The 32 most affordable winter vacation spots in the US

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  • WalletHub compiled a list of the cheapest and most accessible winter vacation spots in the US.
  • They examined factors such as travel and local costs, cold weather activities, and weather.
  • Chicago, Illinois, was the top destination, followed by Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Some people like to escape to warm vacation spots during the winter months — but if you’d rather be ice skating, skiing, and sipping hot chocolate, here are 32 places to enjoy the cold and still have enough money to buy everybody holiday gifts.

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WalletHub analyzed the most populated US metropolitan areas and then compiled a list of the cheapest and most accessible winter destinations based on 37 metrics falling under six main categories:

  1. Travel costs and hassles(cost and duration of cheapest flights, number of delayed flights, etc.)
  2. Local costs(cost of a three-star hotel room, average cost of a two-person meal, taxi fare, etc.)
  3. Attractions(number and diversity of attractions)
  4. Weather(based on WalletHub’s “Cities with the Best & Worst Weather” ranking)
  5. Cold weather activities(ice skating rinks per capita, proximity of ski slopes, etc.)
  6. Safety(motor vehicle crash deaths, violent crime rate, etc.)

Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, 100 being the best. WalletHub then determined the weighted average across all metrics to calculate a total score for each city.

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Here are 32 affordable places to travel to this winter, ranked.

32. Worcester, Massachusetts

worcester massachusetts

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Barcroft Tower in Worcester.

Travel costs and hassles rank (compared to the most populated metropolitan areas in the US): 32nd

Local costs rank: 28th

Attractions rank: 30th

Weather rank: 21st

Cold weather activities rank: 29th

Safety rank: 4th

Total score: 36.33

31. Albany, New York

albany new york winter

The Albany skyline.
Carol Bell/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 30th

Local costs rank: 29th

Attractions rank: 29th

Weather rank: 24th

Cold weather activities rank: 28th

Safety rank: 11th

Total score: 37.24

30. Hartford, Connecticut

hartford connecticut winter

The Rose Gardens and Gazebo in Elizabeth Park in Hartford during winter.
Laura Stone/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 26th

Local costs rank: 31st

Attractions rank: 31st

Weather rank: 4th

Cold weather activities rank: 31st

Safety rank: 15th

Total score: 43.65

29. Buffalo, New York

buffalo new york niagara falls

Niagara Falls in the winter.
Svetlana Ageeva/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 23rd

Local costs rank: 19th

Attractions rank: 26th

Weather rank: 32nd

Cold weather activities rank: 19th

Safety rank: 13th

Total score: 44.77

28. Providence, Rhode Island

providence rhode island winter

Landmark homes in Providence, Rhode Island.
Joy Brown/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 29th

Local costs rank: 25th

Attractions rank: 27th

Weather rank: 13th

Cold weather activities rank: 25th

Safety rank: 5th

Total score: 44.83

27. Bridgeport, Connecticut

bridgeport connecticut winter

A frozen beach at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
LBSimms Photography/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 31st

Local costs rank: 12th

Attractions rank: 32nd

Weather rank: 8th

Cold weather activities rank: 30th

Safety rank: 7th

Total score: 44.83

26. Rochester, New York

rochester new york winter

Highland Park in Rochester, New York.
George Raymond Gibbs/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 28th

Local costs rank: 8th

Attractions rank: 25th

Weather rank: 31st

Cold weather activities rank: 15th

Safety rank: 12th

Total score: 45.17

25. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

milwaukee wisconsin winter

The Milwaukee Art Museum.
James Kirkikis/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 19th

Local costs rank: 22nd

Attractions rank: 14th

Weather rank: 25th

Cold weather activities rank: 24th

Safety rank: 31st

Total score: 46.47

24. Detroit, Michigan

detroit michigan

An aerial view of Detroit.
Agnieszka Gaul/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 2nd

Local costs rank: 9th

Attractions rank: 24th

Weather rank: 28th

Cold weather activities rank: 32nd

Safety rank: 26th

Total score: 47.90

23. Grand Rapids, Michigan

grand rapids michigan

The Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Boundless Images/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 20th

Local costs rank: 3rd

Attractions rank: 28th

Weather rank: 30th

Cold weather activities rank: 26th

Safety rank: 8th

Total score: 48.23

22. Salt Lake City, Utah

salt lake city utah

Salt Lake City surrounded by mountains.
Mitch Johanson/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 27th

Local costs rank: 18th

Attractions rank: 21st

Weather rank: 18th

Cold weather activities rank: 8th

Safety rank: 19th

Total score: 49.46

21. Cleveland, Ohio

cleveland ohio winter

The Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland, Ohio.
Jennifer Ickes/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 7th

Local costs rank: 10th

Attractions rank: 20th

Weather rank: 29th

Cold weather activities rank: 18th

Safety rank: 20th

Total score: 51.53

20. Louisville, Kentucky

louisville kentucky winter

A rural area in Louisville.
Vicki L. Miller/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 12th

Local costs rank: 15th

Attractions rank: 15th

Weather rank: 26th

Cold weather activities rank: 16th

Safety rank: 24th

Total score: 51.94

19. Omaha, Nebraska

omaha nebraska winter

Downtown Omaha.
Steve O’Donnell/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 18th

Local costs rank: 2nd

Attractions rank: 23rd

Weather rank: 20th

Cold weather activities rank: 23rd

Safety rank: 27th

Total score: 53.23

18. Baltimore, Maryland

baltimore maryland snow

The Patterson Park Pagoda in the Baltimore snow.
Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 15th

Local costs rank: 23rd

Attractions rank: 10th

Weather rank: 11th

Cold weather activities rank: 22nd

Safety rank: 28th

Total score: 53.26

17. Indianapolis, Indiana

indianapolis indiana winter

A holiday light tunnel in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Ashley Keller/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 11th

Local costs rank: 6th

Attractions rank: 19th

Weather rank: 19th

Cold weather activities rank: 17th

Safety rank: 29th

Total score: 54.72

16. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

pittsburgh pennsylvania christmas

An outdoor skating rink in downtown Pittsburgh.
Byelikova Oksana/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 17th

Local costs rank: 17th

Attractions rank: 16th

Weather rank: 21st

Cold weather activities rank: 12th

Safety rank: 3rd

Total score: 55.50

15. Minneapolis, Minnesota

minneapolis minnesota winter

Views from the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis.
Sam Wagner/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 1st

Local costs rank: 21st

Attractions rank: 12th

Weather rank: 27th

Cold weather activities rank: 14th

Safety rank: 10th

Total score: 55.82

14. Columbus, Ohio

columbus ohio winter

Downtown Columbus.
Randall Vermillion/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 6th

Local costs rank: 5th

Attractions rank: 18th

Weather rank: 17th

Cold weather activities rank: 21st

Safety rank: 16th

Total score: 57.09

13. Kansas City, Missouri

christmas tree kansas city missouri

Christmas lights in Kansas City.

Travel costs and hassles rank: 9th

Local costs rank: 14th

Attractions rank: 22nd

Weather rank: 3rd

Cold weather activities rank: 27th

Safety rank: 30th

Total score: 57.23

12. Seattle, Washington

seattle washington winter

The iconic Seattle skyline.

Travel costs and hassles rank: 24th

Local costs rank: 26th

Attractions rank: 1st

Weather rank: 15th

Cold weather activities rank: 6th

Safety rank: 21st

Total score: 57.62

11. Albuquerque, New Mexico

albuquerque new mexico

A tram car in the mountains in Albuquerque.

Travel costs and hassles rank: 21st

Local costs rank: 1st

Attractions rank: 13th

Weather rank: 1st

Cold weather activities rank: 20th

Safety rank: 32nd

Total score: 59.64

10. Portland, Oregon

mt hood forest oregon

Mt. Hood National Forest near Portland.
Patrick Tr/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 25th

Local costs rank: 16th

Attractions rank: 2nd

Weather rank: 16th

Cold weather activities rank: 5th

Safety rank: 17th

Total score: 59.87

9. New York, New York

central park snow

New York’s Central Park in the snow.

Travel costs and hassles rank: 22nd

Local costs rank: 32nd

Attractions rank: 5th

Weather rank: 10th

Cold weather activities rank: 2nd

Safety rank: 2nd

Total score: 61.85

8. Cincinnati, Ohio

cincinnati ohio Findlay Market

Findlay Market in Cincinnati.
Stephanie A Sellers/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 5th

Local costs rank: 4th

Attractions rank: 17th

Weather rank: 14th

Cold weather activities rank: 11th

Safety rank: 9th

Total score: 62.07

7. St. Louis, Missouri

st louis missouri winter

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Travel costs and hassles rank: 14th

Local costs rank: 7th

Attractions rank: 9th

Weather rank: 7th

Cold weather activities rank: 9th

Safety rank: 22nd

Total score: 63.07

6. Boston, Massachusetts

boston winter

Commonwealth Avenue in Boston.
Marcio Jose Bastos Silva/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 10th

Local costs rank: 30th

Attractions rank: 3rd

Weather rank: 12th

Cold weather activities rank: 13th

Safety rank: 1st

Total score: 63.47

5. Denver, Colorado

denver colorado city park

A view of snow-covered City Park and mountain ranges behind Denver’s skyline.
Bridget Calip/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 13th

Local costs rank: 13th

Attractions rank: 8th

Weather rank: 9th

Cold weather activities rank: 7th

Safety rank: 23rd

Total score: 64.28

4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

philadelphia pennsylvania holidays

A Christmas market in Philadelphia.

Travel costs and hassles rank: 16th

Local costs rank: 24th

Attractions rank: 6th

Weather rank: 6th

Cold weather activities rank: 10th

Safety rank: 14th

Total score: 64.58

3. Atlanta, Georgia

atlanta in the snow

Atlanta in the snow.
Image Alleviation/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 3rd

Local costs rank: 20th

Attractions rank: 11th

Weather rank: 2nd

Cold weather activities rank: 3rd

Safety rank: 25th

Total score: 68.10

2. Washington, DC

washington dc winter

The Jefferson Memorial.
Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

Travel costs and hassles rank: 8th

Local costs rank: 27th

Attractions rank: 7th

Weather rank: 5th

Cold weather activities rank: 4th

Safety rank: 6th

Total score: 68.19


winter travel
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