It’s winter! And many of you may look to escape the winter conditions for tropical locations, but for those of you who embrace this season, check out these wild winter retreats in North America—they may just send chills up and down your spine at the mere thought!
6 Icy Winter Retreats
1. The Icebar Orlando—Orlando, Florida
Each winter, people from colder climes flock to Florida to enjoy the warmth. However, if you start to feel a little homesick, then you can always stop in at Orlando’s Icebar. This bar is hand-carved from more than 70 tons of ice, making it the largest year-round ice bar in the world, and drinks are served in custom carved glasses of ice. Thermal coats and gloves are provided!
2. Hotel de Glace—Quebec, Canada
The Hotel de Glace looks a lot more like a frozen palace than a hotel. This hotel, which is right outside of Quebec City, is 32,000 square feet of beautifully carved snow and ice. From the gorgeously arched ceilings to the frosty furniture, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled to a faraway fantasyland. This hotel is open from the beginning of January through the end of March each year if you’d like to book a stay or take a tour.
3. The Chena Hot Springs Resort—Fairbanks, Alaska
The Chena Hot Springs Resort is truly a winter wonderland (except you can enjoy many of the wintry activities in the summer, too). When you stay at the resort, you can enjoy all kinds of unique activities like sleigh rides and dog sledding. However, the two main attractions are the hot springs and the Aurora Ice Museum. At the hot springs, you’ll have a chance to take a luxurious, mineral-rich hot soak in the middle of a frozen, snow-covered landscape. At the Aurora Ice Museum, which is open year round, you’ll tour rooms filled with amazing ice carvings made by world famous carvers, Steve Brice and his wife, Heather.
4. The Tundra Lodge Adventure—Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Imagine staying in a moving hotel that looks something like a train without tracks. Now imagine that hotel in the tundra, surrounded by polar bears throughout the day and illuminated by the Northern Lights at night. That’s the Natural Habitat Adventures’ Tundra Lodge Adventure — a hotel that hosts up to 29 guests, pulled through the subarctic tundra by giant snow rovers. What makes this retreat so unique (aside from the convoy-style hotel) is that you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with polar bears while remaining in the comfort and safety of the rolling Tundra Lodge!
5. Minus5º Ice Bar—Las Vegas, NYC, Orlando, and the Cayman Islands
With locations around the United States, Minus5º Ice Bars are one of the world’s most famous ice attractions. Everything inside Minus5° is made of ice; the walls, the bar, the seats and even the glasses in which you enjoy your cocktails. And why is it called Minus5º? You guessed it: the bar is kept at –5 degrees celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit). At the door, you’ll be given a warm fur coat and gloves so that you can enjoy the experience in comfort. From there, you’ll be able to enjoy cool cocktails or simply tour the sights. Each Minus5º Ice Bar is open year-round, and you’ll be able to see a variety of sights, from rooms filled with ice sculptures to dazzling LED light shows.
6. Watch the World Skijoring Championships—Whitefish, Montana
If gathering around a frigid bar or sleeping on a block of ice isn’t your thing, then perhaps you should check out the World Skijoring Championships! Wait, what is skijoring? It’s a sport in which a horse and rider pulls a person on skis down a snowy track with jumps, curves, slalom gates, and more.
At the end of January, head to Whitefish, Montana to catch some skijoring, then stay through the first and second weeks of February to experience the Whitefish Winter Carnival, which, according to their Facebook page, is a “tradition of fun, frivolity and friendship.”
These wild winter retreats are just the tip of the iceberg (pardon the pun)! You can find many more amazing cold-weather hotspots all over North America!
Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.