Winter comes in two phases: The first is full of holiday parties, gifts, steaming mugs of hot cider, and a champagne cheers at midnight; the second is characterized by cumbersome coats, slushy snow, barren streets, and frozen sidewalks. During the holidays, it's hard to imagine you'd ever tire of the cold, but trust us, it will come—making now the perfect time to anticipate a warm-weather vacation.
Whether you have a week or a weekend to spare, there are a ton of destinations that beckon with pristine beaches, clear lapping water, and a warm, temperate climate. Just choose the length of your sojourn, and we'll take care of the rest. Put in your notice and pack your bikini—these rejuvenating vacations are the perfect antidote to a long winter.
Destination: Traveling on a tight timeframe? East Coast residents should jet to Florida to soak up some warmth for the weekend. For a Bahamas-like vacation (minus the customs queues), drive to Key West for saturated azure water that'll make you believe you're far, far away.
Forecast: Clear and 65 degrees.
Destination: Winter is the best time to plan a trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, when temperatures rest at a pleasant 65 to 70 degrees rather than the scorching 100s reached in peak summer. Scottsdale boasts the state's top golf resorts as well as Camelback Mountain, the stunning natural formation that cuts across the horizon.
Forecast: Clear and 66°F.
First Stop: Be sure to visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and dedicate a day to hike in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
Destination: Rio de Janeiro beckons with its expansive beaches, pulsing nightlife, and booming cultural scene. The bustling seaside city has undergone massive changes since the Olympic Games, and now is the time to visit.
Forecast: Sunny and 79 degrees.
Destination: Antigua has 365 beaches—one for every day of the year, according to local folklore. The relatively flat island has a different landscape than its volcanic Caribbean neighbors, and it's only a four-hour flight away from the U.S.'s East Coast.
Forecast: Sunny and 78 degrees, with minimal rainfall—the dry season falls between December and May.
First Stop: Head straight to the beach. Hermitage Bay is the perfect secluded slice of paradise to relax and swim. Then drive to Shirley Heights before sunset for a spectacular view over English Harbor.
Thinking of embracing the cold instead? These dreamy snow-covered destinations will tempt you.
Destination: Cartegena, Colombia, boasts balmy weather year-round and isn't as far away as you might expect. Admire the colonial architecture in town, before taking a boat to a nearby island.
Forecast: Clear and 86 degrees.
First Stop: This is the place to sample ceviche. Reserve a table at La Cevicheria for an unforgettable meal.
Going the Distance
Destination: It's a serious commitment to fly to Australia—it takes 15 hours nonstop from Los Angeles—but as soon as you wiggle your toes in the sand at one of Sydney's picturesque beaches, you'll realize it's worthwhile. The thriving coastal city comes alive in summer, with natural ocean swimming pools, stunning coast walks, unmatched seafood, and buzzing sunset bars.
Forecast: Sunny and 78 degrees—after all, it's the middle of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.
First Stop: Wake up early to tread the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk, and then sample fresh seafood at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, which has one of the most Instagrammable swimming pools in the world. Add The Grounds of Alexandria and Bread & Circus to your brunch list—the dishes are world-class.
Extend your vacation with a trip to Byron Bay, a bohemian beach town with laid-back bars and stellar beaches.
Destination: Thailand is abundant with karst islands and glistening beaches, but if you can spare the time, Koh Tao, should be at the top of your list. Literally translating to "turtle island" because of its shape and once thriving turtle population, Koh Tao's relaxed, bohemian vibe will leave you feeling truly restored.
Forecast: Clear and 84 degrees.
First Stop: Charter a boat to Koh Nang Yuan, a tiny island that sits off its coast with one of the most idyllic sand spits in the world. Climb to the lookout before crowds arrive for the perfect postcard snap.
Prefer to embrace the chill? These seven winter vacations are calling your name.