Anything can happen on a snow day — especially falling in love all over again. Just think Bob and Betty from White Christmas, Lucy and Jack from While You Were Sleeping, and Jamie and Aurelia from Love Actually. After a long day of skiing, snowball fights, and snowshoeing, you’ll want to cozy up with your significant other; the toasty fireplace, piping-hot cocoa, and leather couch are optional. It’s the company that you keep and, of course, the snow-strewn setting that’s magical, so we’ve rounded up five of our favorite winter wonderlands so you can create a snowy romance of your own.
Wilmington, New York
Located northeast of Lake Placid, more than half of Wilmington is Forest Preserve, where you can cross-country ski, snowshoe, or ride snowmobiles. Popular sites include the AuSable River, internationally famous for trout fishing, and Whiteface Mountain, the site of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics’ alpine skiing events. You can hike 5.2 miles to Whiteface Mountain’s summit or drive up the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, which starts in downtown. Wilmington is also home to Santa’s Workshop, a WWII-era, Christmas-themed amusement park with live reindeer, costumed characters—local high schoolers dress as Frosty the Snowman, Little Red Riding Hood, Alice in Wonderland, and lesser-knowns such as Rowdy the Reindeer and Chris Moose—constant caroling, nativity pageants, and more.
Stay at the Adirondack Spruce Lodge. Every morning, the managers, Keith and Amy, whip up a breakfast according to your preferences, and in the evening, the staff starts a roaring fire, where you can snuggle with your significant other.
In November of 2016, a devastating fire roared through Gatlinburg, destroying more than 2,460 structures. Roughly a year later, the “Gateway to the Smokies” is bustling again, along with its downtown strip of candy kitchens, Southern-style restaurants, moonshine distilleries, mini-golf courses, old-time photo storefronts, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not-style attractions, including WonderWorks Science Museum, a Neo-Greco upside down building. If you’re looking to romp through the snow with your sweetheart, head to Ober Gatlinburg. While the facility is a bit outdated, you can ice skate, alpine slide, or chair swing year round. You’ll also be able to visit with bears, river otters, bobcats, and birds of prey or ride a cable car—where you’ll have one of the most awe-inspiring views of the Smokies.
In 1960, when The Pancake Pantry opened in Gatlinburg, it was the only pancake house in Tennessee. Now, more than 50 years later, the Smoky Mountains are the “Pancake Capital of the World” with more than 20 pancake restaurants in 10.1 square miles. Considered a local treasure, the old-fashioned restaurant consistently has a line out of its door. While The Pancake Pantry doesn’t accept debit or credit cards, it does have a well thought out rotation plan and the best pancakes that you’ll ever eat: everything from the light, fluffy butter to the freshly whipped cream is made from scratch. Sweet potato pancakes, banana-pineapple triumph, old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes: there are 24 different varieties to choose from—and each comes with a whopping side of good ‘ole Southern hospitality.
Tahoe City, California
Perched on the shore of Lake Tahoe at the headwaters of the Truckee River, Tahoe City is a snow lover’s paradise. With over 400 inches of annual snowfall and famous ski resorts, such as Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, and Northstar California, you’ll want to rip through thousands of acres of untreated terrain on a snarling snowmobile. From world-class half-pipes to snow tubing to ice fishing, Tahoe City has a magical mountain mix that makes for the ultimate winter escape. If you’re the more laid-back type, you can position the white-capped peaks and sapphire waters as a dreamy backdrop while you read a humorous book and knock back an espresso coffee at The Dam Cafe.
Located at the base of the Berthoud Pass in the Colorado Rockies, America’s Canary City teems with the rich and famous, stars like Kevin Costner and Jack Nicholson have 81611-zip codes. Of course, that’s not what makes Aspen “stunning,” “awe-inspiring”, and “one of the loveliest places on earth.” Dusted with at least an inch of snow for half of the year, it’s known for its skiing and is surrounded by four monumental ski areas: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk—a favorite among beginners—and Snowmass Ski Resort. When the powder stops falling, though, its luster isn’t lost.
The Rocky Mountains have some spectacular hiking spots. The Maroon Bells, the most photographed mountains in America, are easily accessed during the summer months, less than 10 miles away. And, if you’re looking to relax on your vacay, try a therapeutic soak at Glenwood Springs: the one-million-gallon pool flirts with 90-degree temperatures.
Stop at the White House Tavern, one of the oldest structures in Aspen, for an Honor Burger: angus beef topped with white cheddar, tomatoes, and spicy coleslaw. Then sip a glass of Chateauneuf Du Pape at Creperie du Village, a 50-seat subterranean space lit by candlelight. “Our restaurant is adorned with many historical items [that] we brought with us from the Old World,” says owner Karin Derly. “As such, crossing the threshold transports diners to a chalet tucked high in the Alps.”
Bridger Bowl, a nonprofit ski area 20 minutes outside of town, has 7-acres of first-timer terrain. Diehard skiers, the ones who duct tape their helmets with pride, flock to The Ridge, where snowfields sometimes end in cliffs and avalanche receivers are required. If skiing doesn’t make your honey-do-list, you can always fly fish, day hike, and whitewater raft without worrying about rain or snow because Bozeman averages 300 days of sunshine per year.
Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, The Lindley House, a Victorian Manor built in 1892, offers a complimentary continental-style breakfast. It’s also less than two blocks away from Shakespeare in the Park, the Farmer’s Market, the annual Sweet Pea Arts Festival, and The Siebel Dinosaur Complex—the US’s largest collection of North American dinosaur fossils.