Best Winter Activities in North America

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Winter is here. As you cozy up with your favorite fuzzy blankets and fresh hot cocoa, you may wonder how to spend your December and January in the winter wonderland outside your window. Depending on where you live, or travel dictates how you spend these wintry months, and your interests sway your decisions. From ice fishing in the coldest U.S. states to kayaking in the warmest states, abundant winter activities offer themselves up through these holiday months. 

Best Winter Activities in North America

From snow tubing to staying in an ice hotel, here's a list of winter activities in North America for your cold-weather bucket list. 

Winter activities: snow tubing.
Photo: Deposit Photos.

1. Ice Skating

In most states, ice skating rinks pop up throughout the U.S., with inside and outside courses. Inside rinks remain open throughout the year, but outdoor rinks limit themselves to the winter. The largest, natural Zamboni-kept ice skating rink resides on Keystone Lake in Keystone, Colorado. Grab some skates and figure eight over the five-acre iced lake. 

2. Ice Fishing 

Ice fishing allows anglers to avoid bugs and muggy temperatures and center on one fishing focal point. They dig their opening with an ice saw and use a shorter fishing rod to catch the winter fish. Wisconsin delves into its frigid climate to provide top-tier ice fishing spots in the states. Prime ice fishing times occur between late December and early January, although Wisconsin winters span longer. Monitor the weather before heading out to a lake or iced-over water.  

3. Snowshoe

If you love hiking and want to try skiing but downhill slopes terrify you, snowshoeing is a great option. Snowshoes attach to your shoes and float over the snow so you don’t sink or get stuck in the powder. When you snowshoe through mountains, you have more time to soak in the gorgeous scenery you may miss while descending a steep slope on skis. The best locations for snowshoeing in the U.S. include Canoe Country, Minnesota, Denali, National Park, Alaska, and Porcupine Mountains, Michigan.

4. Tubing

Snow tubing combines the vivaciousness of childhood sledding with the adrenaline rush adults seek. Sleds rely on heavier material that may slow down passengers, while tubes use light material to zip guests down mountains at high speeds. Where sleds trudge over every rock and bumpy surface, tubes breeze over these ailments without disturbing the rider’s descent. Woodward in Park City, Utah, and Blue Mountain Resort (Pennsylvania) are two of the most popular tubing resorts in the U.S. 

5. Hot Springs

Do you freeze in the winter? As soon as you step outside, do you turn into an icicle? Do you shudder at the thought of walking from your heated house to your car? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you would benefit from indulging in a hot spring. These natural pockets of sulphuric-smelling hot water contain heavy levels of silica that soften the skin, reduce pain, and reduce stress. Famous U.S. hot springs include Chena Hot Springs in Alaska and Benton Hot Springs in California.

6. Polar Bear Plunge

We have the polar bear plunge on the other side of the hot springs. A charitable event where capable individuals jump into freezing bodies of water to raise money for various charities such as the Special Olympics or foundations helping those with disabilities. As the hot springs reduce stress and detox the body, Polar Bear Plunges increase heart rate and oxygen flow. Many states hold Polar Bear Plunges each winter. 

7. Snowmobile

Find yourself missing jetski rides on open oceans during the winter months. Try a snowmobile ride. These devices speed over snowy trails in the mountains for individuals looking to get outside while enjoying a rapid excursion in the wilderness.   

8. Snowboard

Snowboarding is superior to skiing; I will always stand by that claim. Snowboarding continues to gain popularity, as it allows boarders to meander through paved paths and powdery trails with an attached board, and snowboarders maintain more stability than skiers. Plus, they learn their craft quicker than skiers perfect their art.

9. Stay in an Ice Hotel

Canada houses the only ice hotel in North America. Constructors and sculptors build the Hôtel de Glace in Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, Quebec, each year for interested tourists to spend a night, or a few, in a room made entirely of ice. An intricate staircase leads visitors to check into their ice rooms, themed sculptures pop up throughout the lodge, and patrons can soak in outdoor saunas. 

10. Kayak

Peak manatee season ranges between November and April, making winter the ideal time to visit Florida and kayak through the natural springs and waterways. Witnessing a manatee in an aquarium or a fixed environment may impress you. Still, nothing compares to seeing the gentle giants in their natural environments. While you paddle through crystalline waters, keep an eye out for these underwater mammoths. Crystal River and Weeki Wachee are the best places to spot manatees in the winter.

About Gabrielle Reeder

Gabrielle Reeder is a travel enthusiast from St. Petersburg Florida. She boarded her first plane at six months old and blames her love for jet-setting on her mom’s background as a travel agent. She’s been to 41 states and six countries, hoping to up that number to 50 states and 10 countries by her 26th birthday. During her trips, she loves to find the best vegetarian food, desserts, and music venues. 

Follow her on Twitter and Instagram

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