: Yelp/Madeline A.
Winter Wonderfest in Milton
With a fantastic light display, festive decorations, an ice skating rink, shopping, and so much more, there’s always plenty to do at this annual winter festival.
Photo: Facebook @wonderfestde
Epcot International Festival of the Holidays in Orlando
“A delightful holiday treat! The park is all decked out. Even the bushes in the front trimmed in the likeness of Disney characters are wearing Santa hats, lights, etc. Near the Canadian and British rows, there is a Mrs. Potts teapot… and she has a Christmas tree painted on her side! Christmas music plays throughout the park and there are several Christmas vocal performances. Kwanzaa and Hanukkah get time in the spotlight too, as there is storytime for the kids in the American section in the back in which a cast member tells how his/her group celebrates the featured holiday.” – Yelp user Jennifer L.
Photo: Yelp/Kara M.
Stone Mountain Christmas in Stone Mountain Park
“Beautiful park in Georgia outstde of Atlanta. We went during the holidays when they have Snow Mountain. The park is lit up beautifully, they have an area for playing in man-made snow, snow tubing (our favorite) a parade, laser light show, singing and dancing shows, a Christmas Carol singing train around the mountain and fireworks. It’s a great time for kids and adults alike.” – Yelp user Lara T.
Photo: Yelp/Ebonie P.
Honolulu City Lights in Honolulu
“Honolulu city lights is a must with family and friends. Although they may have the same vendors and Christmas decor every year, it’s the holiday spirit and activities that brings you all together in happiness for the holiday season. Cannot forget the giant Shaka Sants claus with his wife, the Snowman Family, the infamous big bulb Christmas lights, the huge “Mele Kalikimaka” in keiki blocks, Honolulu Hale filled with decorated Christmas trees with various themes and Santa Claus photos, and so much more.” – Yelp user Gabrielle C.
Photo: Yelp/Heidi H.
Sun Valley Ski Area in Sun Valley
“A class act. Sun Valley truly understands ‘customer service’ — from its gracious lift ticket manager and ski rental staffers to the coat rack, free overnight ski storage, water glasses and clean & elegant marble restrooms up at 9,000 feet (!!). No lift lines, stellar views, beautifully groomed trails and awesome sun-filled steep & open bowls for practicing moguls. This Californian — accustomed to the ‘attitude,’ expense, crowds and poor customer service at places like Squaw and Heavenly — has been completely spoiled. Thank you, Sun Valley, for a terrific vacation.” – Yelp user Lisa K.
Photo: Yelp/Wayne W.
Maggie Daley Park Skating Ribbon in Chicago
“This is one of the coolest public skating rink I’ve ever been too! It’s free to skate if you have your own.. otherwise theres rentals and lockers for a fee. (Changes when it’s holidays vs normal days).” – Yelp user Krista S.
Photo: Yelp/Ashley A.
Winterlights at Newfields in Indianapolis
“I’ve gone to the winter lights at Newfields for two years in a row now and I plan on continuing! The lights set to music is absolutely breathtaking. There are lots of opportunities for beautiful photos and you are able to your the Lily House. Apple cider, hot chocolate, and adult beverages are available for purchase as well as smores! My favorite part is that Santa walks around and talks to all the children passing by. You can take photos as well. Photos with santa at the mall run 40 dollars or more so this is a great opportunity to snap photos and save yourself from mall Santa!” – Yelp user Daviana C.
Photo: Yelp/Lindsey D.
Festival of Trees in Davenport
“The Festival of Trees is a huge event during the holidays in the Quad Cities area. I’ve been twice now with my grandmother and we both thoroughly enjoy it. Local ‘ friendly competition’ where people create a Christmas tree with a theme usually and then they are bid upon or up for raffle (not too clear on this part as we’ve never done it). Gosh there must have been 30+ elaborately decorates trees, an entire gingerbread village, about two rows of fireplace settings, door wreaths, local art work, mini trees, and even a talking bear!” – Yelp user Kristin L.
Photo: Yelp/Kristin L.
Illuminations at Botanica Gardens in Wichita
“Botanica is no secret in Wichita. It’s an amazing garden in the summer and one of the best Christmas light displays in the winter. Last weekend they had a record attendance of 7000 people for their holiday display. I went on a cold night so it wasn’t as busy, thankfully. They have free visits and photos with Santa as well! I’d highly suggest going any time of the year, but the spring is the best.” – Yelp user Jared P.
Photo: Yelp/Kendall S.
Fête de Noël Winter Holiday Festival in Louisville
“This is the first year for this winter wonderland and I hope it is the start of a long tradition!” – Yelp user Elaine C.
Photo: Instagram @fetedenoelholiday
NOLA Christmas Fest in New Orleans
“Really can’t do better for the price! My family and I came here every year and loved it. There’s so much to do! Santa, rides, lights, snow ball fights, ice slide, ice skating. It’s really a great time when you come when there’s not a lot of traffic. We came on Christmas Eve and got on everything without a wait!” – Yelp user Tiffani H.
Photo: Yelp/Maria M.
The Rink At Thompson’s Point in Portland
“The Rink at Thompson’s Point is a pretty outdoor rink with a warm tent that has comfy seating and bar in a yurt. It is way out on Thompson’s point with beautiful views of the water.” – Yelp user Stella P.
Photo: Yelp/Brett F.
Hampden Christmas Street Holiday Show in Baltimore
“I have visited the Miracle on 34th Street Christmas Lights in Hampden twice now and recommend walking around if able! The first time I went, my friend and I drove through, so we didn’t have a chance to really take in the full experience. The second time I went over this past weekend, I walked around, noticing all the intricate and unique designs on each of the houses. We were even able to walk inside one of the houses, which was showcasing and selling artwork! There was also a Santa and a street performing musician wearing Christmas lights. The event is a free, fun, and festive Christmas activity!” – Yelp user Lydia R.
Photo: Yelp/Emily Y.
La Salette Shrine in Attleboro
“This is a yearly routine for my family! Our two girls love to come watch the lights while sipping on hot chocolate! The lights are AMAZING! Something different every year! I do advise you to dress warm and throw on an extra layer! Kids love that at the end of our walk we always go to the rides and the fried dough they have! Great Family spot and very friend friendly! They have a lovely gift shop too, something for everyone! Parking is right there and just the perfect location!” – Yelp user Drea D.
Photo: Yelp/Dave P.
Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville
“Great family atmosphere! Always a great time.the staff is always friendly and eager to help in any way. A nice variety of restaurants and bars. A pleasant two hour drive from Grand Rapids. Not that bad for a quality ski resort.” – Yelp user Jerry C.
Photo: Yelp/Patra G.
Krueger’s Christmas Tree Farms in Lake Elmo
“I love Krueger’s! We came after several recommendations, and knowing they were dog friendly so we were able to bring our pups. Lots of great stock to choose from, friendly staff, and super easy process. This will be our go-to tree spot for many years to come!” – Yelp user Nicole B.
Photo: Yelp/Krueger’s Christmas Trees
Bass Christmas Tree Farm in Columbia
“We went to the new location on Riley Rd yesterday and had a wonderful experience. We were helped as soon as we walked in and were very impressed with the tree selection and efficiency in which our tree was cut and ready to travel. Highly recommend this place for anyone wanting a real Christmas tree !” – Yelp user Tommy P.
Photo: Yelp/Bass Christmas Tree Farm
Steinberg Skating Rink in Saint Louis
“Steinberg is my favorite place to skate in the winter. They’ve got a classic, old-school feel that you won’t find many other places. The rink is outdoor with pretty lights and a bonfire for when you need to take a break.” – Yelp user Rebecca A.
Photo: Yelp/Yan C.
Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky
“This was an absolutely delightful experience. I came for the lunchtime sleigh ride which was so cozy, entertaining cowboy with great stories, warm blankets, photo ops , etc. Also plenty of time to interact with the horses, other guests, resident dogs. The lunch afterwards was so fabulous– in a warm and cozy cabin, able to order anything off the menu, food was incredibly delicious and high quality, very friendly and personable wait staff plus the price for all this ($50!) includes gratuity, taxes– everything! Truly a memorable experience and would recommend to everyone. We also snowshoed here two days prior which was also great fun. Highly recommend!!!” – Yelp user Laurie N.
Photo: Yelp/Uyen D.
Old Market in Omaha
“The Old Market in Omaha retains a lot of character from the turn of the 20th century. There are dozens of restaurants, shops, and galleries housed in heritage buildings and warehouses. Many structures, as well as streets and sidewalks, are still clad in brick, and the overall atmosphere is that of a historic downtown area with modern amenities. The mix of restaurants, for example, ranges from generic pubs to ramen joints.” – Yelp user Vincent L.
Photo: Yelp/Bernadette E.
Tahoe Meadows in Reno
“Great area for sledding and snowshoeing. Head up to Chickadee Tahoe Rim Trail for less people. Parking is full in morning but after 2:00 it thins out. Restrooms were there but locked so make sure you go before coming here. Lots of snow and snowshoes were needed for heavy hiking if you decide to go. Otherwise you can just stay bear parking/road and snow play or walk around.” – Yelp user Heather C.
Photo: Yelp/Jared A.
Nestlenook Farm Victorian Recreation Park in Jackson
“Booked a private one horse open sleigh for my girlfriend and I as we stayed in North Conway for her birthday weekend. Nestlenook Farm, we came at night, what a beautiful place. All lit up, staff was friendly. Sleigh ride was a good time, we’ll come back in the future to try the ice skating because the lake is huge and it looks like a ton of fun.” – Yelp user Jonathan G.
Photo: Yelp/MB L.
Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck
“Wonderful little farm store with so many great items to eat. Their baked goods will have you coming back for more. Especially, their pies. You’re also able to shop for groceries, although, there’s a lot of gourmet type of items. Come for the desert and Cider Cafe. It’ll be worth the trip.” – Yelp user Jason R.
Photo: Yelp/Tracy S.
River of Lights in Albuquerque
“This was my second time at River of Lights. I love this type of thing during the holidays. The lights and displays are beautiful and plentiful. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. There were a lot of paths that broke off so I know we did a few bits of back tracking, and really I didn’t mind. I just loved it all.” – Yelp user Marcia V.
Photo: Yelp/Michael W.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in Manhattan
“Every year we take our annual trip to NYC to see the tree and catch all the other sites as well. The Rockefeller tree is the most amazing tree anywhere. As you walk up to the tree you feel like a little kid all over again. The place is packed but it is so much fun to just be there and around others. Families from all over the world and everyone is smiling and offering to take pics of your family as you reciprocate. As long as I am alive and healthy I will always come back.” – Yelp user Andres A.
Photo: Yelp/Sanjay G.
Hawksnest Snow Tubing and Zip Line in Seven Devils
“My husband and I recently went with our two kids (7 and 8) zip lining here. We had a blast. Everyone was very professional and they have taken COVID-19 health and safety seriously. Our guides, Amanda and Hampton, were wonderful. They were both very good with children. We were very impressed with their professionalism.” – Yelp user Kimberly M.
Photo: Yelp/Scott S.
Bottineau Winter Park Ski Area in Bottineau
“Great little ski/snowboard/tube park! Amazing options for outdoor activities year round! Great trails for hiking/snowshoeing and completely accessible for all. We are so fortunate are to have a place like this in a traditionally ‘flat’ state.” – Yelp user Miranda K.
Photo: Yelp/Miranda K.
Findlay Market in Cincinnati
“What a treat to visit! I had never heard of this place before in my many visits to Cincinnati but now that I’ve moved here, I was told to go. I’m sure glad I did! I can see why this place is so renowned with locals. You feel like you’re stepping into history and seeing what a thriving market can really be like with all the community support and people who visit from out of town.” – Yelp user Chad P.
Photo: Yelp/Ryan P.
Rhema Christmas Lights in Broken Arrow
“Do you like feeling like you’re in a Christmas wonderland? Perhaps a space light time warp? Rhema has been THE spot for Christmas light viewing in Broken Arrow since I was little, and it seems like they only get better and better each year as they add more lights! I know the exact count is in the millions, so I can’t even imagine all the time and effort that goes into putting on this production.” – Yelp user Bailey Elise M.
Photo: Yelp/Grace W.
Mt. Hood Summit in Mount Hood
“We absolutely LOVED Mt Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak. What a peaceful, beautiful place! How could you not love chilling on a 11,245 foot snow covered stratovolcano in the stunning PNW region of the country?!” – Yelp user Sari Marissa G.
Photo: Yelp/Jack M.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Seven Springs
“Stayed in a Condo at 7 Springs. Great stay, very nice people. Great experience. Recommend it to anyone. Easy to get to. Recommend staying at the condos over the hotel. Nice getaway. This place I totally recommend if you are looking for a nice getaway from anything. This is the place to go…” – Yelp user Jeffrey S.
Photo: Yelp/Sydney L.
Henry’s Christmas Farm in Hope
“Gorgeous space and welcoming staff – about everything you can ask for from a Christmas Tree Farm. My roommates tagged a tree this year, and when we went to pick it up, it was all freshly cut and trimmed for us. We were in and out in less than 15 minutes with our tree!” – Yelp user Alexandra N.
Photo: Yelp/Brian M.
James Island Festival of Lights in Charleston
“Never a disappointment to come here. I haven’t gone the last 3 years and surprisingly they were open Christmas Day. I headed over because it’s always such a beautiful display of creativity and shows a beautiful scenery of landmarks tribute to our service members. The s’mores fire pits are amazing! There is something for everyone of every age. Enjoy a rock climbing wall to a carousel! To paintings, to the sand sculpture. It’s a must if you’re visiting in town for Christmas and even if you’re a local this is a must!” – Yelp user Lori S.
Photo: Yelp/Kelly C.
Storybrook Island in Rapid City
“This is a small town amusement park based in story book characters. Like Humpty Dumpty and Cinderella. It’s especially awesome during Halloween and Christmas. You can bring your kids and walk around to get Halloween candy or come during Christmas to see all of the displays lite up with lights. It’ll be cold during that time, so make sure you bundle up.” – Yelp user Scott H.
Photo: Yelp/Brock F.
Festival of Lights in Franklin
“Some creative person put a of thought into this display. For example, an English folk song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, stretched twelve days worth of displays of moving lights along the twisting road. Another, the Elf’s Workshop, was an explosion of moving colored parts. Really beautiful. Can’t forget the Wise Men and their big, glumping camels. There were these displays and a whole lot more. I recommend that everyone come to the Ag Center to see these lights…just don’t kill any traffic cones like we did. Five stars for the Festival of Lights.” – Yelp user Oscar H.
Photo: Yelp/Oscar H.
Elgin Christmas Tree Farm in Elgin
“We had our first visit to the Elgin Tree Farm and we had a wonderful time. As a group of four adults it was refreshing to participate in such a simple, clean type of fun. It was a pretty drive around the farm and we found a perfect tree for our home. Staff is friendly and helpful, fun activities for kids and a reasonably priced product.” – Yelp user Megan G.
Photo: Yelp/TD C.
Herber Valley Historic Railroad in Herber City
“What a fun experience! We took the deer valley scenic ride. All covid 19 protocols were in place, we were very impressed at how diligent the staff was at maintaining social distances, face masks and cleanliness. The train route is just beautiful and the right amount of time. Concessions are offered on the train at a very reasonable price. We would definitely do this again!” – Yelp user Genevieve W.
Photo: Yelp/Jonathan H.
Wassail Weekend in Woodstock
“We just love Wassail Weekend. This is our second time here and we will definitely not miss another one. It is the perfect way to get into the Christmas season. The weekend is packed with various events one can attend either for couples or families. One can attend story time for children, breakfast with Santa, artisan market, silent auctions, concerts, movies, museum visits and the can’t miss event the parade, lighting of the Christmas tree, lighting of the Yule log and luminaries. It is the quintessential Christmas in Vermont. You literally feel like you are taking part in a Christmas movie. I love Wassail.” – Yelp user Andres A.
Photo: Sari Marissa G.
Pentagon Row Outdoor Ice Skating Rink in Arlington
“I went there on a Tuesday night with a couple of friends. The staff were super attentive and helpful. It was a fun experience since there wasn’t a lot of people. We were there for almost two hrs and it was amazing!” – Yelp user Denis L.
Photo: Yelp/Pentagon Row Outdoor Ice Skating Rink
Coates Christmas Tree Farm in Auburn
“What a cool Xmas tree farm! We were here for family holiday pictures, they let photographers come do their thing which I thought was cool. So honestly I only experienced walking around the tree farm and didn’t make any purchases.” – Yelp user Justin H.
Photo: Yelp/Kelsey S.
Canaan Valley Resort State Park in Davis
“Had a lovely time at the resort. The lodge is nice and roomy. Staff is friendly through out. The skiing is good, and the slope side bar, Quenchers, is fantastic– great beer selection and tasty chili for reasonable prices. Deducted one star for the limited dining options in the lodge, but roils definitely come back.” – Yelp user Alison S.
Photo: Yelp/Huseyin Y.
Candy Cane Lane in West Allis
“A great holiday tradition in Milwaukee. It awesome to see all the houses decorated in such a festive and fun way. I applaud all the great effort put into it.Highlights of the tour: Snoopy decorations, the NASCAR yard, and the yard that ‘tryed.'” – Yelp user Daniela B.
Photo: Yelp/Benjamin P.
National Elk Refuge Sleigh Rides in Jackson
“My friend & I enjoyed taking a sleigh ride around the Elk Refuge. We got to see the elk up close, which was really fun! Clint was a great driver who had a lot of knowledge about the elk and horses (our pair was Flint and Lightning, very cute). Would definitely recommend.” – Yelp user Claire Z.
Photo: Yelp/Candace L.
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