A winter getaway can mean different things to different people. Do you want to escape the local winter weather and travel to a balmier climate for some fun in the sun with your family? Or do you want to make sure you get the full winter experience with snow, cold weather, and hot chocolate by a roaring fire? Whichever you prefer, you can make the most of your family’s winter getaway if you know where to go.

Gatlinburg, TN

For a mountain setting in winter with snow, but not too cold, Gatlinburg is the gateway town to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is America’s most popular national park. Nestled in the midst of the signature rippling waves of mountain ridges that form the Smokies, Gatlinburg offers skiing and other winter pursuits on several mountaintop playgrounds, as well as countless family friendly attractions. The national park is open and accessible all year, and hundreds of Gatlinburg cabins in the surrounding foothills come fully equipped with kitchen, electronic games, laundry room, and a hot tub on the deck and a fireplace inside that offers snug winter charm. Some cabins even have an indoor swimming pool!

Key Largo, FL

On the other hand, if you are looking to travel to a balmier climate for some fun in the sun, there are numerous options as well during the winter months. One of the best and warmest places to visit during the winter are the Florida Keys, the famous string of tropical islands located off the southern coast of Florida. The Keys are a great place to visit during the winter months if you prefer less crowds and a more relaxing vacation. Key Largo boasts the first underwater park in the country at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, which can be explored by kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, or joining a glass-bottom boat tour. There is also the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key near Marathon, where you and your kids can watch the dolphin and sea lion shows or you can even splurge on a Fantasy Dolphin Day so you or your child can actually swim with the dolphins.

Jackson Hole, WY

Back to the snow, and another good option for a winter vacation for your family is Jackson Hole, offering access to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, where you can enjoy the vast snow-covered landscape and wildlife that both parks provide. There are fun winter activities such as snowshoeing with a park ranger, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and guided tours for the whole family. There are also winter sleigh rides offered in the National Elk Refuge, and snowshoe excursions, or you can simply choose to sit beside the warm fireplace and watch the snow fall. After a day of playing in the cold snow, nothing beats getting back to the warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate or spicy apple cider.

Lake of the Ozarks, MO

Another great winter immersion experience for the whole family is found at Lake of the Ozarks, which offers over a thousand miles of shoreline – America’s secret inland coast! A premier Midwestern destination, this region offers a pristine state park close to countless family attractions made for fun. Your kids will love the many holiday parades, pageants, and performances that put everyone in the winter spirit. They will especially love the FOUR holiday light parks that turn the lake’s shoreline into a sparkly Winter Wonderland! There is also Old Kinderhook’s Christmas Village to explore, as well as ice skating, Christmas carols, and smores for everyone.

San Diego, CA

Another warmer destination for your family’s winter getaway is San Diego, California. The weather is predictably mild, with the best that southern California can offer all gathered in one exciting city. There is so much to do and see in this part of California that you should plan your itinerary before you go. There is the amazing San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Cat Café, the USS Midway Museum, and more. Watch a San Diego Padres baseball game, take a kayak tour to the La Jolla Sea Caves, explore the San Diego Art Institute, walk around the San Diego Botanic Garden, and discover the large, colorful sculpture garden near Escondido in Kit Carson Park. If you want a more relaxed vacation to spend quality time with your kids, you can also hang out at one of the myriad beaches that San Diego is famous for.

Maui, HI

For the ultimate in tropical vacations that are still in America, check out Maui or Oahu for an warm winter getaway. With ocean water temperatures ranging into the high seventies all winter long, Maui and Oahu have been called some of the best winter beach getaways in the United States. Oahu gives you another opportunity to swim with the dolphins at the Dolphin Watching and Snorkel Excursion event, where you can snorkel and swim freely with these intelligent mammals. As a bonus, you may even spot the humpback whales – whale watching is the number one winter activity on Maui from December through May because of the warmer waters. All of the members of your family will enjoy visiting the islands, hanging out on the beaches, and experiencing the best Hawaii has to offer.

Wherever you decide to go, pack up the kids and the spouse and take your spirit of adventure to enjoy your fun winter getaway!