Houstonia Magazine
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By Geneva Diaz
Go ice climbing in Montana, enjoy après-ski in Aspen, or hit the slopes in Lake Tahoe.
Image: Shutterstock/AboutLife
Texans have a love-hate relationship with winter, but there’s something we can all agree on: when it snows in Texas, we go bonkers. While it tends not to last very long, and it’s never a guarantee, plenty of winter playgrounds in the states offer some of the best places to see snow. Why wait to wear your favorite sweater and drink hot cocoa when you can take a direct flight from Houston to cooler climates in five hours or less?
If you don’t want to wait for snow in Texas (which isn’t guaranteed), adjacent states like New Mexico and Colorado can deliver on convenient weekend getaways with world-class ski resorts, family-friendly sledding hills, and plenty of cold to make you homesick. Or choose a snowy-wet area far north, such as Vancouver, which features great food, beautiful architecture, picturesque cityscapes, and plenty of history.
Here are four unique winter destinations to plan your next snow-bound getaway with plenty of things to do.
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If you haven’t already, it’s time to try your hand at skiing in Aspen, Colorado. Skiing and snowboarding during the winter is a definite thing to do, but aside from that, the après-ski (after ski activities) are all the rage in this town during the winter months. 
How to get to Aspen from Houston: Fly from IAH directly into Aspen/Pitkin County Airport (ASE). 
What to do in Aspen: Get a One Pass to switch it up each day and ski four different mountains—Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk—all of which are in close proximity to each other, conveniently accessible via the free bus system, and each with their own type of fun. Do an “adventure dining” experience and sleigh ride, cross-country ski or snowshoe up through Ashcroft to Pine Creek Cookhouse (nestled at the base of the Elk Mountains) for some fine dining and a breathtaking view. Top things off with tubing down Snowmass with the whole family along the illuminated hillsides under the night sky on Ullr nights
When you’ve had enough snow, take advantage of the many different spots for après-ski. Everything from hot tubs, poolside cocktails, and locally brewed beers to more refined experiences like fine-dining, live music, and performances. Don’t forget to spend a day viewing Aspen’s robust arts and culture scene by going to the Aspen Art Museum and the many galleries around town, including Aspen Art Gallery, Royal Street Fine Art, and Galerie Maximillian.
Where to stay in Aspen: Most of the best hotels in Aspen are scattered across the historic downtown area–which is just minutes from the base of Aspen Mountain. Even if you don’t plan on staying at this boutique-style lodge, Hotel Jerome has been an Aspen landmark since 1889, and the hotel’s rich 130-year history alone makes it worth a visit. Book a stay at the Limelight Hotel Aspen where you can easily walk to the slopes and has a laid back yet upscale vibe with two rooftop terraces, a cozy living-room-style lounge and right in the heart of all the action. Another charming place is The Little Nell, which offers luxury accommodations, ski-in/ski-out access to Aspen Mountain for guests, and a beautiful wine bar that also has a popular hot chocolate on the menu, made with rich Dutch cocoa.
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This wintry destination has multiple mountain resorts, beautiful hot springs, plenty of breweries, and the peaceful seclusion you seek when leaving the big city. Many mountain resorts—like Big Sky Resort, Bridger Bowl, Lone Mountain, and National Forest Land— are just 20-minutes away from downtown Bozeman. The short drive makes it easy to get a few ski runs in on the slopes in the morning and still have time to enjoy the town.
​​How to get to Bozeman from Houston: Fly from George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) directly into Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport BZN (BZN).
What to do in Bozeman: Aside from skiing, there are plenty of other snow-filled adventures to try. For the adventure-seeker, take an ice climbing class or if you’re not quite ready for that, go on a snowshoeing tour to see the multiple waterfalls along a ​​short trail to Palisade Falls, Hyalite Creek Trail. One of the best family-friendly activities to do is an all-inclusive sleigh ride with 320 Ranch. The town has an eclectic option of breweries you’ll want to try out. Local favorites to keep in mind are Mountains Walking, Bridger Brewing (known to have the best pizza in town), Bozeman Brewing Company, and Outlaw Brewing. For shopping, head to The Market at Ferguson Farm on Bozeman’s west side, a trendy new compound of restaurants, retail, and other small businesses to support. Another way to stay warm is to visit The Museum of the Rockies—known for its dinosaur and paleontological collections.
Where to stay in Bozeman: Aside from the resorts, there are some beautiful Airbnbs in and around town to choose from—some of which include steamy hot tubs. Speaking of hot pools of water, this destination wouldn’t be complete without a 15-minute drive west to Bozeman Hot Springs, where on select evenings, you can listen to live music while you soak in one of 12 pools ranging in temperature. Wet and dry saunas are also available, as well as a fitness center and a campground. Hours vary during the winter months, so be sure to check their calendar
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Winters in Lake Tahoe are serene without even trying. Different areas of the lake will give you different vibes and even put you in either Nevada or California. The south is filled with bars, boutiques and a lot of activities while the north is more quiet and can be a better option for those looking for a chilled-out or romantic getaway. 
​​How to get to Lake Tahoe from Houston: Directly fly from IAH into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) and drive one hour south to get to Lake Tahoe, Nevada. Some shuttles run from the Reno airport to common Lake Tahoe destinations such as South Lake, where many places are accessible by walking if you stay in the populated area. The restaurants and shops are bunched together on the same main street, making them easy to get to without a car, and most lodgings have shuttle services or just a short walk to the nearest gondola. There are about a dozen ski areas around the lake, but the most popular ones are Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley), Heavenly Mountain, and Northstar (the north side of the lake and much less windy).
What to do in Lake Tahoe: You don’t have to ski to enjoy the area. Head to the lake to make a snowman with the kids or walk along the snowy piers to snap a holiday family photo. Even if you’re not interested in skiing, take the gondola up to the first stop on Heavenly mountain, where the views are stunning, and you can see all of Lake Tahoe. While up there, grab lunch and a drink in the lodge. Bring snow boots when you go up, as you do have to walk a good 100-feet from the gondola to the lodge. The price varies throughout the season, but it’s roughly $60 for a roundtrip ride on the gondola.
One of the best ways to stay warm and entertained is to head to The Loft Theatre for dinner and a show. You can make a reservation for dinner followed by purchasing tickets to a show in the same building. Magic shows are the specialty here and a fun way to spend an evening exploring the town during the day. Lastly, Lake Tahoe is notoriously known for its breweries, so if you love beer, you’re in the right place. From fancy taprooms to laid-back breweries, there’s something for everyone. A few places worth brew hopping to are South Lake Brewing Co., South Of North Brewing, and Sidellis Lake Tahoe Brewery (all on South Lake).
Where to stay in Lake Tahoe: If you choose to stay in South Lake Tahoe, book a room at the Coachman Hotel—a cute boutique hotel between Heavenly Mountain’s majestic vistas and the lake. Enjoy live music and ​​get cozy around the outdoor fire pits to roast a couple of s’mores for the evening. Another option is Basecamp Hotel, which has a fantastic beer garden and is just a five-minute walk to the lake and a short four-minute walk to the Heavenly mountain gondola. Looking to splurge? It doesn’t get any better than Edgewood, a newly renovated lakeside resort with panoramic views of the lake, a world-class golf course, and a premier spa.
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When it comes to vacationing in Canada, visiting Vancouver is a great place to start. Like Houston, there is so much to do and see that you could spend weeks exploring and not see everything. And that’s not including all of the places you can adventure to that are outside of the city with just a rental car and few hours to spare. The city is very much known for its seafood, beautiful scenic views, and the laid back west coast vibes of the people.
​​How to get to Vancouver from Houston: Take a flight from IAH directly into Vancouver International Airport (YVR).
What to do in Vancouver: Visiting Vancouver at any time of the year can be fun, but if you’re specifically going during the winter, spend a day at Grouse Mountain. This park is only eight miles outside Vancouver, and an excellent escape from the bustling city. An admission ticket gives you access to the many activities available in the park such as a lumberjack show, a view of endangered animals that’ll entertain the kids, and the Skyride aerial tram for a scenic view of Vancouver’s wintery wonderland. Tip: Go at night to see the city sky light up!

Not only does Vancouver get cold, it gets wet and rainy. Stay dry by visiting a museum: the Museum of Anthropology and the Vancouver Museum are great options, but for something really unique, visit the Burnaby Village Museum which transports you back in time to the roaring 20s in Vancouver with townsfolk in period-clothing showing you how locals use to live. Discover the boozy history of Vancouver’s bootlegging past by taking a prohibition walking tour in Gastown, the oldest commercial district. You’ll also learn how the area grew from a single tavern back in 1867 and the history of one of the only steam-powered clocks in the world— information that you didn’t know you needed, but will live rent-free in your head.
Where to stay in Vancouver: If your Vancouver trip is only a few days, booking a room downtown is the most convenient area to stay. This includes the neighborhoods of Gastown, Yaletown, Waterfront, the Financial District, Coal Harbour, Granville Entertainment District, and the West End/Davie Village. You’ll have easy access to the city’s main attractions, be able to get around on foot or through public transit with ease, and have plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping to look forward to. Stay at the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa which offers old-world service, beautiful rooms and common space, and a top-rated restaurant on-site (Bacchus). Other hotels to look into are OPUS Vancouver, L’Hermitage Hotel, and Rosewood Hotel Georgia.
For a complete list of direct flights out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), visit their website. For more winter destinations accessible directly from William P. Hobby Airport (HOU), visit their website.
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