All Articles Your go-to guide for winter travel

Your go-to guide for winter travel

Winter’s here—and with it, plenty of ways to make the most of the season.

Family sledding down a snowy mountain
Image: Getty Images

If all you wanna do during winter is hunker down and wait for spring to come, you’re not alone. Traveling during the holidays is an Olympic sport in itself. But there are some places that are extra-special in the winter, like NYC around Christmastime or Aspen after a snowstorm. Then there’s the things you can’t do any other time of year, like dog-sledding in the Laplands or ice skating in New York City's Central Park. We’ve got all the recs to get you out there this season, from magical getaways to holiday celebrations (plus some warm-weather escapes). Check them out below.

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Exploring Oslo with children

While the fjords drew my family to Norway, the capital city of Oslo turned out to be the sleeper hit of our holiday. Many of Oslo’s must-visit sites encourage active exploration, keeping my normally city-averse tween on her toes as the blend of historic and modern attractions captivated her parents. Here are seven of our favourite spots.
Julekha Dash, Ellicott City, MD
  • Akershus Castle and Fortress (Akershus Slott og Festning)
    Disney’s inspiration for the ‘Frozen’ fortress took my daughter back to the days when she belted out “Let It Go” on repeat. A can’t-miss audio guide takes you through the maze-like rooms, banquet halls, royal chapel, and dungeon. Traipse through the two on-site museums, then walk along the fortress walls—you’re in for incredible views of the harbour.
  • The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet
    Not many attractions allow visitors to climb the roof, let alone encourage it, but Oslo’s opera house welcomes the public to do just that. My daughter enjoyed the ascent while admiring the water views along the way. Check the schedule to get tickets to a play, opera, concert, or ballet—there’s something to watch nearly every day of the week.
  • Munch
    Entirely devoted to Norway’s most famous artist, this 13-story museum celebrates Edvard Munch’s varied career. Head to the 4th floor to see three rotating versions of the iconic “Scream.” Elsewhere, a multimedia recreation of the late artist’s private residence enthralled my daughter, as did the glass-encased top floors overlooking the Oslo Fjord.
  • Norsk Folkemuseum
    Take a ferry to the Bygdoy Peninsula to hit a few standout museums, including this massive complex. Children will enjoy wandering through the open-air setup, which recreates Norwegian towns and countrysides from the Middle Ages to modern times. The Gol Stave Church, a richly carved, Gothic-like wood structure, is the highlight.
  • The Kon-Tiki Museum
    Stop by the Kon-Tiki, also on the Bygdoy Peninsula, for fascinating exhibits about the 20th-century adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, including the original wooden rafts he used to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Fram Museum across the street, which highlights polar expeditions, is a fun add-on.
  • Vigeland Park
    Gustav Vigeland created more than 200 granite, bronze, and wrought-iron sculptures that make this 80-acre park an outdoor museum. Identifying some of his best-known works, like the “Angry Boy” depicting a toddler’s tantrum, became a scavenger hunt for my daughter. Warm up at the Vigeland Museum, just south of the park, to see where the artist lived and worked.
  • The Norwegian Museum of Science and Tehnology
    Life-sized planes, trains, and automobiles are on display at this museum, where there’s plenty to keep a curious young mind engaged; 100 interactive installations include music machines, water wheels, and 3D printing. The site also houses a planetarium and the National Medical Museum, which highlights improvements in public health over the last 150 years.

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A family-friendly weekend in Cancun

Cancun has a reputation for being rowdy, but I also found it to be quite family friendly, with activities for all ages to enjoy. On a trip to the city with my in-laws, husband, and 11-month-old baby, we had no trouble getting around, and everyone had fun. It helped to plan in advance though, so here’s my cheatsheet for the perfect family weekend in Cancun.
Holly Kapherr, Winter Park, FL
  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun
    The Hyatt Ziva is ideal for multigenerational travel because it’s basically two hotels in one—one side is for families, the other is adults only. There’s also the KidzClub with great activities like water volleyball, arts and crafts, and even video games; our baby was too young, but if your children are ages 4–12, drop them there (for free!) and then enjoy some quiet pool time. We also loved the family-friendly live entertainment every night.
  • Chichen Itza
    Most of the tour buses that go to Chichén Itza don’t have or allow car seats, so we rented a car from the Enterprise in downtown Cancun instead. From Cancun, it was about a two-hour drive, and then we hired a certified tour guide at the ruins (and it was well worth it). We loved shopping for souvenirs at the market, and were delighted to find the “secret” popsicle stand near the main entrance to cool down after our tour.
  • La Ruta de los Cenotes
    For a break from the beach, I highly recommend Ruta de los Cenotes—a 21-mile-long road near Puerto Morelos with dozens of cenotes. We especially loved La Noria and Kin-Ha; at both, you could either jump in from a platform or climb down a ladder into the cool, calm water. Arrive early to avoid the crowds, and bring towels and flotation devices if your children need them. Most cenotes have lockers to store your valuables.
  • Isla Mujeres
    For a fun day trip, we took the 15-minute Ultramar ferry to Isla Mujeres. The beautiful Playa Norte beach has peddlers selling snacks like grilled shrimp skewers and frozen mango slices, but we went straight to Lola Valentina restaurant and sat on the patio with a mountain of guacamole and chips to watch the street performers. Afterward, we went shopping on Miguel Hidalgo Avenue—a pedestrian-only street that turns into a lively party at sunset.
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  • Whale Shark Tour from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Riviera Maya
    If you’re visiting Cancun from May through September, don’t miss the chance to swim with whale sharks. We went out with Ocean Tours and the experience was amazing. They picked us up from our hotel (extra convenient!); the guides were bilingual and super friendly; and they provided everything we needed: life jackets, snorkelling equipment, snacks and cold beverages, and the confidence needed to swim alongside the world’s largest fish.
  • Interactive Aquarium
    Our toddler-to-be loved touching the starfish and sea urchins in the tide pool area at this aquarium, but older children will love the dolphin swim experience. We adults also did the underwater walking experience, which takes place in one of the aquarium’s vast tanks full of fish and invertebrates—it was fascinating!
  • Croco Cun
    At this zoo-like spot, you actually get to interact with the animals, which was a really fun way to learn about Yucatan wildlife. We fed white-tailed deer, wore a boa constrictor, and even walked a boardwalk next to native crocodiles. The property is largely untouched, so it’s a really natural, comfortable place for the animals to live. And best of all: children under five get in free.
  • Cancun Food Tours
    For a fun night out with the family, book the Lucha Libre experience with Cancun Food Tours. We had the best time watching the wrestling match (from ringside seats!) and learning more about the sport (including whether Nacho Libre is real—he is, sort of). They even gave us masks to wear, plus we got to enjoy delicious tacos and a tequila tasting during the match and walk through a super cool night market afterward.
  • Captain Hook: Pirate Show and Dinner Cruise in Cancun
    One of our favourite family-friendly things we did in Cancun was this immersive, pirate-themed adventure. Sailings depart every day at 6:30 p.m. and include a cannonfire send-off, live music, games, and a “battle” with an enemy ship. It sounds cheesy, and it is, but we had a blast. And children eat free at the buffet with a paying adult; get the $55 surf and turf for yourself.
  • Lorenzillo's
    The oldest and most celebrated restaurant in Cancun is also one of the most expensive, but it’s family friendly and lots of fun. The service is welcoming and attentive (a plus if you’ve got hangry little ones), and there’s nautical decor, live lobsters, and fish tanks to entertain the children while you finish your wine. Oh—and there are crocodiles in the lagoon outside. Big ones!

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