Choosing the best winter vacations
There's certainly no shortage of awesome winter vacation ideas out there. In fact, packing the bags between December and February can mean soaking up the rays on tropical beaches just as much as exploring snow-mantled mountain ranges and snuggling up in fire-warmed alpine lodges. And you shouldn't have to fork out loads for the luxury of jetting off around this time, either – winter vacations are known for being relatively easy on the wallet, provided you pick the right spot.
Top articles to find your ideal winter vacation rentals
There's no question about it – the chilly months are a great time for romance on vacation. Yes, people chat about that summer fling, but it's nothing compared to snuggling up by a roaring log fire in some long-lost winter cabin rental with someone special. There are options all over, whether you want to keep it local and hit Appalachia's hemlock woods and snow-dusted peaks, or want to get adventurous with a hop over the pond to quaint Swiss chalets in the Alps.
One great way to break up those cold and dreary days is to speckle the season with a couple of exciting winter weekend getaways. Easy to plan and book, these are the two- or three-day escapes that offer a quick hit of adventure or R&R far from the Rat Race. Perhaps it'll involve a fly-in ski session in New York's chic Upstate resorts. Maybe it'll be a spa day over in the Hamptons. It could even be a chance to score some winter sun – a long weekend is enough to whiz south to Florida and the Keys, you know.
Everyone wants to show off their tan at Christmas. To bronze your skin and look healthy for the holidays, a touch of sun is what's needed. Thankfully, options abound. With Florida topping the bill, you can plot a course to the Sunshine State and leave footprints in Sanibel's stunning sands, or sip iced cocktails along pumping Duval Street in Key West. Beyond that is the bright Caribbean – a doozy for snowbirds. Villas and condos beckon to wave-sloshed Punta Cana and the white-gleaming coves of Jamaica's north shore in those parts.
Whether you want to cure the post-Christmas blues with a family vacay or just want to treat someone special to something special, a selection of the very best winter vacations in the US could have the inspiration you need. Staying in your own backyard for that cold-month adventure can be downright exciting, mind you. From sightings of the Grand Canyon to stargazing while sitting in New Mexico's steaming springs, there are experiences you're sure to remember.
While festive cheer can keep you all warm and tingly during December, January might just leave you high and dry – or, more to the point, low and wet. Don't worry though, sun-bleached beaches and stooping palms are never too far away. So, pack the Aloha shirt and prep the bikini, because the New Year could be the new summer. There are vacay homes from the Bahamas to Key West, the Canary Islands to Cancun that are ready and waiting.
So, you've wrangled the vacation time, you've plumped up the travel budget, and now you're coming to book your hard-earned December or January breakaway. There are some spots that reign supreme as the very best places to visit in winter. And you might just be surprised at what's on the menu. Sultry tropical rainforests are there, with Costa Rica also touting cloud-topped volcanos and surfer beaches. Mexico could be a doozy, with multi-colored colonial cities baked by the sun. Or, to embrace the winter, there are always snowy ski runs from Tahoe to the European Alps.
Presents have been opened, Christmas movies have been put away, New Year celebrations are over – what to do? An exciting mix of the best January vacation destinations could be what you're looking for to start the month with a bang. It's sure to have something for all, whether you're pining after coconuts in swinging hammocks in the Caribbean, sightseeing in historic European cities, or adrenaline-pumping ski tours high in the Rockies.
February might just be one of the most budget-friendly points in the calendar to think about booking your hard-earned getaway. Before spring break but after the Christmas rush, it's a month when prices can plummet across the board. And there are plenty of amazing destinations to fill lists of the best places to travel in February in the USA, too. From South Beach to Mardi Gras-mad New Orleans, the ski fields of Colorado to the family-fun draws of San Diego's Mission Bay, there's a veritable kaleidoscope of options.
December is a fine month to find yourself traveling across the country. In New York, the bright lights of Times Square give way to a snow-dusted Central Park where ice skaters twirl and dance – it's uber romantic. Down south, Florida's Keys are awash with tanning bodies and snorkelers who've escaped the Midwest snows. Up in Vermont, the pines meld with ski runs and hearty mountains chalets. There are stacks to get the wanderlust a-going at this time of year.
You might not think it, but December is one of the top times of the year to go traveling. While everyone's distracted by Christmas preparations and present buying, you can often find amazing places without their usual crowds. What's more, ski resorts aren't clogged up with other riders – think whole off-piste bowls to call your own. And then there are the dips in flight prices, which can open up sun-splashed Carib cottages by coral reefs or rustic Italian flats in Rome and Venice. That's just a taster, too.
A break in the colder months doesn't have to break the bank. In fact, there are hotspots with snow, and others with sun, that are great if you're operating on a tighter budget. We're talking the likes of Mexico's Pacific coast, where cute surf towns have rentals for just a fraction of the cost of Florida. And then come the bargain deals on the ABC isles for sun lovers. Topping it off are low-cost ski jaunts and city breaks, which could see you carving pistes or snapping selfies by Vatican City without having to fork out loads.