Making the most of the wintry weather with destinations that were made for it!
Despite our oldest two being born in London, they have lived most of their little lives in the desert so hearing my brother and sister-in-law were going to be wed in Alberta, Canada, in January, outside, took us a little off-guard.
We were slightly worried about how the Globetrotters would handle both the extreme climate and timezone change, but what we got was an utterly magic white winter adventure that we are certain they will not forget.
It came as no surprise then when I asked my team of family travel bloggers this month where there favourite cold-weather destinations were around the globe that Alberta came up twice!
As well as winter sporting activities in North America, we also had some fabulous suggestions for how to get the most out of the European winter too.
Come and enjoy our 6 best cold-weather destination ideas for families.
Banff, Alberta, Canada
Amy from Passports and Pigtails
There are certain places on Earth that seem to have been created for winter. Places where the snow and cold are not only endured, but embraced.
Located in Banff National Park, Canada, the town of Banff is winter in its most glorious moment. Tourists meander down shop-lined streets, the brave ones don swimsuits to submerge themselves in the upper hot springs, and rosy cheeks head down the slopes of the Rockies for that last run of the day.
Travelers come from around the globe to nestle into the world-famous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel or overlook the infamous view from Chateau Lake Louise. Offering three massive resorts, it is a ski and snowboard dream destination.
Travelers can indulge in unique activities such as dog sledging, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, a game of curling or even watching a massive elk strut down the middle of the street.
The drive along the world-renowned Icefields Parkway towards Jasper is absolutely breathtaking, and the experience of standing on the ancient Athabasca Glacier is well worth the trip.
To top off the perfect winter day, you can dine on a perfectly aged Alberta steak, relaxing over a glass of wine or a local craft beer, enjoying majestic views from every corner. Banff is wanderlust-inspiring year-round, and the magic of this beautiful town will find you leaving a piece of your heart buried in its snowy peaks.
Celine from Baby Can Travel
We are fortunate that our favourite winter destination, Canmore, Alberta, is so close to home. It has a wonderful laid-back feel and you don’t have to look very far to find a winter activity that everyone can enjoy – from skiing to skating and everything in between.
Canmore has a beautiful pond turned skating rink surrounded by a 360-degree view of mountains. If cross-country skiing is what you are looking for, then the Nordic Center (host site of the cross-country skiing events in the 1988 Winter Olympics) is just outside of town.
Within close driving proximity are multiple ski hills or a multitude of trails for winter hiking or snowshoeing. You can even add ice fishing, dog-sledging or ice climbing to the list of activities.
Long before we had kids, we would pack up the dogs on the weekends and drive to the mountains for a day of snowshoeing (our activity of choice). Now that we have a toddler and an infant, our snowshoeing has definitely been scaled back, but we still try to do what we can. We make use of gear like the Chariot with a ski attachment, so we can still get out snowshoeing, even if our outings aren’t that epically long anymore.
This winter with a 2.5-year-old, we are enjoying new activities together like skating and tobogganing. We even bought our daughter her first pair of snowshoes. We are looking forward to spending this winter enjoying being outside as a family.
Virginie from Travel with my Kids
Winter in Stockholm is the perfect time and place to practice awesome outdoor activities with kids! One of the most popular is skating on frozen lakes, resurfaced by ice machines, such as ice rinks. Just follow the Swedish families who know better the ice thickness! You can even also skate on the sea with a guide…
As soon as the snow falls, old tires and yellow mattress bloom on park’s trees: they are protective for sledging. Every evening, parents and children tackle the hills and run down the slopes. The most landscaped park is Vasaparken.
What about skiing in the city centre? Don’t expect the Alps or Colorado, but the kids really enjoy it a lot! You can practise at Hammarby Fabriksväg.
For the fishing lovers, try ice fishing with kids: it’s free on Lake Mälaren, you just need to buy a small fish pole (sold in Stockholm), then spot a fisherman and use its holes… it bites!
Need some rest? Have a (mini) cruise in the Stockholm Archipelago. Through breath-taking scenery, the ferry slowly cleaves the icepack, going from island to island, dropping off passengers in front of red huts….
Then spend the night in an island’s traditional inn (vandrarhem): basic comfort but warm atmosphere. This is the place to go for a sauna, of course, followed by a quick dive in the sea: the ultimate Swedish experience!
Claire from Tin Box Traveller
Despite being the UK’s coldest season, there’s nothing quite like winter to give me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. For me, it’s a time for tradition and family. That’s why I love visiting the Christmas markets that pop up in every city from mid-November and going to festive-themed events at beautiful historic houses and attractions.
National Trust properties, in particular, put on some great family-friendly Christmas trails. In December we visited Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire where we walked through scenes from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It was like stepping back in time.
If you enjoy traditional Christmas fun then Santa trains run on preserved steam railway lines across the country. On the Watercress Line near Alresford, the big man meets families as they travel in 1940s carriages enjoying wine, mince pies and carol singing.
Christmas markets are something that has really taken off in the UK during the past 10 years. We’ve always had farmers markets here, but seasonal stalls selling gifts, roasted chestnuts and hot pork rolls are now just as popular during the winter months. They’re often accompanied by temporary ice rinks like the one we visited in November at Winchester Cathedral.
Even if you’re not a skater it’s great fun watching the more adventurous visitors wobble around the ice in thick coats and bobble hats. If you want to experience the type of winter you see on traditional Christmas cards, then a visit to the UK is a must.
Whitefish, Montana, USA
Nicole from The Passport Kids
If you are considering a family ski vacation this upcoming winter, Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort in Whitefish, Montana, USA may be the place for you.
The resort offers many family-friendly amenities and activities including daycare and kids ski & ride school directly on the resort. Enjoy some outdoor winter fun with snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing or sledding; then cozy up by the fire with some hot chocolate.
The resort and city of Whitefish offer a small town American feel where life slows down for a while but still offers great selection of hotels, restaurants and shopping. The beauty of the natural wilderness is breathtaking and your family will be able to explore the mountain together as they “Ski the Fish”.
Holly from Four Around the World
When thinking winter destinations, the first place that will always come to mind for us is Zakopane in Poland. We spent our first white Christmas in Zakopane with Simon’s extended family a few years back and it is one of those experiences that stays with you.
Our own kids weren’t born yet, but we travelled with younger siblings and family friends, plus being in the snow tends to bring out the child in most of us… yes, there were snowball fights!
There is so much to do when travelling with kids in Zakopane. Only a short drive from Krakow, Zakopane is surrounded by the majestic Tatra mountains and is a popular holiday destination for Poland and surrounding countries, with an array of winter sports being very popular in the picturesque town. But what really stands out are the beautiful wooden cottages and white lined streets.
Zakopane sits at the bottom of Mt Gubalowka, which is a smaller mountain with plenty to see and do at the top, with market stalls, great food and amazing views. And if you are really keen, you can always ski back down again. We choose the funicular to go up and down.
Zakopane taught me that I am pretty much useless at winter sports! But if looking for a perfect winter destination, it should be on your list!
I’m not sure The Globetrotters are complete cold weather converts just yet, but I can definitely see why it is so much fun for the family and definitely recommend any of you living in warmer climates to experience the benefits of embracing the cold.
READ MORE: 5 European Destination that are even better in Winter
Now let’s hear it from you! Where are your favourite destinations to enjoy the best of the cold weather?
© Our Globetrotters | Images © of the respective contributors
38 thoughts on “6 Best Cold Weather Destinations for Family Travel”
A fantastic collection of winter destinations – I have to say Zakopane in Poland looks wonderful. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes
I glad everyone had a good time in Canmore. My top tips for family visits to Canmore; 1) Get your warm clothes when you arrive in Canada, they’ll be cheaper. Switching Gear is a great consignment store in Canmore with quality clothes at a fraction of the price (handy for desert dwellers who don’t need winter parkas normally). 2) Plenty of opportunities for cheap frills. Get a toboggan and find the nearest incline. Don’t bother skiing unless you are a skier. There are also several ponds around town for skating 3) If you do get a bad weather day, head to Elevation Place. There is a pool, climbing gym and library.
Cheers Joel (Brother / Uncle)
Well you’ve certainly convinced us there’s a different type of cold that can be enjoyed.
Some great tips there about getting the second hand clothing – much cheaper for us to buy as soon as we arrived in Canada than over priced designer gear from the UAE. And to be honest we barely spent anything on the kids entertainment (thanks to the kids lovely dog-sledding present from their Aunty & Uncle). Ski School would have cost us a bit but our brood were equally happy with tobogganing and ice skating.
I’m dying to go to Norway, as I have good friends who’ve just moved to Oslo. I’ve only ever been in the summer, so I’d like to go when the weather’s completely different. Canada sounds smashing too, from your posts. Lots of great outdoor fun to be had!
Great selection of destinations. Canada is an awesome place to visit in winter. These places are just SO set up for the snow and cold weather. We always go to the Alps at some point in winter. There’s nothing like looking out on the snowy mountains. #mondayescapes
Yes being set up ready for it makes a huge difference! And despite Canada being in the range of -10 to -20 it still felt warmer than winter in London!!!
A great resource Keri, Being a West Aussie we don’t have any good winter playgrounds near us and I am never sure where to start.
Its true you are probably at the most isolated spot in the world for getting a white winter! My parents are just flying back now from having done the PER-AUH-LHR-YYC leg to join the family in Canada and it was grueling for them. I guess New Zealand is the next best choice for some decent snow in <8 hours - I need to get a Kiwi family blogger to join our collaborators with some ideas! Oh and Japan isn't bad too.
Nice list! But I was a bit surprise to find UK on it. As much as I loved living in London, I felt winter to be the worst of all seasons I’ve experienced there. I agree Christmas season is nice with all the Christmas lights, decorations and Christmas Markets, but all those things mentioned can be also found in other places. When all the Christmas hype is over, I felt winter to be rather gloomy season. I hated the cold weather with no (or very little) snow, dark short days, cold winds blowing, the cold outside and the heat on the tube, etc. Not to be misunderstood, I love the UK, but not as much in the winter-time as in the other seasons. 🙂
To true – post Christmas the winter sort of losses its sparkle in the UK! Head further north to places like Scotland, the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales though and there’s still some winter fun to be had but you’re right, London peak winter with slippy foot paths and the stifling tube is not much fun – part of the reason we left ;(
What a fab list, I love snowy wintery weather so would love all of these locations, I could never ever consider emigrating to a hot climate because I would miss the UK winter too much. But I have to say Canada would be at the top of my wish list x
Absolutely, It was my first wintry visit this year and I can’t believe it took me so long to do it! I’m quite the opposite I will take the heat any day over the cold but Canada does cold properly!!!
We love winter, snow is something we always look forward too. Of course living in Scotland we kind of have to like the cold and snow, we tend to have it for a few weeks each year. This morning we enjoyed sledging at the local park and some role even brought skis. When the boys are older we’ll take them skiing at Glenshee or another slope.
Thanks so much for linking up to #Whatevertheweather and hope you will be back to the snow again next winter. 🙂 x
I’ve seen you’ve had a recent cold snap in the UK, what fun to get out sledging! that was the winter highlight for me kids, I couldn’t quite convince them to go skiing yet, the concepts were all too new to them I think, they just wanted to make snow angels and play in it until their fingers froze!!
Love this idea – there are definitely some destinations which are made for snow and frost (rather than just having rain and gloom!). Stockholm is definitely on my list. #mondayescapes
Absolutely, doing this compilation really opened my mind that there’s so much more to winter than cold and rain!
Some seriously incredible winter destinations here. I am bookmarking this page. We are going off on world travels at the end of this year and although we’ll be seeking sun at first, we really want to experience a proper winter. Some really beautiful suggestions here, I’ve just been off to google some of them properly. A great list! Thank you so much for linking this to #whatevertheweather xx
So excited to hear about your world travels – what an amazing plan! Yes although it can add some hassle to the packing, you really need to include some cold weather destinations too – the stunning beauty and the sheer fun for the kids in seeing real snow its completely worth the hassle. If you’re heading Canada way, make sure you follow Celine at Baby Can Travel and Amy at Passports & Pigtails who have loads more to share on their snowy home!
Also if you are looking to plan the rest of your itinerary, really helpful group of family travel bloggers have formed this facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/641116292658200/ to ask any questions you have on worldwide travel. – best of luck planning!
Thanks Keri for this great round-up and also for including my part on Stockholm 🙂 Makes me wondering about discovering Alberta, Canada, seems to be a great place with kids !
We certainly fell in love with Alberta, can’t wait to see it in the summer too. Likewise Stockholm is a place we never made it to when living in Europe, the ice skating looks magical – my Miss Z has developed a new love!
Thank you for letting us be a part of this list! Being from Canada, we do love winter when we can get outside and play in the snow. I’m excited about some of the other winter destinations we can add to our bucket list 🙂
Your travels are so inspiring Celine! We felt brave just walking down the street in the ice and snow, what you do with the kids is incredible! Would love to give the snow shoeing a try but don’t think I’m fit enough dragging the kids along too!!!
This is nice to read, and now I wish for snow! I kind of like winter, but here in Ireland we get rain more than a lovely dusting of snow…. I should start planning a winter getaway, this post gave me loads of good ideas!
Yeah forget the icy wet and cold – 8 years living in London completely put me off winters but visiting destinations that are ideally made for winter is a completely different story! Make it a priority to get out of the cold and rain and have a proper snowy winter instead!!!
Love the focus on cold weather destinations! Thank you so much for allowing us to share one of our favorite places to go when it’s cold. Some of the most beautiful places in the world are even more stunning and fun when covered in snow.
I have such a new appreciation after running this post, and great ideas for future holidays so thank you for contributing!
This is a great read! My kids were born and brought up in Singapore & Hong Kong, and as I hate the cold, we have always avoided anywhere cold for holidays. But my daughter is now desperate to see snow and we have promised her that we will take her somewhere to see it ‘soon’! So I shall keep this article for reference 🙂
I am like you Marianne – but you really must take them to see “real snow” its just magically seeing their reaction
It’s too easy to stay in and hide during the winter! Thanks for showing us a bunch of great places to see in the snow!
Too true – that was definitely me when I was living in the UK but I have such a fonder appreciation now I live in warmth pretty much year round!
Thanks for sharing this great list! Stockholm looks like it would be fun to see in the winter. During the winter I usually love traveling to one of our sunny Southern California beaches. I am not much of a snow person.
I’m like you Sammy I used to always escape from the cold – but visiting Canada this New Year has really opened my eyes to the beauty and adventure you can have in cold places
What beautiful places! I’ve never actually been to a place during snowy weather. I’d love to visit one of these wintry destinations one day.
I instinctively think cities and beaches when it comes to vacations but having just returned from the Rocky’s in winter, what an experience for the kids! definitely recommend it for our desert dwellers.
What a great collection of winter destinations. I’ve been to Sweden in the summer and can imagine there’s great fun to be had in the winter months. Poland, Canada and the US all look amazing too. Thanks for featuring our UK suggestion!
I do remember the months in the lead up to christmas in the UK being a lot of fun – then the hard slog of Jan/Feb! Are there more events like you highlighted that you know of that happen throughout winter?
Great compilation! Thank you for allowing me to be a part, and GO ALBERTA! Winter tends to have a bad reputation, but with this list, it’s clearly an amazing season if you get out and enjoy it!
Absolutely! My childhood memories of winter are just cold, wet and dark but some places know how to do winter really well! Glad we could highlight some of these ideas