By Alexander Howard, Lonely Planet -- Another year of travel is nearly over… but not quite. There’s still time to squeeze in a stint of last-minute shopping at Europe’s Christmas markets, or make arrangements to see in the new year in style. Do December travel the traditional way – with fireworks, comfort food and snow – or get away from it all with a pair of flippers and a snorkel with these tips courtesy of Lonely Planet’s destination experts.
Carve up the powder in Alta, Utah
Known for its soft, powdery texture, skiers love Utah snow, and one of the best places to sample it is at Alta Ski Resort, just outside of Salt Lake City. Assisted by a generous microclimate that drops record amounts of the famed Utah flakes (540 inches a year, typically), as well as 2200 acres of bowls, chutes and steeps, Alta is considered to be one of the best places to ski in North America. With the ski season beginning mid-November, December is a great time to hit the slopes before throngs of peak-season skiers arrive.
And Alta’s one for the skiing purists: the resort is one of the few major resorts that limits access to skiers only (sorry, snowboarders). Bargain hunters can get a Ski City Super Pass, which gives additional access to Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude, all within the SLC area.