The cold-weather season is here, but that doesn’t mean you have to hide away in your house for the winter. We’ve put together a list of the best winter adventures and destinations for couples so you can get some inspiration for fun things to try this year. Head out on snowshoes or fly down the side of a mountain in the best snow on earth. This list covers some wild adventures and some that you can do in your backyard. Don’t let the cold keep you in, embrace it and have some fun with your loved ones.
Start the New Year with an adventure!
If you and your boo are at a loose end this winter, why not take an indoor trip with our Adventures From Scratch: Date Edition book? Our adventure books are expertly crafted and full of exciting activities, designed to deepen bonds and add some excitement to your routine. The challenges are made by couples for couples. Adventure categories include: Explore, Create, Spread Joy, Cook, Move, Get Silly, and more! It’s brimming with ready-made dates and romance-sparking adventures. What are you waiting for?
Destinations for Exhilarating Winter Adventures
Try one of these 17 destinations around the world for cold-weather adventures and bucket list items that will help you get out of your comfort zone.
Northern Lights in Iceland
Wintertime might seem like a strange time to visit Iceland, but there’s so much magic happening near the Arctic Circle that it makes the list of the best winter adventure destinations. In December, the country averages about five hours of sunlight each day, so you can pack in some hiking and exploring during that time and spend the rest of your day watching the famous Northern Lights.
Aurora Borealis is a phenomenon caused by solar winds. It appears in the night sky like green and purple dancing lights. You can sign up for tours to help you find the best places to witness this phenomenon, some even include instructions on the best ways to photograph them. Some hotels in the Icelandic countryside will wake you up when the lights appear so you don’t have to wait in the cold. You can even enjoy a soak in the geothermal pools outside with the lights above in some areas. Iceland is full of magic and beauty that is incredibly unique. It’s the best place to enjoy some outdoor winter adventures.
Stargazing and Sightseeing in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park offers incredible natural beauty year-round. They call winter the season of snow and solitude because it’s the least visited period in the park. Most of the park is accessible, as long as you have snow chains for your tires on the mountain roads. Make sure to enter on the western side of the park because the entrance on the east is closed during the winter months.
There are plenty of fun activities in Yosemite in the winter. Hiking trails are beautiful with snow-covered trees and most of them are still accessible in the winter. Try the Mirror Lake Loop for a beautiful flat lake that offers reflections of the Half Dome. Take a ranger-guided snowshoe adventure and get some fascinating information about the park from the people who spend the most time there. Visitors in February can enjoy the famous “Firefall” when the sun lines up perfectly with Horsetail Falls to make it look like it’s on fire. And last, but not least, spend some time outside after the sun goes down to enjoy the beautiful night sky with very few lights around.
Cross-Country Ski in Slovenia
Cross-country skiing might not be the first winter sport you think about when you think of the Alps, but in Slovenia, you can visit the Upper Sava Valley and enjoy some flat trails with epic scenery. Kranjska Gora has over 40 kilometers of well-maintained cross-country trails. Bohinj is another area of the country that is a paradise for nordic skiing. You’ll be able to work up quite a sweat while cruising through mountain valleys.
Lake Bled is a beautiful area and easily accessible by road or train from all over the small country. Once you’ve done some skiing, you can relax in the lakeside town, enjoy some ice skating and have a slice of the famous Bled Cream Cake. Slovenia is also home to a great craft beer scene in the capital, Ljubljana, and a beautiful coastal region on the Adriatic Sea. There’s something for every kind of adventurer in this European gem.
Ice Climb in the Great Lakes Region
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has incredible options for winter adventures, but one of the popular options that you can’t find in many places is ice climbing. Because of the cold temperatures, lake effect snow, and water coming from the rock layers along the coast, ice curtains and columns are created that can be climbed with the appropriate equipment. It’s like climbing up a frozen waterfall. The Pictured Rock National Lakeshore is one of the best places to enjoy this winter sport.
Visit during the Michigan Ice Fest and enjoy the group activities, guided tours, and a huge list of coffee talks from professional athletes and experts in ice climbing. If ice climbing is a sport that you’re interested in, there’s no bigger gathering of experts and brands than this festival. Hang out with other ice enthusiasts and enjoy Michigan’s beautiful lakeshore.
Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains
Utah snow is known as the best snow on earth. Find out why by booking your couples’ winter adventure at one of the ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains of Utah. Park City, Utah is the second-largest ski resort in North America and the largest in the United States. Whether you’ve been a skier your whole life or you’ve been wanting to learn how to snowboard, you can find runs that are perfect for your skill level. Bring the whole family along or plan a romantic couples trip. There are resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals for groups of all sizes.
Visit Utah has put together some example itineraries for ski vacations. There are options for adventurers who want to hit multiple resorts in one vacation and options for people who like to leisurely enjoy a few runs followed by the apres ski libations. You can also pair a ski trip with a visit to one of the famous national parks in Utah that have some gorgeous scenery that can be enjoyed any time of year.
Snowshoeing in Lofoten Islands, Norway
The Lofoten Islands of Norway are an incredible getaway where you can enjoy the natural beauty of this northern region. Take a snowshoeing adventure into the mountains with a tour guide. It’s the easiest way to do some hiking in the wintertime and can be done by people of all fitness levels. The area has many beautiful fjords to explore.
If you want to step up the adventure level, you can sign up for a cold-weather surfing package from Unstad Arctic Surf. Receive all the rental equipment you need along with food, drinks, portable saunas, and surf instruction with one of their all-inclusive packages. You would rarely have the opportunity to surf underneath the northern lights, so it would be an incredible winter adventure.
Night in a Yurt in Oregon
The mountains and forests of Oregon are perfect for couples looking to escape to somewhere quiet and breathtaking. It’s one of the best getaways in the US for the winter and often flies under the radar. The Link Creek Winter Yurts offer a unique glamping experience. These rustic structures are accessible on plowed roads, but they are the perfect escape to unplug and enjoy the quiet setting.
Stoke the fire to keep the yurt warm and bring all the snacks and drinks you need. It’s the perfect place to curl up and read or get outside and explore the snowy surroundings. Snowshoe around the nearby frozen lake or through the conifer trees around the campground. Just make sure to pack warm clothes because you’ll have to head outside to use the vault toilets.
Extreme Sledding in California
Lake Tahoe is a beautiful destination any time of the year, but with its central location in the Sierra Nevadas, the snow is incredible in the winter. Hit the ski resorts, enjoy some hiking in the mountains, or explore the mountain town of Truckee. If you want to do something a little different, check out the extreme sledding at Adventure Mountain Lake Tahoe.
The resort is dedicated completely to snow tubing. With 18 groomed runs, there’s something for every level. It’s the largest tubing area in the region. The most famous run is the Snake, which is a 500-foot-long adventure. Heavenly Resort also has an entire area dedicated to sledding that features 500 vertical feet of sledding excitement. Enjoy the gorgeous scenery of the crystal blue lake surrounded by mountains.
Ice Fishing in Minnesota
Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes, but there are more than 13,000 lakes in the state. During the winter months, these lakes freeze over and small little huts pop up on the ice. Ice fishing is a popular winter sport. You drill holes in the ice and drop your lines down and wait for a fish to bite. Don’t worry about the cold. Ice fishing huts come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them have beds, heaters, and even televisions. You can spend a whole week out on the ice.
When you need a break from ice fishing, you can visit the famous Winter Carnival in the capital city of Saint Paul. For two weeks, the city celebrates the cold weather that Minnesota is known for with parades, ice sculptures, and tons of fun outdoor activities that help residents and visitors make the most of the winter. Don’t let the cold scare you away, the people of Minnesota are warm and friendly and they know how to enjoy the cold.
Snowmobile Tours of Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is packed with tourists during the summer season, but the winter months bring peace to this beautiful place. Many of the main roads are closed into the park during the snowy months. The northern entrance from Montana is open year-round for cars, but there’s another fun way to explore the vast wilderness—snowmobiling.
Take a fun and thrilling tour of Yellowstone with Yellowstone Vacation Tours. Ride on a snowmobile through the mountains spotting bison, elk, and more wildlife. You can visit Old Faithful or head to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Even if you’ve never piloted a snowmobile, the guides will give you a full how-to guide and you’ll be set up with all the safety equipment you need for a fun, but safe, winter adventure.
Sleigh Ride in the Lapland Region of Finland
Lapland, Finland, is one of the most popular winter destinations in Europe. It’s a winter wonderland filled with fun things to do for the whole family. Santa Claus Village is a great spot during the holiday season. Take a sleigh ride through the beautiful decked-out buildings and embrace the festive spirit.
Outside of the holiday season, there’s still plenty to do. Visit the Amethyst mines and marvel at the beautiful and colorful rocks. Go skiing at Saariselka resort. Enjoy the Finnish saunas in most of the hotels. And watch for reindeer. Lapland is a magical place in the cold months even with the short days and long nights. The bright, sparkling snow helps brighten up the darkness and provides a picturesque setting.
Heli-Skiing in Alaska
Many people visit Alaska in the winter to try dog sledding or see the northern lights, but if you’re looking for a real winter adventure, consider the bucket list item of heli-skiing. You don’t have to be an expert skier. The guides can find runs for all levels and know the mountains better than anyone.
Stay in a remote lodge and enjoy the wild nature of the Frontier State. The helicopters will take off when the weather cooperates and you’ll be able to enjoy some runs that most other people will never experience in their lifetime. Tordillo Mountain Lodge is one of the best heli-skiing destinations in the world. Some of the mountain areas get up to 600 inches of snow per year. It’s an adventure of a lifetime.
Ice Skating on the Longest Trail
Most cities offer skate rentals for small ice rinks where you just go around in circles for a while before ordering some hot chocolate. It’s a great date night, but if you want a bigger winter adventure, head to British Columbia. Lake Windermere is located in the Columbia Valley, and it’s home to the world’s longest skating trail. In the summer, two local communities on the lake enjoy fishing and swimming, but in the winter, a different attraction brings visitors to the town.
The Lake Windermere Whiteway was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest skating trail. The trail covers around 30 kilometers and is maintained by the nordic ski club, so you can ski if you aren’t comfortable on skates. There is a small donation to jump on the ice, but it’s a small price to pay to enjoy the scenery. Warm up afterward at one of the hot springs in the area before exploring all that the Banff region has to offer in the winter.
Olympic Bobsled Track in Lake Placid, New York
Do you and your partner love winter sports of all kinds? Lake Placid was the site of the 1980 winter Olympics, and many of the structures are still set up today. It’s hard to imagine this small mountain town being the home to hundreds of athletes and spectators from all over the world, but it’s the last time a town with a population of fewer than 15,000 people hosted.
Visit the ice rink where the Miracle on Ice game between Russia and Team USA took place and explore the museum with interesting memorabilia. Ski at nearby Whiteface Mountain, or if you’re especially brave (and trained), try the ski jump that was used in the Olympics. If you want to follow in the footsteps of an Olympic athlete, but want something a little safer than flying through the air on skis, you can ride in a bobsled on the original bobsled track from the Olympic games. Lake Placid is the perfect place to experience some fun winter adventures and celebrate the history of some of the most famous Olympic moments of all time.
Backcountry Ski Resort in Colorado
Wintertime brings tons of visitors to ski towns throughout the Colorado Rocky Mountains. If you want a way to enjoy the mountains away from the crowds, consider checking out a backcountry ski area. Bluebird is a new ski area located at Bear Mountain. There are beginner-friendly options if this is your first time skiing backcountry. You’ll have to work harder for your runs, and the adventure itself will make you appreciate each turn.
The mountain has 28 runs, 11 marked skin tracks, and terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. The backcountry area is avalanche managed, so you can enjoy the perks of being at an off-the-beaten-path spot with less risk. Rent the gear you need, take lessons, and enjoy the laidback nature with campfires throughout the property. You can stay onsite in one of the rustic lodging options that will feel like you’re camping in the winter.
Icehotel in Sweden
Each year, the Icehotel Winter opens in Sweden near the Torne River from December to April. It opened for the first time in 1989, and each year, artists and engineers have worked to create a beautiful and completely temporary masterpiece. Ice blocks are harvested the previous year and stored in a temperature-controlled warehouse ready for the first big freeze. Molds are used to form the shapes, but once the structure is completed, the molds are removed, and the hotel stands are completely constructed of snow and ice.
The hotel can set up a huge variety of winter adventures to make the most of your trip to the Arctic Circle. Search for the Northern Lights on a snowmobile, try your hand at ice sculpting, or enjoy a wilderness dinner that celebrates the season and uses ingredients that fit the time of year. You might love it so much that you return when it isn’t wintertime and experience the midnight sun and the sections of the hotel that are open year-round.
Skiing and Hot Springs in Jackson, Wyoming
You can find some incredible skiing and snowboarding in the mountains of Wyoming. With ski runs for all levels at Jackson Hole, it’s a great place to adventure in the winter. Once you’ve spent the day outside working out your legs and freezing your face off, head to the Hot Springs to warm up and relax. Astoria Hot Springs Park has five man-made pools along the river. It is a perfect spot for chilling out and treating yourself.
Jackson, Wyoming, is a quintessential mountain town just outside Grand Teton National Park. With archways made of antlers and the Million Dollar Cowboy bar, the town itself is a perfect escape for couples. Explore the Elk Refuge to spot the large creatures in the wide open, or take one of the sleigh rides. Drive through the national park looking for buffalo and moose and enjoying gorgeous mountain views.
Winter Activities to Try Anywhere
Are you not able to head out of town this year? Here are a few fun winter adventures you can enjoy in your backyard or neighborhood.
Boot Hockey Tournament
Do you love the sport of hockey but hate the idea of learning to skate? Try boot hockey. All you need are some sticks, a puck, and an ice rink. Boot hockey is fun for everyone because it requires zero skating abilities. Everyone slips and slides while chasing the puck around the ice and trying to score. Gather a group of your friends and split up into a few teams. You can also head to the rink with your partner and practice your stick handling and shooting for a fun outdoor date night.
Hiking trails are so much quieter in the winter months. Enjoy the paths to yourselves with a winter hike. Just make sure to bundle up and wear good boots (or snow shoes). Check the weather forecast before heading out and choose routes that are a bit shorter. Everything takes a little longer with snow and ice, so it’s better to be safe. Walking amongst the snow-covered trees is romantic and a good way to get some exercise.
Check to see if your community organizes a Polar Plunge. These events raise money for nonprofits and they are tons of fun. Work together as a team to gather donations. On the day of the event, you’ll show up with your most colorful swimsuit on (or a costume if you want to get creative) and jump into a freezing-cold lake, river, or ocean. The event organizers have people that will help you get out of the water and have a towel ready for you. Some even have hot tubs that you can instantly jump into. It’s an adventure and it helps raise money for a good cause.
New Year at an Unplugged Getaway Cabin
Road trip to the nearest Getaway Cabins. Located within two hours of most major cities, these tiny homes are structured to provide an escape from the hectic pace of daily life. There are lockboxes for your phones so you can allow yourself to unplug during your time. There are firepits to enjoy the outdoors and a comfortable interior for relaxing. It’s a laidback kind of winter escape.
Build an Igloo
If you live somewhere that gets a decent amount of snow each winter, plan to build your own snow fort. Just because we are adults now doesn’t mean that we can’t do the same things we did as a kid. The difference is that you have more knowledge and wisdom as an adult, plus you have access to more tools. Make a plan for your fort and then get going putting your plans into motion.
Snowtubing or Sledding at the Local Hill
Most cities that get regular snow will have some popular sledding hills. Pick up a tube or sled to have on hand so you can head out and give it a whirl the next time you get some fresh snow. If you want to rent one, search for a local tubing hill. Some of them are big enough that they have tow ropes so you don’t need to climb back up the hill after each run.
Final Thoughts on Winter Adventures
No matter your winter adventures, getting outside and enjoying some fresh air is important. Don’t let the cold stop you. If you dress appropriately with layers, you can stay nice and warm while exploring the beauty of the frozen, snow-covered scenery.
If you still need a bit of help on all things travel-related, don’t forget to check out our previous posts. With hundreds of articles featuring travel guides, top itineraries, accommodation lists, and travel tips, we have everything that you need to get started on your travel plans. Kick things off with this list of “25 Holiday Travel Tips to Keep you Merry on the Move”!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to plan some fun winter adventures, head to the mountains for skiing, sledding, and winter hiking. You can also find places for cold water surfing, camping, and ice skating.
Scandinavian countries have some incredible winter adventures for couples. Watch the Northern Lights in Iceland, snowshoe in Norway, or take sleigh rides in Finland.
The Adventures from Scratch book is a great gift for your significant other. It’s packed full of date ideas that you can scratch off for a surprise, plus there is a spot for photos and memories.