Top Ten Ways to Survive Winter's Last Blast - Page 2

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Florida, Everglades National Park
Winter's the best time to explore the Florida Everglades  (Robin Hill/Digital Vision/Getty)

5. Cave In and Get Pampered
There's a difference between loneliness and spending time alone, curled-up by a fire sipping Merlot with the latest Jon Krakauer read. When the weather gets tough, the smart cave in. Winter is prime season for scoring hotel discounts and indulging in some guilt-free self-pampering. At historic Congress Hall in Cape May, New Jersey, guests get the presidential treatment (President Benjamin Harrison used the hotel as his "summer White House") with modernized rooms sporting DVD players, complimentary wireless, and often ocean views, along with access to an onsite full-service spa and a basement nightclub once used as the hotel's boiler room. Winter packages range from a Girls' Getaway with massage vouchers to the Modified American, which includes a bottle of wine each day. At the recently renovated Claremont Hotel, Club, & Spa in Berkeley, California, guest rooms provide plush robes for lounging, and hotel amenities include tennis courts and hair-styling services. For something a bit more rustic, the Occidental Hotel, restored in 2007, in Buffalo, Wyoming, offers winter rates and authentic Old West details like original bullet holes in the house saloon and a former guest list that includes Butch Cassidy and Buffalo Bill.

4. Feed a Cold
A full stomach is one of the winter blues' best cures, and just outside Austin, the Texas Hill Country is a fabulous stop for filling up on comfort cuisine. Popular eateries like the Blue Bonnet Café in Marble Falls and Fredericksburg's Navajo Grill cook up local dishes ranging from smoked chicken with a side of thick Texas toast to green chilies stuffed with cheddar-corn grits. Back east, Manhattan's in the midst of a soup renaissance, while Dungeness crab season is thriving throughout the Pacific Northwest. Despite diving temps, some of the country's best foodie cities continue right through the season with their culinary tours: try New Orleans for sampling seafood gumbo and Muffuletta sandwiches stuffed with Italian meats and provolone; Charleston, South Carolina, for barbecue and grits; and San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood for herb-topped focaccia bread and full-bodied coffee.

3. Get Outta Dodge and Go Urban
Cabin fever taking its toll? Hop a train to an urban center, where activities are endless and museum exhibits often remain more accessible than in summer months. For exploring big cities like Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta, pick up a CityPass. This ticket booklet, available for 10 North American locales, provides big-saving discounts to a handful of area attractions—like Universal Studios in Hollywood and Seattle's Museum of Flight—for a consecutive nine-day period. The Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass offers access to more than 12 local venues, including a guided tour of Utah Olympic Park, the site of several ski jumping and bobsledding events during the 2002 Winter Olympics. February is museum month in San Diego, California, with half-off admission to 39 of the area's museums, cultural stops, and historical sites.

2. Go Green
Green travel is a smart choice any time of year, and it's a great way to add color to winter woes. At Ano Nuevo Reserve along California's northern coast, naturalists host guided three-mile walks to see elephant seals in their natural habitat through March. Further south, Los Angeleno Jenny Price leads daylong bus and caravan tours along the 51-mile, concrete-laid L.A. River, the city's original fresh-water source, now reduced in spots to little more than a trickle. Price talks about riverside neighborhoods and planned restoration sites, drawing attention to what remains one of the region's most vital resources. Of course, two of the country's best green travel destinations flourish during the off-season. Averaging 70-degree days with low humidity and offering daily boat tours and canoe rentals for exploring the park's vast waterways, the Florida Everglades are an ideal place to ride out winter. On Hawaii's Big Island, Kilauea volcano continues sparking interest in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and tramping among the steaming sulfur plumes is allowed 247.

1. If You Can't Beat 'Em…
Sometimes, embracing what irks you is the best solution. Take some lessons from two of the coldest places in the lower 48: In Hibbing, Minnesota, seasonal temperatures average 10 degrees, probably a reason indoor curling is so popular. The Hibbing Indoor Curling Club hosts the largest annual bonspiel—or curling tournament—in the United States, this year in March. Fargo, North Dakota, celebrates its sub-zero temperatures (which fell to -31 degrees in 2008) with dogsledding, sleigh rides, and a cross-country ski tournament, as well as a winter blues festival (the music, not the mood) each February. For getting in on the action, ski resorts in spots like Colorado and Montana often remain open through spring, typically at discounted rates. A few downhill runs and you'll be dreaming of next winter—promise.

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