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5 Winter Bucket List Ideas For an Epic Season

Looking for fun things to do during winter? Check out this list and start planning today

The Vacationeer
Star filled night-sky over Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada.

If you're the type of traveler who warms up at the very thought of plunging temperatures, it's time to compose your seasonal to-do list. To spark your imagination, here are five winter bucket list ideas — as well as suggestions for where you can go to experience them.

New York City at nighttime during winter.         

1. Holiday Markets, Window Shopping and Post-Christmas Sales

New York is a dreamy destination any time of year, but the city glows in December. Major avenues get the holiday treatment, while extravagantly decorated neighborhoods like Dyker Heights in Brooklyn become  destinations unto themselves.

Make The Central at 5th by Hilton Club your home base, and you'll be mere steps from Manhattan's famed shopping districts.

These lively avenues shine this time of year, with old-school department stores showing off their products in dioramas that can take an entire year to design. Expect animatronic figures, playful homages to ballets like "The Nutcracker" and themed windows that pay tribute to New York's greatest landmarks. 

Bryant Park and Union Square also get into the holiday spirit, transforming into open-air markets where small-time food vendors, independent artists and local fashion designers gather to showcase and sell their wares. You can buy something unique for your wall or snap up a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry directly from the artist, all while sipping hot cider or mulled wine.

If you missed the Christmas rush, you could still score some major deals in January, when many stores put on epic sales to clear out unsold holiday merchandise.

2. Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing 

Skiing tops many people's list of fun things to do during winter. But if the idea of whooshing downhill at top speed gives you pause, there's no need to fret. Rather, you can try Nordic or cross-country skiing and slide along leisurely on level ground.
Person walking into snow-covered forest.  

Nearby Valdoro Mountain Lodge in Breckenridge, Colorado, you can get your bearings on 30 miles of trails that connect two Nordic ski centers.

Here, you'll find snowshoe rentals and extensive trails for all levels. Beginners can take a guided tour or give it a go on their own. More adventurous travelers can venture farther afield on an extensive backcountry system, including hundreds of miles of rugged trails with spectacular views of snow-capped mountains.

You may even spot some abandoned mines dating back to the mid-1800s.

3. Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

If you're looking for a quintessential winter getaway, book a stay at Sunrise Lodge by Hilton Grand Vacations in Park City, Utah. This stunning property is tucked into the mountains just east of Salt Lake City — and the location is an ideal launchpad for crossing all the items off your list of winter bucket list ideas.

People riding a ski-lift on snow-covered ski-slopes.

Incorporated as a town in 1884, Park City once enjoyed its heyday as a silver mining destination. Even today, it comes across as an updated Old Western village, with many of its Main Street buildings listed on the National Register and more than 1,000 miles of mining tunnels just below. 

When you're not hitting the slopes, you can learn more about the town's history at the Park City Museum or explore the 20 historic mining structures still standing (many of which are reachable via ski trail as well).

Park City has also grown into quite the culinary capital, with beloved mainstays  joined by new, award-winning restaurants, breweries and distilleries. Warm up after a morning on the slopes with Australian fare at Five5eeds, or sample small-batch whiskeys at High West Distillery. If you're looking to fill up after an entire day of action, the Mexican fare at El Chubasco ought to satisfy you.

4. Restaurants and Food Festivals

Charleston, South Carolina, is most often thought of as a summer destination. But you can avoid the crowds — and nab what would normally be hard-to-come-by reservations — by visiting in winter when temperatures linger at a pleasant 60 degrees. 

Couple walking into a Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant.

Charleston has one of its two restaurant weeks in January, which means you can chow down on well-priced pre-fixe Mediterranean meals at Butcher & Bee or sample elegantly plated fish dishes at Tempest. Both are a quick jaunt — about a five-minute drive — from Liberty Place Charleston by Hilton Club.

The city is also home to a wealth of down-home barbecue and seafood shacks, and in recent years has upped its game when it comes to Asian cuisine. Xiao Bao Biscuit, a restaurant that draws influences from many regions, offers a truly unique take on Asian soul food. There's also Jackrabbit Filly, which serves creative, upmarket versions of classic Chinese-American dishes.

The Lowcountry Oyster Festival is another culinary sight worth booking a ticket to see. It takes place in February, drawing crowds with 60,000 pounds of the beloved bivalves, live music and a food court for local restaurants to show off their shucking (and other culinary) skills.

5. Winter Decorations, Restaurants and Outdoor Activities

It may seem counterintuitive to head to the desert in winter, but Las Vegas is the ultimate year-round destination, with comfortable winter temperatures ranging from the high 30s to the high 50s. 

What's more, the biggest hotels and casinos try to one-up each other during the winter holidays, from Christmas to the Chinese Lunar New Year. Stroll the streets of the Strip to gander at the eye-popping decor they've set up. Stay at Elara by Hilton Grand Vacations to situate yourself in the heart of the action.

Red Rock Canyon at sunset, Las Vegas, Nevada.  

Vegas has also become one of  the world's most outstanding dining destinations, with world-famous chefs clambering to open outposts here. You can go from a decadent Italian meal one day to an even more sumptuous steak dinner the next, then move on to a multi-course Japanese feast, and recover with a vegan brunch in the morning.

The mild weather at this time of year means you can explore some of the natural wonders surrounding Vegas in very mild hiking temperatures. The otherworldly Red Rock Canyon, just 20 minutes away from Vegas proper, is a beloved destination for rock climbing.

Another short drive away, breathtaking Lake Mead, created when the Hoover Dam was built, offers kayaking and rafting, plus camping under magnificent starry skies that rival the lights of the Strip.

Whether you're into city staycations or weekends in the wilderness, make the most of the season when you stay at a Hilton Grand Vacations property — an unbeatable home away from home, no matter what kind of winter wonderland calls to you.

Read "8 of the Best Christmas Light Displays Across the U.S." for more fun winter bucket list ideas. 

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The Vacationeer

The Vacationeer is a collective of Hilton Grand Vacations storytellers whose goal is to inspire travelers to go further. We're always on the lookout for new destinations to explore, useful travel tips, and unique ideas to help you plan the most memorable vacations possible.

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