While most of us in the US consider the biting cold as part and parcel of our December holiday vacation, those who are cold-averse are just not having it. If you’re not a fan of frosty excursions during the holiday season, there are several warm places to visit in the US during winter that will allow you to take respite from the cold.
From the sun-drenched sands and national parks of California to the canyon-flanked trails of Arizona, here are warm places in the USA you should definitely visit this December.
Eschew your thick and heavy coats in favor of beach sandals and sunglasses – there’s plenty of sunshine where you’re heading!
Table of Contents
- Best Places to Visit in the US in Winter
- San Diego, California
- Sedona, Arizona
- Puerto Rico
- Miami, Florida
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Orlando, Florida
- Savannah, Georgia
- Key West, Florida
- Death Valley National Park
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Tucson, Arizona
- Los Angeles, California
- Austin, Texas
- Palm Springs, California
Best Places to Visit in the US in Winter
San Diego, California
San Diego is a pleasure to visit at any time of year, but it is undoubtedly one of the best warm winter getaways in the United States. It’s the ideal place to get away from the cold with temperatures averaging in the mid-60s.
San Diego’s location on the coast makes it one of the best warm winter vacations for sun lovers and explorers alike. Best of all, you don’t need a car to explore the region!
There are very few reasons to leave the city’s natural beauties, whether you’re trekking along the sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, wandering through Coronado Beach, or appreciating the postcard-worthy splendor of La Jolla Cove.
For more eye candy, head to Balboa Park, the city’s cultural center, and take in the breathtaking scenery while exploring the various theaters, museums, and gardens that make up the 1,200-acre park.
Though it’s enticing to devote your entire holiday exploring, don’t forget to set aside some time for a history lesson in San Diego: there are two well-regarded (and very interactive) museums here that proudly display the city’s military and maritime backgrounds.
You can also consider taking a guided tour to get a local’s viewpoint. A boat tour, Jet Ski adventure, or fishing charter are some of the most exciting ways to see the city from the sea.
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Sedona has one of the finest warm winter vacations in the US, with high temps averaging about 60 degrees! During December, the crowds are thin, costs have dropped, yet the deep red rock scenery remains just as captivating.
Sedona is frequently referred to as one of the most beautiful destinations in the United States. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more vividly colored scenery anywhere else.
For years, artists have been drawn to the towering red cliffs and jagged sandstone buttes set against a perfect blue sky. In addition, films including Midnight Run and Broken Arrow have used these stunning rock formations in Arizona as a background!
But Sedona is more than just red rocks and stunning looks. Spiritualists from the world over have been beckoned time and time again by the numerous New Age “vortexes” in the area, as they believe in their spirit-balancing qualities.
It’s easy to build an exciting Sedona itinerary! As a center for wellness, visitors can spend a day at one of Sedona’s many spas. These extraordinary spas offer traditional treatments with a local twist, such as blue corn body scrubs and red clay wraps.
If you’re looking to relax after a tough day on the trails, head to any of these top-notch spas and pair your treatment with a glass of local wine.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Sedona with Kids
Traveling to Puerto Rico in December is a great idea. The weather is warm and bright, there is little or no rain, and it is not too humid, especially as the month progresses. It’s a great time of year to see some of the island’s many attractions.
Surfers will enjoy 20-foot waves, while families can head to more tranquil and clear waters. Choose between a historical adventure in El Moro and an urban adventure in Calle del Cristo. This warm winter destination offers an exciting combination of settings, from El Yunque’s serpentine jungles to Condado and Crash Boat’s stunning beaches.
The capital city of San Juan is where the majority of visitors arrive in Puerto Rico. If you’re only traveling for a few days, the most convenient option is to stay in Old San Juan. Explore the historic Spanish stronghold, stroll the cobblestone streets, and dine at one of the numerous boutique hotels, restaurants, and shops.
San Juan is the ideal starting point for day tours throughout the island as it’s accessible from almost anywhere on the island. Explore the El Yunque National Rainforest, United States’ only tropical rainforest. Luquillo’s La Pared Beach is a great place to go surfing. Alternatively, go kayaking at night in one of the island’s bioluminescent bays.
Like what you are hearing? Check out our full post on the top things to do in Puerto Rico to make the most of your trip.
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If you’re seeking the best winter destinations in the US for sun, Miami should be at the top of your list. This city located in southeastern Florida holds the title of the hottest city in the US during winter and is endowed with mild weather and sunshine all year.
Temperatures in the winter average at 68°F and there are as few as six rainy days each month, making it one of the best warm winter getaways in the US. It’s the ideal warm retreat during the chilly months of December, January, and February.
Miami is a warm winter destination that holds something for everyone. Those looking for a warm winter vacation can spend their days at the beach, but there are plenty of fun things to do in the city such as street art excursions to informative museums.
The street art at Wynwood is one of the city’s most popular highlights. You may take a guided bike tour to explore as much of the neighborhood while getting a street art scoop from local art enthusiasts.
Meander around Little Havana and learn about the Cuban impact and history. You may also go to Espanola Way if you want to sample some excellent dishes.
This wonderful pedestrian street with a unique Spanish flavor features flamenco dancers and quaint eateries serving great paella and tapas.
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Las Vegas, Nevada
Looking for a warm winter getaway? Las Vegas needs to be on everyone’s travel bucket list, especially when looking for destinations for sunny weather.
For most people, this land of debauchery needs to introduction. Consider a warm winter vacation that includes shopping, gambling, dining, and drinking, with plenty of other activities for bonafide hedonists.
Summer in Sin City might be incredibly hot, so your stay in December will undoubtedly be much more pleasant during the cooler winter months.
When you visit Vegas in January or February, you can expect modest hotel prices and temps in the mid-sixties. But don’t forget to bring a jacket for when the desert evenings get chilly!
People-watching is a must-do in Vegas, and in the mild-weathered months, you can book an outside table along the Strip to witness what the city’s residents and tourists are up to. The terraces of Lavo at the Palazzo and El Segundo Sol are great places to people-watch and eat good food.
Las Vegas is also a wonderful launching point for outdoor activities. Red Rock Canyon is perfect for hiking while Hoover Dam can be explored via helicopter or bus tour. While most visitors think this warm winter vacation spot is only for adults, Las Vegas offers plenty for families: like the Cirque du Soleil concert, the Neon Museum, and the Bellagio Fountain show.
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New Orleans, Louisiana
If you visit New Orleans in the summer, you will be subjected to the oppressive heat. This is why going to New Orleans during the holiday season is such a great idea. Temperatures are in the 60s and 70s, which is ideal for touring historic sites, exploring the outdoors, and dining on balconies.
New Orleans is famed for its European-style architecture, delectable Creole food, and upbeat atmosphere. Music plays an important role in the lives of its residents: be it blues, jazz, Zydeco, or rock ‘n’ roll.
You’ll miss the city’s most popular event, Mardi Gras, if you visit in December, but there’s still a party year-round. You’ll find thrill-seekers spilling out of Bourbon Street clubs into the early hours. Every weekend there’s a festival of some sort happening in some random corner.
Begin your journey with a walking tour of the French Quarter, which is rich in colonial history and ghost stories. You may see the key architectural landmarks from here before having a delicious dinner of jambalaya and a wild night out.
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Those looking for a warm winter getaway should definitely visit Orlando. Three of the most ideal months to visit Orlando are December, January, and February.
Winter in Orlando means colder temperatures, low humidity, and fewer visitors to the amusement parks. If you’re planning to visit the theme parks, avoid weekends and school holidays as the queues will be longer due to everyone wanting to take advantage of the beautiful weather.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of visiting Orlando in December is taking advantage of all of the wonderful things to do there during the holidays. If you’ve always wanted to visit Disney, Orlando is one of the best warm winter vacations in the USA.
Theme parks are at their best during this period as they decorate for the holidays and host a variety of exciting activities. You’ll also get to enjoy free community events, ice skating rinks, with almost every corner decked with Christmas lights.
If you travel during the winter, be sure to explore some of the area’s natural springs. While dipping in the water may feel cold under the scorching summer heat, the cool 70-degree water feels fantastic when it matches the weather’s temperature.
Rent a paddleboard or canoe, or simply go swimming at one of the nearby springs, such as Wekiwa Springs. The city is also one of the cheapest shopping destinations in the United States!
See Related: 30 Fun & Best Things to Do in Orlando, Florida
Aiming to avoid the cold weather? Savannah is a warm and beautiful city located off the coast of Georgia. This coastal city, the oldest in Georgia, is noted for its quaint cobblestone lanes, big oak trees, and majestic Southern mansions — a visit will make you feel like you’re in a period piece film!
Don’t miss the gorgeous Historic District which is especially popular during the Christmas season. The weather in December is normally moderate, so bring a light sweater in case it cools when the sun sets.
Those looking for picturesque sites will find plenty, including the River Street, the Forsyth Park fountain, Bonaventure Cemetery, and the Cathedral St. John the Baptist.
The Olde Pink House is noted for its traditional Southern-style cuisine, including Mac n’ Cheese Poppers, BLT Salad, and a Praline Basket for dessert, but don’t forget to make reservations ahead of time as this establishment tends to get full fast.
A ghost tour is, of course, a must-do on any vacation to Savannah! The city is regarded as one of the most haunted in the United States. Year-round, tours are available, with walking tours being the most frightening.
Whether you’re in town to learn about history, explore the sights, enjoy delicious Southern food, or spend a few evenings bar-hopping, Savannah knows how to have a good time!
Key West, Florida
Ah, Key West! It’s the southernmost point in the continental United States, and it’s the ideal place to beat the winter chill! Key West has plenty to offer for sun lovers, whether you’re planning a cruise that includes Key West, taking a road trip, or just exploring what the island has to offer.
Key West, known for its beautiful beaches and quirky locals who live in the moment, provides a relaxing yet surprising beachside excursion amid warm weather during December.
The residents, lovingly known as Conchs, are known for their free spirit, so might want to get to know them and see where the adventure takes you (possibly on a guided tour or a snorkeling trip).
One thing’s for sure, Key West is always where the party is. and it is, to be sure! plenty of shopping, restaurants, and bars to choose from. Although Smathers Beach is worth a visit, the island does not have many beaches.
Visitors to Key West must never miss the region’s famed key lime pie, and it’s highly advised that you sample it at every restaurant. Other must-dos include visiting the Key West Lighthouse, Mallory Square, Duval Street, and, of course, aquatic sports such as jet skiing and snorkeling.
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Death Valley National Park
If you’re looking for warm places to visit during the winter months, Death Valley National Park’s usually unforgiving heat levels will not disappoint.
While known to many as a hot and hellish landscape, the desert morphs into something more forgivable during the winter months, but it still can be the warmest place in the US during winter!
Temperatures in the winter vary from the mid-60s to the lower 70s, with nightly lows regularly falling into the high 30s.
Winter is the ideal time to visit Death Valley National Park and its hiking trails, thanks to the milder temperatures and clear, bright days. Imagine enjoying warm and dry days with the limitless sun when the rest of the country is shivering!
Winter weather is ideal for hiking paths into the park’s canyons and viewing the park’s unique geology. Along Badwater Road, you’ll discover accessible trailheads, including the renowned Golden Canyon trek, which is only five minutes away.
Winter provides ideal photography opportunities for photographers. Storms off the coast of California send clouds out over the desert, producing an amazing background for photos of Death Valley’s magnificence.
Often touted as the warmest place in America, Phoenix is the place to go if you’re searching for the best winter weather in the US. There are plenty of exciting things to do in “LA without the Pacific,” and you can spend the entire winter outside enjoying the great weather.
The warm weather attracts visitors to Phoenix in December. During the winter months, when much of the country is coated in snow, Phoenix seldom gets below freezing, even at night. Here, you can enjoy the stunning desert environment without having to bundle up!
Phoenix’s winter temperatures are mild, with average highs of 68°F to 76°F and average lows of 44°F to 51°F. Rainfall is sparse, with an inch or less falling on average per month.
Hike in the desert, learn about Mexican and Native American culture, or shop in charming towns, golf on top-notch courses, and get pampered at exquisite spas. There’s something for everyone looking for the best warm winter vacation in Phoenix!
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Tucson has more than 350 days of sunlight every year, making it one of the sunniest cities in the United States. With daytime temperatures seldom falling below the mid-60s, Arizona’s second-largest city is an excellent spot to get away from the cold.
A visit to Saguaro National Park is one of the most popular excursions in Tucson. It features over 30 distinct hiking paths through the Saguaro cacti, making it a great destination to visit in the winter. You could easily spend a day or two touring the park on your own.
Tucson, despite its ever-increasing size, has a small-town feel to it. The Barrio Histórico and the El Presidio Historic District, with its colorful adobe homes and modest stores, provide the impression of being in an old Mexican community.
It’s easy to create a family-friendly itinerary in Tucson. The Pima Air and Space Museum, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, and the Franklin Auto Museum are all places worthy of your list. Wine aficionados will enjoy visiting any of the region’s tasting rooms, such as Sand-Reckoner, or visiting the vineyards around Willcox.
Los Angeles, California
Looking for destinations for sunny weather? The weather in Los Angeles is pleasant all year. The winter months won’t be as hot as the summers, but they’re still pleasant with lots of sunshine.
There’s plenty to do in the City of Angels! Hiking across LA’s rugged environment is the perfect way to get a feel for the city. You’ll get the opportunity to explore nature around the city, engage in some excellent people-watching, and enjoy spectacular views of LA. The colder winter temps mean you won’t be as sweaty, and the hiking trails won’t be as crowded because it’s low season.
The top theme parks in Los Angeles are open all year. In addition, traveling in the winter allows you to experience the attractions and rides without having to deal with long lines. Families will enjoy Disneyland, daredevils will get an adrenaline rush at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and film fans will enjoy Universal Studios Hollywood.
The Los Angeles Zoo changes into a winter paradise every year from November to January. Hundreds of light shows and unique, animal-shaped light sculptures are scattered all throughout the whole zoo, complete with music and projections.
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Austin is a massive music city and one of the best warm winter vacation spots in the United States. With comparatively mild weather and typical highs in the 60s, this is a warm weather winter getaway that’s perfect for every family.
Austin dubbed the “Live Music Capital of the World,” has more live music venues per capita than any other city in the United States. Several prominent musicians, including Janis Joplin, the Dixie Chicks, and Stevie Ray Vaughan began their careers here.
Despite its rapid expansion in recent years, Austin retains a unique, laid-back vibe that you won’t find in other Texas towns.
The outdoorsy will find plenty of activities to choose from! For paddleboarding or picnics, visit one of Austin’s many lakes. Lady Bird Lake, Lake Austin, Lake Travis, and Barton Springs Lake have their own set of unique sights and water activities to offer!
If you’re looking for a good time, head to Rainey Street or 6th Street for live music, karaoke, dancing, and as many bars as you can fit into one night!
Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is a good place to go if you want to relax and focus on your well-being. This Southern California desert city offers one of the best warm winter vacations in the US with its towering palm trees, adventurous outdoor experiences, beautiful poolside cabanas, and modern restaurants.
With highs in the mid-70s, spending the day outside during the winter is a real treat! Some of the best things to do in Palm Springs include exploring the hiking trails of Joshua Tree National Park on a jeep excursion or taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for breathtaking views of the valley from over 8,000 feet.
Desert vistas and spectacular sunsets are the names of the game here. From retirees to hipsters and LGBT couples, the city’s pools, spas, and nightclubs are drawing a diverse range of visitors.
If you’re going on day trips, you won’t be disappointed. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, as well as the Coachella Valley Preserve, are just a few of the attractions in the neighboring Coachella Valley.
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