Winter in the United States can be a magical time. There’s no doubt there are some incredible places to spend Christmas in the US. However, sometimes, we just want to escape the cold for a cheeky warm weather winter getaway.
Want to skip the winter wonderland vibe and chase some winter sun this winter? We’ve rounded up some of the best warm winter vacation destinations in the USA.
You’ll find some of the warmest places to visit in December in the US with fabulous festive events. And warm places to visit in January to escape the height of winter or to see in the New Year in tropical climes.
These warm weather escapes are either within the United States or US Territories, so you can even treat yourself to a few sunny Caribbean island escapes, no passport required.
We’ve got the warmest places to visit in the US in winter, from island escapes to otherworldly desert landscapes and resort towns that will cure the winter blues. So start planning a sweet winter getaway to escape the cold and brighten your winter mood.
The Best Warm Winter Vacations in the USA
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico boasts glorious warm weather all year and being a US territory, you don’t need your passport for this warm winter escape. Even during those peak winter months, Puerto Rico enjoys temperatures in the upper 70s℉ in winter.
From Puerto Rico’s capital of San Juan, you can enjoy a Caribbean winter vacation of a lifetime with incredible nature, palm-fringed beaches, history, and a vibrant downtown atmosphere in Old San Juan.
Most visitors will fly into Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. Renting a car is recommended if you want to explore more of the island. But a taxi from the airport is a good option if you plan to spend your time in Old San Juan. The old town is so easy to explore by foot without missing any of the best things to see and do in Old San Juan.
Visit the famous 15th century UNESCO fort of La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Sites. Walk around the colorful historic district, explore the cobbled alleyways, visit historical churches, galleries, and museums and try some local dishes at the many restaurants.
San Juan, and Puerto Rico, in general, are known for the local dish called Mofongo. Mofongo is a typical dish made with mashed plantains, a type of meat, and sauce.
After exploring the city, you can enjoy the Caribbean winter weather at some local beaches and enjoy water activities like stand-up paddle boarding or snorkeling.
If you want to venture further from the city, add a splash of nature and jungle to your trip or visit some islands, San Juan is the perfect base. A few go-to places for the most incredible hiking trails and scenery are El Yunque National Forest (there is a great El Yunque Rainforest Hike and Waterslide Adventure tour from Fajardo), Toro Negro State Forest, Guajataca Forest, and Guánica Dry Forest.
If you want an island escape from the island, consider jumping on a ferry or taking a short flight to the popular Island of Vieques or the charming Isla de Culebra for a day or two. A great Full-Day Culebra Islands Catamaran Tour from Fajardo takes you to the best beaches on the Cordillera Islands and includes snorkeling, lunch, drinks, and hotel pick-up. See here for details.
Recommended by: Brandon – Zimmin Around the World
US Virgin Islands
Wishing to escape the winter and retreat to a Caribbean paradise sans passport? Book a relatively short and inexpensive flight to the US Virgin Islands (USVI). You can bask in a sun-drenched winter vacation, swim and sunbathe on beautiful beaches, and enjoy some of USVI’s most significant yearly events.
Visiting USVI in the winter offers visitors escaping the cold the ideal weather conditions. The weather forecast for winter in USVI is dry, and sunny with average highs of 83℉ and lows of 75℉.
The US Virgin Islands are a group of three islands: St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, each with its own unique appeal.
As the most developed island of the three, St. Thomas is a great starting point for duty-free shopping, historically rich attractions, and an array of water sports and beach activities. Take a step back in time to learn about the Caribbean’s pirate history, or explore Magen’s Bay to catch sight of some turtles.
Prepare for a sailing trip to the other islands to relax on St. John’s stunning bays or experience St. Croix’s winter festivities. Participate in the 12-day Christmas festivities, which conclude with a flamboyant parade on Feast of the Three Kings (January 6). In February, cheer on yachties as they head to USVI for the Annual St. Croix International Regatta.
The US Virgin Islands offer fabulous weather, idyllic beaches, and a vibrant island lifestyle.
Recommended by: Catherine Xu–Nomadicated
When the temperatures drop, and the snow starts blowing, Miami is one of the most popular warm winter vacations in the US. From November–January, the weather is ideal averaging in the upper 70s℉/80s℉ — perfect for beach walks and exploring the city without being drenched in sweat.
December is also considered off-peak season in Miami, which means cheaper hotels and airfares – another bonus.
While Miami residents might feel like it’s too cold for a trip to the beach, visitors from the north and colder climates enjoy the magnificent sun-drenched beaches of Miami.
If you’re not interested in beach time, there is so much to do in Miami. You are within easy reach of some of the most alluring national parks on the East Coast and the best parks in Florida – The Everglades for hiking and wildlife adventure, Biscayne National Park for underwater adventures, or Dry Tortugas to get away from it all.
The area is home to one of the most important collections of Art Deco architecture (take a tour from the perseveration league), the charming Cuban neighborhood of Little Havana, tons of shopping, nonstop nightlife, and fabulous restaurants (including some of the best vegan restaurants in the US). And while Miami has a reputation as an expensive destination, you’d be surprised at the number of really cool things there are to do for free in Miami.
If you visit from late November to the beginning of January, don’t miss any holiday festivities. At night, The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is covered in thousands of lights for their spectacular Night Garden show. For music lovers, check out the North Beach Music festival, which takes over North Beach for two nights of music and entertainment.
The most efficient way to explore Miami is by car; a rental car is a good option if you are flying in. You can pick up a compact – mid-size rental with free cancelation for around $200 or less for seven days – You can check car rental options here.
If you don’t want to rent a car, there is a good public transit system which includes the bus, Metrorail, and Metromover (the Metromover is free), but it’s not the most efficient for visitors. Visitors can also use Uber and Lyft alongside public transport.
A half-day Open Bus and Boat Tour combo will help you get your bearings in the Magic City and tick off some of the best sights before using public transport or driving around.
Recommended by: Rebecca from Veggies Abroad
You’ll find plenty of warm places to visit in Florida during winter, but none compare to colorful Key West.
The temperatures in Key West stay mild throughout the winter, with much less rain than in the summer. The average winter temperatures hover around 76℉ with only 3-4 days of rain per month (compared to around ten during the summer months). Less rain means fewer mosquitoes.
Key West is brimming with festivities during the winter, so you’ll find plenty happening, especially around Christmas and New Year. If you’re visiting Key West in December, you can’t miss the Lighted Boat Parade. Ring in the new year with the famous lowering of a Pirate Wench from the mast of the tall ship docked in front of The Schooner Wharf Bar, or head to Sloppy Joe’s to see the lowering of a conch shell.
On the second weekend in December, check out the I Love Stock Island festival, where you’ll find some of the island’s best food trucks and artisans. Other fantastic winter activities include a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park (be sure to book in advance as it fills up), a day trip to Bahia Honda State Park for snorkeling, and a sunset cruise on a luxury sailboat around the island.
Key West has something for everyone coming down to escape the colder temperatures up north.
Recommended by: Megan Starr – Megan & Aram
Anna Maria Island Florida
A little north of Sarasota and the stunning Siesta Key beach, Anna Maria Island, Florida, is a favorite winter vacation destination for “snowbirds”—especially those from the northeastern US and Canada.
Average high January and February temperatures in the low 70s℉, pristine US Gulf Coast beaches, and abundant seafood make Anna Maria Island (AMI) one of the most coveted Florida destinations for savvy travelers in the winter.
Favorite things to do in Anna Maria Island include sharing phenomenal sunsets with friends (old and new), frequent beach walks on the cleanest US Gulf Coast sugar sand, and adventure activities in the Gulf of Mexico and bays around the seven-mile-long island.
Popular local winter events include Manatee County Fair, Bradenton Blues Festival, and Cortez Fishing Festival.
AMI has the most beautiful US beaches (shh, kept this secret between us). Even the main public beach, Manatee Beach, directly across from the bridge, is prettier than more famous and busier beaches. We suggest heading further north to find your favorite spot, although you can usually find me at Bean Point or around 65th Street.
Favorite Anna Maria Island restaurants include Ginny’s and Jane E’s, Island Fresh Market, The Waterfront Restaurant, The Porch, and Rod N Reel.
Anna Maria Island is located about 16 miles from Sarasota airport, 45 miles from St Pete-Clearwater airport, and 54 miles from Tampa airport. A personal or rental vehicle is suggested to get to and around AMI. However, a free trolley service operates the length of the island, so you can certainly enjoy a carless getaway.
Recommended by: Charles Mc Cool – US Gulf Coast Travel
St. Augustine on Florida’s “Historic Coast” is not just one of the most historic cities in the US, it is the nation’s oldest city. Dating back to 1565, the old cobblestone streets and original Spanish architecture still surround the town.
Being in Florida, St. Augustine remains temperate year-round, with highs in the upper 60°F range and lows around 50°F.
While the entire downtown area is great for walking, a guided hop-on hop-off trolley tour is the best and most efficient way to truly experience the city. A St Augustines Tour Pass, which includes over 27 attractions, is also the most cost-effective way to see all the best things in the historic city, saving up to 40%.
There are several public beaches, the St. Augustine Lighthouse, and the Anastasia State Park just over the main bridge. The soft cinnamon-colored sand and brilliant blue waves are a gorgeous place to visit during the milder winter months.
Dressing in light layers is key in Florida in winter as the sun can get quite hot during the day, but it can be cool in the early mornings and evenings – a nice change from the constant heat in summer.
St. Augustine’s “Nights of Lights” is the biggest local festival of the year, attracting thousands of visitors to the small town. From Thanksgiving through New Year, the city is alight with over three million white lights, covering the local restaurants, the harbor, bridges, and all of downtown. The light festival is a free experience, but tours through the town with holiday music and hot chocolate are also available.
Since St. Augustine is on the coast, fresh seafood is abundant. Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille offer a variety of tasty chowders and freshly-caught fish dishes with gorgeous waterfront views. And to cap off the night, stop in at one of the local wine or martini bars downtown, such as Sangrias or the Tini Martini Bar.
Recommended by: Erin Moreland – Super Simple Salty Life
A fantastic family getaway from the cold winter in the United States is Orlando, Florida, where you’ll find the average daily winter temperatures are often 70℉ or above.
Orlando is an incredibly popular destination, and with good reason. It is, after all, the home of Walt Disney World.
Visitors flock to Disney World with their children to visit the four main amusement parks: Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, and the famed Magic Kingdom.
As if that weren’t enough, you’ll also find Universal Studios in Orlando, a theme park and resort complex focused on action movies and television. At Universal, you can also immerse yourself in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Meander through Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade while wearing wizard’s regalia, and be sure to try the famed frozen Butterbeer.
Stay at a Disney property if you’re looking for convenience and an easy commute to attractions. Resort buses frequently travel between Saratoga Springs, all parks, and resorts, so you don’t need a car in Orlando.
I recommend staying at Saratoga Springs Resort near Disney Springs, or the Grand Floridian, near Magic Kingdom.
Spend some time enjoying Disney Springs, where you’ll have your pick of plenty of restaurants and stores. Gideon’s Bakehouse is a must. Get in line early because their chocolate chip cookie is to die for.
Head to Magic Kingdom during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to see the park decorated in all its holiday glory and experience Christmas celebrations beyond your imagination throughout all four parks.
Recommended by: Taylor Beal – Traverse With Taylor
If you’re longing for warmer climates this winter, grab the sunscreen and head for the sun and fun in southwest Florida.
Naples is located on the southwest coast of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, with beautiful soft sand beaches, warm waters, and plenty of sunshine.
Temperatures in Naples in the winter are moderate, usually in the high 70-80s℉. As a bonus, the humidity is low during the dry season, so winter visitors can enjoy comfortably warm days and perfect evenings.
There’s plenty to see and do in Naples, Florida, from great shopping to beaches and water activities such as stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, jet skiing, and fishing. If you enjoy dining out, Naples has excellent restaurants close to downtown.
If you’re visiting Naples around Christmas time, festivities like the Naples Boat Parade, downtown Naples celebrations, and Living Nativities create a splash of holiday spirit. The Christmas Boat Parades are held after dark, where boat captains dress up like Santa Claus, play music, and decorate their boats with lights.
For those that want to stay on land, the Everglades is just a short drive away and offers plenty of hiking trails and raised boardwalks to see birds and wildlife like manatees and alligators. Of course, the iconic airboat tours are the best way to get around.
You can find some excellent Everglades tours here that offer various combinations of experiences with the airboat tour.
Naples is just 30 minutes from Southwest Florida International Airport, which is serviced by most major airlines. If you want to explore the area’s world-renowned Everglades nature preserve independent of a tour or visit different beaches, renting a car is probably best.
Recommended by: Lori Sorrentino – Naples Florida Travel Guide
South Padre Island Texas
South Padre Island in Texas is a fabulous warm winter vacation destination with year-round sunshine. One of the prettiest islands in Texas, the barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico is known for stellar weather, pristine beaches, calm waters, and reasonable prices.
In winter, South Padre Island dishes up daily highs of around 71℉, lows of 55℉, and only two or three days of rain per month.
It’s easy to get to South Padre – fly directly into Brownsville International and jump on a 30-minute shuttle or taxi to the island.
Once on the island, you can utilize the free Island Metro shuttle to visit some of the island’s top attractions. There is plenty to keep you busy beyond sunshine and beaches. Go wildlife spotting at the South Padre Island Birding Nature Center & Alligator Sanctuary. It’s a great place to get up close to local wildlife, but you can also climb the five-story tower for incredible island views.
Visit the historic Port Isabel Lighthouse, constructed in 1852. It is the only lighthouse on the Texas coast open to visitors.
Enjoy a front-row seat to space exploration history. The SpaceX Boca Chica Launch site is a short distance across the bay from South Padre, offering incredible views of rocket launches. You can find information on viewing the SpaceX launches from South Padre here.
Take a walk along Isla Blanca Beach and learn about local turtle species at the Sea Turtle Conservation Center. It’s a wonderful research and rescue center rehabilitating up to one hundred turtles annually. See a display of around 30 sand sculptures by artists from around the world along the Sand Castle Trail.
Finally, unwind at night at the 4-star Isla Grand Beach Resort or enjoy a relaxed dinner at Bar Louie South Padre Island – a casual gastro-bar that serves amazing buffalo chicken flatbread.
Recommended by: Victoria – Texas Travel 365
With warm temperatures and diverse opportunities for amazing things to do, Austin, Texas is a fantastic city getaway when you want to escape the cold. Austin enjoys average winter highs in the low 60s℉. A light sweater is all you need to stay warm when it’s windy.
December in Austin is a fabulous time to visit and enjoy the city’s incredible holiday festive activities. From the drive-thru Austin Trail of Lights in Zilker Park to guided walking tours through the beautifully decorated Capitol Building.
There is plenty of festivals in Austin to keep you busy. The New Year’s Day Polar Plunge swim takes place in the chilly waters of the iconic Barton Springs.
There are sweet festivals with parades and ice skating, complete with trucked-in snow in the nearby small towns of Marble Falls, Bastrop, and Georgetown. Sipping hot chocolate and watching the Light Show at Mozart’s Coffee Roasters is also a winter highlight.
The New Year brings in events like Austin Free Week, a music festival showcasing a range of Austin bands and musicians, and as the name suggests – it’s entirely free.
A trip to Austin isn’t complete without at least one BBQ brisket meal, eating your weight in queso, and exploring Austin’s food truck scene. If you visit in February, the Austin Oyster Festival is a treat for seafood lovers.
Outdoorsy types can take advantage of the pleasant weather for kayaking Lady Bird Lake, hiking Mt. Bonnell, or soaking up the beauty of McKinney Falls with a walk and a picnic. Winter is also the perfect time to take a self-guided tour of Austin’s street art murals and try on some cowboy boots at Allen’s.
If you decide to spend your winter vacation in Austin, the activities are endless, and the weather is fine.
Recommended by: Sierra Schmidt – Very Truly Texas
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is a fantastic outdoor winter destination, with January being a particularly great time to go. The average temperature in the park is around 60℉, which is ideal weather for hiking.
One of the more “off the tourist trail” national parks, Big Bend has some of the best trails in Texas – Combined with great winter weather, it is the ideal winter vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Big Bend has some fantastic trails for all hiking abilities, such as the Hot Springs Trail, The Lost Mine Trail, Emory Peak, and the Santa Elena Trail. The Hot Springs Trail is particularly impressive, especially on early winter mornings. The hot spring is next to the Rio Grande so you can take a dip in the river if the spring gets too hot.
The Lost Mine Trail has some of the best mountain views, so is a great sunset hike. It is also a good trail for those who like a challenge.
The park has no official shuttle service, so you will need a car or a rental car to explore the immense park. Big Bend is very off the beaten track, so is far from any major city. The closest well-known city is Midland, Texas, around three hours away.
Midland/Odessa (235 miles) and El Paso (330 miles ) are the nearest airports. It is possible to pick up a rental car from either airport.
Other than camping, accommodation in the park is limited. Chisos Mountain Lodge is the only hotel in the park with the only full-service restaurant, so plan ahead if you don’t want to camp.
Recommended by: Michelle Stelly – The Wandering Queen
New Orleans (or NOLA as the locals fondly call it) is a fantastic warm winter destination, especially if you are keen to visit a city. In some ways, winter is the best time to visit New Orleans. The stifling summer heat and humidity have eased, and the days have turned pleasantly warm – perfect for exploring the very walkable city.
Between December and March, expect average winter temperatures between 57℉ and 65 ℉ in New Orleans. Of course, temperatures of up to 73℉ are not unheard of in winter.
New Orleans is famed for its festivals which start in February with Mardi Gras. If festivals are your thing – fun fact, you can have your own parade in New Orleans, complete with police escort.
You select a route, apply for your permit (which is easy), hire the musicians, and you’re away. The police will even close the streets and reroute traffic along your route. It’s a fun event for bachelor and bachelorette parties, weddings, or special birthday celebrations – You can find more information on having your own parade in New Orleans here.
Beyond the festivals and vibrant culture, New Orleans has a lot to keep visitors busy. Wander around the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter, where you’ll find gorgeous shops and boutiques to browse and a stunning array of restaurants and bars. Treat yourself to a Beignet, a cross between a french pastry and a doughnut. They are easily found in the French Quarter.
Take one of the fascinating walking tours to learn about the city’s rich history. There is everything from Walking Food & History Tours to Ghosts, Vampires, and Voodoo Walking Tours and Food, Jazz, and Culture Walking Tours – It goes to show how eclectic New Orleans is. Make sure that you leave time to enjoy the many street performers and buskers.
If you are keen on indoor activities, visit the National WWII Museum, which covers America’s role in Asia and Europe during WWII. It is one of the best interactive museums in North America and is suitable for all ages.
There are many New Orleans tips to make your time more enjoyable, safer, and cost-effective. For example, you don’t need to rent a car in New Orleans – Firstly, parking is difficult in the French Quarter. The city is very walkable and has excellent public transportation, including the famous street car system.
Recommended by: Nicole Hunter – Go Far Grow Close
Tucson offers winter visitors a comfortable mix of balmy days and cool evenings. High temperatures in the winter months are still in the upper 60s℉, with lows in the upper 30s℉. Averaging only three rainy days per month in winter, you’ll enjoy lots of Arizona sunshine in Tucson in winter.
One of Tucson’s favorite winter traditions is the Winterhaven Festival of Lights when Winterhaven’s neighborhood homes are lavishly decorated with twinkling holiday lights. The famous Tucson Gem and Mineral show is held in February.
Arts aficionados have many options in Tucson, starting with the Tucson Museum of Art, whose galleries are housed inside adobe homes. For a fun night on the town, visit the Gaslight theater, where the performances have an old-timey, vaudevillian flair (think damsels in distress and villains twirling their mustaches).
Nature lovers will enjoy exploring Tucson’s many great trails in Sabino Canyon and Mount Lemmon. Visit the lovely Tucson Botanical Garden, or take a quick trip southeast of town and explore Colossal Cave.
Stay at the Hotel Congress, a unique historic ‘roll ‘n’ roll’ hotel in downtown Tucson, the famous site where gangster John Dillinger was captured. Enjoy dining downtown at El Charro Café, the oldest Mexican restaurant in Tucson. Try their signature dish, Carne Seca, cooked up on their rooftop.
Renting a car is your best bet for visiting Tucson, especially if you want to go hiking and enjoy the incredible natural landscape. You can compare rates for rental cars from Tucson International Airport here.
Recommended by: Lisa Garrett of Waves and Cobblestones
With average daytime temperatures staying around the high 60s℉ to mid 70s℉ and sunny skies pretty much year-round, Scottsdale, Arizona, is one of the best warm places to visit in December in the USA for both weather and events.
A quaint little town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Scottsdale has a lot to offer. You’ll find plenty of beautiful resorts like Boulders Resort & Spa and the Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows. Scottsdale also has a thriving food scene. Some local favorites worth exploring include Maple & Ash, Toca Madera, Zinqué, and Postinos.
As for things to do, Scottsdale has no shortage. If you like to shop, the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall has everything from high-end designers like Prada, Gucci, and YSL to Free People and Abercrombie. For a night out, check out Old Town Scottsdale, where the streets are lined with various bars and clubs.
Winter in Scottsdale is also a time for plenty of events. In December, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess becomes a winter wonderland with its ”Winter at the Princess” event. – The Fairmont hosts an outdoor skating rink surrounded by fire pits where you can roast smores and enjoy a cup of steaming coffee. There’s also ax throwing, live music, and plenty of photo opportunities.
From late November to the end of December, you don’t want to miss Scottsdazzle, an annual month-long festival where you can enjoy the seasonal decor, live music, entertainment and events, and incredible food.
In February, Scottsdale hosts the Waste Management Open, a week-long golfing tournament. Whether you enjoy golf or not, the event is worth checking out, especially on Monday and Tuesday when it’s free to attend.
So, if you’re looking for a winter destination with great weather, amazing accommodations, great food, and plenty of events and things to do, plan a winter weekend getaway to Scottsdale.
Recommended by: Timpani Woodson – Like the Drum
Looking to escape the frigid and wet weather at home? Phoenix, Arizona’s dry and sunny desert climate is a perfect winter escape. Average December to February temps are around 70℉, but the continual sun and desert air make it feel much warmer. It is phenomenal convertible weather.
On the off chance it rains (you can expect a couple of rainy days in any winter month), it’s a great opportunity to head to the desert to see the amazing cactus blooms.
Phoenix is the 4th largest US city (population), so there are a lot of cultural activities, restaurants, museums, and activities to please everyone.
Winter events include major sporting events (college bowl and NFL playoff games, golf tournaments, baseball Spring Training) and arts and wine festivals. Specific annual popular events include Fiesta Bowl, Arizona Renaissance Fair, Rock N’ Roll Marathon, Chihuly in the Desert, Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show, and Arizona Gay Rodeo.
Some popular things to do in Phoenix include McDowell Sonoran Conservancy (for hiking and desert mountain biking), Papago Park (Hole in the Rock is an easy adventure hike), Musical Instrument Museum, Desert Botanical Museum, Taliesin West (Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert home, school, and architectural masterpiece), Heard Museum (Southwest Indian culture), and Tortilla Flats (old western town).
Looking for great places to eat in Phoenix? Try The Churchill (food truck park), Century Grand and Little Rituals (for cocktails), Flower Child, Prep & Pastry, Sicilian Butcher, Hash Kitchen, and Ocotillo Restaurant.
Recommended by: Charles McCool – McCool Travel
Sedona, Arizona, is an incredible winter vacation for great weather and a wealth of experiences.
Home to iconic red rock formations amidst the stunning Arizona desert, Sedona is famous for its hiking trails that lead to incredible vistas showcasing the region’s beauty. Two of the most famous are the Devil’s Bridge and Cathedral Rock, dramatic rock formations that rank as some of the most famous landmarks in the United States. We have a fabulous 3-Day Sedona Itinerary covering the best hikes and experiences.
In winter, the average low temperature in Sedona is around 36℉ with highs between 59℉ and 65℉. Precipitation is also rare, with the town seeing no more than four rainy days on average in a month.
Sedona’s balmy winter weather is perfect for outdoor activities, whether hiking or strolling around town exploring Sedona’s boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, joining a vortex yoga class, or even a wine-tasting tour.
Sedona is a perfectly-balanced destination. Beyond the stunning natural landscapes and many outdoor attractions, Sedona is said to have powerful “energy vortexes,” which attract some of the best healers worldwide. A great selection of wellness and spiritual centers will soothe your aching limbs and tired mind. Go for an awarding-winning spa or a relaxing massage with some of the world’s best wellness practitioners.
Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy Sedona’s flourishing food scene. You’ll find everything from fine dining to earthy organic. The Latin American restaurant Mariposa is a local favorite but is often crowded. If you can get a table, try the lemon mashed potatoes. The views from their outdoor terrace are worth the visit alone. Or, try Elote Cafe, touted as one of America’s best Mexican restaurants. Unfortunately, Elote doesn’t take bookings.
There is a small airport 40 minutes from Sedona – Flagstaff Airport. However, most visitors choose to fly into Phoenix and rent a car for the 2-hour drive to Sedona. You will need a car to make the most of Sedona as the best attractions are quite spread out.
There is also a shuttle transfer from Phoenix airport and Sedona – You can find details of the shuttle service here. If you decide to get a shuttle and not rent a car, there is Uber and Lyft, or you can utilize tours to see the best attractions in Sedona.
You can browse a full selection of Sedona Tours here or check Car rental Prices from Phoenix to see which style suits you best.
Recommended by: Sean Lau – LivingOutLau
Paso Robles California
Paso Robles is a laid-back coastal town in Central California and a world-renowned wine region.
Average winter temperatures of around 63℉ during the day and lows of 35℉ at night offer glorious winter weather to explore Paso Robles’s best attractions.
The Winter sun is not the only reason to visit in the winter. Fewer crowds, festive celebrations, great food, and great deals – winter is when many wineries will have their best holiday deals on offer.
There are over 200 wineries in Paso Robles, so there are loads of gorgeous vineyards and wineries to explore. For those worried about driving, a good selection of wine tours is available, including a winery tour with a picnic where you can visit 3-4 wineries and enjoy a picnic lunch in a picturesque setting.
Some top-rated wineries worth visiting in Paso Robles are Daou Vineyards and Winery, Adelaida Vineyard and Winery, Eberle Winery, Sculpterra Winery and Sculpture Garden, and Niner West Estates, to name a few.
Visit Tin City in Paso Robles, an evolving industrial maker’s market where Paso Robles’s most passionate artisans showcase craft wine, beer, and spirits – a kind of one-stop shop to taste the region’s most creative producers.
Paso Robles is also home to Sensorio Field of Light, a 15 acres walk-through light display by the internationally acclaimed visual artist Bruce Munro. Sensorio added a new Bruce Munro work in 2021 called Light Towers, an installation of more than 17,000 wine bottles in a nod to Paso Robles wine heritage.
Downtown Paso Robles oozes history and charm with an artistic edge. You’ll find some interesting art galleries like Studios in the Park showcasing the work of many local artists. The Sculpterra Winery and Sculpture Garden in Paso Robles has amazing sculpture pieces on display, featuring world-renowned sculpture artists.
You’ll find plenty of vacation rentals around Paso Robles with gorgeous vineyard views. Downtown Paso Robles also has lovely accommodation options, like Paso Robles Inn and Hotel Cheval. Some notable restaurants to try in the downtown area are The Hatch Rotisserie and Bar, La Cosecha Bar and Restaurant, and Il Cortile Ristorante.
You can use tours to get around Poso Robles’s many wineries and attractions, but having a car will open up more options for exploring the beautiful region.
Recommended by: Anu Agarwal – Destination Check Off
Santa Barbara, fondly named the American Riviera, is a much-loved winter escape for those chasing the warmer weather. Santa Barabara enjoys mild and sunny winters with highs in the mid-60s℉ and lows in the mid-40s℉.
Santa Barbara is one of the best places to visit in California in December for those looking for warm weather and a festive vibe. The city offers a variety of holiday-themed activities, from the Annual Holiday Boat Parade to the holiday decor of the Paseo Nuevo shops and restaurants. And if you’re a fan of the Nutcracker Ballet, you can catch a performance at the Granada Theater during the Christmas season.
Throughout the winter months, you can catch the migration of the Monarch butterflies. And if you’re a film buff, you’ll want to check out the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which takes place every February.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love a sunset kayaking tour with the gorgeous winter sunsets, while surfers delight in the bigger winter wave season. And best of all, the weather is perfect for the 2.5-mile Seven Falls hike, which is prettier in winter, especially after rain.
Typically it’s best to fly into Los Angeles, rent a car and do the 1.5-hour scenic drive filled with gorgeous Pacific Ocean views. A car will allow you to check out nearby vineyards and one of the prettiest beaches – Butterfly Beach, in Montecito near the Four Seasons Biltmore Resort, a gorgeous place to stay. You can check car rental rates from Santa Barabara airport here, with no fees and free cancellation.
Santa Barbara is an amazing winter trip, whatever your interests.
Recommended by: Jenifer – The Evolista
Palm Springs in Southern California is one of the USA’s most popular warm winter escapes. Palm Springs has all angles covered with many top-notch resorts, spas, and golf courses and lots of opportunities for outdoor activities.
The weather in winter is delightful in Palm Springs, with mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Daytime winter highs average in the low 70s℉, with lows in the mid to upper 40s℉. While you might need a jacket early and late in the day, you can lounge by the pool during the day. It’s the best of both worlds.
One of the best things to do in Palm Springs is a tour of the city’s famous mid-century modern architecture. Stroll Palm Canyon Drive in the evenings to browse the boutiques and dine at one of many fine restaurants.
Hiking in the desert oases around Palm Springs is a must-do if you enjoy the outdoors. The Indian Canyons, Tahquitz Canyon, and the Thousand Palms Oasis are all excellent options. Or, you can do a longer tip to take in the iconic landscapes at Joshua Tree National Park.
Winter in Palm Springs also means plenty of events. Leading into the holidays, Palm Springs hosts a Tree Lighting and parade. In January, the city hosts an international film festival. In February, visit during Modernism Week, one of the city’s best-known events.
You’ll find numerous great restaurants in Palm Springs, but check out The Farm Restaurant for farm-to-fork Provencal cuisine and Birba for Italian.
Having a car while visiting Palm Springs is helpful if you want to take trips to nearby desert communities or the desert parks. You can find car rental deals for Palm Springs here.
Recommended by: Dhara – Roadtripping California
Borrego Springs California
Borrego Springs in Southern California is a fabulous winter destination for several reasons. The small desert town averages 300 days of sunshine per year, making it one of the sunniest places in the US. With temperatures averaging in the low 70s℉ during the day and low 50s℉ at night in winter, you’ll be able to enjoy the many outdoor activities without dealing with the cold.
The stunning desert landscapes are especially lovely in the winter, and there are plenty of opportunities to see wildlife with fewer people. Winter is also when snowbirds flock to the region from across the country.
Only two hours from San Diego or three hours from LA, Borrego Springs is a great place to escape the winter chill for a few days. The biggest attraction is Anza Borrego State Park, the largest state park in California (actually the largest in the contiguous US) surrounding Borrego Springs.
While there is plenty to do in the town of Borrego Springs, a car is recommended to access all the attractions and take advantage of some excellent day trips from Borrego Springs, including the Salton Sea, Mecca, and the Sonny Bono Refuge.
While in Borrego Springs, don’t miss the Galleta Meadow Estate, which features a collection of over 130 lifesize metal sculptures by Southern California artist Ricardo Breceda. The sculptures were commissioned by the heir to the Avery Label fortune Dannis Avery. He placed them on his private land for conservation. The estate is unfenced and open to the public to explore.
Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts have many possibilities, such as the Palm Canyon Trail or Little Blair Valley, exploring the badlands, and catching a sunset at the famous Font’s Point.
Recommended by: Andi Fisher – Adventures With Andi
Catalina Island California
Off the coast of sunny Southern California, with one of the most comfortable climates year-round on the globe, you can find one of the best island escapes and warm winter destinations in the USA.
In the winter, while the rest of the country is dealing with snow, Catalina Island averages a comfortable high of around 60℉, which means only a light jacket is required. It’s not only a peasant time to visit for the climate but also shoulder season and off-peak season, so you’ll have this incredible Southern California getaway to yourself.
Hop on a ferry from Dana Point, Newport Beach, or Long Beach to start your Catalina Island getaway. While some of the amazing things to do on Catalina can be done on a day trip, this is one of those destinations that is best savored – I recommend staying at least a weekend in Catalina.
Beyond outdoor activities like hiking with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, the town of Avalon has a great foodie and drinking scene. There are several historic sites and tours you can join, including touring the historic Catalina Island Casino, which serves as a focal point of the island.
Recommended by: Megan Indoe – Bobo & Chichi
South Bay Los Angeles California
The South Bay is a community of beach cities just south of the Los Angeles International Airport and a fantastic destination for the winter.
The area spans about 6 miles down the coast with stunning beaches, plenty of fun activities, and excellent dining. You’ll find a year-round warm and welcoming atmosphere at the popular beach cities of Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach.
In the winter, South Bay temperatures typically range from a low of 50°F to a high of 68°F. There have even been days in November when the temperature has gone over 75°F.
Expect mild and sunny days throughout the winter with little to no rain.
There are many incredible things to do in South Bay LA in winter. From enjoying the incredible beaches to exploring fabulous local restaurants, such as the Strand House for fine dining or Madres for their Mezcal and Oaxacan food. The Hermosa Beach Pier offers lively nightlife for those who like to continue after dinner.
You’ll find adorable boutique stores along the piers and downtowns of each city, or head over to the Del Amo Mall (one of the biggest malls in the country) for a wide range of high-end to smaller stores.
Winter weather is also cool enough to take advantage of great hikes along the gorgeous Palos Verdes Peninsula. There are several popular trails along the top with staggering panoramic ocean views.
While there aren’t many festivals in the winter, one of the best holiday activities is to wander down Candy Cane Lane in Torrance. The neighborhood is lit with extravagant decorations, and some locals sell hot chocolate and snacks from their front lawns.
Recommended by: Janelle Axton – Make The Trip Matter
Sunny San Diego, California. With an average winter temperature of 67℉, you can enjoy the best San Diego offers without worrying about the winter cold. San Diego is great because the weather is gorgeous all year round; it’s the perfect destination for anyone looking to escape the cold.
There is so much to see and do in San Diego any time of the year. San Diego boasts over 70 miles of pristine beaches to explore, hike through stunning Torrey Pines State Park, or explore the San Diego Zoo. For adventure lovers, kayaking in La Jolla is a must-do.
There’s also no shortage of festivals in San Diego during winter. December hosts several events, such as the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, Surf’n Santa, Christmas in the Park, and the SoNo Fest & Chili Cook-Off.
Don’t forget to stop at California Burritos in San Diego, Their breakfast burritos are out of this world, and Oscar’s Mexican Seafood for phenomenal tacos.
Recommended by: Taima Ramset – Poor in a Private Plane
Death Valley National Park California and Nevada
One of the best times to visit Death Valley National Park is during winter when temperatures reach maximums of 60-70°F and fewer people are visiting national parks.
There are some incredible national parks in the US, But Death Valley is unique. It is home to the Badwater Basin, the lowest place in North America at 282 below sea level, yet, it also is surrounded by 11,000+ foot tall mountains. It is quite spectacular in winter to stand in the middle of the Badwater Basin and see snow-capped mountains surrounding you.
While you’re there, you can’t miss these 9 Stunning Sites in Death Valley, including the iconic Zabriske Point, the colorful Rainbow Hills of Artist’s Palette, and the Mesquite Sand Dunes.
You will need a car to explore Death Valley. While you can enter the park from the California side near Lone Pine, most people come from Las Vegas as the drive is only an hour and forty minutes to the park entrance at Death Valley Junction. The park’s east side also has more popular attractions and is closer to better lodging at Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells.
While there are some food options and gas at Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, I highly recommend filling up on gas before entering the park, as it’s at least a dollar more per gallon inside the park. Additionally, bring 2-3 extra gallons of water in your car in case of an emergency; after all, it is the hottest place on Earth.
Recommended by: Taylor Schlesinger – Nomads in Nature
The great thing about Las Vegas is that there is always something to do. Whether you want to hit the spa, gamble, see a show, shop, or party, it has something for everyone. And with Average winter daytime temps of 70℉ and comfortable lows of 48℉ at night, Vegas is a fantastic winter getaway.
What also makes winter in Las Vegas great is that it is considered off-season, so hotel rates are cheaper, and reservations for dinner are easier to find.
The Mad Apple show at the New York, New York hotel is a perfect blend of reasonably priced entertainment. If you are looking for a newer attraction, Area 15 is very cool. It’s an indoor “adult playground” with sensory experiences, zip lining, and art installations. It is certainly worth checking out.
The winter season also has plenty of great events. While the Las Vegas pool parties are closed for the season from October- Mid May, conferences, trade shows, and concerts normally ramp up.
New Year’s Eve, in particular, is a huge deal in Las Vegas. You can expect to find your favorite performers hosting parties during the week leading up to it and on the night itself.
If you’re an F1 fan, mark your calendars for next November 2023, when the race will be coming to Vegas. Hotels are expected to book up by the end of the year for this, so get in early.
Vegas also dishes up an incredible array of dining options. You can eat out for two weeks straight in Las Vegas and would barely scratch the surface of all the restaurant offerings. If you are looking for a fun place to dine with friends, you can’t beat the Cosmopolitan Hotel’s eclectic and unique Superfrico restaurant. It features Italian food with a side of unexpected entertainment.
Other notable places to check out include Eataly, Catch, Sadelle’s (best brunch), Nobu, and Carbone.
Las Vegas does hotels like no other city. There are 5-star resorts like The Encore at Wynn and The Wynn, which are upscale and quieter. The Cosmopolitan is a fun and lively spot. If you are looking for a good balance of both, check out The Palazzo.
Las Vegas McCarran International Airport services Vegas, only 15 minutes from the strip. Once you land, you can be at your hotel in under an hour. Unless you plan day trips from Vegas, you don’t need a car. Uber and taxis are readily available. Uber is a bit more cost-efficient, but there are always taxis at the bigger resorts, and easier to grab in a pinch.
Recommended by: Marisa Mercanti-Gagnon – The Daydream Diaries
With winter temperatures averaging in the low to mid-70s℉, reaching the 80s℉ by March/April, Kauai, Hawaii, is undoubtedly one of the best warm winter vacations in the USA. Even though it is also the rainy season, showers typically pass quickly, leaving plenty of time to enjoy all the amazing activities that Kauai offers.
We named Kauai one of the best outdoor adventure destinations in the US for a good reason. One of the best ways to see the island of Kauai is by taking a helicopter tour, as much of the island is inaccessible by roads. A helicopter tour will reveal some of the island’s most magic settings, such as the famous waterfall from the first Jurassic Park movie. Soar over Waimea Canyon and coast along the beautiful Na Pali coast. You may even see whales migrating along the coast.
Get more information on Waimea Canyon and Jurassic Falls Helicopter Tour, or you may prefer a Sightseeing Flight over Napali Coast & Waimea Canyon.
If you prefer to stay grounded, there are plenty of incredible things to do and see on Kauai. Go on a whale-watching tour, drive to the magnificent overlooks along Waimea Canyon, visit the Sprouting Horn Blowhole, hike the many scenic trails, sunbathe and spot sea turtles and monk seals on Poi Pu beach.
Monk seals are native only to Hawaii and are an endangered species. With only about 1500 left in the wild, a monk seal encounter is a special Kauai experience.
Popular places to stay in Kauai include the town of Lihue and the area near Poi Pu Beach. The Hilton Garden Inn Kauai Wailua Bay offers guests fire shows every Tuesday night and is close to a sheltered beach, perfect for swimming.
Visitors should plan to rent a car during their stay. Having a car will give you the freedom to explore the island and the ease of exploring its many delicious restaurants. You can find local car rental deals here from Lihue.
Recommended by: Kristin Secor -World on Wheels
The Big Island Hawaii
The Big Island is an amazingly warm winter destination to visit in the USA. You can fly directly into the main cities of Hilo town and Kona or from the main hub at Honolulu for a good dose of winter sunshine.
The Hilo side of the island is lush and green, with many botanical gardens and waterfalls to explore. It offers easy access to Volcanoes National Park. The unique park system has many fascinating landscapes and hiking trails around the active volcano caldera.
The Kona side of the island is more arid, hot, and dry, with large resort areas and gorgeous white sand beaches like Hapuna Beach, which always ranks among the top five USA beaches. You’ll find the striking Westin Hapuna Beach Resort on the edge of this stunning beach.
The west side also has many historical and cultural sites, including national monuments, Kona coffee growing farms, and gorgeous gulches to explore at Waipio and Polulu Valley. There are also plenty of world-class outdoor adventure experiences like surfing, sailing, snorkeling, and manta ray diving.
Aside from the gorgeous warm winter weather, The Big Island dishes up loads of thrilling adventure experiences, incredible beaches and resorts, stunning natural attractions, and of course, great food experiences.
Recommended by: Noel Morata – This Hawaii Life
The beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu is a fantastic destination in the winter months. During the winter, the average high hovers around 78℉. The gorgeously mild weather is perfect for outdoor activities and exploring without the more extreme summer temperatures.
Oahu’s busiest months are during summer. This means in winter, you tend to find better hotel deals and availablity (except for Christmas through to New Year).
Another great reason to visit Oahu in winter is the chance to take a whale-watching tour as humpbacks migrate from Alaska to Hawaii to give birth during the winter. You can even see the whales from the coast in Honolulu or near the Halona blowhole. It is a must for any Oahu itinerary this time of the year.
Other fantastic places to visit during the winter months are the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, Manoa Falls (one of the easiest hiking experiences from Honolulu), and the North Shore. Surfers from all over the globe flock to Oahu when the winter swells hit the North Shore during winter. Several surf competitions, like the Hurley Pro and Van’s Triple Crown of Surfing, happen at Sunset Beach on the North Shore during the winter.
For swimmers and snorkelers, the south coast is calmer during these months. And for the thrillseeker – you need to make your way to Hanauma Bay or the China Walls for some cliff-jumping.
If you’re heading to Honolulu during December, enjoy a tropical festive vibe with the Honolulu City Lights all over the city during the holiday season. Oahu has so much to offer the winter traveler.
Recommended by: Megan Starr – Next is Hawaii
The palm-fringed island of Maui is about an idyllic winter escape as you can get. With daytime temperatures in winter averaging 80°F and daily lows of around 65°F, you can comfortably combine an action-packed program with a lazy day at the beach.
You can count on the occasional rain shower in winter – usually brief, but with the rain, you might also be treated to a beautiful Hawaii rainbow afterward.
Note that you’re less likely to experience rain in South Maui, making the resort areas of Wailea and Kihei some of the best places to stay in Maui in winter. It is also where you’ll find some of the most fabulous beaches on the island.
From hiking and snorkeling to zip lining, there’s no shortage of exciting activities on the Valley Isle, and some are even better in winter than in any other season. Winter signals whale watching season. You can take a whale-watching cruise to the warm waters of the ‘Au’au channel, where these majestic mammals breed from December to March.
See the sunrise from the top of the Haleakala Volcano for an experience of a lifetime on a Haleakala National Park sunrise and breakfast tour. As the sun rises quite a bit later in the winter months, you can have your sleep and a sunrise. If you’re looking to hike to one of the island’s spectacular waterfalls, winter is when Maui’s waterfalls are at their best.
Excursions and tours are plentiful in Maui – you can see all the types of Maui tours available here. However, as with most island getaways, renting a car is recommended to make the most of your time on the island.
Recommended by: Sarah Vanheel – CosmopoliClan
Savannah, Georgia, is a great place to visit during the winter. Temperatures in winter in Savannah are generally around the 60s℉, and you’ll find generally fewer crowds and some great off-season rates. Combined with the mild winter weather, these are great reasons to visit this charming city in winter.
Some of the best things to do in Savannah include visiting the Riverfront, walking around the squares, seeing the beautiful historic mansions, and touring the Telfair museums.
You also have to see the famous Forsyth Park and fountain, where you can walk under the iconic giant oak trees covered with Spanish moss.
You can’t miss stopping for ice cream at Leopold’s or a meal at The Olde Pink House. Staying on the Riverfront or by Forsyth Park are great options for hotels.
You don’t need a car when visiting Savannah unless you plan on doing anything outside the downtown area. Parking can be difficult if you bring a car, and hotels usually charge extra for onsite parking. Overall, getting around Savannah on foot, using Uber, or even the trolley are great ways to explore the city.
Recommended by: Sam Oppenheimer – Find Love & Travel
Gulf Shores, Alabama, fits the bill when you’re looking for a winter destination that’s not too hot and not too cold. Average winter temps in Gulf Shores are in the mid-sixties, dropping to low forties at night.
Known for beaches that literally sparkle, there’s more to do than soak up the winter sun.
Gulf State Park is 6,500 acres comprised of beaches, extensive marshland, pine forests, and fresh-water lakes. Hiking the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trails is popular, and so is bicycling. At Beach Bike Rentals, you can rent bikes, including tandems and adult trikes. There’s also a free bike-sharing program within the park.
A unique beach activity is taking a sandcastle class with Sandcastle University. Keep the sand in your toes with a meal at The Gulf – a waterfront restaurant inside old shipping containers specializing in seafood.
For a historical perspective of Gulf Shores, visit Fort Morgan. Its location at the end of the peninsula made it an important site during the Civil War.
Located southeast of Mobile, a cool way to get there is by ferry from Dauphin Island. It lands at Fort Morgan, so you can check that off as soon as you arrive.
This is just a small sample of the many things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama. It’s a perfect place to relax, soak in the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, or have a more active winter vacation.
Recommended by: Theresa Goodrich– The Local Tourist
From sunny city getaways to idyllic island escapes, which warm winter vacation destination will you choose to escape the cold this year?