Do frigid winter temperatures have you looking for a warm, sandy beach? Do blizzards and ice storms make you wish for lush, green hiking trails? Then, look no further than these 24 best warm places in the U.S. to visit for the perfect warm winter vacation getaway in the U.S.
Arizona’s Best Places to Visit in the Winter
Thinking of flocking like snowbirds to warmer temperatures? As one of the warmest places in the U.S., Arizona is a popular destination for many during cold winter months. The different regions of Arizona have a lot to offer, from summer heat to easy winter escapes.
Winter blues have you down? Sedona is the perfect place to reset and refocus the mind. You can do yoga among the magnificent red rocks, or spend time in one of the many spas.
Sedona also has many breathtaking trails that follow rivers, go deep into wilderness, and lead to amazing views. A winter vacation is one of the best times to complete a hike in Sedona, as temperatures are perfect for elevating your heart rate outside. Be sure to plan ahead though; trails often fill up and you may have to wait in line for a permit or entrance to your park of choice.
Uniquely Beautiful Place to Stay in Sedona
Embrace the luxurious Sedona life at this 5-star hotel pictured above: L’Auberge de Sedona. Look for something cheaper? Then consider having your own pool and views of the majestic mountains of Sedona at this beautiful guest suite home. If you want more remote country; check out this idyllic cottage in private farmlands overlooking lavender fields and mountains.
Located only 24 miles from Sedona, Flagstaff is one of the best US winter vacation spots. If you are looking for a winter getaway with warmer experiences nearby, Flagstaff is at a much higher elevation than Sedona. So, you can stay in a snowy cabin, but spend your days exploring a warm desert.
The best day trip from Flagstaff is to Montezuma Castle National Monument. Here, you can view the 20 room high-rise apartment building built by Native Americans over 900 years ago.
Phoenix, Arizona has some of the warmest temperatures in the country making it one of the best warm winter vacations USA. The temperature is also perfect for a plentitude of outdoor activities. Hiking is popular here, so be sure to check out these trails:
In addition, Phoenix offers many warm winter events, like ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo and Las Noches de Las Luminarias at the Desert Botanical Garden. As always, make sure you have a face mask and use good social distancing practices.
And best of all? The city of Phoenix is close to several other beautiful warm destinations in Arizona. And in the dead of the winter? Well, Phoenix is one of the warmest places in the US in January!
California for Some of the Most Vibrant & Warmest Places in the U.S.
Thinking the pacific beach is best when avoiding the cold? Want to escape to the desert? Southern California, and the areas nearby, are some of the most popular warm places to visit in the U.S.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit this winter in the U.S. Perfect for social distancing, this park provides ample outdoor space for yourself and is an easy place to plan a Joshua Tree in one day itinerary. This protected area in southern California is characterized by unique rock formations, desert ecosystems in the Mojave and Colorado deserts, and uniquely bristled Joshua trees.
Palm Springs, California
The perfect 70-degree weather in Palm Springs makes it a great place to explore the natural beauty, too. Take the Cactus to Clouds Trail for a great workout while looking over the city, or horseback ride through Indian Canyons. Or check out the beautiful Mount San Jacinto (view pictured above). Best yet, take the 48-minute drive out of town and see Joshua Tree National Park (listed above).
San Diego, California
With average highs in the upper 60s, many people find San Diego as the perfect warm winter destination in the U.S. Visit the four parks of Coronado Beach, walk “The Strand” between La Jolla and Mission Beach, or watch surfers at Tourmaline Surfing Park.
Death Valley National Park
While summer temperatures in Death Valley National Park soar above 100 degrees, the winter highs are much cooler. Take advantage of these cooler temperatures by investigating remote places that may be too far to reach in the summertime heat. Stay into the evening and enjoy a different kind of wintry light show- the night sky. Be sure to bring along a jacket; while deserts are typically considered warm areas, the dry weather can be a bit chilly at night. This is one of the warmest places in the U.S. to visit in the winter!
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is the city of cities, offering different landscapes that can range from beaches to mountains to desert. There are several neighborhoods or “small cities” to visit throughout this vast metropolis. In the winter, you may encounter a bit of rain in Los Angeles, but the sun comes out often as well, bringing those warm temperatures you crave. And the cooler weather provides the perfect climate for hiking, camping, and outdoor activities. If you love cultural heritage, head to our favorite LA neighborhood: Boyle Heights — just 5 minutes from downtown LA!
Generally speaking, Los Angeles is one of the warmest cities in the U.S., and as such has plenty of free and other fun things to do in the winter for the holidays, including:
- Grand Park’s Winter Glow,
- Union Station Holiday Festival and Market, and
- Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade.
These are just a few of many great ways to experience classic Los Angeles in the winter, while also enjoying the holiday season and the warm outdoors.
Santa Barbara, California
Tucked between the mountains of Santa Ynez and the shores of the Pacific Ocean, Santa Barbara offers the best of all worlds. Mountains, beach, and city. With its city vibes, you get some of the best food, walkable spaces, and historic architecture. For outdoor lovers, you’ll never run out of things to do from surfing to hiking to visiting waterfalls. So skip the traffic in Los Angeles, and drive up two hours north to this beautiful city that is warm year-round!
Budget travelers beware – Santa Barbara is one of the more expensive places to visit in the USA during the winter months. So if you’re on a tight budget, book your trip to Santa Barbara ahead of time!
Nevada: Fun Winter Vacation Ideas for Adults & the American Outdoors
Las Vegas, Nevada
Looking for the best winter vacation in the US for adults? For a good party with the cozy glow of lights in the wintry months, what better place than Vegas?! While nights can get chilly, staying busy on the Strip is sure to keep you warm. Take a drive through the Glittering Lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, or visit the Vegas Festival of Lights.
While in Vegas, take advantage of the sunny days with one of these beautiful Las Vegas hikes like Red Rock National Conservation Area or Valley of Fire State Park. If you love being in the water, head to Arizona Hot Springs and soak in the hot mineral spring water.
If you love culture and the outdoors, go on one of these amazing day trips from Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the Grand Canyon is NOT warm in the winter months but here is an epic guide to visiting the Grand Canyon in the winter.
If you want to keep exploring more of the nearby outdoors, you could also go a little farther north and visit some amazing Utah national parks in the winter too.
Puerto Rico: Beautiful Winter Vacation in the U.S.A.
If you are truly looking for the warmest winter vacations in the USA, head to Puerto Rico. While the weather is always warm in Puerto Rico, there is also much less rain this time of year. So, spend your time island hopping, kayaking bioluminescent bays, hiking, paddleboarding, and more.
Additionally, from mid-December through New Year’s, Puerto Rico awakens with holiday feasts, festivals, and excitement. Don’t miss the Festival del Petate in the Plaza Publica de Sabana Grande, where local artisans celebrate the petate tree in a unique way. See the Hatillo Masks Festival, which has taken place since 1823. Finally, visit the largest carnival on the island at Hiram Bithorn Stadium during La Feria.
New Mexico Winter Vacation
Santa Fe, New Mexico
While New Mexico is not the warmest place in the winter, it is still one of the coolest winter destinations in the U.S. For those wanting culture and art, Santa Fe, New Mexico is the place for you. There are many other holiday events in the winter, like:
One of the best things to do in Santa Fe during the winter holidays is Christmas at the Palace. Here, locals come together to enjoy cider, music, and the beautiful Palace of the Governors.
Louisiana Winter Getaway
New Orleans, Lousiana
Louisiana is a great place to visit in winter. New Orleans, on the Gulf of Mexico, has some of the warmest temperatures in the state. Winter is the season time to go, as temperatures are in the 60s. Usually a very busy place, there are little to no crowds during the winter. So, you and your party will be able to experience all the fun without much of the hassle. You will be able to see the Krewe of Jingle, partake in Christmas Eve bonfires, and stay in the festive French Quarter.
Georgia for a USA Winter Getaway
Want to experience Georgia this winter? As one of the best USA winter getaways, Savannah, Georgia offers a multitude of things to do on your vacation. This time of year is Savannah’s lowest for tourism, so anticipate a drop in hotel prices.
There are many fun things to do in Savannah in the winter, like visiting the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, this attraction decorates for the special December Nights and Holiday Lights event. Also, check out River Street, where you can listen to live music or catch the New Year’s Eve Fireworks.
Hawaii’s Most Beautiful Places to Visit in the Winter in the USA
It comes as no surprise that Hawaii is one of the best warm places to visit in December in USA. Visit any of the 8 largest islands in Hawaii for a tropical paradise vacation! Or, visit Honolulu– one of the warmest US cities in December. Temperatures will be in the 80s, and flowers will still be in bloom.
Flying to Hawaii can be an expense, so be sure to purchase your airfare around 40-50 days from departure. December happens to be the high season for tourism in Hawaii, so tickets may be expensive. However, you won’t want to miss hiking in the jungle and soaking up the sun on a Hawaiian beach while the snow flies back home.
Maui is home to volcanoes, lush valleys, waterfalls, unique black sand beaches overlooking dramatic landscapes–among the many other natural wonders. It is the second most popular island after Honolulu for its micro-climates and multitude of outdoor and cultural activities that you can enjoy on the road to Hana. While there are plenty of resorts and commercial hotels, travelers looking to connect with the local culture will have the chance to experience centuries of rich cultural heritage in Maui; as it was once the capital of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.
Don’t miss: Haleakala National Park.
Nicknamed the “Garden Island”, Kauai is famous for its lush rainforest which covers much of the island’s topography. Kauai is also Hawaii’s fourth-largest island and thus offers a multitude of things to do and see. Don’t miss its verdant valleys, jagged cliffs, rivers, and waterfalls.
Please note: Some parts of this island are only accessible by plane or boat.
Oahu is the home to the largest population and the biggest city in Hawaii: Honolulu. As such, this island offers the best of both worlds: western and non-western culture, modern and ancient influences, and bustling city and quaint natural wonders.
Texas’ Best Winter Getaways USA
Due to the temperate climate of Texas this time of year, winter is one of the best times for a getaway. Spend quality time experiencing the culture of Texas while sampling local food and brews, or head outside for one-of-a-kind hikes, bike trails, and kayak trips.
It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. And for good reason. Austin has it all. It offers city life, great food, a bustling arts scene, and easy access to the outdoors.
So whether you’re craving culture or nature this socially distant winter, Austin is the city for you! Check out one of several swimming holes near Austin, Texas like Hamilton Pool Preserve (pictured above). Or hit the trails near Austin. Explore the 227- acre Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve, or hike almost 13 miles of trails in the Barton Creek Greenbelt. You can also view the Austin skyline while biking on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is one of our FAVORITE USA destinations. This is why we’ve dedicated an entire guide to 45 Special Things to do in San Antonio.
Although it’s the second-largest city in Texas, San Antonio remains a hidden gem behind the shadows of Austin. It was originally inhabited (and still is) by Native Americans until was invaded by Spain… which then became Mexico. And evidence of this rich Mexican and Native American cultural heritage/history is celebrated throughout the beautiful city.
There is something in San Antonio for every type of traveler. Solo, family, kids, couples? San Antonio has lots of things for you! From outdoor spaces to cultural venues for art and music. And if you love food as much as we do, one fun way to experience this any time of year is to follow the San Antonio Food Trails. Choose from the Taco Trail, Barbecue Trail, or Margarita Trail, and support local small businesses along the way.
Don’t forget to make time to go on some beautiful day trips from San Antonio when you go!
Fun fact: San Antonio is home to the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Texas! And you can visit dozens of museums in San Antonio. Need we say more?
Florida’s Best Winter Vacation Spots
One of the easiest warm winter vacations in the USA? Florida! With an abundance of places to visit and cheap flights head south for the winter. In Florida, where the sun is out and the days are still long year-round. A stay here will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of winter.
As the southernmost city in the USA, Miami is one of the warmest US cities in December. The daily highs in Miami are well into the upper 70s. The days are long as well, with 10.5 hours of sunlight. These conditions make Miami one of the most perfect warm places to visit in December in USA.
Spend those long days at Virginia Key Beach, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, and of course, South Beach. At night, stay at one of the swanky, oceanfront hotels Miami has to offer, like Fontainebleau Miami Beach.
If you have time, you could also do an amazing Miami to Key West drive too.
Florida’s Paradise Coast: Naples, Marco Island & the Everglades
If you are looking for a place to truly rejuvenate, visit the Florida Paradise Coast. This part of Florida was ranked the happiest place in the USA for wellness. Located on the southern, Gulf side of Florida, Naples’ daily temperatures in December rarely fall below 64 degrees.
South of Naples is Marco Island. Here, you can relax while staying oceanside at one of the hotels on Marco Beach. Each December, the area celebrates Sizzle Restaurant Week, which is a great way to experience local food while supporting a great cause.
Additionally, the dry season is the best time to cruise through lush Everglades National Park. December is a part of the dry season. So, there are more manageable temperatures, more wildlife, and less mosquitoes. Check out ranger-led programs to see this area with a guide, or explore it yourself.
Pensacola Beach, Florida
Pensacola Beach is widely renowned as one of the most beautiful beaches in the United States offering fine white sand and clean crystalline water. Consider staying by the pier in a beachfront condo like this so you can be near all the restaurants and bars within walking distance. Pensacola is both family-friendly and fun for adults!
The Florida Keys
Wish you were on a Caribbean beach vacation? Another one of the best warm places to visit in December in USA feels just like a Caribbean getaway. The Florida Keys begin on the southeastern coast of Florida, and form the southernmost part of the USA. December is the beginning of the Keys’ peak tourism season, so expect many other visitors during your stay. Due to higher peak season hotel prices and limited availability, consider staying in an Airbnb sail boat or a yacht like this one for a truly local flavor.
While Orlando is a well-known American destination for winter travel, what many people don’t realize is that it’s near several beautiful natural outdoor spaces and cultural hidden gems. So if you want to explore the area beyond Disney World or the many other theme parks Orlando is known for, you can go to places like Wekiwa Springs State Park or Weeki Wachee Springs State Park! Check out our Orlando Hidden Gems guide for a lovely vacation.
Have kids? Well, Orlando is easily one of the easiest winter destinations in the USA for families!
Virgin Islands U.S.A. Winter Getaway
St. Thomas Trunk Bay, St. John
You know that beach you see on postcards or screen savers? With the white sand, crystalline blue waters, and tall palm trees? That’s Trunk Bay in St. John! And YES – this is still a part of the U.S.A. So you don’t have to translate, exchange your dollars nor get a SIM card. Just an easy flight away to world-class natural wonders and a warm winter getaway in the U.S.
From hiking to shopping, celebrating the holidays to rejuvenating the mind, these 21 beautiful warm winter vacations in the U.S.A. can’t be missed.
About the Author:
Erin grew up and currently lives in the woods of Wisconsin… but her heart lives out West. While staying in Las Vegas for four years, Erin made it her mission to see as many of the amazing deserts as she could. She hiked, biked, camped, and explored small ghost towns and big cities alike along with her many road trips from Las Vegas. She is passionate about holistic, outdoor living, and strives to share her experience through her writing.