During Colorado’s winters, we all face the same dilemma: Embrace the snow and ice, or get away from it all for a sunny warm-weather vacation?
But you really don’t have to choose. Winter is long, after all, and there’s plenty of time to take several trips — some hot, some cold and some that are somewhere in the middle. If you’re in the mood for a getaway, consider these destinations.
You probably know Idaho for its potatoes—which are indeed very tasty. But there’s so much more to the Gem State than just tubers.
To get a taste of what Idaho is all about, put Boise at the top of your list. The capital city is a quick nonstop flight from Denver and it’s the perfect size for a long weekend getaway—not too big, not too small.
Boise has a thriving culinary scene, with numerous restaurants earning nods from the James Beard Foundation in recent years—and one chef, Kris Komori, even won the award for Best Chef: Mountain Region in 2023. His restaurant, KIN, is worth making the trip for alone. The city, and Idaho more broadly, also has a great wine scene. Stop by Telaya Wine Co., located right on the Boise River Greenbelt, for an introduction.
Learn about history, arts and culture at Boise’s many museums and get some fresh air with a trip up to Bogus Basin, a nonprofit ski resort located just a few minutes from downtown. Also be sure to check out the Basque Block, a small-but-mighty neighborhood dedicated to Boise’s thriving Basque community. visitboise.com
California’s Central Coast
California’s Central Coast is like a choose-your-own-adventure game. Love wildlife? You’ll find tons of it here, including elephant seals, sea otters, birds and even monarch butterflies. Want to sip a glass of wine while overlooking a picturesque vineyard? You can do that, too, at dozens of sunny wineries like Biddle Ranch Vineyard and Talley Vineyards. Want to get your blood pumping? Hit the hiking trails at Montaña de Oro State Park, many of which overlook the Pacific Ocean.
The best part of visiting this area, located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is that you won’t find any crowds. So hop on a nonstop flight from Denver to San Luis Obispo, rent a car and cruise up and down Highway 1. There are tons of small towns to explore, from San Simeon and Cambria to Avila Beach. highway1roadtrip.com
Sparkling turquoise waters, lush green scenery, picturesque beaches, fun in the sun—what could be better amid the doldrums of winter? You can have it all when you visit Tahiti and the surrounding islands of French Polynesia this winter. Set sail aboard the 312-passenger luxury yacht, the Star Breeze, on Windstar Cruises’ “Tahiti & The Tuamotu Islands” itinerary. You’ll get to explore gorgeous lagoons, see colorful fish and birds, and enjoy a slice of island life—all while traveling on what amounts to a floating boutique hotel.
During the day, participate in engaging excursions like snorkeling, swimming, tours in glass-bottom boats and other tropical adventures. Then, at night, retreat to the comfort of the yacht and dine on world-class food—because Windstar has a partnership with the James Beard Foundation. The 11-day trip provides plenty of time to rest and recharge at the on-board spa or in the pool and whirlpool on the top deck. And since all of the guest accommodations on the Star Breeze are suites, you and your traveling companion will have plenty of room to spread out. windstarcruises.com
Who’s up for a “fly and flop” vacation? If you’re not familiar with the term, it means a quick flight, followed by a few stress-free days on the beach. Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, is perfect for this type of trip, since it’s just a quick nonstop flight from DIA.
Make Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit your home base for a getaway filled with incredible food, relaxing spa treatments and plenty of time on the beach. Choose from 267 ocean-view suites, including some that have their own private plunge pools. No matter which accommodation you choose, you’ll be surrounded by lush flowering gardens and have views of the Sierra Madre mountains in the distance.
Indulge at the resort’s six restaurants, including four that have received prestigious AAA Four Diamond awards. (The resort, as a whole, is a AAA Five Diamond hotel.) You’ll also want to book a treatment (or several) at SE Spa, which is widely regarded as one of the most luxurious spas in the world.
During your vacation, also enjoy the tennis courts, oversized pool, fitness center, 24/7 room service, water sports and other amenities. vallarta.grandvelas.com
Read More: Winter Day Trips from Boulder
The Danube River
Picture this: You’re floating past castles, vineyards and historic buildings along the tranquil Danube River in Europe. At the next port, you get off the ship and stroll through a picturesque city center. Maybe you wander through a museum or take a guided walking tour. Maybe you stop for an espresso and a sweet treat while watching the world go by.
You can make this dream a reality when you book a European river cruise with Avalon Waterways. You really can’t go wrong with cruising on any river, but the Danube is a particularly good choice because you can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time and get a good introduction to several new destinations. With many of Avalon’s Danube itineraries, you can visit four countries—Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany—in less than a week, which can help you make the most of your PTO. And, depending on when you book, you might be able to visit some of Europe’s famed holiday markets, which are truly charming.
And Avalon’s river cruise ships are uniquely comfortable because, inside each cabin, the beds face the windows. When the ship is sailing, you can snuggle up and relax while watching the scenery pass by outside. Equally innovative, instead of balconies, Avalon’s rooms have wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows that you can slide open. This turns your whole room into a balcony and gives you more space inside. And maybe the name Avalon is already familiar to you: Their parent company, Globus, is headquartered in Denver. avalonwaterways.com
Banff, Alberta, Canada
You don’t have to travel far to take an international trip this winter. Our neighbors to the north really know how to do winter right, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in Banff, Alberta.
Visiting this charming town in the Canadian Rockies is like being inside a snow globe—if a snow globe also happened to have three world-class ski resorts right nearby. Make Banff your home base for exploring Mt. Norquay, Banff Sunshine Village and Lake Louise, three ski areas located inside the bounds of Banff National Park that are collectively known as SkiBig3.
Off the slopes, enjoy a multi-course culinary masterpiece at Eden, the fine-dining restaurant nestled inside the Rimrock Resort Hotel. Learn about the Bow Valley’s history with a trip to the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. And for a truly magical winter adventure, take a guided evening “ice walk” through Johnston Canyon with Discover Banff Tours. You’ll put on microspikes and a headlamp, then crunch your way along the trail to see frozen waterfalls under the stars. skibig3.com