10 winter wonderlands to add to your travel bucket list
When was the last time you careened joyously down a sledding hill or propped your bare feet up in front of a crackling fire at a mountain lodge? Even when it's chilly outside, winter can be a season to embrace rather than escape. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, cold-region winter getaways offer many delights, from the silence of snowfall to the thrill of a luge run. When your neighbors flee to beach resorts, consider heading to one of these 10 winter wonderlands instead to celebrate the least-appreciated season.
Aspen is known for its ski mountains — including Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk, home of the X Games this year — but there are a number of additional activities here for adventure-seekers, including snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing or riding a "fat bike" on 60 miles of trails. Looking for something a little more low key? Visit the elegant Aspen Art Museum or venture down the road to Glenwood Springs to take a tram ride and cave tour at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Relax in the Yampah Vapor Caves, wrinkle up in one of 17 pools in the Iron Mountain Hot Springs or take a dip in the world's largest mineral springs pool, boasting one million gallons of water.
There are several winter experiences to choose from in Beijing. Travel to China picks up in early February for the Chinese New Year celebration, with citywide temple fairs featuring music, theater, art, crafts, food, flower shows, dragon dances and nightly fireworks. Book before or after peak season to enjoy lower hotel and tour package prices and smaller crowds at popular sights. If you like winter sports, spend your time at any of the several ski areas close by, and be sure to pack layers — it's cold enough outside to turn the city's ponds into ice rinks.
Situated on the Vermont/New York border, Burlington allows easy access to two winter wonderlands. Sports enthusiasts can head east to popular Vermont resorts, including Stowe, Sugarbush, Smuggler's Notch, Mad River Glen and Bolton Valley. If activities like snow golf and ice carving sound more appealing to you, you won't want to miss the Stowe Winter Carnival, starting January 13. Lake Placid is also located nearby, and is a great place to visit. Check out the Olympic Museum or Mirror Lake for sledding, dogsledding, snowshoeing and skating. Wilmington's Whiteface Mountain also offers 87 trails and boasts the biggest vertical drop in the eastern states. Plan to visit during the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival from February 2 to 11 to enjoy a parade, ice palace and knee-deep snow volleyball.
The 1988 Winter Olympics ski slopes, luge and bobsled runs now offer thrills to us non-Olympians, and they're located right in Calgary at WinSport Canada Olympic Park. The Olympic Oval speed skating rink and Fish Creek Park, Canada's largest urban park, are also popular attractions here. After a visit, warm up in an indoor public park with 10,500 trees and shrubs at Devonian Gardens, or catch a Calgary Flames hockey game. For more indoor fun, you can also explore the past at Fort Calgary or visit the Canada Sports Hall of Fame. Upcoming events include the citywide Calgary Winter Festival, Block Heater Folk Music Festival and Calgary Midwinter Bluesfest, all taking place in February.
Central Copenhagen is compact and crisscrossed by light-rail trains, making it easy to get around even on the coldest days. Visit Copenhagen's countless museums, restaurants and the magical Tivoli Gardens all winter long. In February, enjoy citywide events including the Fashion Festival, Winter Jazz Festival and Copenhagen Dining Week. Gastronomic options in Copenhagen are definitely worth exploring, and range from Michelin-star restaurants — 15 to date — to a recently opened Copenhagen Street Food warehouse that features 35 food trucks and stalls serving global street food. If you have time to spare, catch a 90-minute train to the town of Odense, where you'll find a Hans Christian Andersen museum and a "winter zoo."
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax gets tons of snow, and with it comes tons of winter activities. Major events blanket the winter season like a foot of fresh powder. Following the National Skating Championships in January are the Savour Food and Wine Festival and Nova Scotia Icewine Festival that both run into March. All winter long, you can choose among activities like skiing at Ski Martock, skating at the Emera Oval and sleigh rides at Hatfield Farm, or tour the seafaring town of Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It may be the German gateway to the Alps with the Oberammergau, Zugspitze and Garmisch-Partenkirchen ski areas all within a 75-minute drive, but Munich offers much more than skiing in the winter. Visitors can take a horse carriage ride through Englischer Garden, shop at the Viktualienmarkt in the city center and ice skate on the frozen canal in front of Nymphenburg Palace. Indoor indulgences include dozens of museums, Therme Erding, Europe's largest thermal bath, and Schrannenhalle, a quarter-mile-long, iron-and-glass foodie's paradise. In the evenings, attend Circus Krone, the largest circus in Europe, see a show at the Gaertnerplatz Theater, or attend the Strong Beer Festival, which starts on February 23.
Prague, Czech Republic
The " city of a hundred spires" is overrun with tourists each summer, but the crowds, prices and temperatures drop in midwinter. The sights of Prague are always striking, from the massive Prague Castle to the architecturally rich assortment of churches, towers and bridges that surround it. Take a break from high culture to try Czech dumplings and strudels, then plunge into the beer culture with a visit to the Czech Beer Museum or Beer Spa Bernard, where a one-hour beer bath comes with unlimited consumption. Prague Carnevale, starting February 10, and two major film festivals in March are some of the city's best events all year. Finally, enjoy a selection of winter sports at nearby Herlikovice ski resort.
Traverse City, Michigan
With 101 inches of annual snowfall, this Lake Michigan town gives you a world of winter choices. TimberLee Hills' 700-foot hill is a joyride for tubers located right on the edge of Traverse City, and 200 miles of snowmobile trails can be found next door at Boardman Valley Natural Area. Shanty Creek Resorts' three ski areas and 51 runs and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore's 73 miles of trails are all only a half-hour drive away. For those interested in wine, most of the nearby wine regions' 40 tasting rooms pour Rieslings and Chardonnays all winter long. A bonus for travelers visiting in February is the array of festivals celebrating wine, microbrews and music, comedy and cross-country skiing.
Winter activities in and around Switzerland's largest city include sledding on Zurich's Uetliberg mountain, skiing at Flumserberg and cross-country skiing at Amden or Lake Whalen, but it's the season's festivals here that are truly exciting. The Swiss know how to celebrate, so try to make it to one of the area's two big winter carnivals in February or March. The Winterthur Carnival, which dates back to the 15th century and draws in 50,000 visitors, concludes with the ceremonial burning of the Böögg, or snowman, a definite must-see. Also drawing thousands of spectators are Zurich's Mercedes-Benz show-jumping tournament in late January and Art on Ice, a dazzling show starring the world's top figure skaters, in early March.
If you go
Many other northern destinations worldwide also celebrate winter with abundant activities and festivals devoted to everything from art and music to cold-weather zoo creatures. At most such destinations, travel costs are lower and the crowds are thinner during the colder months of the year. So when you plan your next getaway, think about packing a few extra layers and changing your destination latitude from southern to northern for an exhilarating change of pace.
Whether you're traveling to a new city or revisiting an old favorite, discover exciting destinations across the country and the world with our winter fare specials. Ready to plan your winter adventure? Visit united.com or use the United app to book your winter wonderland trip.
On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).
A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."
Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.
Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:
1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more
Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.
Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.
2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center
Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.
3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist
Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:
Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
4. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.
5. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:
Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features
Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.
6. Wear your mask
Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.
7. Get ready for a safer boarding process
To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.
8. Pack smart
Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.
9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.
10. Relax and enjoy your flight
Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.
This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.
"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.
We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
To use on Microsoft Teams:
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
Watch our most popular videos
This is why we fly.
20 UCSF Health workers, who voluntarily set aside their own lives to help save lives, are on their way to New York City.
We are humbled by your selfless sacrifice.
In celebration and appreciation of all first responders and essential workers. 👏🏻👏🏼👏🏽👏🏾👏🏿
This is the story of Jason and Shantel. You see, Jason and Shantel love each other very much. They also love traveling and they love the classic Adam Sandler film, The Wedding Singer.
It all began when Jason reached out to United's social media team, hoping for assistance with his upcoming plan to propose. Some phone calls and one borrowed guitar later, the stage was set for Jason. Put all that together, mix in some helpful United employees and, voila, you have a truly memorable marriage proposal. Congratulations to this fun-loving and happy couple, and here's to many more years of making beautiful music together.
A big thank you to Chicago-based flight attendants Donna W., Marie M., Karen J. and Mark K. for making this proposal come to life.