Traveling domestically during the wintertime can be a planning challenge. Lots of cities that are delightful in the warmer months are gray, cold messes in the wintertime. Planning a weekend getaway within the United States can be difficult when so many iconic cities like Chicago, Seattle and Boston are just nasty no-go zones during the winter.
That doesn't make your need for a vacation any less urgent though! So here are five destinations, some cold-weather, some warm, that are actually nicer to visit in the winter than in the summertime.
Summer and fall in the Big Easy are best avoided. These months are mostly known for oppressive humidity and the occasional hurricane blowing through town, while February to May means cooler weather (averages in the mid 60's and 70's), and less rain. It's easy to enjoy New Orleans’ storied streets if you're not sweating buckets.
Another bonus to visiting in the winter months? New Orleans’ famous festivals. There is Mardi Gras of course, usually around late February (depending on the start of Lent) as well as the New Orleans Jazz Festival and the French Quarter Festival. Do know that these times of year can be extremely crowded and popular for visitors, with hotel rooms booking up months, if not years in advance. If you're looking for less competition and lower prices, aim for a December or January visit.
The Salt Lake City area is pretty, if blisteringly hot, in the summertime, but winter is when the area truly shines. While temperatures in the city are fairly mild, head up into the mountains for world class skiing and snowboarding. Salt Lake has recently nicknamed itself Ski City USA, and has 8 major ski resorts within a 1-hour drive of downtown including Park City, Snowbird, Alta and Brighton. Each resort has it's own personality and clientele so do some research to see what fits your style. For non-skiers there is a variety of shopping, culture and nightlife in town to keep you entertained.
Hawaii is an amazing escape from cold winter weather. The long flight time and tropical atmosphere make it difficult to believe you are still in the US at all. Plus, winter is the ideal time to visit Hawaii. Summer months are extremely warm and humid - too hot for hiking or exploring. Meanwhile winter is slightly cooler, with better waves for surfing and, although it is technically rainy season, the rain never lasts for long.
Winter is also high season in Hawaii, which can mean higher prices for flights and hotels. If you're on a budget consider sticking close to shoulder season or at least avoiding major holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day.
Phoenix and neighboring Scottsdale and Tempe are oases in a very real desert climate. Summers are seriously, almost unbearably, hot, with daily averages well above 100 degrees. The months of November through April however are just about ideal with temperatures in the 60's and 70's and blue sky for miles. This is the ideal time to partake in the area's many outdoor activities, including golfing, shopping and relaxing by the pool at one of the many high-end resorts.
Okay, Denver is a lovely city to visit any time of year, but the winter months are when this gateway to the Rockies truly shines. The Mile High city is usually blanketed in sparkling snow and there are tons of events ranging from Winter Brew Fest to snow covered concerts at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater.
The real draw of course, is the skiing, and Denver is the starting point for reaching many incredible and beautiful ski towns including Aspen, Breckenridge and Keystone.
What’s your favorite wintertime destination?
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Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She's lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Why Wait To See The World? (formerly Twenty-Something Travel). Follow Stephanie on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.
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