Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
You’ve heard of “snowbirds,” right? If you haven’t, it’s a term for people who live in a northern area and head south once winter hits and the temperatures drop. When I was growing up, it always conjured up images of retirees in colorful printed shirts headed off to sip piña coladas at some fancy beach resort. These days, however, with so many people able to work remotely, you see snowbirds of all ages headed off to warm weather destinations from December through February. Heck, even if you can’t spend that much time away from home, more and more people are finding they need that boost of Vitamin D to help beat the winter blues.
Below is a round up of some of my favorite places to go should you also need the escape!
The Best Warm Weather Destinations to Go this Winter
Head southern California for the warmest weather locations. While places like Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, or Big Bear Lake are cold enough for skiing, many southern locations rarely dip below 70F during the day. As far as cities go, you can never go wrong planning a trip to San Diego, Los Angeles, or Santa Barbara. For those that want to venture out, Palm Springs is always a great idea for a fun vacation, and you really can’t beat the 42 miles of coastline between LA and San Diego that is Orange County.
Just remember to bring a light jacket for the evenings when things do cool down considerably!
The perpetual sunshine in Arizona is so nice year round that Frank Lloyd Wright himself opted to spend his winters here. In fact, he even created his masterpiece, Taliesin West, right in Phoenix. With desert landscapes, this state is great for anyone hoping to get outdoors on during the winter escape. If you want to stay outside of the capital city, opt for spots like Glendale, Tempe, Sedona, Scottsdale or Flagstaff. And, of course, don’t forget to visit America’s most famous landmark – the Grand Canyon.
My list of places to visit in Florida is frankly unending, and there’s a good reason we’ve gone back time and time again for “Places to Love.” With so many warm weather destinations within the Sunshine State, anyone can find a city or town to visit for a week or a few months.
If you’re looking for city life, check out Miami, Jacksonville, or Tampa. Of course, Orlando is a must for those wanting to visit some of the world’s most iconic amusement parks. Only a short drive away is Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast for anyone with out of this world interests. St. Augustine and the Historic Coast is perfect for those curious about our past.
Southern Florida very much feels as close to the Caribbean as you can get while still in the continental United States, especially in places like the Florida Keys, Naples and Paradise Coast, or Fort Myers and Sanibel Island. And with so many miles of coastline, you’re never far from a sandy vacation.
When it comes to Louisiana, the most obvious answer is to go straight to the colorful, enigmatic New Orleans. This city is truly one of a kind with tons of character, mouthwatering places to eat, and a local pride that encapsulates all the different cultures that have come together to build it up.
However, if you wanted to change things up, head inland towards the very underrated Lafayette. Situated at the heart of Cajun Country, good, ole Southern hospitality is a way of life as locals share their love for life through dancing, music, and, most importantly, food.
Bermuda hardly needs an introduction as the mere name conjures up imagines of turquoise waters, pink beaches, and charming villages. Because of its close proximity to the U.S., you can actually easily visit for a weekend if you can’t swing a longer vacation or full winter move. Despite its tiny size (only 21 miles long!), it packs a punch for any visitor. Spend your time beach hopping, visiting some epic caves, and sipping on some of Bermuda’s signature cocktails. Be sure to stop by some of the main towns like Hamilton or St. George, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bali made news recently for offering a 5-year, tax free digital nomad visa to entice more remote workers. After becoming famous for those simply seeking a fun vacation of “sun, sea, and sand,” it’s hoping to welcome more long term visitors seeking “serenity, spiritualism, and sustainability.” Spend multiple winters leaving the cold behind and instead rent charming villas, learn more about the local Balinese culture, and make your way around breathtaking locales. Trek up Mt. Batur for sunrise, learn to surf in Canggu, and find your inner yogi in Ubud before eating some of the most delicious dishes and sipping on drinks made from the freshest fruit.
Don’t skip out on visiting nearby islands like the Nusa or Gili islands and, of course, other major areas in Indonesia like Central Java, Yogyakarta, or Sumatra.
For anyone who prefers their warm weather destinations to include a bustling metropolis, there’s nowhere quite as perfect as Hong Kong. Full of dense skyscrapers and surrounded by green, lush peaks, this city has been a meeting place of East and West, new and old, for a long, long time.
Even as it pushes forward with modern changes and designs, it still retains an old world glamour with pockets of hidden gems and unassuming eateries. Start your trip with Victoria’s Peak to take in one of the most photographed views of Hong Kong before heading down and getting lost in its maze of alleyways and streets.
One of the best parts of visiting somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere during our winter? It’s summer there! Flipped seasons mean our friends down south are experiencing their hottest months while we’re bundled up against our coldest. New Zealand is especially incredible as this country is absolutely packed with awe-inspiring landscapes, outdoor adventures, fantastic food, and a fierce devotion to sharing its culture and traditions.
British Virgin Islands
What if you spent your winter escape not on land but on water? The beautiful British Virgin Islands are a series of around sixty islands and cays with the main four including Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke. With tropical scenery to make you feel as though you’re in your own secret oasis, the BVI are known for their unpretentious offerings – letting the islands’ natural paradises wow you instead of fussy resorts or attractions.
With many places only accessible by boat, why not book a sailing trip instead of staying in one place the whole of your trip? I sailed with the incredible Dream Yacht Charter and we managed to explore seven islands on our trip. Some must-dos include swimming around breathtaking grottos at Baths National Park, tossing your empty conch onto conch island, and, of course, snorkeling through the kind of aquamarine waters the Caribbean is famous for.
Lush rainforests, tons of outdoor activities, and easygoing, beautiful beaches make Costa Rica an easy pick for anyone hoping for an eco-friendly winter escape. This small country has thirty national parks and subscribes strongly to the idea of pura vida, or “pure life” in Spanish. Spend your days doing everything from learning more about the diverse local wildlife, trekking through waterfalls, soaking away in hot springs, and, of course, checking out the island’s volcanoes.
And hey, if you find yourself loving Costa Rica so much you don’t want to leave, you can always apply for their digital nomad program which extends the 90-day tourist visa to a full year.
Southern & Central Vietnam
While the northern parts of Vietnam tend to get chillier during the winter months, the central and southern parts stay hot and humid all year round. In fact, winter is dry season here, so you won’t have to compete with the monsoon rains like you would visiting in summer.
Down south, Ho Chi Minh City is such a delightfully chaotic city with multiple districts that feel like their own mini-ecosystems. Check out the main sights in District 1, get out to more local gems in Districts 3 and 10, mingle with fellow expats at pool cafes in Thao Dien, and visit the world’s largest Chinatown in District 5. Be prepared to eat the most incredible food for rock bottom prices all while you’re sweating crouched down on a plastic stool. If you want somewhere a bit more peaceful, head out to the Mekong Delta or over to coastal cities like Phan Thiet or Quy Nhon.
Up in central Vietnam, you have the main city of Da Nang, which is big enough to have all the creature comforts you could want but much more relaxed than its northern and southern counterparts. From there you can head to the postcard perfect Hoi An, to the historic city of Hue, or inland towards the Central Highlands. My best advice is to head to a market and order up a mix of options to get some truly delicious seafood barbecue.
And there you have it – some sunny, warm weather destinations to help you beat those winter blues this year!