With the cold weather blowing in at full force and snow coming down in the mountains, now is the perfect time to think about visiting some hot winter travel destinations. You know, the kind where the sun shines most days, and there are no jackets required?
So with that in mind, we decided to round up the 10 warmest and most appealing locations around the U.S. for your next winter trip.
1. Key West, Florida
If warm tropical air, clear turquoise water, and palm trees blowing in the breeze sounds like an ideal place to warm up this winter, then Key West is calling your name. With average temperatures during the winter months hovering around the mid-70s, and the sun shining down nearly every day, a winter trip to Key West is about as far away from the cold northern winter as you can get in the Lower 48.
Once you’re settled in, be prepared to ditch the car. You can easily make your way around this 7 sq. mile island by bike, scooter, or rented golf cart. Whether you’re into nightlife and endless margaritas or looking for family-friendly adventure, Key West has got it all.
2. San Diego, California
Few cities can boast as many sunny days as San Diego, making it an easy choice for winter travel. With a near perfect year-round climate, world-class zoo, miles of beaches, and colorful Old Town, San Diego is fun for the whole family.
While some may enjoy golfing at Torrey Pines, others will want to spend the day wandering around Balboa Park and its many museums and gardens. A variety of unique neighborhoods such as Little Italy, the Gaslamp Quarter, and Ocean Beach are ripe for exploration. For an adventure on water take a surf lesson at Pacific Beach, or head out to sea on a whale watch.
No matter how you choose to spend your time in San Diego, there is no shortage of activities to keep visitors busy in this vibrant coastal city.
3. Palm Springs, California
Ahhh…Palm Springs, where mid-century hipster ambiance mixes with iconic architecture, desert panoramas, and the preppy golf-loving culture like no other place in the west. Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for sweeping views of the surrounding desert and visit the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens for its mix of native flora and fauna.
Every Thursday night the Villagefest attracts hundreds of visitors and locals with handmade crafts and high-end art. In addition to all the culture and fun, the food scene in Palm Springs is on fire! Try Birba for modern pizza and pasta, Workshop Kitchen + Bar for seasonal menus and strong cocktails, and Over The Rainbow Cupcakes for delectable sweet treats.
4. Scottsdale, Arizona
Far more than simply a city in the desert, Scottsdale is home to some of Arizona’s most stunning urban scenery— including Camelback Mountain where a sunrise hike is a must —as well as the state’s top golf resorts. With winter temps in the low 70s and plentiful sunshine, Scottsdale is the perfect destination for winter travel.
If hiking and golfing aren’t your thing, there is plenty more to capture your interest. How about funky and unique art galleries, Native American jewelry shops, or local crafts and foods markets?
Scottsdale is also home to several museums including the Arizona Museum of Natural History, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Heard Museum where the southwest’s native population is celebrated.
5. Corpus Christi, Texas
Located along the Gulf Coast of Texas, Corpus Christi is a popular winter travel destination for snowbirds. In addition to the 102 sunny days per year, the average temperatures hover around 70 degrees in the coldest months. When the official Corpus Christi website claims “smooth sea breezes and endless blue skies year-round,” they are not wrong!
The sun soaked beaches of Corpus Christi provide a cool respite for visitors to stroll the sand, take horseback riding tours, or even learn to surf or kite board. Golf, tennis, and shopping are among the other popular activities with numerous options located in and around town.
6. West Palm Beach, Florida
West Palm Beach has everything required for a perfect winter travel getaway: beaches, warm weather, and absolutely no chance of snow! Tons of attractions in and around the city suit every kind of traveler.
Culture lovers are sure to enjoy the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts and the Norton Museum of Art. For the night owls, downtown West Palm is filled with trendy martini bars, nightclubs, boutiques, and fine-dining restaurants.
There’s even something for those seeking a breath of fresh air. Simply head over to the beach for an afternoon of lazing around on the sand or kayaking the warm ocean waters.
7. Yuma, Arizona
The southwest desert is always a sure bet if you’re looking for a rain-free winter travel destination. Mild, dry weather can be expected during the winter months in Yuma—with a side of plentiful sunshine thrown in to sweeten the deal.
Naturally, this means there will be plenty of time to enjoy outdoor activities. Activities like hiking some of the nearby trails such as Telegraph Pass and the Laguna Mountain Ridge. Or, renting an OHV (off highway vehicle) for a wild afternoon spent zooming around the wind-sculpted sand of the Imperial Sand Dunes.
When you’re ready to get out of the sun, take a history lesson while touring of the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park. Or learn about development around the Colorado River Basin at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot Historical Park.
No matter how you choose to spend your time, Yuma is sure to please with its sunny, mild desert climate. The city also holds the Guinness World Record as the Sunniest City On Earth with an average of 11 hours a day of sunlight every day. Read more about Yuma here.
8. Fort Myers Beach, Florida
Fort Myers enjoys winter temperatures in the mid-70s and around 5 inches of rain from late December to March. Which leads us to conclude that winter really is the best time to visit this Florida beach town.
Located on Florida’s gulf coast, Fort Myers Beach sits on a little barrier island about seven miles long. The wide beach is filled with sparkling sugar-sand and is perfect for relaxing or enjoying water sports such as parasailing or kayaking.
In addition to its own beach, Fort Myers is surrounded by around 100 barrier and coastal islands ripe for exploration. The shelling is here is world class, and a visit to the nearby Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum will educate and inspire.
9. South Padre Island, Texas
When the tagline of a city is “totally beachin’” and the transit system is called the Wave, it’s not hard to imagine what their most popular attraction is. Thirty-four miles of white sand beaches and emerald water make this barrier island on the coast of Texas a popular destination for winter travel. Couples and families flock to the area for the sparkling water and mix of funky bars and restaurants.
Kiteboarding is a favorite pastime in South Padre Island, along with deep-sea fishing trips and dolphin-watching excursions. In addition to fun on the beach, this is also a bird lovers paradise. The South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center is a great place to see and learn about all kinds of exotic birds.
10. Tucson, Arizona
With average winter temperatures in the mid-60s, Tucson might not be the first place that comes to mind as a winter travel destination. But with abundant sunshine and very little rain, Tucson is an excellent place to visit this season.
Surrounded by mountain ranges and flanked on either side by Saguaro National Park, Tucson is the ultimate destination for exploring the great outdoors. Because the weather is on the cool side, hiking and biking are popular activities.
Check out Catalina State Park and the Tucson Mountian Park for miles of trails to explore. In addition to hitting the trails, you could ride the tram into Sabino Canyon or learn about the desert at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. No matter what your interest, Tucson is sure to become a favorite place to get warm this winter.