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U.S. Small Towns That Are Even Cuter in Winter

PHOTO: Johnny Adolphson / Shuttershock

Embrace the beauty of the snowy season.

’Tis the season to travel. Luckily, you don’t need a passport to make the most of the bitter months ahead. Snow-capped mountains, peaceful farmlands, cozy inns, and outdoor activities entice in towns across America. Take a peek at these picturesque destinations to inspire your next winter escape.

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PHOTO: Blueice69caddy | Dreamstime.com
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Girdwood, Alaska

It would be hard to oversell the wondrous beauty of winter in Girdwood. Cold-weather enthusiasts flock to “Alaska’s Recreation Capital” for steep slopes, cross-country skiing loipes, dog sledding, and guided glacier tours. And unless you have a fear of heights, there’s no excuse to miss the aerial tram at Alyeska Resort.

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PHOTO: Discover Lehigh Valley
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Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Bethlehem is synonymous with Christmas for many reasons. But once the glow of the twinkling lights is gone and the holiday hordes disperse, this snow-dusted town still shines brightly. Though, it’s much quieter and less crowded—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Enjoy idyllic carriage rides and stop by Fegley’s Bethlehem Brew Works for a craft beer.

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PHOTO: Sun Valley Resort
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Ketchum, Idaho

This humble mining community turned iconic winter retreat rose to stardom in 1936 with the opening of Sun Valley. The legendary ski resort—the first to debut a chairlift—stole the hearts of Clark Gable, Ingrid Bergman, and Ernest Hemingway decades ago. Today, Ketchum continues to attract vacationers with its groomed runs, hot springs, and booming art scene.

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PHOTO: Visit Montana
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West Yellowstone, Montana

Ready to answer the call of the wild? The western gateway to Yellowstone National Park puts the God-given majesty of Old Faithful at your doorstep. Fearless travelers can get close to bears and native canines at Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. Did we mention this magical locale averages 201 inches of white stuff annually?

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PHOTO: Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce
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Lanesboro, Minnesota

Ensconced by limestone bluffs and blanked in snow, the tiny gem of Lanesboro comes alive in the chilly season. Meandering entry roads, wooden bridges, and brick storefronts paint a portrait that’s hard to resist. Craving some retail therapy? Spend the afternoon shopping for locally made souvenirs at the merchants along Parkway Avenue.

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PHOTO: Maine Office of Tourism
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Camden, Maine

Not just a summer vacation destination, Camden dazzles when the temperature drops. And, for a town of its size, this coastal enclave offers a (surprising) plethora of arctic action—from Nordic skiing to nostalgic pursuits like sledding—and exciting events. Visit in early February for the U.S. National Toboggan Championships and Camden Winterfest.

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PHOTO: Sandra Foyt | Dreamstime.com
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Grafton, Vermont

Grafton gets 63 inches of powder per year and has just 679 residents. We like those odds. Its rolling hills and well-maintained trails are among the scenic highlights. That’s not all! This quintessential Vermont village is also home to a gourmet cheese shop and the Grafton Inn, which counts Theodore Roosevelt and Ralph Waldo Emerson among its past guests.

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PHOTO: Courtesy of Connecticut Office of Tourism
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Litchfield, Connecticut

Litchfield corners the market on timeless New England charm with historic houses and miles of untrammeled wilderness. And a sprinkling of fresh flakes only adds to the postcard-worthy panorama. Need a break from the cold? Sample farm-to-bottle spirits at Litchfield Distillery or see a film at Bantam Cinema, the oldest continually operating movie theater in Connecticut.

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PHOTO: Visit Blowing Rock
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Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Seeking a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Check out Blowing Rock (for clarity, we’re referring to the geological formation), “the only place in the world where snow falls upside down.” The eponymous town does its namesake proud with sweeping vistas and rustic magnetism. Travelers can also hit slopes and stay in log cabins.

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PHOTO: AJ Mellor
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Midway, Utah

With 1,000 miles of powdery paths and a massive outdoor skating rink, Midway has plenty to coax you out into the cold. Don’t leave without stopping by the enchanting Midway Ice Castles—each frigid fortification weighs a whopping 12,500 tons. When you’re ready to thaw out, head to Homestead Crater for a soak in the thermal waters.

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PHOTO: Wyoming Office of Tourism
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Jackson, Wyoming

Jackson is utopia for adventure lovers. And while you could make a compelling case for each season, winter wows with world-class skiing and snowboarding. Prefer to skip the high-altitude thrills? Western-style shops, saloons, and accommodations like the Anvil Hotel are another selling point. Be sure snap a photo in front of the famed antler arches.