10 Quick Vacation Destinations to Escape the Winter

While staying inside may help you avoid the worst of winter weather, sometimes it is better to skip the cold by taking a tropical vacation. In fact, a sunny getaway may be closer than you think.

Countries such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago are relatively easy to get to from the U.S. They also have sparkling beaches, high-end restaurants and a variety of water-based activities.

If you do not wish to explore or go on many outdoor excursions during your vacation, you may consider staying at a resort in one of these locations.

There are also several destinations within the U.S. that have warm weather year-round. When choosing a place to stay, it is important to know what kind of experience you want to have.

Our guidelines may help you find the best getaway while keeping cost, travel time and fun activities in mind. Whether you want to explore and sight-see or simply recline in a beach chair, the perfect vacation may be just around the corner.

Winter Escapes in Mexico

Mexico is one of the closest countries to the U.S. with a variety of warm-weather destinations. In general, flights to Mexico are relatively inexpensive and quick if you are traveling from a U.S. state with a wintery climate, such as New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Nevada or Oregon.

However, the price will increase if you do not fly out of a major airport. The best locations for a winter getaway in Mexico include:

  • Cancún. A flight to Cancún costs roughly $200 to $400 and usually takes four to six hours if you are traveling from the east coast or mid-west. The city is located on the Yucatán peninsula, which borders the Caribbean, and features white-sand beaches and plenty of outdoor excursion opportunities.
  • Tourists may visit Chichén Itzá, the ruins of an ancient Mayan city, the Isla Mujeres, an island that is 20 minutes away by ferry or the Playa Tortugas, a free beach that has a variety of outdoor restaurants. There is even an underwater museum, called the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), which can be seen through a glass-bottom boat or when snorkeling.
  • Mexico City. Flights to Mexico City from east coast and mid-west states are also inexpensive and range from $250 to $400 for a roundtrip ticket. If you are interested in sightseeing and exploring, this may be an excellent destination. Famous museums include the Museo Nacional de Antropología in the Chapultepec Forest and the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which showcases famous murals and hosts artistic events. There are many historical sites here as well, such as the Templo Mayor, a religious center of the Aztecs and Teotihuacán, an ancient Mesoamerican city. Teotihuacán is about an hour and a half drive outside of the Mexico City. Another immensely popular site is El Zócalo, a public square.
  • Akumal, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. These are four resort cities in Mexico known for their beaches and luxurious hotels. Akumal is about an hour and a half south of Cancún and has a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere. Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, on the other hand, are known for their nightlife. In all three resort cities, vacationers may partake in a variety of water-based activities, such as snorkeling, whale watching and more.

Winter Escapes in the Caribbean

The Caribbean is filled with winter getaways and is another great option for vacationers who are looking to escape the cold. As with Mexico, flights are relatively inexpensive. For instance, a flight from the John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport in New York to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic may cost $303.

However, flights on west coast states such as Washington may be more expensive, as flights are much longer. Vacation destinations in the Caribbean include:

  • Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Located on the eastern edge of the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana is known for its 32 kilometers of beaches and crystal-clear waters. Many visitors tend to spend their entire vacation relaxing on the sand, while others experience outdoor activities such as snorkeling, parasailing, ziplining, horseback riding and taking tours of the nearby Saona Island.
  • San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is the capital of Puerto Rico and the country’s largest city. It features several well-known beaches and has become popular for its nightlife. Famous attractions include the San Juan Bautista Cathedral, the Paseo de la Princesa and the city’s many plazas. In addition, flights to San Juan from the east coast are usually inexpensive and U.S. citizens do not need to bring their passports, as the country is considered a U.S. commonwealth.
  • Eagle Beach, Santa Cruz and Savaneta, Aruba. Aruba is one of the smaller islands in the Caribbean that is well-known for its long, flat beaches and calm waters. Eagle beach, which is just outside of Oranjestad, or the capital, has a variety of resorts and restaurants. Santa Cruz is home to the Arikok National Park, the Fontein Caves inside the park and a donkey sanctuary. Savaneta is a small town in Aruba with popular beaches and luxurious restaurants.
  • Port of Spain and Castara, Trinidad and Tobago. This is a dual-island country off the coast of South America that is also known for its beaches. The Port of Spain, which is the capital and located in Trinidad, hosts the world-famous Carnival celebration each year. Popular attractions in this city include Queen’s Park Savannah, the Emperor Valley Zoo inside the park and the National Museum and Art Gallery. The Castara is a village in Tobago where tourists may relax on the beach, go on glass-bottom boat tours or hike through the nearby Tobago rain forest.

Winter Escapes in the U.S.

When comparing different winter getaways, it is important not to overlook warm-weather destinations inside the United States. Traveling inside the U.S. may be beneficial, because you do not need a passport and flights may be less expensive. Common destinations include:

  • Kailua, Hawaii. This is a town on the island of Oahu in Hawaii which is often visited by tourists because of its beaches and beautiful hikes. Popular beaches such as the Lanikai Beach and the Kailua Beach Park have clear waters and plenty of safe swimming areas. Tourists have the option of taking private tours of the island by kayak or even helicopter. For snacks, trinkets and other shopping, visit downtown Kailua. Additionally, visitors from west-coast states such as Washington and Nevada will have an easier time reaching Hawaii, since flights are less expensive and shorter in time than east-coast flights.
  • San Diego, California. This is a well-known, sprawling city located on the Pacific coast that has a variety of attractions. Tourists from Montana, Idaho, Washington, Nevada and other west-coast states will have a relatively easy time getting to this city. Its most popular attractions include Balboa Park, which features 17 different gardens, the San Diego Zoo, which is inside Balboa Park, the USS Midway Museum and a variety of other outdoor parks and hiking trails. It also has several beaches, such as Mission Bay Park, the Ocean Beach dog beach, Black’s Beach and the Torrey Pines State Beach.
  • Key West, Florida. This is an island city and the southernmost point of the continental United States. It is known for its beauty and many water-based activities, such as snorkeling in coral reefs, fishing and sunset cruises. Popular attractions include the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Mallory Square and Duval Street. Tourists may also visit the marker for the southern-most point. This destination is easily accessible for those who live in an east-coast state, such as New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania. It is also easy to get to from Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.