Hot Springs

Get in a Hot Spring

Think of hot springs as nature’s Jacuzzis: spring waters heated by geothermal energy emanating from Earth’s crust. A hot-spring soak is a wonderfully relaxing — and even therapeutic — way to battle wintertime worries, rich in minerals and heated to muscle-soothing temps. Spas spring up around hot springs as a matter of course, from ancient Japanese onsens to Iceland’s massively popular Blue Lagoon. Luckily, you don’t have to travel far overseas for a soak of your own: The U.S. has a bounty of hot springs to offer.

The Spring

Desert Hot Springs —deep in the desert foothills of southern California — is where tourists go to soak in restorative waters and stargaze at a pitch-black, pollution-free sky. The ’50s were Desert Hot Springs’ heyday, when a number of “spa-tels” popped up around the valley. Since then, many resorts have been restored to their Midcentury-modern glam. The Spring is a contemporary option with three mineral pools of its own surrounded by shaded palms, hammocks, and private guest rooms. The resort emphasizes the health benefits of its springs, pairing with juicing programs and yoga lessons. (Rates from $129 per night.)

The Spring

For something a little more rural, take a hike to one of the many hot springs located in America’s backcountry, like those at the end of the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail in Utah. A five-mile loop brings you to a milky-blue waterfall and several cascading pools perfect for a soak en plein. (You’ll likely smell the sulphur in the air before you see it!) These beautiful hot springs are best enjoyed around March, when there’s less risk of heavy snowfall obscuring the trail. Before and after your hike, stay in nearby American Fork at 5th East Hall, a modern B&B with themed suites with stunning water features of its own, from a glass aquarium built into the floor to a private in-room lagoon. (Rates from $135 per night.)


Cooking Class

Get Cooking

Winter is the season of perpetual eating, with stick-to-your-every-last-rib holiday feasts to enjoy. So why not sharpen your knife skills and gain some firsthand culinary know-how? As the saying goes, the heat is in the kitchen … and when it’s this cold, why bother getting out?

The Spring

At the 18th-century Inn at Weathersfield tucked into rural eastern Vermont, guests experience hands-on classes led by a roster of guest chefs. Topics range from holiday baking and DIY pickling to cooking with herbs plucked right from the hotel’s own organic garden. Lessons take place in an old hayloft converted into a pro-level kitchen. After a day of toiling over pots and pans and pickle jars, sink into your guest room’s cozy bedding or sip hot cocoa in front of your fireplace. Better yet, join a monthly beer-and-cheese tasting downstairs … if you’re somehow still hungry, of course. (Rates from $109 per night.)

Abingdon Manor

If you don’t feel like trudging through New England snow, make like a goose and head south to the Abingdon Manor. A Diamond Collection country inn in Latta, SC, Abingdon Manor is known for its lavish six-course tasting menus and a cooking school for guests to learn some tricks of their own. One- and two-night packages include accommodations, classes, meals, recipes, and a keepsake apron. Best of all, guests are welcome to sip from the inn’s wine cellar as they slice, dice, and plate selections for Saturday evening’s dinner — yes, guests of the inn could very well enjoy your hard work! (Rates from $190 per night.)

Pueblo Bonito B&B

To fully enmesh yourself in a culinary experience filled with unusual flavors, the Santa Fe School of Cooking can assist. Its cooking school introduces guests to top regional chefs who lend firsthand insight on the traditions, techniques, and flavors of Southwestern cuisine. Go all-in during an intensive three-day bootcamp, or enroll in a shorter lesson like the deliciously titled Green Chile Workshop, where students come face to face with New Mexico’s official state veg. After a day of sampling spicy chile-rich sauces, the Pueblo Bonito Bed & Breakfast will enchant and relax. It’s just a 10-minute walk from the cooking school, but even better than its proximity are its amenities, including wood-burning kiva fireplaces. (Rates from $125 per night.)


Get Active

Get Active

There are few things less motivating than a dark, cold winter morning. Energetic jog? Forget it. Cycling class? So far away. Eating a wee fistful of Christmas cookies over the kitchen sink while wearing elastic-waist pants? Inevitable. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way, with a ton of cold-weather activities (and fitness-friendly inns) to battle midwinter malaise. Not only is exercise generally recommended for dreary seasonal moods, it can make for a pretty adventurous vacation … especially when you try something new.

Purple Mountain Lodge

Snowshoeing is an enjoyable family-friendly activity that works muscles without the need to splurge on the latest Rossignols. Strap on a pair and head up and down the slopes with kids in tow. Or make it an arm day and try some cross-country skiing. Explore groomed trails at your own pace, taking on steeper inclines as you limber up, then cap off the day with a thrilling snowmobile ride. (While not exactly exercise, you’ve earned it.) Fly over fresh powder on a backcountry snowmobile tour complete with spectacular winter scenery, expert guide, and a hot meal. Purple Mountain Lodge in postcard-perfect Crested Butte can set you up on all the above, with a concierge service and a direct line to some of Colorado’s top outfitters. The inn serves up a gourmet breakfast, outdoor hot tub, and a hot chocolate bar for added warmth apres-snowmobile. (Rates from $119 per night.)

Wellspring Ranch

Still want to stretch yourself without the thrill-seeking? Yoga is a magnificent way to exercise dormant limbs and find some balance amid the holiday madness. Wellspring Ranch is a high-end spa escape that places yoga at its very core, with daily classes and equipment included in its nightly rates. Book a private yoga lesson with its on-site yogis, followed by guided meditation on the dedicated deck or deep in the woods. The ranch has five miles of easy-to-moderate hiking trails as well, if you want more of a burn. (Rates start at $375 per night.)


Get Inspired

Get Inspired

Sometimes the only way to escape the winter blues is to embark on a truly transformative journey. Explore your creativity, discover your inner child, learn a new craft, or disappear into nature, leaving the snowy world behind. Sounds pretty perfect, right?

Dragonfly Ranch

Dragonfly Ranch in Kona is ready to assist in such a journey of self discovery. This ranch is more of a treehouse, an eco-spa retreat nestled high in the lush jungle above Hawaii’s Big Island with unobstructed sea-facing sunsets. Aside from all the wonder found outside, the indoor activities and amenities are the real draw here. Learn alternative healing methods and ancient Hawaiian herbal remedies. Explore lomi lomi massage techniques or try your hand at tai chi. Walk the inn’s labyrinth, meditate on the lanai, or haul a canvas outside to paint the brilliant scenery. Got a novel to finish? Book the Writer’s Room, a cozy studio-like space with a large picture window, perfectly positioned for warm Hawaiian breezes to spur on creative thoughts. Organic buffet breakfasts are paired with profound conversations with fellow free-spirited adventurers. (Rates from $100 per night.)



—Laura Kiniry