Winter is a long season that offers lots of time for family vacations. Whether it's traveling during the holidays for a stay with family in Orlando or a quick trip to a nearby city for a long weekend, planning a winter getaway can be tricky. Take some extra time to explore all of your options and narrow down your picks with our list of winter getaways.

Ski in the Snow
For those families that live in warmer climates year-round, a trip to a snowy white mountain ski resort may be the perfect getaway for you. Ski resorts are located all throughout the U.S., including New England, the Mid-Atlantic, California, the Rockies and even the Midwest, so don't stress about packing your bags for a cross-country flight. The only cross-country you'll be doing is skiing. Most resorts offer ski, stay and play packages that will work with any budget and time frame. And it's OK if you or your children have never hit the slopes before -- winter is the best time to enroll in a ski school and learn. At the end of a long day, sip hot cocoa and warm up by the fireplace with your family.

Stay at the Boyne Highlands Resort, Boyne Mountain Resort
We weren't kidding when we said that the Midwest offers ski resorts and Boyne Mountain Resort is a great one for families. With a ski school that teaches children as young as 3 years old and the largest indoor water park in Michigan, Avalanche Bay, there will be something for everyone to do. Stay at the Boyne Highlands Resort for ski-in/ski-out access, snowmobiling, an arcade and a Saturday night kids club. Plus parents will love the 55 ski runs during the day and the Zoo Bar at night, for an evening cocktail and live music.
Boyne Highlands Resort

A Warm Escape During a Cold Winter
Winter can be long, cold and snowy. Although the white stuff is pretty to look at, it can get old quick. That's when it is time to escape to a warm-weather destination. Think Florida, southern California, Hawaii, Mexico or the Caribbean. When looking for a vacation filled with sunshine, families also need to consider budget, time frame and location. For example, if you're on the east coast, you might have to spend a whole day just getting to Oahu, while those who live in the Pacific Northwest may find getting to an island in the Caribbean to be a long trip.

Stay at the Velas Vallarta Suite Resort, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Mexico is a good distance from both the east and west coast states so you'll feel like your really getting away without spending hours on end traveling. Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula just far into the east, with both Caribbean and Pacific beaches, too. Check out all-inclusives in Mexico like the Velas Vallarta Suite Resort. Beach volleyball, bingo, dancing, arts and crafts, treasure hunts...the list goes on and on. Children can escape to the kids club while parents soak up the sun on the beach. Grab dinner at one of the onsite restaurants, each offering a different international cuisine and then enjoy some alone time -- the kids club counselors double as babysitters!
Velas Vallarta Suites Resort

See a City Jam-Packed with Fun
Hitting a major city like New York, Chicago or Washington, D.C. during the holidays means your family will never lack for anything to do or see (not to mention plenty of restaurants remaining open on major holidays to ensure you are well fed)! Visit historical sites, stroll through museums and take in shows at the theater. Find kid-specific fun like discovery museums, zoos and aquariums. Need more ideas? We have a list of our 10 Best Cities for Families to get you started.

Stay at the Casablanca Hotel, New York City
New York City is magical during the winter months, especially near the holidays. Plan for a busy week or weekend in the Big Apple, but make it easier by staying in center of it all at the Casablanca Hotel. With complimentary breakfast and snacks, you'll save money on meals, and the hotel is located near Times Square, so you won't miss any of the action. Be sure to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, the holiday windows at Macy's and stroll through Central Park where the kids can play in the snow.
Casablanca Hotel

Ride the Rides at a Theme Park
Amusement parks are all over the country and winter may be one of the best times to visit one in a warm weather destination. Whether you're headed for Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios or LEGOLAND, theme parks can be fun for the whole family. Thrill-seekers will get to ride the rides while younger kids can see a show and take pictures with their favorite characters. The other great thing about a theme park is that you can do it all in one day! Head to Orlando for one week and you'll be able to hit Magic Kingdom Monday, Epcot Tuesday and Animal Kingdom Wednesday. Save Thursday and Friday for Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure and then head home Saturday because you'll probably have no voice left after screaming on all the rides.

Stay at a Disney All-Star Resort, Orlando
Disney won't come cheap when you factor in tickets, meals, transportation, unavoidable gift shop purchases, character dining and more. Save a little in your pocket, but don't lose any of the experience at one of Disney's All-Star Resorts, including All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, All-Star Movies and the newest value property, Disney's Art of Animation Resort. The Value Resorts properties provide budget-friendly rates, themed rooms and pools, family suites with mini kitchens, and free transportation to and from all Walt Disney World theme parks.
Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Learn Something New
Just because the kids are on a break from school, it doesn't mean the learning has to stop. There are plenty of destinations around the country -- and the world! -- that offer an insight into history and science and will have your family leaving vacation with a plethora of new knowledge. Museums are a great option for families and cities around the U.S. have a ton of them. But if you're not into quiet exhibits and fragile fossils, try heading to locations with history at every turn. Colonial Williamsburg is great for children and kids will love the old-fashioned clothing of the actors in the Virginian colony. If you're looking for something a little bigger and more breathtaking, head to the Grand Canyon -- the U.S. landmark is sure to make a big impression on the whole family.

Stay at the Williamsburg Inn, Colonial Williamsburg
Book a room at the four-star Williamsburg Inn for a stay in the center of history. Take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, rent colonial costumes for the weekend and check out the different trade shops. Rooms at the Inn come with four-poster beds, fireplaces and evening turndown service with chocolates left on the pillows. Parents can enjoy an elegant dinner in the Regency Room after a long day of educational activities. In the evenings, kids will love taking a dip in one of the hotel's three pools. Be sure to look into special packages around winter holidays like Presidents Day, too!
Williamsburg Inn

This article has been updated as of February 28, 2014.

For more winter ideas from Family Vacation Critic, check out:
10 Best Family Ski Resorts
10 Best Ski Resorts on the East Coast
8 Ski Essentials for Families

For even more ideas, visit our Forums!

Written by Lissa Harnish Poirot and Hilarey Wojtowicz



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