For those who hate snow and frost, winter makes the perfect time for going on a warm-weather getaway. Whether you're looking for wildlife experiences, beaches, wine country, cooking safaris, or otherworldly scenery, you can find it even in the dead of winter. To help you plan your trip, here are five spectacular destinations - located both near and far - to help you escape the cold this winter.
The Cayman Islands
For those who want lots of sun and hot weather with temperatures in the high 80's, the Cayman Islands are a great destination in the winter (although be prepared for high prices due to others escaping to the Caribbean for the season). If you're willing to pay a bit more and can book a few months in advance, it can be worth it. Soak up the sun and snorkel on Seven Mile Beach (often touted as the Caribbean's best stretch of coastline), meet local turtles at Boatswain's Beach Turtle Farm, hike in the Mastic Reserve (one of the few places in the Caribbean where you'll find dry, subtropical, semi deciduous dry woodland), and go diving at one of 365+ dive sites - one for every day of the year. Make sure to savor the local delicacy of lionfish, as this is an invasive species in Caribbean waters and is killing native fish and corals. You can go on a lionfish cull or simply dine at a restaurant like Michaels Genuine or The Southern Cross Club. Keep in mind, if you'd like to escape even farther Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are also full of nature and water activities.
Kangaroo Island, Australia
For those wanting to escape the cold this winter, Kangaroo Island conveniently has temperatures in the mid 70's - not to mention beaches, wildlife safaris, and tons of eco-friendly experiences. If you've got cash to burn, staying at Southern Ocean Lodge is a must, as you can sip wine in your standalone tub or on your private deck, and watch dolphins swimming in the ocean below. For a tour tailored to your interests, Exceptional Kangaroo Island specializes in customized tours - although you're also welcome to choose one of their special tours like the Food Safari, Island Life, and Art of Nature. Make sure to visit Flinders Chase National Park, home to an enormous colony (about 7,000!) of New Zealand fur-seals and a bizarre outcropping of Remarkable Rocks, and Seal Bay with its approximately 1,000 Australian sea lions. Wine tasting, visiting white sand beaches like Vivonne Bay and Stokes Bay, shipwreck diving, and savoring the world's only pure Ligurian honey at Cliffords Honey Farm - home to delicious honey ice cream - are other excellent warm-weather winter activities.
Temecula is a true getaway, and is perfect for winter travelers who aren't looking to bake in the sun but are sick of winter coats and shoveling snow. Even in January you'll get temperatures reaching 70 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning you can comfortably explore wine country. Temecula has over 30 wineries, with the main grapes being Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. One can take a wine tour with Grapeline Wine Tours or to go riding through the vines with Wine Country Trails by Horseback. Another reason to visit Temecula is its charming Old Town, which has existed since 1882 and today features small mom-and-pop businesses and restaurants, for a true dose of local culture (especially if you see a country music show at the Stampede Theater!). Just a one-hour drive away is San Diego, where you can explore the craft beer scene and parks, as well as Carlsbad, a beach resort city full of farm-to-fork dining options, nature reserves, bike trails, hiking paths, and, of course, the beach. You're also not far from the resorts and beautiful beaches of Palm Springs or the hiking offerings of the famous Joshua Tree National Park. Rent a car and explore as much as you can.
September through February is the best time to visit Argentina Patagonia, as this is their spring and summer. The weather is mild, meaning you can partake in the myriad outdoor and adventure activities without being uncomfortable. Some top experiences include hiking the Perito Moreno Glacier (for this you will want to bundle up!), trekking Mount Fitz Roy for otherworldly scenery, seeing the Magellan Penguins of Punta Tombo, whale watching (from July until December) in Pennsula Valds, sailing the Beagle Channel like Charles Darwin, and completing the Seven Lakes Circuit extending from Bariloche to the Andes foothills. Travelers should also set aside time for cultural experiences like watching or dancing tango, sipping mate (a hot caffeinated beverage composed of dried leaves) out of a gourd, savoring a delicious asado (Argentinian barbecue) dinner, and visiting some of the local cultural museums.
Cape Town, South Africa
In December in Cape Town, daily high temperatures reach the mid- to high- 70's Fahrenheit. There are many fun experiences, and we recommend that you hike or take a cable car up to the top of Table Mountain - one of the New 7 Wonders of the World - for aerial views of the Atlantic Ocean, Table Bay, Robben Island, the Cape Flats, Devil's Peak mountains, and beyond. To immerse yourself in local culture, booking an experience like learning the art of Malay cooking on a cooking safari, partaking in a beading workshop, or learning to bake bread in the winelands with Andulela is a must, as the company is passionate about connecting visitors with locals to see the real Cape Town. Speaking of winelands, Cape Town is about a 30-minute drive from Constantia, home to some of the country's best cool climate Sauvignon Blanc. And for those who want a safari experience, Aquila Private Game Reserve is about 90 minutes from Cape Town and is home to the Big Five - the lion, buffalo, leopard, elephant, and rhino - as well as other exotic wildlife.
Where do you like to go to escape the winter cold?