11 Best Warm Winter Getaways to Escape the Cold
Leave your coat at home! These warm places to visit in December turn up the heat when you need a break from the snow and cold.
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The days are getting shorter, and the air is turning colder, which means winter and the snow it brings with it aren’t far behind. Not a cold weather fan? You’ll want to read on for our list of the best warm places to visit in December and beyond. These are spots where the sun is always shining, so you can leave your coat—and hat and gloves and boots—at home.
Below, we’ve rounded up the best places to travel that provide a variety of experiences, from cultural exploration to beach relaxation and outdoor adventures, ensuring there’s something for everyone for a guaranteed blast of sunshine this winter.
Swaying palm trees, welcoming aqua waters and amazing beaches—Maui truly has it all. And you can have a stellar warm winter getaway here and help a community in need just by visiting this island that was hard hit by a wildfire this past August. While the town of Lahaina is just beginning the long road to reconstruction, visitors are not only welcome on the rest of the island, but also encouraged, according to the Maui Nui Tourism Board. When you visit Maui’s shops, restaurants and farmers markets, take part in tours and activities and enjoy its festivals and events, your dollars will support local employees and businesses.
Some of the best beaches and warmest surf found on the island are on the southern part in Wailea, which is where Fairmont Kea Lani is located. The all-suite property is one of our favorites, and they just completed a multi-year renovation that added a Hawaiian cultural center.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Home to inviting crystal-clear waters and some of the best beaches in the world, the Cayman Islands top the list of warm places to visit in December in the Caribbean. Although you’ll come for the seven miles of silky white sand and deep blue water, it’s not all beach vibes here: The island, often referred to as the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean,” is a foodie paradise too, with restaurants that offer a variety of both international and local cuisine.
A perfect home base is the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa, which features four restaurants serving up everything from upscale Mediterranean tapas to street-style tacos. The hotel also features two relaxing pools, a kids water park and Red Sail Sports, where you can try out activities from parasailing and snorkeling to kite surfing and fly-boarding.
Costa Rica is known for its ecotourism opportunities, including beautiful beaches, rainforest hikes and wildlife adventures, including our favorite: sloth spotting. With equal appeal for both families and couples, it’s no wonder it’s one of our top destinations to visit in 2023. There are 10 climate zones across the Central American country, so it’s hard to say when is the best time to visit Costa Rica, since there’s never a bad time, especially in winter, which ushers in the dry season for the Pacific region.
Experience Costa Rica’s “Pura Vida” lifestyle on the beach for yourself at Hotel Nantipa in Santa Teresa, on the Pacific Coast. The hotel touts its “barefoot luxury” and offers surfing and yoga along with its large, beachfront-chic bungalows and suites.
Head south, really south, to the Southern Hemisphere and Bali, where summer is in full swing during North America’s chilly winter months. If tropical breezes, swaying palm trees, warm turquoise waters and unlimited sunshine are on your winter bucket list, then this tropical island paradise should be at the top of that list.
It’s hard to beat the beach vibes at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach. Set on 11 acres of lush, landscaped grounds with exotic plants and beautiful vertical gardens, the resort rolls right up to the golden sand of Seminyak Beach and is adjacent to SugarSand Beach Club and near the always buzzing La Plancha Beach Club.
Turks and Caicos, Caribbean
The islands of Turks and Caicos are renowned for their spectacular white beaches, crystal aqua waters and a wide array of amazing water sports. Although Turks and Caicos may have a romantic aura, you can still have a great family vacation, especially if you opt to stay somewhere with free activities and amenities like access to a kids club, non-motorized water sports or fitness classes.
One of our favorites is the Beach Enclave, a collection of 27 stand-alone villas and beach houses across Providenciales, each featuring two to seven bedrooms, perfect for multi-generational family travel. Guests enjoy direct beach access from their villa or beach house, allowing every family member to fully enjoy the abundant sunshine, soft sand and refreshing water. With this offer, guests also have the option of a complimentary activity, such as kiteboarding lessons, a boat charter and scuba diving or a guided paddle eco-tour.
Santa Barbara, California
This California beach destination is a haven for beach lovers looking for a warm place to visit in December (temps range from 45 to 65 degrees all winter long) and the feeling of a European city in America—it’s nicknamed the “American Riviera” for a reason. And although the swank town has a reputation for being expensive, it’s easy to have a budget experience here too. Start with a (free) day on the sand at East Beach or Sands Beach, or a hike to get gorgeous coastal views from the Inspiration Point trail. Then hit the waves with a kayak, surfboard or SUP rental. Want to take it easy? There are sailing trips for just $65 at the Santa Barbara Sailing Center. You can even book a spectacular sunset cruise for real vacay vibes.
Our top pick for a stay is the Avania Inn of Santa Barbara, conveniently located just one block from the ocean and serving a complimentary hot breakfast every morning.
Miami beckons travelers with its sandy shores, palm-fringed parks, scenic boardwalk and international flavor—not to mention the pastel-hued Art Deco hotels that line Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. One of our favorite spring break destinations for families, Miami is also a hit for travelers looking for a warm winter getaway. The lively beach scene always makes it feel like a party.
Stay at the Kimpton Surfcomber, which sits on 200 feet of oceanfront property in the heart of South Beach, on historic Collins Avenue. In addition to direct beach access, the hotel has an expansive outdoor pool deck and plenty of included activities, such as outdoor yoga, free bike rentals and even beach boot camp.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Head to the gorgeous beaches of the Riviera Maya on the Yucatán Peninsula for surf and sea fun, lovely beaches and the chance to visit the Mayan ruins and ancient pyramids of Chichen Itza. It’s a hidden gem for an affordable spring break too, in addition to an inviting warm place to visit in December.
A stay at Occidental at Xcaret Destination is the ideal way to experience this warm-weather Mexican resort. Nestled among natural jungle gardens (with monkeys!) and a private cove, the hotel is also next to the Xcaret eco-archaeological park, which features activities and exhibitions about the nature and culture of Mexico.
St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida
Home to a record-breaking 361 days of sunshine per year, 35 miles of coastline and some of the best beaches in the United States, St. Pete/Clearwater is a warm-weather getaway that combines a funky Florida vibe with an artsy and authentic local experience. The gentle Gulf waters and incredible white sand in Clearwater make it a beach haven, and the sunsets on the west-facing beaches are pretty epic too.
Catch the view from the rooftop pool of the new JW Marriott Clearwater Beach Resort. The hotel also has a private beach (a rarity in this town!), and its secluded setting makes it great for dolphin watching.
Mexico City, Mexico
Want to warm up in a cultural center instead of a beach? Mexico City offers myriad activities to suit all types of warm-weather getaway interests. Head to the historic Paseo de la Reforma neighborhood and Bosque de Chapultepec, one of Mexico’s largest city parks, where you’ll discover a real castle, bike paths, a zoo and even a hot spring. And nothing screams warm-weather vacation more than ice cream—indulge in Mexico City’s famed El Portal Del Sabor, which has been scooping up unique Mexican flavors, such as chamoy and avocado, since 1964.
Base yourself at the St. Regis Mexico City, right in the heart of the neighborhood. You’ll have spectacular views from the relaxing pool. Plus, the hotel’s popular Restaurant Diana overlooks both the Paseo de La Reforma and iconic Fountain of Diana and offers up delectable local Mexican fare (don’t miss the ceviche bar at Sunday brunch). There’s a kids club at the property too.
Sedona is enchanting any time of year, but there’s something extra magical about having the red rocks to yourself in the warm winter months. It’s a real hidden gem for winter travel bargain too, with lighter crowds, lower hotel rates and the same assortment of outdoor activities as in peak season. Note that while the average temps reach the mid-60s during the day, nights can dip down to the 30s in this arid destination, so pack a jacket.
A must-visit hotel for wellness enthusiasts, Sky Rock Sedona offers perks such as moonlit yoga under the stars and hikes with customized maps, plus newly renovated rooms.