The Ultimate Guide to the Best Winter Vacations: From Romantic Getaways to Epic Adventures
Looking for the best place to travel during winter? Look no further! We've compiled a list of the most captivating destinations that will make your winter vacation truly unforgettable. Whether you're a sun-seeker longing for warm beaches or an adventurous soul seeking thrilling outdoor experiences, we've got you covered. From the picturesque coastlines of Mexico and the Caribbean to the breathtaking beauty of Rwanda and Namibia, we've curated a diverse range of options for every type of traveler. Get ready to be transported to enchanting locales across the globe as we unveil the best winter vacations for couples, families, adventurers, and more.
Best Winter Vacations for Couples
When it comes to finding the perfect winter vacation for couples, you have two main options: a tropical and warm destination, or a cozy snowy getaway. Which one do you prefer?
- Jackson Hole, Wyoming - Jackson Hole is the ideal destination for couples who want a romantic getaway by the fire. The local area offers a variety of resorts with stunning mountain views, gourmet dining options, highly-rated spas, and complete winter vacation packages.
- The Bahamas - If you prefer a tropical vibe, then the Bahamas is the perfect treat. Relax on the beautiful beaches, sipping drinks with umbrella and enjoy snorkeling and swimming in the crystal-clear waters.
- Tucson, Arizona - With its desert atmosphere and sunny winter weather, Tucson is an excellent destination just north of the Mexican border. Enjoy hiking, shopping, and exploring the various street fairs and festivals. Don't miss La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the area's major rodeo event in February.
- San Diego, California - San Diego is another popular choice for couples. Experience excellent upscale restaurants, shopping, and beautiful beaches along the California coast.
I recently conducted research to find out the warmest places in the US to visit during the coldest winter months. While I found some decent options like Phoenix, parts of southern Texas, San Diego and Los Angeles, and New Orleans, there were two clear winners.
Miami is undoubtedly the best and easiest US destination for warm weather during the winter. It has the hottest climate in the contiguous USA during January and February. I can personally vouch for this, as I've been to Miami both in November and December when blizzards were hitting other parts of the country, leaving them covered in snow and ice. In Miami, temperatures reach daily highs of 74-75 degrees F in January and February.
During a winter trip to Miami, there are plenty of activities to enjoy such as taking photos at the Wynwood art walls, indulging in Cuban food on Calle Ocho in Little Havana, and exploring the beautiful art deco architecture of Miami Beach.
Hawaii has always been a favorite vacation destination for Americans. It is also one of the warmest places to visit in the US during January and February. From November to March, Hawaii experiences average temperatures of 75-80 degrees, although it may vary depending on the islands and their locations.
Hawaii offers a range of activities for winter travelers, whether you're planning a honeymoon or a solo getaway. Enjoy the stunning beaches, partake in outdoor activities like kayaking and ziplining, and immerse yourself in the unique charm of the islands.
Cheap Winter Vacations USA
If you're searching for affordable warm destinations to visit in December in the USA, here are three great options to consider:
- Santa Fe, New Mexico - Santa Fe is renowned for its cultural arts and beautiful Pueblo-style architecture. Enjoy the warm desert climate, savor local cuisine, and explore the variety of art galleries in this charming city.
- San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio is another fantastic budget-friendly destination for a warm winter vacation. Known for its iconic Alamo, you can also visit the Riverwalk to see dazzling Christmas lights or attend the Light the Way Festival, where you can meet Santa and indulge in delicious food truck treats.
- Salt Lake City, Utah - If you're a fan of snow, Salt Lake City is a great option for a winter getaway. With plenty of snow activities, it's the perfect place to ski or snowboard with friends and family, even on a budget. For those less inclined towards winter sports, Woodward Park City offers snow tubing and indoor activities.
Warm Winter Vacations USA
If you want to avoid snow and stay closer to home, these top warm winter vacation destinations in the USA will ensure you can work on your tan without worrying about the cold weather outside.
- Palm Springs, California - Palm Springs should be at the top of your list for warm places to visit in December in the USA. It offers ample opportunities for golfing, hiking, and enjoying the sunshine.
- Kauai, Hawaii - When it comes to the best beaches to visit in December in the USA, Kauai, Hawaii takes the cake. With its sandy beaches, abundant sunshine, and outdoor activities like kayaking and ziplining, there's something for everyone to love.
- Scottsdale, Arizona - As one of the best warm places to visit in January in the USA, Scottsdale offers upscale shopping, gourmet restaurants, and breathtaking desert sunsets.
Best Places to Visit in December in Europe
If you're planning a winter vacation in Europe, here are three top destinations to consider for December:
- Paris, France - Paris is always a favorite among international travelers. During winter, you can enjoy the crisp air, beautiful holiday displays, and attractions like the iconic Eiffel Tower.
- Palermo, Sicily - Palermo, Italy is a lovely city that embraces the winter season with holiday displays and excellent local cuisine. Take the opportunity to experience living nativities, a popular tradition in this Catholic community.
- Denmark - If you don't mind the cold, Denmark is a fantastic place to visit during winter. It offers a variety of holiday marketplaces, light shows, and other festive experiences.
Winter Vacations for a Mix of City and Country: London and Hampshire
If you prefer a cozy winter vacation, consider visiting London and its surrounding areas, such as the Cotswolds. You can stay at idyllic country estates like Heckfield Place, Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, or Cliveden House. Alternatively, you can opt for a private rental. During your trip, make sure to explore London's afternoon tea scene, visit iconic landmarks like Harrods and the National Gallery, and indulge in delicious meals at top restaurants.
Winter Vacations for Sun and Scene Seekers: Coastal Mexico and The Caribbean
Mexico's beach regions offer spacious resorts where you can enjoy a week of relaxation and luxury. One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos is a favorite among travelers, with its blend of family-friendly ambiance and stylish touches. The Caribbean is also a popular choice, with stunning beaches and pampering resorts. St. Barth's is a must-visit for a jet-set scene, while Turks & Caicos and Anguilla offer more secluded and romantic atmospheres. Whether you prefer Mexico or the Caribbean, there are plenty of options to choose from for a memorable winter vacation.
The Caribbean Islands
When it comes to escaping the cold winter months, the Caribbean is always a popular choice for American and Canadian travelers.
If you're looking for a warm getaway during December, January, or February, why not consider the beautiful Caribbean islands? Start planning your trip with these winter escape ideas below.
Cabarete & the North Coast of the Dominican Republic
When you think of the Dominican Republic, you might envision Punta Cana's white beaches and turquoise seas. However, we wanted a different experience for our trip to this country, which is relatively close to the continental US. Instead, we explored Cabarete and the Dominican Republic's North Coast.
The great thing about choosing this destination for your winter getaway is that you don't have to stay at a 4- or 5-star resort. There are budget accommodations available that allow you to get close to nature and meet other backpackers. In Cabarete, for example, you can stay at Ali's Surf Camp (also known as Surf Camp Cabarete) or choose from a few Airbnbs.
During our travels from Puerto Plata to Rio San Juan, we stayed in different types of accommodations. We compared the options and found the best fit for us.
For transportation, there's the option of taking local guaguas. These will give you an authentic Dominican transit experience, although they can be a bit crowded. The best part is that they only cost between $1 to $2 USD per trip. Private taxi rides, on the other hand, can be quite expensive.
When visiting surf paradises like Cabarete, there's plenty to do. Coffee lovers can explore the local cafe scene, while more adventurous types can check out unique activities in Sosua and Puerto Plata.
Temperatures in the Dominican Republic range from 65°F at night to 85°F during the day. It can feel even warmer in the sun, but it cools down by sunset to a pleasant temperature.
Jamaica is located in the Caribbean, and if you want to avoid hurricane season completely, visiting the island during the winter is the best idea. From January to February, Jamaica experiences temperatures in the 80s, making it the "coolest" time of year to visit this tropical paradise.
Aside from the popular destinations of Montego Bay and Negril, there's also Ocho Rios, Kingston, Blue Lagoon, and Pelican Bar to explore.
Getting a flight to Jamaica from the US or Canada is easy.
Winter Vacations for Nature and Wellness Devotees: Belize, Panama and Costa Rica
Photo by Ian Agrimis, courtesy Islas Secas
The Central American countries of Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica offer lush jungles, white-sand beaches, and azure seas that boast incredible biodiversity. These countries embrace a spiritual harmony with nature, known as "pura vida" in Costa Rica, which is evident in their outdoor activities and nature-based wellness practices.
In these countries, you'll find unique eco-lodges such as Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn in Belize, Islas Secas and Sweet Bocas in Panama, and Hacienda AltaGracia and Nayara Springs in Costa Rica. These lodges provide intimate settings for outdoor adventures and offer programs focused on mindfulness, beauty, spa treatments, adventure activities, and fitness.
Winter Vacations for Outdoor Adventurers: Rwanda and Namibia
Photo courtesy Bisate Lodge, Rwanda
For those seeking a far-flung adventure, Rwanda and Namibia are ideal destinations. Both countries offer temperate weather and the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature.
In Rwanda, you can stay at luxury safari lodges like Bisate Lodge, Magashi Camp, and One&Only Gorilla's Nest. These lodges provide the chance to spot gorillas, lions, elephants, and rhinos, as well as opportunities to engage with local communities and experience the rich culture of the region.
Namibia also offers luxurious accommodations, including Little Kulala, Hoanib Skeleton Camp, and Serra Cafema. In addition to wildlife sightings, you can explore the unique landscapes and experience the tranquility and silence of the open skies.
Winter Vacations for Foodies and Trendsetters: Urban Mexico and Colombia
Photo courtesy Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Mexico City and Bogotá are vibrant cities that offer a lot for food lovers and trendsetters. In both cities, you'll find world-class restaurants, museums, art galleries, and design studios.
Mexico City is home to three of the World's 50 Best Restaurants for 2022. Special-access tours can be arranged to visit attractions like the Botero Museum in Bogotá and the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, which can provide unique and exclusive experiences.
For a quieter escape, smaller towns like San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and Cartagena in Colombia are perfect. They offer exceptional cuisine, crafts, architecture, and boutique hotels.
Winter Vacations for Top Shoppers and Ultimate Indulgers: Morocco and Japan
Photo courtesy Dar Ahlam, Morocco
If you love shopping and indulging in luxury, Morocco and Japan are the destinations for you.
Marrakech, Morocco, is a paradise for shopaholics. You'll find a wide range of unique items such as lanterns, rugs, argan oil, leather bags, ceramics, and more. There are also incredible palatial hotels and resorts like La Mamounia, Le Royal Mansour, Kasbah Tamadot, and Dar Ahlam to make your stay even more luxurious.
In Japan, the capital city of Tokyo offers a plethora of shopping opportunities, from antique tea sets to the latest J-pop fashion. You can find European and American designer items as well. Kyoto, with its new luxury properties like Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto and The Shinmonzen, is also worth a visit. Japan has reopened to travelers and is ready to welcome tourists back with open arms.
Winter Vacations for Wine Lovers: Croatia and Portugal
Courtesy Meneghetti Wine Hotel & Winery, Istria
For wine enthusiasts, Croatia's region of Istria and Portugal are the perfect destinations.
Istria in Croatia is known for its wide variety of wines and impressive food scene. You can taste wines like Malvasia, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Teran, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, and Syrah. The region also offers excellent restaurants, including Toklarija and Monte.
Portugal, specifically Lisbon, is a fantastic destination for travelers. The city offers great food, art, history, wine, and a lively contemporary scene. The mild winter weather makes it enjoyable to explore the city's streets and nearby towns. A visit to Sintra, Cascais, and Porto should also be included in your itinerary. And don't miss the Six Senses resort in the Douro Valley for a truly luxurious experience.
Remember to check each country's travel requirements and advisories before planning your winter vacation.
Europe (EU) & Middle East
We have spent many years searching for the warmest winter destinations in Europe and the Middle East. Here is what we discovered.
Canary Islands, Spain
Until recently, we were unfamiliar with the Canary Islands. However, after conducting extensive research, we visited them twice during both winter and summer. The Canary Islands offer the warmest winter destination within the EU. Specifically, the south and east sides of Tenerife, such as El Teide National Park and Gran Canaria, receive the most sunlight and are warm year-round. During the winter, don't miss the Maspalomas Dunes in Gran Canaria and the southern beaches of Tenerife, which provide opportunities for sunbathing and offer unique volcanic landscapes. Additionally, the Canary Islands are perfect for couples who want a romantic road trip by renting a car and exploring the islands together.
Stars are one of my favorite things to shoot. If you’re interested in learning how I took this photo, check out our article about night photography.
Tel Aviv, Israel
You might not have considered Israel as a winter beach destination, but Tel Aviv is a fantastic choice. From December to February, the city experiences sunny days with temperatures in the mid-70s, perfect for enjoying the beach. Israel also offers rich cultural experiences and compact distances for exploring. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Dead Sea, where you can float in the saltiest body of water on earth while basking in temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Traveling in Israel is similar to traveling in Europe in terms of cost, so it's recommended to share accommodation with a friend or partner. For solo travelers, consider staying at the highly recommended Abraham Hostels for a great hostel dorm experience. Please note that other parts of Israel can get cool during winter, and Jerusalem can even see snow. However, Tel Aviv remains consistently warm in the 70s throughout much of the winter, making it an ideal destination for European tourists, Israeli locals, and international travelers seeking the beautiful Mediterranean beach culture.
Are you ready to take your trip?
Check out some of the things we pack to inspire you for your trip!
Winter Vacations for Classic Europe: Vienna, Prague and Budapest
Photo courtesy Rosewood Vienna
For a European escape filled with chic hotels, Christmas cheer, and holiday soirées, consider visiting Vienna, Prague, and Budapest. These cities offer a perfect blend of urban style and tradition. During your stay, explore exquisite imperial palaces, shop at Christmas markets for festive trinkets, enjoy beer and mulled wine in the Ruin Bars, and cozy up by the fire in your hotel's lounge. For an unforgettable winter celebration, Indagare can arrange a Champagne cruise along the Danube on a heated boat or reserve a private table at one of Vienna's famous winter balls. Don't miss the newly opened Rosewood Vienna, located in a beautifully restored 19th-century Neoclassical bank building. The hotel offers luxurious guestrooms, suites, a spa, and a sixth-floor brasserie and rooftop bar that provides stunning views of Vienna's Old Town.
While not completely tropical, East Asia has several exciting winter travel destinations that offer warmer climates than others. Let's explore the warmest places in East Asia during winter.
Hong Kong & Macau
Despite being far from North America and Europe, Hong Kong is a fantastic choice for a winter getaway. North American and European citizens usually don't require a visa to enter Hong Kong. The city's scorching summers with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity make the winter months an excellent time to visit. You can escape the heat by going on a junk boat excursion or strolling around the city at night. Winter is the driest time of the year in Hong Kong, with comfortable temperatures in the 70s during the day and the mid-to-high 60s at night. Explore various hikes ideal for the dry winter months and discover the incredible urban jungles of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Don't forget to visit the hidden photo spots in Hong Kong for unique photography opportunities. If you're interested in Macau, which is only an hour away from Hong Kong by ferry, it offers a similar warm climate and a fascinating mix of European and Chinese culture shown through its cuisine and architecture.
Winter Vacations for Skiing in Europe: The Alps
Chalet Hibou, photo courtesy Eleven Experience
This winter, ski enthusiasts should head to the Alps in France, Switzerland, or Italy for a memorable vacation. Whether you choose a private villa rental or stay at one of our recommended hotels, the Alps offer a perfect mix of winter sports and cozy accommodations. Chalet Pelerin and Chalet Hibou from Eleven Experience, located above the farming village of Le Miroir on the French and Italian border, provide unparalleled access to seven world-class ski resorts. You can reach resorts like Val d'Isѐre, Sainte Foy, Tignes, Les Arcs, and La Rosiѐre in less than an hour by car or helicopter. Both properties are designed for full buyouts, making them ideal for families or groups of friends. Chalet Hibou features six bedrooms and one bunk room, while Chalet Pelerin offers four bedrooms and one bunk room. Additional amenities include a media room, an indoor freshwater pool, an outdoor hot tub, sauna, and steam room.
South America experiences its summer when the northern hemisphere is in winter. This is particularly true for South America south of the Equator. However, there are countries like Colombia that enjoy warm temperatures all year round, except for elevated areas with high altitudes.
Cartagena & Santa Marta, Colombia
If you're looking for a cheap flight to Cartagena, consider traveling in January and February. But don't worry if you only have time off in December!
Cartagena is an incredibly affordable destination with a hot climate year-round. The temperature during the day never drops below 85°F, and at night it stays above 75°F. The humidity also makes it feel even warmer.
Cartagena and its nearby tropical island archipelagos offer beautiful pristine beaches, plenty of sunshine throughout the winter season (with the dry season starting in February), and it's an ideal winter vacation spot for couples. You can find private rooms in hostels for $40 to USD. If you prefer staying in a hotel, it will cost between $100 and $200 USD in the mid-range. It's definitely great value for the experience!
Santa Marta is an even more affordable destination compared to Cartagena. It allows you to somewhat escape the higher tourist prices in Cartagena that cater to foreigners from all over the world. Santa Marta has a laid-back and authentic feel, especially in its historic colonial center.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina's seasons are opposite those of the northern hemisphere. During December through February, Buenos Aires, the capital city, enjoys its summer. It has daytime highs in the 80s°F and nighttime lows in the high 60s°F.
Buenos Aires is a vibrant city filled with culture and history. Don't miss out on exploring the outdoor cafe scene, the colorful neighborhood of La Boca, the tango dancing, the incredible architecture, and the exciting nightlife. It's truly a winter vacation destination for escaping the cold. Plus, you won't need to bring your coat along!
Chile is a long and narrow country that experiences summer when the US and Canada have their coldest winter weather. Santiago, the capital city, has an average high temperature of 86°F in January. Valparaiso, with its Mediterranean climate, has warm temperatures in the mid-70s°F during January and February.
The northern third of Chile has a "mild desert climate," providing beaches like Viña del Mar with high temperatures around 80°F during the warmest months.
West Coast of Ecuador
Ecuador, a country located right on the equator, offers warm destinations for winter travel throughout the year.
Keep in mind that not every city in Ecuador is hot and steamy. In fact, Ecuador is known for its diverse climate regions, packing all four seasons into a single country. To experience the warmest destinations in Ecuador, head to the Pacific coast rather than venturing inland to higher elevations. For example, the capital city of Quito sits several thousand meters above sea level and has a temperate climate with average temperatures ranging from 66-68°F throughout the year.
For the hottest places in Ecuador, check out Guayaquil, Playa Puerto Lopez, Mompiche, and Montañita. These beach destinations are popular with travelers.
Winter Vacations for Classic Safari: Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe
Wide-open spaces in Kenya
In times of transition, travel can be a healing experience, and there's no better place to reflect on the end of another year and the change of seasons than East Africa, known as the Cradle of Humankind. Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe are home to exceptional wildlife viewing and some of our favorite camps, such as Segera, Angama Mara, Singita Grumeti Sabora, and Mwiba. Indagare Founder Melissa Biggs Bradley says, "As I went to bed on my first night, I started ticking off the regained joys of travel: The sound of foreign languages (Swahili greetings at the airport). Exotic nighttime smells (acacia fires). The novelty of an alien popular culture (local radio). Warm welcomes (hot soup on arrival). Remembered rituals (a hot-water bottle between the sheets). Missed sights (the Southern Cross) and beloved habits (falling asleep far from home, ready to awaken in discovery mode). And the pleasures kept returning as the days went on. We hiked along the ridge of the Great Rift Valley and the Laikipia plains, spotting elephants, giraffes, and buffaloes, and relishing the return to Africa's bush. Deep in Samburu country, we had sundowners around an impromptu fire. Kenya's landscapes, with its forever views, made me feel minuscule and filled with humility, awe, and wonder; they also emphasized the brevity of time. In the cradle of mankind, where our ancestors first walked upright, time stretched. Here, on a remote rock at sunset, I felt that urgency had been swallowed by eternity."
Related: Indagare Matchmaker: Best Safaris in Africa
Central America is well-known for its tropical climate and proximity to the US and Canada, making it an excellent choice for planning your winter travel.
Whether you choose to visit Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, or the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, these awesome winter destinations offer unique experiences.
The Yucatan Peninsula & Tulum, Mexico
One of our favorite winter getaways from NYC is the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.
You can save money on your winter trip by flying into Cancun from major US cities and then immediately hopping on a bus to less touristy cities like Valladolid or Merida.
Tulum is a must-visit destination in the Yucatan Peninsula, known for its beautiful cenotes. Exploring the clear water and stunning natural formations by bicycle is a highlight. Don't miss day trips to Uxmal, a Mayan ruin site outside Merida, and indulge in the local cuisine, especially the delicious tacos. Temperatures in the area stay around the mid-80s°F during the winter months of December to February, with nights rarely dropping below the mid-60s°F.
Costa Rica is a fantastic winter destination, especially if you want to enjoy bathing suit weather while exploring the coast. However, if you prefer cooler temperatures, head inland to areas like Arenal and Monteverde for ecotourism.
For those looking to soak up the sun and go hiking in a bathing suit, check out year-round hot areas like Manuel Antonio, Tamarindo, and Parque Nacional Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast. Just be prepared for the humidity!
Belize offers some of the best temperatures for a winter vacation. Surprisingly, the weather won't make you sweat profusely or seek refuge in air conditioning. Instead, Belize experiences winter temperatures in the 70s°F for most of the season due to weather patterns in the Gulf of Mexico.
December, January, February, and March are the driest months in Belize, making it an ideal time to visit beautiful destinations like Caye Caulker, San Ignacio, Tobacco Caye, and the Great Blue Hole.
Expect an adventurous travel experience in Belize, with plenty of activities to enjoy!
Guatemala is a perfect winter destination, with T-shirt-friendly weather, sunny days, and temperatures in the 80s°F. Plus, it's the dry season, so you can fully enjoy the weather and explore attractions like the Mayan ruins of Tikal and the stunning natural landscapes of Semuc Champey. Don't miss the chance to relax and soak up the Vitamin D at one of Antigua's rooftop cafes or coffee shops. It's truly a treat!
El Salvador, located on the west side of Central America, offers a tropical location and varying temperatures for winter travel. It's a great destination to escape the cold temperatures back home.
Between November and March, El Salvador experiences its winter season. During these months, temperatures are in the 80s°F during the day, with nights cooling down to the mid-60s°F. This period also marks the country's driest weather, making it an ideal time to visit.
Enjoy the beaches for surfing and explore attractions like the Ruta de las Flores hiking trail. El Salvador promises a warm and diverse winter travel experience.
Nicaragua is a fun and vibrant destination in Central America. The best time to visit Nicaragua is during the winter season, which falls between December and April. This period offers the driest weather, while the months from May to November experience more rain due to storms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Plan your trip between December and February for cooler temperatures and a break from extreme high temperatures typical of other months. Enjoy destinations like San Juan del Sur, Granada, and Leon, known for their beautiful Pacific sunsets and rich colonial history.
Discover the Beauty of Africa
Africa may be a distant destination for most travelers coming from North America and Europe, but the journey is well worth it. With its warm climate throughout the year, Africa is an ideal choice for winter travel between November and March.
Explore Zambia and Victoria Falls
Located in the southern hemisphere, Zambia offers a subtropical climate that provides an average temperature of 87 degrees Fahrenheit at Victoria Falls, one of the world's greatest natural wonders.
Pair your trip to Zambia with visits to Namibia, Botswana, or South Africa to experience the best of Africa in outrageously warm weather during your two-week adventure.
While in Zambia, be sure to take a river cruise on the Zambezi River, try the local brews, and enjoy an encounter with hippos guided by your boat driver.
Experience the Splendor of South Africa
Beautiful South Africa offers an excellent winter escape, as it is located in the Southern Hemisphere and enjoys its peak summer season during December, January, and February.
Embark on a safari, explore the pristine beaches of Cape Town, visit wineries in Stellenbosch, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Pretoria, all while enjoying temperatures ranging from 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you're looking to update your winter travel attire and gear, check out our favorite travel gift ideas.
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Winter Vacations for Multigenerational Families: American West
Photo courtesy Caldera House, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For a winter trip closer to home that offers a wide range of outdoor and wellness activities, along with luxurious accommodations, consider the ski towns of the American West. Whether you prefer the glamour of Aspen, Vail, and Deer Valley, or the charming and laid-back atmosphere of Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Beaver Creek, and Sun Valley, there is something for everyone. Indulge in horseback riding, ice-skating, private movie theaters, spa treatments, and more at esteemed properties like Montana's The Ranch at Rock Creek, Colorado's Dunton Hot Springs, and Utah's The Lodge at Blue Sky.
Affordable Winter Vacations
If you're on a budget, don't worry! Affordable winter vacations are within reach. Here are four of our favorite budget-friendly destinations:
- Padre Island, Texas – Enjoy the warmth and sunshine of a tropical getaway without breaking the bank. Padre Island offers budget-friendly accommodations along the Gulf of Mexico, allowing you to indulge in activities like parasailing, wakeboarding, and horseback riding on the beach.
- Las Vegas, Nevada – Las Vegas is a fantastic choice for those who crave a vibrant nightlife. With a wide selection of affordable hotels and delicious restaurants, exciting shows, and the chance to test your luck, Las Vegas ensures an unforgettable winter vacation.
- Panama – Looking for an international adventure? Panama is an ideal destination for an affordable winter vacation. Accommodations in major cities in Panama are more budget-friendly compared to other coastal countries, and there are plenty of activities to enjoy such as surfing, snorkeling, and more!
- Billings, Montana – If you prefer a serene winter getaway, Billings, Montana, is the perfect choice. With excellent vacation rentals and clean air, coupled with access to nature, you'll create lasting memories in this picturesque destination.
Winter Vacations for Epic Family Adventure: Peru and Egypt
Machu Picchu. Photo by Richard James Taylor, courtesy Belmond
For a family adventure that offers something for everyone, from foodies to outdoor enthusiasts, Peru is a captivating destination. Explore the iconic ruins of Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, either by hiking the Inca Trail or taking the scenic Hiram Bingham train from Belmond. Discover lesser-known Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley, immerse yourself in the vibrant cultures of cities like Cusco and Lima, and marvel at the natural wonders of the Amazon and Colca Canyon. Stay at the luxurious retreats of Belmond, including Sanctuary Lodge, Rio Sagrado, Hotel Monasterio, and Palacio Nazarenas, or embark on an unforgettable journey aboard the Belmond Andean Explorer.
On the other side of the world, Egypt offers a unique winter getaway. With one-third of the world's antiquities and the Pyramids at Giza, the last remaining monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Egypt is a treasure trove of history and culture. From the Grand Egyptian Museum to luxury Nile cruises, there is so much to explore. Experience the awe-inspiring ancient temples and tombs, and witness the unveiling of new discoveries. Now is the perfect time to visit Egypt and create lifelong memories.
Related: Treasures of Egypt
Winter Vacations for Nature and Wellness Devotees: Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica
Photo by Ian Agrimis, courtesy Islas Secas
For nature and wellness enthusiasts, the Central American nations of Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica offer a paradise of lush jungles, pristine beaches, and azure seas. Immerse yourself in the spiritual harmony with nature and enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in these biodiverse destinations. Discover eco-lodges like Blancaneaux Lodge and Turtle Inn in Belize, Islas Secas and Sweet Bocas in Panama, and Hacienda AltaGracia and Nayara Springs in Costa Rica, where you can find solace, relaxation, and holistic wellness programs.
Related: Indagare Spotlight: Chablé Yucatán
Winter Vacations for Epic Family Adventure: Peru and Egypt
Machu Picchu. Photo by Richard James Taylor, courtesy Belmond
For a family adventure that is sure to impress everyone, from foodies to outdoor enthusiasts, Peru is a destination that offers a wealth of history and culture. Explore the breathtaking ruins of Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, either by hiking the Inca Trail or riding the Hiram Bingham train from Belmond. In addition to the well-known ruins, there are lesser-known Inca sites in the Sacred Valley, vibrant cities like Cusco and Lima, and vast natural landscapes such as the Amazon and Colca Canyon. Stay at one of Belmond's luxurious retreats, including Sanctuary Lodge, Rio Sagrado, Hotel Monasterio, and Palacio Nazarenas, or embark on an unforgettable journey on the Belmond Andean Explorer train.
In the opposite corner of the globe, Egypt offers its treasures for a unique winter vacation. With one-third of the world's antiquities and the Pyramids of Giza, the last remaining wonder of the ancient world, Egypt is a destination rich in history and culture. Visitors can explore ancient temples and tombs, immerse themselves in the grandeur of the Grand Egyptian Museum, and cruise along the Nile on luxury yachts. The awe-inspiring experience of Egypt's wonders is something that cannot be fully grasped without visiting this incredible destination.
Related: Treasures of Egypt
Southeast Asia is a large region with numerous amazing places to explore. While many parts of Southeast Asia experience hot weather during the winter months in the northern hemisphere, not all areas are equally hot. Read on to discover the hottest destinations in Southeast Asia during winter.
Thailand is an obvious choice for those looking to escape the winter blues, but it's important to note that only the southern half of the country experiences intensely hot weather during the period from December to March.
Trust me, as someone who has visited Thailand three times during winter, I can attest to the fact that the islands like Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao are scorching hot, while the hills outside Chiang Mai can be freezing cold with temperatures as low as 44°F and no heating!
Therefore, my recommendation for visiting Thailand during winter is to fly into Bangkok, spend some time on the beaches near the city, such as Pattaya, and then, if you have around five to ten days for your itinerary, travel to the islands via train or flight. Visit Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and Koh Phi Phi. If you're interested, you can also explore the renowned beaches of Phuket.
Cambodia's South Coast
I have visited Cambodia once, specifically in January and February, so I have firsthand experience of the temperatures in Colombia during the "coldest" months of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
In much of Cambodia, winter brings daily temperatures in the 80s and 90s, with nights typically in the 60s or 70s. It's truly beautiful. I remember getting so hot while exploring the temples of Angkor Wat that my friends and I had to take a midday siesta break to cool down with cold drinks and rest.
If you want a guaranteed sunny and warm weather, head to Cambodia's south coast and visit its famous coastline, which has undergone significant development in the past decade. The most well-known destinations in this area are Sihanoukville and the surrounding beaches.
Don't worry if you're not a fan of beaches, as cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (with the option of taking a boat ride between them) offer plenty of tropical warmth. The nights are rarely cool enough to require anything more than a T-shirt, and the dry season during winter ensures minimal rainfall.
Remember that foreign visitors to Cambodia need a travel visa. Find more information about tourist visas in our guide to determining whether you need a visa for international travel.
Can you already tell that I love traveling in winter to escape the cold? I've visited the Philippines not once, but twice, over Christmas, and I can confirm that it can get HOT there.
January is the coolest month in the Philippines, but that doesn't mean much for a country where average highs hover around 90 degrees F for most of the year. Even in January and February, popular destinations like Boracay have temperatures that settle at around 86 degrees F.
The dry season in the Philippines lasts from December to April or May, so by planning your trip for January, February, or March, you can avoid typhoons completely and experience fewer rainy days compared to other times of the year.
Indonesia's Many Islands
Indonesia, being an archipelago, boasts a tropical climate that keeps temperatures warm throughout the year (excluding high-altitude inland areas). You may be familiar with Bali, which is a fantastic winter destination, but did you know that Indonesia has other breathtaking places to explore and escape the winter cold?
Visit Jakarta, Surabaya, Lombok, and Medan, and don't overlook the beauty of the Gili Islands, West Java, and South Sumatra. Keep in mind that the hottest month in Indonesia is actually October, so traveling in the months that follow means enjoying very warm days in the 80s.
As winter approaches, the possibilities for unforgettable vacations seem endless. Whether you're seeking a romantic escape for two, a thrilling outdoor adventure, or a rejuvenating wellness retreat, there is a perfect destination waiting for you. From the stunning beaches of Mexico and the Caribbean to the majestic landscapes of Rwanda and Namibia, the world is yours to explore. Indulge your taste buds in the culinary delights of Colombia and Morocco, or unwind in the serene beauty of Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica. For those in search of cultural wonders, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest offer a taste of classic Europe. And for families looking to create lasting memories, the American West beckons with its multigenerational appeal. No matter where your winter wanderlust takes you, these extraordinary destinations guarantee an unforgettable experience that will leave you counting down the days until your next adventure.
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