With the holidays in the rearview mirror, and the fresh snowfall turning to gray sludge, for many people, this is the time of year when winter has lost its charm. Rather than spending the rest of the season counting down the days until you can open a kitchen window without risking frostbite, take a break from the gloom and head to one of our country's sunnier destinations. These warm-weather vacations are the perfect antidote for the winter blues.
If your idea of busting the winter blahs involves some serious pampering, Scottsdale is the place to go. With more spas per capita than any city in the United States, this Arizona city knows what it's doing when it comes to rest and relaxation. The average 300 days per year of sunshine doesn't hurt either. Once you've had enough massages and facials, get outside and soak up some vitamin D. Arizona's average winter temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for outdoor activities (yes, we consider dining al fresco an outdoor activity). Head out to the McDowell Sonoran Desert Preserve. This vast expanse of untouched desert features opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing.
While the breathtaking emerald green cliffs and lush valleys of this Hawaiian island are beautiful any time of year, a winter vacation to Kauai holds the opportunity for something special: a chance to see the famed humpback whales. January to March is peak whale-watching season on the island. Visitors can vie for a glimpse from several of Kauai's pristine beaches, or take a boat tour for a more close-up and personal view of these majestic creatures. Although whale watching is a big draw for Kauai, this relatively undeveloped island features many other natural attractions, including the 3,000-foot deep Waimea Canyon, world-class snorkeling, and the famous rugged Na Pali Coast.
Looking to head down south to escape the winter gloom? Key West might be just the ticket. This Florida island is the southernmost point in the U.S., located just 90 miles north of Cuba, with the year-round sunshine to prove it. Known for its quirky, laid-back vibe, Key West is the perfect destination for travelers looking for a beach destination with some character. The candy-colored wooden bungalows, lively art and nightlife scenes, and the seemingly ever-present stray roosters make Key West a fail-safe solution for chasing away the winter gloom.
This desert oasis has been a favorite winter getaway since the 1950's, but Palm Springs has still managed to retain its chic, modern vibe. Featuring iconic mid-century modern architecture, stunning desert vistas, and an endless array of swim-up pool bars, Palm Springs makes for a unique and glamorous cold-weather escape. Don't miss a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for 360 degree views of the stunning Chino Canyon. If you're looking for some more outdoor adventure, Palm Springs is only an hour drive to the otherworldly Joshua Tree State Park.