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The 7 Most Hygge US Cities

Ready to embrace winter? These cities do comfy and cozy better than anywhere else.

By Claire Hannum on January 9, 2019

Missoula MT
Missoula / iStock/mattalberts

If you’ve spent any time on the internet over the last few years, you’re surely familiar with the word “hygge†– along with requisite mental images of warm socks, glowing candles and mugs of tea. This Danish concept of celebrating through winter doesn’t have a direct English translation, but it can be loosely described as a feeling of warmth and coziness.

When you live the hygge life, (or, in adjective form, hyggelig), you’re viewing winter as something to celebrate rather than endure, and you’re indulging in simple joys in cozy settings with family and friends. Hygge can be found in simple things like soft lighting, rich home-cooked meals, baked goods and shared laughter over warm drinks.

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If you love to gather in a friend’s living room on a winter night for hours of board games, shared meals and watching the sun set over the snow, you’re living hygge. Sounds pretty dreamy, right?

Some U.S. cities are starting to take a cue from the Danish with their own hygge-friendly winter habits. If you’re looking to feel extra warm and fuzzy this winter, pay a visit to one of the most hygge cities in the U.S.

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Marquette / Courtesy of Tony Webster under a CC 2.0 license.

1. Marquette, Michigan

This community in Michigan’s bucolic Upper Peninsula is one of the snowiest cities in the U.S.: Marquette sees an average of 149 inches of the white stuff each year. Marquette’s clever winter-proof city planning means there are miles of winter pedestrian paths, so thick blankets of snow will never stop you from gathering with friends. The city is right on the shores of Lake Superior, a chilly natural wonder that supplies mountains of lake-effect snow and looks especially charming during a winter sunset. 

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If you’re into taking hygge to a more active level by having outdoor fun with friends and family, Marquette has lots of community-oriented winter activities. Classic activities like ice skating and skiing are readily available, but if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even go ice fishing! Cozy up at The Vierling Restaurant and Marquette Harbor Brewery to enjoy a local brew, like the brewery’s signature Honey Wheat Ale. 

2. Stowe, Vermont

The sleepy town of Stowe looks like it was lifted straight out of a New England storybook. Stowe’s biggest claim to fame is some of the best ski slopes on the East Coast, which brings us to a crucial winter fact: ski lodges do hygge better than just about anyplace else.

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Whether you’re warming up in the ski lodge with a warm brandy in your hand or sitting in a quaint living room in the middle of town, Stowe is the ideal spot to curl up in front of a fireplace and peek out the window at mountain views. For example, check out Flannel at the Topnotch Resort for spectacular views and comfort food favorites, like french toast and cinnamon buns topped with maple frosting. 

If you’re feeling outdoorsy, you can even pack a warm drink and pull on some cozy socks for adventures in snowshoeing and winter hikes. Traversing through Stowe feels like walking through a snowglobe, so you’ll have no trouble feeling warm and fuzzy.

3. Grand Forks, North Dakota

Many North Dakotans descend from Scandinavian homesteaders who arrived in the U.S. in the nineteenth century and settled in the state because it reminded them of the frigid landscape of Northern Europe. It’s no surprise that Grand Forks residents, and many of their fellow North Dakotans, have major hygge skills that have been passed down through families for generations.

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In Grand Forks, there’s a sense of community and connection that makes long winters more bearable. Locals are brought together each winter by an appreciation for family time and, most importantly, an abiding love for University of North Dakota hockey.

As the birthplace of chocolate-covered potato chips, the city has no shortage of sweet treats to snack on while curled up under a blanket. Grand Forks is also home to a host of hyggelig breweries that offer the perfect cozy buzz away from home. Lots of local watering holes are even stocked with board games, a total hygge must-have. Cuddle up at the Cloud 9 Lounge at Sky’s and take in views of the city while sipping a ‘North Pole Mule,’ made with Skyy Coastal Cranberry Vodka, ginger, bitters and allspice dram. 

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Salt Lake City / Courtesy of The Erica Chang under a CC 2.0 license.

4. Salt Lake City, Utah

Surrounded by the Oquirrh and Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City offers stunning views of snowy peaks to enjoy through the window of cozy indoor gatherings. Residents of this winter wonderland city have a special fondness for board games and card games, which are a hallmark of the hygge experience. SLC also has a lively hyggelig restaurant scene, with no shortage of cozy diners and comfort food. Our pick? Trestle Tavern, which is modeled after a European neighborhood pub. 

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Perhaps most hyggelig of all is the fact that Salt Lake City is within an hour of almost 10(!) winter resorts. Residents are always just a short drive away from a whole host of cozy getaway cabins for hunkering down while snow falls softly out their windows.

5. Minneapolis, Minnesota

Like Grand Forks, this wintery northern city also likely has its Scandinavian roots to thank for its professional-level hygge skills. During a Minneapolis winter, you’ll never be short on swirling snowflakes and single-digit temperatures to keep you tucked warmly indoors.

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Minnesota’s trademark Midwestern friendliness is ideal for fostering hyggelig gatherings, especially in the city’s many cozy, candle-lit bars. (Check out the super cozy Wilde Cafe and warm up with their “A Cure for the Soul” cocktail, made with apple brandy and spiced syrup.) Minneapolis residents are also understandably passionate about hyggelig hobbies like knitting, reading, cooking and board games.

6. Anchorage, Alaska

If you were to sketch out a perfect winter postcard in your mind, it would probably look a lot like Anchorage. The city that hosts the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (about as wintery as it gets!) boasts breathtaking views of mountains and glaciers. Anchorage regularly experiences sub-zero temps, and the community experiences just five hours of daylight on the shortest day of the year. As you can imagine, this city is pretty dang good at tapping into all things hygge to get through the chill.

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Anchorage locals are known for their fabulous sense of humor and willingness to brave even the darkest winter nights for friend-filled gatherings. In Anchorage, you can make merry with loved ones no matter the weather at a number of annual carnivals and festivals.

Hygge revelers in Anchorage can gather in cozy, candle-lit music venues and breweries or dip into delicious restaurants serving fresh, farm-to-table comfort food. After an evening of softly lit hyggelig fun, you can head outside with a fresh cup of hot cocoa, from local spot Jitters, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights

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Missoula / iStock/mattalberts

7. Missoula, Montana

This sweet slice of Montana paradise is so hygge that a local coffee shop even bears its name! This college town’s long, dark winters are brightened by warm nights spent with friends in cafes and breweries, and an overall go-with-the-flow approach to life. Views of fresh snow on scenic nature trails and powdery ski slopes make winter feel like magic.

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If you’re looking to crank up your winter wonderland dial, Missoula is the perfect place to partake in some of the most storybook cold-weather activities you can dream up. Horse-drawn sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, winter markets, and even dog sledding are all well within reach of central Missoula. (And don’t forget to warm up with friends over locally made spirits afterward at one of the city’s top-notch distilleries.)

To really up the ante on your hygge vibes, you can pay a visit to one of the nearby natural hot springs. Get extra toasty at the springs, then head back to town to wrap yourself up in blankets and lounge on the couch in a Zen-like state of coziness. Hygge achieved! 

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