At the beginning of wintertime, there’s something magical about lighting a few candles, wearing your coziest sweater, and staying in. Invariably, the magic fades and soon you find yourself having trouble remembering what the warmth of the sun feels like, when you last left the house, and if your job will allow you to work remotely from a beach in Thailand. It’s this time during winter that you may want to plan a getaway—so we have five perfect picks for you.
Best known for Disney World (ahem, and Harry Potter World), there is a lot to do in this sunny city whether you’re theme parks are your jam or not. Best of all, prices drop in January so you’ll be able to enjoy your time here on a budget, a major perk if you’re still recovering from holiday gifting. If you’re heading to the theme parks and only have a few days here, our recommendation is to choose a couple of key parks to hit to avoid spending your entire trip rushing around.
There is a lot to do in the city beyond the mouse ears, though! Head to East End Market, a local market and food hub, to sample some of Orlando’s best bites. We recommend Kappo and Lineage Coffee, but there are lots of other spots in the market to sample. Nearby, Park Avenue in Winter Park is home to a countless number of great eateries and shops, including Rifle Paper Co’s headquarters. If you’re hoping for some beach time before you leave, not to fear. You can reach several beaches under an hour from Orlando so a quick trip to the coast is a breeze.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Winter is a great time to hit up this desert city if you’re looking to save a bit. Prices tend to drop a little around this time of year, and it can be a nice pick if you don’t mind cooler temperatures (it does actually get cold here in the winter months, but it’s not nearly as bad as some parts of the U.S.). Though a winter trip here means you’ll miss out on some of the famed pools the city is known for, there are plenty of other options that are equally worthwhile. In addition to the casinos, Las Vegas is home to a number of great spas including Aria and Canyon Ranch.
Long gone are the days of endless buffets in Vegas (though you can still get that, if you want!). There are a number of famed, Michelin star winning chefs that have opened restaurants here in recent years. It won’t come cheap, but there are some seriously splurge-worthy options like Joel Robuchon or Restaurant Guy Savoy.
If you’re winter plans include hopping the pond, consider adding London to your list of travel options. Though the holidays can be exorbitantly expensive in this city, head over after New Year’s to take advantage of lower prices on airfare and hotels. There are significantly less tourists around during the winter months, and you’ll get a chance to explore the sights without dealing with the crowds. Of course, you’ll need to pack a solid jacket and some winter clothes, but if you don’t mind the cool temperatures, it can be a wonderful time to see this incredible, historic city.
We did a roundup of our favorite hidden spots in London earlier, but the list of activities to do in this city is endless. Make sure to take some time to walk along the South Bank, hit up the Tate Modern (and stay for their afternoon tea for great views of the city), stop at one of the city’s many markets, and of course, take some time to explore the culinary scene. Dishoom and Barnyard are two affordable yet delicious options.
Asheville, North Carolina
Though it’s not a large city by any stretch, Asheville packs a punch with it’s vibrant arts, food, and cultural scene. People flock here for the laid-back, friendly community, and you’ll find yourself noticing the vibe here even on a short trip. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city offers a variety of outdoor activities as well, and mountain scenery will have you hooked in no time. Winters are generally mild, and the area has plenty of affordable spots to explore making it an accessible winter getaway for those on the east coast and in the south.
A visit here is not complete without going to the Biltmore, a George Vanderbilt chateau that will have you feeling as though you’ve left North Carolina for France. To get a catch a glimpse of the mountain scenery, drive the Blue Ridge Parkway for stunning views. Be ready to make a few stops as there are several hiking trails along the way as well. In addition to the beautiful outdoors Asheville offers, you have lots of amazing food options including an incredible beer brewing scene. Truly a place where there is something for everyone.
Whistler, British Columbia
There are some of us that use winter vacations solely to escape from the cold to warmer, sunnier climates. There are also those who love every minute of the winter, snow, and low temperatures, and plan vacations around making the most of this time of the year. If the latter sounds like you, Whistler may be the perfect winter destination for you. This ski haven is a perfect spot to head to if you’re after winter sports and beautiful mountain views.
For a place to stay, we recommend the First Tracks Lodge. It boasts an unbeatable mountain location that offers luxurious accommodations with a rustic feel. Take advantage of the on-site spa and restaurants, and when you have your fill, head up to the mountains for a day of skiing. If you are looking for a romantic dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Rim Rock Café. Enjoy a stunning selection of seafood and local game that will challenge you to explore new flavors!
Tell us! What are your travel plans this winter?