Get away this winter: 3 vacation destinations that excite and inspire
Winter is an ideal time to explore a new city, especially one that leans into the spirit of the holidays. | By Paul Oswell | December 2, 2022
Holiday markets selling seasonal delicacies, brightly illuminated streets and fun-filled celebrations make the winter festive season a special time. Here are some suggestions for places where you can discover your own winter wonderland:
Party in Park City: This ski resort town in Utah has snow, wonderful cuisine and a wealth of winter amenities
Exciting Edinburgh: The Scottish capital has one of the most famous New Year’s Eve parties in the world
Atmospheric Amsterdam: Browse some irresistible festive foods or float down the canals while you take in the lights
Park City, Utah
If winter sports are your activity of choice, then Utah should be the first place you think about when planning a winter getaway. Park City is one of the world’s best alpine regions and the opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, sledding and snowshoeing are endless. The town’s magical, snow-topped panorama makes for an enticing winter vacation, and the cultural, dining and entertainment options amplify its allure.
After an exhilarating day in the snow at Dutch Hollow or any of the other great ski runs, warm up with a decadent mug of house-made hot chocolate or a seasonal cider bar at Waldorf Astoria Park City. The only luxury hotel in the area with slope-side access to Park City Mountain, the resort has myriad winter amenities designed to make your winter stay unforgettable. These include boot warmer racks and a dedicated Ski Valet staff, who check in your alpine equipment upon arrival and organize, store and dry it all when you return from the slopes. The property’s on-site partner, Ski Butlers, will professionally tune your rental equipment before delivering it directly to your room — they’ll even bring an extra pair of boots for a guaranteed perfect fit. Flagship restaurant Powder is the perfect place for après ski, with elevated comfort food inspired by mountain regions from around the world. Treat yourself to mouthwatering seasonal dishes such as Utah red trout or Alaskan halibut.
The Scottish capital is one of the world’s most evocative destinations for the holiday season, thanks to its dramatic Gothic and Victorian architecture and historic streets that wind through the city center. During the winter months, European-style holiday markets pop up with decorative miniature chalets selling artisanal gifts and festive crafts from local artists along East Princes Street Gardens.
This year, the Forth 1 Big Wheel – Edinburgh's holiday Ferris wheel – returns, with its breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. After three rotations in one of the 36 enclosed, weather-proof pods, stop by the nearby street food vendors serving a selection of the finest Scottish delicacies as well as winter tipples and hot chocolate.
Edinburgh is famous for its Hogmanay – the Scottish name for new year – celebrations. Against the stunning backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, revelers from around the world can dance their way into 2023 with live music, giant screens and funfair attractions.
Steps from the Princess Street Gardens, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh - The Caledonian also throws itself into the spirit of the season. Once you’ve finished your morning swim in the property’s indoor pool overlooking Edinburgh Castle and rejuvenated with a spa treatment at Waldorf Astoria Spa, continue your day of refreshment with a soothing cup of tea accompanied by an assortment of cakes and pastries during afternoon tea. The property will also be offering special Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve three-course menus at Grazing by Mark Greenaway.
There’s a fairy-tale atmosphere during the holiday season in this cultured European capital. From the elegant holiday trees on Dam Square to bustling markets to seasonal concerts, there’s plenty of Dutch spirit to get you into the swing of the holidays. Take to the scenic canals to enjoy a picturesque tour of the city center. You can admire the festive lights and decorations as you float past and sit back on a private cruise in a quintessential wooden saloon boat.
The Netherlands has a proud culinary history, with seasonal Dutch treats for you to sip and savor. Toast to the new year with a warming flight of jenever (a popular juniper-flavored liquor) during a private tasting at Wynand Fockink, Amsterdam’s historic 17th-century distillery, liquor store and tasting room.
For canal-side luxury in the heart of the city, head to Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam where you can experience a wealth of seasonal treats, starting with a festive season afternoon tea, curated by the hotel’s world-class pastry chefs. Indulge with a seven-course gourmet dinner on Christmas and New Year’s Eves at Spectrum, the hotel’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant. For the ultimate treat, try the private dining experience in the 18th-century Maurer Room, where up to eight guests can enjoy an unforgettable holiday dinner.
Reimagining your regular holiday traditions can be incredibly rewarding. This year, explore a new destination and throw yourself into celebrations that you don’t have to plan or cater for. The holiday stresses will quickly melt away as you cultivate lasting memories for yourself and your loved ones.
Paul Oswell is an award-winning travel writer, and has been reporting from all seven continents for over twenty years. He is based in New Orleans and is the author of “The Bucket List North America: 1,000 Adventures Big and Small.”