The holiday season is right around the corner, and with all that seasonal cheer comes travel — a lot of travel. Maybe you’re flying to see family and friends before the new year, or maybe you’re staying put to close out December and jetting off on a winter vacay come January. No matter when you fly this winter, you can make sure that you’re heading to the most popular U.S. winter travel destination for your getaway needs.
It’s time to start booking your escape this winter, because you know once the holidays come around, you’ll be slammed with gift shopping and festivities. If you’ve got some airline rewards just burning a hole in your pocket, you might want to peruse this list of popular winter destinations before hotel rates jump and even tickets sell out. It’ll also be helpful to keep in mind the cheapest days to book flights over the holiday break. Of course, if you’re traveling to see family, you probably don’t have much say in where you go — but if you’re close to one of these popular hot spots, you could always extend your trip to check one of them out. Now, if you’re traveling on your own accord, you can set out wherever your heart (and squad) desires.
You may be looking to bathe in the sunlight, after a few months of being torturously cold at home, or snow might be your thing, so you may opt for a place that’s covered in a white, shimmering blanket. You can choose between sun, sand, or a winter wonderland when it comes to picking your winter destination in the U.S. this season.
Sunny Winter Destinations
Leave your parka at home and layer on some sunscreen because you never have to worry about being cold under the shining winter sun at these hot spots in the country.
Los Angeles, California
You can opt for a sunny New Year’s Eve trip to sunny Los Angeles to escape the frigid weather. Take a dive in the ocean or sunbathe all day to overdose on Vitamin D before the dark winter ahead. While you’re in California, check out Pasadena’s annual Rose Parade and Deco Week on New Year’s Day to ring in 2023 with spectacular flower floats and marching bands. You can purchase parade tickets right now before they sell out.
Spending the winter in Florida is a popular escape route for good reason. In Miami, there’s so many beaches to choose from, electric nightlife, and luxurious shopping that’ll feel like summer vacation even in January. You can even venture to the Key West in the Florida Keys to bask in the average January temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit, as you snorkel around the Gulf Of Mexico, dine on delicious seafood, and strut down Duval Street in a sundress you dug out of your summer storage. And why not stop by Orlando to visit Disney World and enjoy its exciting New Years celebrations while you’re at it? A few days spent in the sunny hometown of Mickey Mouse will (hopefully) make those dreary winter mornings much more manageable upon your return to reality.
Fun Winter Getaways With Lots Of Activities
You might want to bookmark those cities for when it’s the middle of February and you can’t handle one more morning spent scraping ice off of your car’s windshield. The weather in these destinations is not July-hot, but will stay in breezy-mid temperatures throughout the winter, to relieve you of the extreme cold.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Pack your most sparkly outfits for New Year’s Eve, because there’s no more fabulous place to ring in 2023 than Las Vegas. Sin City always guarantees fun on the biggest party night of the year, with tons of casinos, concerts, and nightlife to play in with your winter crew. You can also visit Vegas later in January or February when there are less travelers passing through and hotel prices drop to more affordable rates.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Another year-round party town to experience in the winter is New Orleans, which stays in the high 60 degrees in Fahrenheit during the winter months. Of course, February is the ideal time to visit for the Mardi Gras celebration that’s held the day before Ash Wednesday. Dance your way through all the parades, street parties, and the jazzy French Quarter instead of struggling through the snow. Make sure to book your hotel room or Airbnb right now, because prices tend to jump during this thrilling week of festivities.
San Francisco, California
San Francisco is a fun and walkable city to spend a short trip in, with colorful culture, museums to discover, and world-famous cuisine like sourdough bread sculptures to warm you up. You can check out popular tourist sites like Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge, or you can get super nostalgic and pose in front of the Fuller House house. It’ll likely be chilly in the city at this time of year, with strong winds that are perfect for flying a kite in the park.
Snowy Winter Destinations
If you’d categorize yourself as a snowbird, you can travel to U.S. cities that have a more wintry feel (AKA low temperatures and high chances for snow). You’ll likely catch a snowstorm or two in these places, so pack comfortable snow boots to trudge the slush and tons of cozy layers to lounge in by the fireplace.
If you can’t get enough sparkly snow, travel to Michigan to discover the magical Ice Fest in the first few weeks of February. You can climb massive ice formations on the side of Lake Superior and enjoy the state’s stunning natural beauty of winter. First-timers can take lessons to participate in the action, or you can spectate inside with a hot cup of cocoa.
You can also set your sights high on the wintry mountains for epic hiking. In Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park or Jackson Hole are popular places to get your yearly ski or snowboard fix. Sometimes chilly temps and snowfall are actually the perfect setting for a winter vacation, and you’ll also get a chance to wear that adorable snowsuit set you snagged on Black Friday.
New York City, New York
New York City is especially cozy in the winter months – at least after you trudge through the snow piles on the sidewalks. There are so many indoor activities to do in the infinite city, like spending the day in an art museum like The Met or The Moma, resting for a romantic dinner in the Upper East Side, or seeing your favorite play on Broadway. Sometimes the energy of the city is all you need to perk you up in the middle of the dark winter.
You can also take your winter travel to Seattle in the Pacific Northwest (home to Starbucks’ corporate office), where you can get your hands on a world-renowned cup of joe and take in the beautiful mountain scenery. Besides spending all day in a warm cafe, you can enjoy other indoor activities in the city like climbing to the top of The Space Needle, watching a movie in a vintage cinema, and seeing cool art museums.
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Now that you know your options are far and wide when it comes to a winter vacation, you can start planning your getaway. If you’re flying to your destination, make it easier on yourself by being prepared before you get to the airport. For example, you can cut your time in the security line down to less than five minutes by signing up for TSA Precheck, avoid peak travel days to make the trip a little easier on the wallet, and even research travel hacks on TikTok for making the journey stress-free. After a long year of hard work, it’s time to treat yourself and get away for a little bit to refresh your energy for the new year. All that’s left to do is pack your bags and set off to one of these dreamy winter destinations.
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