Where to Go for a Winter Road Trip in the USA

Road-trip season hasn’t hit the end of the road just because the weather’s gotten frosty. Winter can be one of the best times to explore the U.S. thanks to smaller crowds and exciting winter-based activities. Check out these four destinations that’ll have you packing your bags and heading for a winter wonderland!

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe
Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, NV

Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California-Nevada border, delivers a wintertime experience for the whole family, complete with incredible snow skiing and snowboarding, as well as stunning scenery.

To fully immerse yourself in a Lake Tahoe adventure, hop in the car and take the 72-mile, around-the-lake trek known as the “Most Beautiful Drive in America.” Along the way, stop at the Heavenly Village shops and restaurants or snap selfies at the world-famous Emerald Bay Lookout. You can also check out Squaw Valley, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics or enjoy virtual and hands-on exhibits at the Tahoe Science Center.

As you’d expect, the roads around Lake Tahoe often are snowy during the winter, so be sure your car is equipped with winter tires from Tires Plus.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountains
Panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains, TN

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is made for exploring with kids—even during the winter, when high temperatures typically hover in the 50s.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, encompassing more than 500,000 acres in North Carolina and Tennessee, offers Instagram-worthy views of forests, mountain streams, and rustic historic buildings. By car, you can traverse the Smokies along more than 270 miles of roadway (mostly paved). Highlights of the park include waterfalls, more than 150 hiking trails, the Clingmans Dome observation tower (the highest point in the Smokies), campsites, fish-stocked waterways, and more than 1,500 black bears.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a mountain town that serves as the gateway to the park, supplies an assortment of lodging, dining, and shopping options.

Before taking off for the Smokies, be sure your car is winter-ready by visiting your local Tires Plus for a courtesy checkup.

New Hampshire and Vermont

Vermont ski lift
Ski lift in Stowe, VT

The neighboring New England states of New Hampshire and Vermont are at their prime in the winter, and the following two towns deserve a closer look.

Stowe, Vermont bills itself as the “Ski Capital of the East.” Among other winter activities, you can go snow skiing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and sleigh riding. Talk about flurries of fun! Perhaps the most famous spot in Stowe is the Trapp Family Lodge, a 96-room alpine lodge situated on 2,500 acres. It was founded by the von Trapp family, depicted in the classic movie musical, “The Sound of Music.”

After soaking up the atmosphere in Stowe, you can stow your luggage in the car and drive to Jackson, New Hampshire, which promotes itself as the state’s best-kept secret. If you’re in the mood for outdoor activities, you can glide down the slopes at nearby destinations like family-friendly Black Mountain. If you’re not inclined to hit the slopes, Jackson boasts an array of charming inns, cafes, and antique shops.

Keep your skiing and sliding on the slopes, not on the road. Let the professionals at Tires Plus prep your car for winter driving.

Minneapolis-St. Paul

Minneapolis-St. Paul skyline with snow
Skyline of Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis-St. Paul can get downright chilly in the winter. Yet the folks in the Twin Cities metro area know how to handle the cold and make the most of it.

For those who don’t mind the weather, wintertime in the Twin Cities serves up a number of inviting outdoor opportunities, many of them in the suburban Three Rivers Park District. The district features more than 27,000 acres of parks and trails, outdoor ice skating at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina, ice fishing at Bald Eagle Lake in Ramsey County, and the Ice Castles attraction in Stillwater.

If you’d rather be indoors, there’s plenty to keep you busy (and warm) in the Twin Cities. Spend a day at the Mall of America in Bloomington, the largest shopping mall in the country, or go to major-league sporting events like football, basketball, and hockey. Tour the state capital in St. Paul, take a trip to the Science Museum of Minnesota, or spend a night out exploring the region’s growing theater scene.

Don’t let car troubles make your winter road trip anything less than perfect. Keep your car in great shape with help from your local Tires Plus.

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