ALL POSTS IN [Winter]

Rockefeller Center, New York, NY

Photography by Allan Baxter/ Stone/ Getty Images

Whether you’re going home for the holidays to be surrounded by extended family (and, potentially, tiny childhood furniture), looking forward to a “friendsgiving” or using the valuable vacation days to escape from it all, WalletHub has calculated the best cities for winter holiday travel, at home and abroad. Using metrics such as average airfares, flight times and hotel costs, it determined the best destinations to celebrate the holidays without the hassle. Without further ado … READ MORE

Yellowstone Boiling River

Yellowstone dip: Visitors enjoy the Boiling River, as bison roam nearby. (Photo: Lisa Singh)

Feeling stressed? Perhaps all you need is a spa day or 2 … maybe even a week. And sometimes Mother Nature has the best idea: a spa treatment in the great outdoors.

That’s what I found on a trip this past week into the remote winter wilds of Montana where hot springs abound, as does the added bonus of being in a state that recently cracked the top 5 in the happiest states index. Maybe being the sixth-least populated state has something to do with Big Sky Country’s “happy” distinction, along with the lack of cellphone coverage, which can’t help but turn a traveler’s attention toward the grand, majestic show all around — the expansive mountain ranges that make up this stretch of the Rocky Mountains, with stories of mountain men and Native American tribes finding reprieve from wind-bitten days in soothing, mineral-rich waters by the base of mountains.

That’s where hot springs come in, lots of them. The western third of Montana is where visitors will find the most accessible, and inviting, geothermal wonders, emerging just below the surface with temperatures anywhere from 85 to 140 degrees. READ MORE

Sochi Olympics 2014

Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks, Punxsutawney Phil and more came out to play in this week in photos. While the Seahawks dominated the big game, all eyes are on the Olympic Games thanks to some bad press. Let’s hope things look up for Sochi after today’s opening ceremony.

Journalists were the first to arrive — and describe some hilarious and gross hotel experiences. WashPost rounded up their tweets, our personal favorite being from @StaceyStClair about the shoddy plumbing, “Also on the bright side: I just washed my face with Evian, like I’m a Kardashian or something.”

Possibly the most documented of all the @SochiProblems has been it’s interesting bathrooms, which are both lacking privacy and displaying confusing rules. Does that sign say don’t go fishing in the toilet? Your guess is as good as ours, Buzzfeed.

More alarming, Dateline reports that Sochi visitors face an internet minefield, often being hacked within minutes. Furthermore, the US State Department has told Americans coming to Sochi that they should have no expectation of privacy, even in their hotel rooms.

On a lighter note, CNN has 9 ways Sochi Surprises — including dacha, chacha and a gay bar. While you’re at it, check out our list of Sochi’s surprising sights.

Last but not least, today’s Google Doodle is garnering attention for its support of LGBT olympians, pointing to a section of the Olympic Charter that defends all athletes. The CSMonitor has more.

More Olympics Coverage:

Sochi 2014 Trip Planner
Where to Stay in Sochi
The Olympics: A Look Ahead

Photography by Getty Images

The subzero Canadian air along Lake Ontario doesn’t call to mind a quick dip or a leisurely beach stroll.

Daily Escapes!

Photography by Paul Morrison

Does the approaching Winter Olympics have you dreaming of channeling your inner Olympian? With the State Department issuing a travel advisory last week cautioning Americans about terrorist attacks at the Winter Games, whether or not the warning will deter attendance next month remains to be seen. Regardless, if you can’t make it to Sochi, Russia to watch the pros at the 2014 Olympics, you can take an opportunity to ski with one a bit closer to home. Host of the last Winter Olympics, Whistler, British Columbia, is rolling out their Ski With an Olympian program for the second year in a row. Sign up and you’ll get a full day of skiing or snowboarding for groups of up to 5 people with an Olympic legacy as your personal guide.

How cool is it to get access to a pro like Rob Royd – the 3-time Olympian, 6-time World Championship athlete, and head coach for the Canadian Women’s National Ski Team — to ask him for pointers on upping your all-mountain skills? Or to hear Olympic insider stories over lunch with half-pipe and freestyle snowboarders such as Crispin Lipscomb or Tara Teigenm? Hop on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, and you’ll have plenty of time to listen to those Olympic stories while taking in the view. (It’s not only the highest lift in the world, but also the longest unsupported lift span on the planet!)

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With temperatures dropping, don’t let winter doldrums set in. Bundle up and embrace the cold (albeit the bone-chilling, artic-blasting cold of recent days) with some of our favorite things to do in winter.

1. Sleep in an ice hotel.

If you aren’t afraid of a little cold or a bed made out of ice, spend an unforgettable night in an ice hotel. Chill out in a luxury igloo full of hard-carved ice sculptures and cozy fur hides to keep you warm at night.

2. Toast with a decadent drink.

The ideal cure for a winter chill? A cocktail to warm you up. Toast to shorter days with these 10 cold-weather cocktails, from a traditional hot toddy to an innovative dry-ice-infused concoction.

3. Take an icy plunge.
What better way to plunge into 2014 than with an icy dip! There are still New Year dips taking place throughout January, or head to Finland where ice swimming is a popular custom all winter long.

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