Visiting national parks is a go-to family vacation for good reason — you’re surrounded by endless natural beauty, outdoor adventure and interesting wildlife. Visiting our nation’s parks is a great way to connect with the kids while sharing an appreciation for our own breathtaking country.
While the summer sunshine may bring blooming fauna and roaming wildlife, it also welcomes hordes of tourists to many of the nation’s most beautiful parks. Not all parks need the summer season to shine — visit in winter and enjoy all the same great beauty and connect with nature without the rush of tourists hitting the trails.
The winter months are pretty kind to Joshua Tree National Park in California. The days are typically in the mid to high 70s, with lots of southern California sunshine. Normally, in the summer, the park can reach swelteringly hot temperatures, but, in the winter, visitors find the same beautiful Cholla Cactus gardens, desert rock formations and famous Joshua trees with all the comfort of a warm, sunny winter day.
The normally hot, hot temperatures of Death Valley National Park are kind of unbearable in the summer — hence the name. Visit the park during winter and see the incredible natural landscape without the onslaught of hikers come April and May.
Over in Florida, Everglades National Park really shines in the fall and winter months. Some of the park’s more rare and beautiful birds come out in the winter and, with the lower humidity, it’s far more enjoyable hiking the trails and checking out the park’s incredible sites in winter than summer.
One park that can do no wrong, no matter what time of year, Yosemite National Park is just as majestic in the winter months as it is in summer. You can hit all the same must-see landmarks of the park on foot, including the towering Half Dome and Inspiration Point. Just dress warm and check the weather before your trip using the park app. Explore the park in your winter best or lean in to the epic slopes and trails, renting skis and snowboards.
The bright red-clay rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park really pop against the white winter snow. The park boasts several hiking loops, weaving throughout the park as you explore further, but beginning at either scenic Sunrise and Sunset point. Add some spikes to your hiking boots, maybe a walking stick or two, and brave the ice and snow — the trails are so worth it.
Over in Canada, Banff National Park is a must see any time of year. Winter camping along the crystal-blue waters of Moraine Lake or skating across the frozen surface of Lake Louise — there are plenty of winter-centric activities worth the trip. Hop on a dogsledding tour or warm up at Banff Upper Hot Springs. There’s also the added perk of incredible accommodations, year-round, making your stay that much easier and more luxurious at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Back to warmer weather, the Grand Canyon is an iconic piece of Americana you just have to see — no matter the season. It may be the most-visited national park in the United States, but you wouldn’t know it in the winter months. The weather will be crisp and sunny, like an easy fall or early spring day. There may be closures, so check online, but the South Rim is (usually) open year-round.
Don’t let the weather hold you back. Use the quieter tourist season to your advantage and finally get out and visit all those parks you’ve been meaning to. Learn a new winter sport with a lesson or dust off your old skis in a new location. If warmer weather is what you’re after, now is the perfect time to check out all those desert parks you wouldn’t dare step foot in during summer.
Halloween is right around the corner, which means its time to start making plans for spooky and scary stops for having fun with the family this fall. New York’s Cayuga County is always a fun visit for family travelers, but if you plan on being in the area this October, you will definitely want to explore its haunted history with some choice spots along New York’s Haunted History Trail. This curated list of haunted and spooky stops throughout New York features incredible locations showcasing the perfect combination of the state’s beautiful charm and fascinating history.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
The next two seasons see Franklin, Tennessee, come alive with festive events, fun pop-ups and colorful lights. Family travelers planning a trip to Tennessee this fall or winter must make time for Franklin, a city just south of Nashville with plenty of history and festivities awaiting.
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
Mysterious glowing seas? Yes, actually! Through October, Florida’s Space Coast waters within Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River and Indian River Lagoon glow with blue-green bioluminescence — a phenomenon resulting from the presence of comb jellies and dinoflagellates (tiny, single-celled marine plankton that exist in some freshwater locations).