You know it’s coming — winter. And if you live somewhere where that season portends snow, sleet, hail, and black ice, you know there comes a point where you just can’t take it any longer. One morning in mid-January, while you’re snow-blowing your driveway, you’ll stop dead in your tracks and think: “No more. I need to be on a beach somewhere.”
The time to start planning for that moment is right now. To help get you started, here are 7 wonderful warm-weather winter destinations you can visit without leaving the U.S.
Do your future self a favor and book a getaway now!
1. Savannah, Georgia
Average high Dec-Feb: 63°F (17°C)
I know what you’re thinking: an average high of 63 isn’t exactly tropical. Well, it may not be beach weather, but it’s hardly a blizzard either. Besides, Savannah is one of the most charming cities in the South, rich with Antebellum history and modern quirk.
Although Savannah is famous for its lack of open liquor laws (meaning you can stroll through town drink in hand), it’s equally famous for it’s Prohibition Museum, the only institution in America devoted to the memory of those dark, dry years. In fact, Museums are a real theme in Savannah, so if you’re a history buff you’ll have plenty to fill your itinerary: the Savanna History Museum, the Telfair Museums (three galleries for the price of one), the Ralph Mark GIlbert Civil Rights Museum… Wherever your interests lie, you’ll find something to tickle your fancy.
If you’re more inclined to enjoy the balmy weather, there’s the picturesque Forsyth Park with its iconic fountains, and the nearby Tybee Island, where you might meet a dolphin or two if you’re lucky!
With its abundance of greenery and Southern hospitality, Savannah will definitely help recharge your winter batteries.
Intrigued? Check out 7 Historic Places To Visit In Savannah, GA.
2. Charleston, South Carolina
Average high Dec-Feb: 59°F (15°C)
While we’re in the South, we may as well bring up another gem you have to explore if you get the chance. In the case of Charleston, we’re literally talking about the best city to visit in America. Again, this isn’t tropical winter getaway territory (don’t worry, we’ll get to that), but it’s the perfect city to see from the back of a horse-drawn carriage — and yes, you can have your pick of several top-rated, relatively cheap horse tours!
Charleston is known for its Lowcountry cuisine — courtesy of the Gullah Geechee people who originally came from West-Central Africa as slaves, and whose fastidiously preserved culture has so infused the Carolinian coast with its zest. You’ll also find plenty of old plantation houses, beautiful in themselves, but stark reminders of the past.
Finally, if you long to be on the water, Charleston is a great place to go kayaking, or hop aboard an old-fashioned schooner.
If you’d like to learn more, read Charleston, SC: America’s Tourist Mecca.
3. Laguna Beach, California
Average high Dec-Feb: 68°F (20°C)
South of the hustle and bustle of LA, south of Anaheim and Santa Ana, the small city of Laguna Beach is pressed up against the Pacific on about the same latitude as the island of Catalina. If you’re driving the legendary coastal Highway 1 south toward San Diego, you’ll pass right through town. You’d be well advised to pull over and stay a while.
Laguna beach is a contained community, partly gated, but it’s also kind of an open book. Long, idyllic beaches snake along the coast, interrupted only by parks, surf shops, and extraordinary seafood bistros like The Cliff where you can drink wine and watch the sun set into the endless sea. You may just spot a pod of whales off Emerald Point too!
4. Sedona, Arizona
Average high Dec-Feb: 57.6°F (14°C)
Maybe not as hot as you were expecting for Arizona, but that’s the thing about a desert: the sand it giveth, and the sand it taketh away. Still, given the choice between Minnesota or Sedona in January, the choice is pretty clear.
Sedona is a small community, with barely more than 10,000 permanent residents, but it has truly emerged as a center of tourism. You’ll find lots of art and colorful characters in the town itself; for whatever reason, Sedona seems to attract creative types. And outside of town, you’ll find a burgeoning wine market, with plenty of excellent vineyards nearby that you’ll want to visit. Red Rock State Park is close at hand as well, where you can witness some of the iconic Roadrunner-esque rock formations for which Arizona is so famous — including the 5,000 foot Cathedral Rock.
Arizona may be too hot for your liking in the summer months, but in winter it makes a dandy getaway.
Thinking about visiting Sedona? 5 Things To Do In Sedona, AZ has more details for you.
5. US Virgin Islands
Average high Dec-Feb: 83°F (28°C)
If you were waiting for us to recommend a place where there is no winter as we know it, you’re in luck.
Although there are several lesser islands, the main links in the chain are St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. There are plenty of boat tours, kayaking, snorkeling, and watersports in general in which you can indulge. But if you want to escape from it all and just lay on the beach… you’ll still be spoilt for choice.
If you’re wondering whether the recovery from 2017’s devastating hurricane season is going well, this is what the Virgin Islands’ website has to say about the matter. “Power has been restored, beaches and attractions have reopened, restaurants are serving up extraordinary dishes, and the USVI spirit is as warm and inviting as ever.”
6. New Orleans, Louisiana
Average high Dec-Feb: 63°F (17°C)
Do I really have to sell you on New Orleans at any time of the year? I mean, who doesn’t want to take a lazy riverboat tour? Or a high octane airboat tour of the bayous? Or visit any number of allegedly haunted houses? Or drink at a 200-year-old bar, the oldest public house in America (Lafitte’s)?
If you want more quirky recommendations, read our article Emperors And Absinthe: 8 Little-Known New Orleans Attractions.
7. Biloxi, Mississippi
Average high Dec-Feb: 63°F (17°C)
If you’d like to make a date with lady luck, but you’re looking for somewhere quainter than Las Vegas, consider a winter trip to Biloxi. It’s famous for its casinos — the New Palace and the Beau Rivage being just two examples. But there’s also plenty to explore in the great outdoors. You’re not far from the bayous, which you can explore by boat or kayak, and there’s plenty of shoreline to walk along the Gulf Coast. You can also take the one-hour ferry ride to Ship Island and stroll along the boardwalk there. The island boasts the best beaches in the state.
We hope this list gave you some new ideas of places to which you can escape for a respite from the ice and snow. As always, thanks for reading and happy trails!