As winter rolls in and cold fronts break free from the Arctic, the freezing temperatures and accompanying snow cover are more than enough to inspire a getaway. While much of North America offers no escape from the cold, there are still a handful of places in the United States that, despite the season, offer plenty of sunshine to get you out of your winter funk. .
If you’re planning to get away from the gray northern skies, here are some of the best sunny winter destinations in the United States to consider.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
One of the most enigmatic regions of the United States, the Mojave Desert in Southern California is home to Joshua Tree National Park. If you are interested in rare and unique flora, this is a great place to visit as it is home to hundreds of species of plants, many of which grow only in the region, such as its namesake species of yucca.
Much of the flora that lives in Joshua Tree are species of cacti, succulents, and other non-seasonal varieties that you can still enjoy during the winter months, and there are several marked trails that can take you to through the park to see them. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can drive up to Keys View, a popular spot in the hills where you can see across the park and the Coachella Valley, and even the Salton Sea on a clear day. It’s a great place to watch the sunset when you can watch the desert floor fill with vibrant hues of deep orange and red.
Arizona’s quirky capital, Sedona is a paradise for anyone interested in lithotherapy, tarot reading, astrology, and more. A tour of their quaint town center reveals the extent of their local obsessions: shopkeepers fill their windows with herbal remedies, handmade clothing and jewelry, and of course, books that cater to seekers of spiritual awakenings of all kinds.
Even if you’re not looking to be enlightened, Sedona’s spellbinding vistas are enough to inspire a visit, and the wintry weather is perfect for long days spent outdoors. The area is famous for its particularly photogenic red sandstone rock formations at sunrise and sunset. For one of the best views in town, visit the supernatural Chapel of the Holy Cross. High in the hills above the town, the deceptively simple lines of the chapel are the perfect complement to its eerily beautiful natural surroundings.
San Diego, California
With 70 miles of sandy beaches in the area, San Diego suits all kinds of snowbirds, including sunbathers, beachcombers, and even surfers. Guests will feel right at home, as the area is home to one of the largest surfing communities in the continental United States.
In the evening, you’ll find some of California’s best restaurants alongside the bustling nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter near downtown. Along 4th and 5th Avenues, you’ll see why this neighborhood is the best in San Diego to indulge your vices: you’ll find a bar, club or restaurant occupying almost every window.
Gulf Coast, Alabama
A hugely popular destination for American retirees, Gulf Shores is a bustling resort town from spring through fall, but quiets down considerably in winter. While it’s not the best time of year to sunbathe and swim in the ocean, it’s a great time to take advantage of the lowest prices on short-term beach condos and far fewer tourists.
The weather is still mild in Gulf Shores at this time of year, so it’s an ideal season if you come to play golf. Several public courses are nearby, including the Craft Farms Golf Club 36-hole course designed by Arnold Palmer. Luckily for you, tee times are much easier to find with fewer people in town, and long runs are much more comfortable to complete when temperatures are in the 60s.
Long a hotspot for spring break, new infrastructure and investment in downtown Miami have made it a top tourist destination year-round. One of the main advantages has been its booming culinary scene; there are dozens of new restaurants all over the city and suburbs, charming locals and tourists alike.
In 2022, Michelin released its first Florida guide, and 11 of the 15 award-winning restaurants are in Miami and its inner suburbs of Miami Beach and Seaside. Among them, a restaurant obtained the prestigious 2 stars: L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in the Design District, which offers a fixed price seasonal menu perfect for a first visit. Just be sure to make your reservation well in advance.
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
A process of wind and water erosion has created the vast fields of gypsum sand dunes in White Sands National Park for thousands of years. The result is the largest of its kind in the world, spanning 275 square miles with dunes reaching up to 60 feet.
Visitors to White Sands describe it as something akin to leaving the planet; the effect of the brilliant white sand stretching to the horizon is heightened on a sunny day when the dunes appear to glow with the reflected light. This makes winter the ideal time to visit, as there are usually only two or three cloudy days throughout the season, with daytime temperatures hovering around 60°.
Holy Cross, USVI
The U.S. Virgin Islands is home to charms that heal all kinds of winter doldrums, including white-sand beaches and turquoise water. In particular, the largest island, St. Croix, is known for being the perfect escape from the grind and offers unique cultural activities, world-class diving and less choppy beaches than its neighbor, St. Thomas.
Despite its tropical temperatures, USVI is known for its cloud cover thanks to the warm but rainy tropical climate. But between December and March, you’ll see a lot more sunshine than any other time of the year, as rainfall drops significantly. A winter visit also means warm temperatures suitable for sunbathing without the humid and oppressive heat of summer.
Savannah is easily one of the most charming cities in the southern United States. Prewar architecture and ubiquitous Spanish moss give Savannah its iconic look, while locals embrace a slower pace that attracts dozens of visitors to unwind.
In addition to its cobblestone historic district, dozens of public parks, and vibrant arts and culture scene, Savannah has a tourist attraction that, while popular, is somewhat unique. But if your tastes tend towards the macabre, cool winter days are the perfect time to stroll through the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, whose graves date back to the mid-1800s. acres, you might want to take advantage of one of their free monthly tours.
Although summers can be extremely hot and humid, winter in Austin brings clear skies and generally warm temperatures. Although Austin is susceptible to occasional winter cold snaps, most days are bright and sunny, with temperatures in the 60s and sometimes as high as 80s.
Known for a long time for its musical culture, you can witness many live bands in hundreds of venues in the city. A particularly good time to visit is the first week of January, when the Red River Cultural District holds its annual Free Week. Famous venues like Mohawk, Swan Dive and Empire Control Room host showcases of local and regional bands with no cover charge.
Las Vegas, Nevada
America’s vice capital, Las Vegas, is world famous for offering everything in excess: drinking, gambling, eating and rejoicing are all found in abundance here. This dry, desert town can be unbearably hot in the summer, but the winter temperatures and cloudless days are perfect for strolling the strip without melting.
Even if you’re not a gambler, don’t immediately give up on a trip to Las Vegas; Winter resort prices can be very competitive, and now is the best time to be surprised with a free upgrade. Plus, there’s so much more to Las Vegas than gambling, some people just go for the buffets, the world-class live shows and the endless shopping with all the best brand stores the world has to offer. to offer.
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