Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January
Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Palm Springs Perfection: Soak Up the Sun in this Stylish California Oasis
Palm Springs has long been a playground for the rich and famous, with its stunning mountain backdrop, swanky midcentury modern architecture, and perpetually sunny weather. This chic desert oasis provides the perfect warm winter escape, especially when much of the rest of the country is buried under snow.
Temperatures in Palm Springs hover in the 70s and 80s even in January, making it ideal for lounging poolside at one of the city's many luxurious resorts. The massive JW Marriott Desert Springs is particularly indulgent, with swimming pools, spas, golf courses, and even a lazy river. Or check into the historic Parker Palm Springs which oozes Old Hollywood glamour. Its expansive palm tree-filled grounds and delightful courtyard firepits are straight out of a movie set.
Beyond sunbathing and pool hopping, Palm Springs offers boundless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Hike through palm oases in Indian Canyons and look for petroglyphs left behind by Native Americans. Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up Chino Canyon for spectacular views atop Mount San Jacinto. And bike or walk through Coachella Valley Preserve to spot rare wildlife like bighorn sheep and roadrunners.
After an active day under the desert sun, Palm Springs comes alive at night with its vibrant food and drink scene. Sip craft cocktails and dine al fresco at hip restaurants like Mr. Lyons Steakhouse and Farm. Check out buzzy bars like Seymour's and Village Pub for live music, dancing, and mingling with locals. Or take in Palm Spring's iconic midcentury modern architecture on a guided tour followed by sunset cocktails on a rooftop patio.
What else is in this post?
- Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Palm Springs Perfection: Soak Up the Sun in this Stylish California Oasis
- Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Miami Vice: Art Deco Glamour and Tropical Temperatures Await in South Florida
- Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - San Diego: Whale Watch and Surf as Temperatures Stay Pleasantly Mild
- Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Puerto Vallarta: Margaritas and Beach Bliss on Mexico's Pacific Coast
- Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Costa Rica Calls: Jungle Treks and Surf Towns with Little Need for Jackets
- Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Grand Cayman: Dive and Dine Surrounded by Turquoise Waters
- Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Key West: Quirky, Artsy Island Life at the Edge of the Caribbean
Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Miami Vice: Art Deco Glamour and Tropical Temperatures Await in South Florida
While much of the country is shivering through frigid January temps, Miami enjoys pleasant highs in the mid 70s along with plenty of sunshine. This tropical city is the perfect warm weather escape to leave winter behind.
Miami is renowned for its colorful Art Deco architecture, and a walking tour through the historic Art Deco district in South Beach is a must for soaking in the city's retro vibe. The pastel-hued hotels with neon accents transport you back to Miami's glory days in the 1930s. Ocean Drive is the place to admire these iconic buildings. Stop for an ice cream at the soda fountain counter inside the 11th Street Diner, which has kept its old-school Art Deco style. Then stroll the Miami Design Preservation League's Art Deco Welcome Center to learn more about the Art Deco movement.
In addition to building gazing, some of the best activities in Miami take advantage of the warm tropical climate. Mix sun and surf at South Beach where the miles of white sand beach dotted with swaying palms and vibrant beach umbrellas beckon. Rent a bike and cruise along the oceanfront boardwalk to feel the breeze in your hair. Paddle board or kayak through the tranquil waters of Biscayne Bay to spot dolphins and get a new perspective on downtown.
The beach isn't the only place to soak up the sun - Miami's hotel pools offer another way to lounge poolside in an Instagram-worthy setting. Make a splash down the water slides and relax in cabanas at the Fontainebleau, an iconic 1950s resort, or hang in the infinity pools overlooking Biscayne Bay at the Mandarin Oriental. Many hotels let you buy a day pass to use the pool and amenities without booking an overnight stay.
While Miami steams with heat, its food scene sizzles too. For Cuban flavor, devour roast pork sandwiches and sweet plantains at classic joints like Versailles restaurant, or try modern interpretations at hip places like Dizengoff. Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood tempts with Haitian dishes like griot with pikliz. Seafood stars at restaurants where you can dine dockside like Garcia's and Hawks Cay. And Miami's multicultural vibe means you can try Peruvian ceviche, Argentinian steaks, and Colombian arepas all in the same day.
Beyond sunshine, surf, eats and pastel paradise, Miami offers one-of-a-kind experiences like no other American city. Dance the night away at funky Miami clubs pumping with Latin music and laser lights. Experience the ultra exclusive world of a super yacht by booking a sailing tour. Drive super cars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris on real race tracks. Even swim with dolphins in their natural habitat.
Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - San Diego: Whale Watch and Surf as Temperatures Stay Pleasantly Mild
With daily highs hovering in the 60s and plenty of sunshine, San Diego enjoys mild weather even in the dead of winter. There's no better place to escape the frigid temperatures across much of the country and thaw out in the pleasant coastal climate of Southern California.
In San Diego you can enjoy outdoor activities year-round, from surfing and sunbathing to whale watching tours and hiking. The temperate weather means the ocean stays swimmable, unlike the frigid waters of the Northeast and Northwest in winter. Rent a surfboard and wetsuit for an hour or a day and catch some waves at popular beach breaks like Tourmaline Surf Park and Swami's. Take lessons if you're a beginner looking to learn. Surfing icon Rob Machado runs a top-rated surf school at Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
Further offshore, another ocean dweller puts on a show each winter - California gray whales make their annual migration south to the warm birthing lagoons of Baja California. From December through March, multiple tour operators like Flagship Cruises, H&M Landing, and Adventure Rib Rides offer whale watching cruises to see these magnificent marine mammals in the wild as they pass by San Diego. Feast your eyes on their massive silhouettes just beyond the surf, and watch spouts of mist shoot into the air as they surface to breathe. The abundance of whale sightings so close to shore makes San Diego one of the best spots for whale watching in all of California.
Back on land, San Diego invites exploration of its spectacular natural scenery. Walk among the whimsical sandstone formations of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Trek through waterfalls and swimming holes in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. Meander Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to witness fields of desert blooms after rare rainfalls. Or hike the coastal bluffs and look for breaching whales below at Torrey Pines State Beach.
Beyond nature adventures, attractions like the birch aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the museums of Balboa Park immerse you in science, art, and culture. And San Diego’s incredible culinary scene means you’ll eat very well between outdoor excursions. Dig into fish tacos, California burritos overflowing with french fries, and craft beer pairings in the hip brewery-filled neighborhoods of North Park and Little Italy.
Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Puerto Vallarta: Margaritas and Beach Bliss on Mexico's Pacific Coast
With temps topping 80 degrees in January, Puerto Vallarta serves up plenty of sunshine and beach bliss to cure any winter blues. Located on Mexico's Pacific coast in the state of Jalisco, PV has been luring snowbirds for decades with its scenic beaches, laidback vibes, and thriving food and nightlife scene.
PV boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Mexico. Playa de los Muertos is the classic beach backdrop, with golden sand and calm blue waters ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Hike from the south end to reach secluded coves tucked into the coastal cliffs. North of town, destress with sunrise yoga on Playa Camarones before a beach stroll. Or head south to the remote beaches of Mismaloya and Yelapa accessible only by boat.
Margaritas and Mexican fare go hand in hand with PV's beach culture. From streetside taco stands to gourmet restaurants, savor authentic flavors like fresh ceviche, mole sauce, and of course tacos al pastor. For killer views with your guac and margarita, hit up beach restaurants like Pedro's or Siesta with prime seats right in the sand. Or soak up the gentle ocean breeze over rooftop cocktails and globally inspired eats at Mantamar Beach Club.
Beyond lounging with lots of limon, PV tempts with a slew of activities. Charter a private yacht for sailing, snorkeling, and dolphin watching. Zip line and ATV through the jungle with thrilling guided tours. Swim with dolphins and sea lions, or get up close to humpbacks and whale sharks on a whale watching cruise during peak migration. Play a round of golf on championship courses with stunning ocean panoramas. For more chill vibes, drift along on a relaxing catamaran cruise, or simply stroll the seaside malecon people watching.
At night, PV comes alive with entertainment. Wander the malecón sampling street food and enjoying free concerts and shows. Dance and mingle at open air beach clubs and rooftop lounges with DJs and signature cocktails. Take in artistic performances like the Ballet Folklorico. Or sit back seaside and watch the sunset with a margarita in hand - the classic PV activity that never gets old.
Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Costa Rica Calls: Jungle Treks and Surf Towns with Little Need for Jackets
For travelers seeking warmer temperatures and adventure in the heart of winter, Costa Rica hits a tropical sweet spot. Average highs hover in the 80s along the coasts in January, with cooler mountain towns still enjoying mild 60 to 70 degree weather. The perpetually warm climate means prime conditions year-round for Costa Rica's star outdoor attractions - beach lounging, jungle trekking, and surfing epic breaks.
On the Pacific coast, beach towns like Jacó and Tamarindo serve up surfing by day and lively nightlife after dark. Venture south to the remote Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park for a true jungle immersion, teeming with wildlife like monkeys, sloths, and macaws. The Northern Lowlands offer volcanoes and hot springs with hiking trails and bubbling geothermal pools to soak in.
For many, the beaches are the main draw. Along the Nicoya Peninsula, beach communities from Nosara to Sámara offer world-class surfing, yoga retreats, and a laid-back vibe. Surf beginners can take lessons right on the sand and progress to riding waves in warm, gentle surf. Nosara boasts a sizable expat community and a nature preserve whose trails access the area's most secluded beaches. Beautiful Sámara charms with swaying palms along a straight 2-mile stretch of sand. Surrounded by jungle, it's the quintessential Costa Rican beach town.
On the Caribbean side, Cahuita National Park protects some of Costa Rica's most pristine beaches where you might spot sloths in the trees and monkeys racing overhead. Puerto Víquez seduces with a sleepy Afro-Caribbean vibe, reggae bars, and boat tours through jungle canals. For total tranquility, relax in rustic beach bungalows around Punta Uva and Manzanillo, where the protected reef offshore offers stellar snorkeling in bath-like water.
Inland from the beaches, misty cloud forests thrive at higher elevations. Around Monteverde and Santa Elena, explore these epiphyte-laden forests on ziplines, canopy tours and suspension bridges. Get eye level with the colorful quetzal bird on guided hikes through the area's extensive nature preserves. Learn about sustainably grown coffee at local fincas. Or simply enjoy splendid cloud forest vistas along scenic drives.
Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Grand Cayman: Dive and Dine Surrounded by Turquoise Waters
With an average high of 81 degrees in January, Grand Cayman island boasts balmy tropical weather perfect for exploring its world-class beaches, diving sites and culinary scene. This petite British Overseas Territory, located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, enchants visitors with its laid-back Caribbean vibes, luxury resorts and the bluest of blue waters surrounding its shores.
Grand Cayman lures divers from across the globe with its spectacular underwater sights accessible right from shore. At places like Stingray City Sandbar, snorkel and dive with southern stingrays that swarm around you almost begging to be pet. Swim through shipwrecks and reef walls with plunging drop-offs into the abyss that leave you awestruck. The island’s most iconic dive site, the Kittiwake wreck, invites exploration of a recently sunk 253-foot submarine rescue vessel now home to thriving marine life. Having dove all over the world, many consider Grand Cayman one of the top spots thanks to exceptional visibility, diversity of sea creatures and sites catering to all experience levels.
When not diving and snorkeling, beach bumming ranks high on any Grand Cayman itinerary. Seven Mile Beach impresses with its uninterrupted stretch of powder soft sand and calm, crystal clear waters in shades of azure and turquoise. Lined with palm trees providing natural shade, it’s an idyllic setting for relaxing and taking in those jaw-dropping Caribbean Sea vistas. Further enhance the indulgence with beach cabana service offering food and drinks delivered right to your lounge chair.
After an active day of underwater adventures or simply soaking up the sun, Grand Cayman tempts with outstanding dining options to refuel. Freshly caught seafood stars at oceanfront restaurants like the Lobster Pot and Sunset House, where you dine with your toes in the sand. Sample upscale takes on local cuisine at farm-to-table eateries like Agua and Point Grace's Coccoloba Farm Grill. Or experience one of Grand Cayman's famous Rum Point beach barbecues featuring a spread of grilled mahi-mahi, coconut shrimp, ribs and more.
Winter Escapes: 10 Sunny Cities to Thaw Out in This January - Key West: Quirky, Artsy Island Life at the Edge of the Caribbean
With average temperatures in the mid 70s, Key West enjoys gloriously warm weather in January, making it a delightful sunny escape from winter's chill. Located at the southernmost tip of the Florida Keys island chain just 90 miles from Cuba, Key West prides itself on its offbeat, eccentric vibe with a dose of tropical charm.
Nicknamed "The Conch Republic," Key West revels in its funky free spirit attitude. The streets are filled with quirky art studios, bohemian clothing boutiques, and Pepto pink architecture that reflects the island's Bahamian influence. Bars like Sloppy Joe's that claim to have invented the margarita add to the festive, anything-goes atmosphere, as do the 600-plus six-toed cats that roam freely around Hemingway's former home.
Key West is synonymous with arts and culture. Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, and other writers and artists have long found inspiration here. Follow the Key West Literary Seminar each January to hear prominent authors examine literary topics at close range. Take a deep dive into Key West's creative heritage on the self-guided Key West Writers Tour that stops at former abodes of literary luminaries. Time visits to coincide with monthly gallery nights like the Bahama Village Art Walk to hobnob with local artists.
There's an intimacy to island life in Key West, from chatting up the baristas at your local coffee shop to meeting fellow travelers on Duval Street's sunny verandas. Locals embrace the island's original "One Human Family" philosophy promoted in the 1890s, characterized by openness, equality and acceptance. Key West's size fosters a sense of community - just 25,000 residents call it home.