by Jill Watkins
Brrr! With the holiday festivities recently behind us but the warmth of spring still a few months up the road, many of us have had quite enough of chilly winter bluster and are not-so-secretly dreaming of a sunny getaway to get us through the long upcoming weeks. Even winter lovers and those who inhabit warmer climes year round can make use of special winter travel pricing that can easily be found in the year’s early months. Even better? Crowds are often minimal, outside of holiday dates. So now that you’re onboard, where to go first?
San Diego boasts some of the most predictably nice weather to be found anywhere. The sun reigns supreme here and the warm-water beaches are both beautiful and uncrowded this time of year, making for a relaxing laid-back vibe to counteract the recent holiday frenzy. The bayfront Embarcadero promenade is immensely user-friendly and there’s a plethora of good eats, shopping, and all manner of fun activities within easy reach. Get out on on the water by boat, bike the boardwalk, sign up for a craft beer tour, explore Old Town and the Gaslamp Quarter, even take an easy shuttle to Tijuana for a few hours South of the Border. And of course, don’t forget about the world famous San Diego Zoo and Sea World. During February, 40 museums around town are half-price admission, and whales make their visit to San Diego from December through April.
- Budget- A boutique accommodation right on the beach, the Surfer Beach Hotel makes it easy to stay and enjoy San Diego’s sun and fun. The hotel is family friendly, and most rooms have oceanview balconies. Retro in style and personal in service, this hotel places you in the center of it all, while ensuring you’ll come back year after year.
- Moderate- Located centrally in Mission Bay, and providing stunning water views, the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa is an excellent choice for itself as well as for its proximity to so many exciting attractions. The Hotel is walking distance to fine cuisine, shopping, beaches, and watersports and all rooms have their own private balcony or patio.
- Deluxe- For a truly stunning and memorable accommodation, the Coronado Island Marriott Resort and Spa looks back across the water towards San Diego’s skyline. The resort features 16 bayfront acres, a bike path (rentals available), a family of resident flamingos, double-sized hammocks, a quirky shopping marketplace, and an 18-hole golf course, as well as highly-acclaimed Coronado Beach. A quick water taxi ride brings you to the Gaslamp Quarter.
Winter and Mexico go hand in hand, as one can beat the humidity and crowds by traveling this time of year. Playa del Carmen is unique for having sunny skies and beautiful blue waters, but also easy access to the Yucatan’s Mayan ruins and the tropical rainforest. Fly easily into Cancun and vase yourself at a relaxing beach resort, then venture out to play, explore, dine, shop, and adventure in the Riviera Maya.
- Budget- Situated two blocks from the spectacular powdery white sandy beach and a mere half block away from the shops and eateries of Playa’s 5th Avenue, the Aventura Mexicana is a cozy boutique hotel artfully decorated in a charming rustic style.
- Moderate- Located perfectly in being both beachfront and short walk to 5th Avenue, the beautiful all-inclusive Reef Playacar can give you all that the Yucatan Peninsula has to offer. Experience the Caribbean coast’s white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and a small town feel that will make this your ‘second home’. All rooms have balconies overlooking tropical rainforests and there are daily activities for children and adults.
- Deluxe- For the highly discerning traveler, the Riu Palace Riviera Maya will truly be a slice of paradise. Priding itself on personal and distinctive service, the resort features multiple fine-dining restaurants, spa services, and exchange priveleges at all Riu properties in Playacar.
Easily accessed by highway from Miami, the ‘tail of Florida’ has as much activity and/or leisure as you might be looking for. The casual ‘come as you are’ Keys run at your own pace, and will please just about everyone, especially those escaping winter for the sun. On the water, there’s fishing, snorkeling, sailing, and tour excursions to the Dry Tortugas. In town, there’s art galleries, museums, dining, and shopping. Ride a trolley tour, visit Hemingway’s house, play a round of golf, then find a hammock and make the most out of being on ‘island time’, here in your own little taste of paradise.
- Budget- For classic Key West motel just 3 blocks from the beach and Duval St, the El Patio Motel, has tropically-themed rooms and beautiful Cuban tile floors, as well as a rooftop deck to enjoy the iconic Key West sunsets.
- Moderate- Located a 5-minute walk from the Atlantic Ocean and southernmost point of the continental states, the Blue Marlin Motel in South Beach, is excellently situated to attractions such as the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory and the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum.
- Deluxe- Just one block from the Atlantic Ocean and Duval Street, the elegant and contemporary Santa Maria Suites Resort is a historic yet renovated all suites hotel surrounded by well-manicured gardens and known for exceptional service. Spacious accommodations and gracious amenities await you at this perfect ‘getaway’ destination.
Originally a native American village, Palm Springs has become the desert getaway of the rich and famous, as well as sunseekers and ‘snowbirds’ from northern climes. At the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains, palm trees lines streets filled with boutiques and galleries and the city has become known as a hotspot for arts, adventure activities, and entertainment. Well worth the 2 hour drive from Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a locale where one can happily do nothing at all. If you do by chance tire of lazing by the pool, opportunities include hiking, tours of celebrity homes, golf, museums, and tan aerial tramway ride up the mountain for a stunning overview of the area.
- Budget- The recently renovated Curve Palm Springs Hotel is conveniently located a mile from shops and nightlife in downtown, but also serves as a perfect relaxing ‘oasis’ away from it all. Boutique and hip, casual and stylish, friendly and refreshing, the Curve can meet your every need.
- Moderate- For a moment you might think yourself in the South of France! La Maison is a Mediterranean-style accommodation with clay tile roofs, terracotta floors, and a peaceful inner courtyard utilizing the colors of Provence.
- Deluxe- For a truly glamorous experience in the Hollywood style of the 1930’s, the iconic Viceroy Palm Springs features private villas, exquisitely manicured landscaping, and full resort services.
Always a popular locale in the Caribbean, Jamaica is known for its sunny days, turquoise blue waters, and endless beaches- and rightly so. From Montego Bay’s colonial past and bustling streetscene to Negril’s seven miles of shining white sands and laidback vibe, from Ochos Rios’s lush green mountainous landscape complete with waterfalls and canyons to the largely undeveloped South Coast, Jamaica offers the chance to explore, or relax away from it all- the choice is yours. Visit a plantation or rum factory, hike in a lush nature park, enjoy river rafting and horseback riding- Jamaica is your island for adventure. But don’t forget to allow ample time for a fruity drink in your beachside hammock!
- Couples: Jamaica was the home of the first Sandals Resorts, and for couples, you truly cannot go wrong with any of the seven distinctive Sandals properties in Jamaica. Sandals Resorts lead the way at providing an authentic Caribbean experience, as well as carefully chosen amenities and exceptional service to make your island getaway truly romantic and memorable.
- Families and others: Also providing a warm and friendly all-inclusive vacation experience, Beaches in either Negril or Ochos Rios simply can’t be beat for adventure, natural beauty, relaxing, and all around hospitality and value.
That wraps up the tour of our best places to beat the winter blues. Do you have a favorite winter getaway that we didn’t list? Let us know in the comments section below!
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