From Hawaiian Havens to Haunted History, You’ll Find It Here
Need to unplug after the holiday rush? We feel you. And if you’ve had enough of the chill, we’re with you there too. We love an outing in the snow, but really—isn’t the best part of a winter break escaping the cold? So pack your shorts, grab your family, and head to one of these warm-weather locales for a winter getaway that’s sure to recharge your batteries. Piña coladas on the beach, award-winning golf greens, military battlefields. Check, check, and check.
The Tropical: Oʻahu, HI
Feel the Hawaiian breeze on your skin as you plant an umbrella in the sand and get ready to catch some Oʻahu sun. You can’t go wrong with any of the island’s beaches, but for the family-friendly factor, we recommend Sans Souci/Kaimana in Waikīkī, for its shallow waters and great snorkeling, and the 4,000-acre Kualoa Regional Park, where you’ll find dedicated picnic areas and camping options.
Your Hawaiian getaway doesn’t have to be all lazing on the beach. Explore Oʻahu’s terrain astride a horse at Kuaola Ranch or on an aerial tour by Paradise Helicopters. Take the adventure up a notch by hiking the Lēʻahi volcanic crater (Diamond Head), and then bring things down with dinner at a traditional island luau, complete with kalua pig and poi.
Add a layer of Disney magic to your trip at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, where your stay includes family and kid’s club activities, or book the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikīkī Beach Resort, which has its own five-acre saltwater lagoon perfect for family rec.
The Classic: Scottsdale, AZ
Known worldwide for its golf game, Scottsdale is a luxury oasis in the Sonoran Desert. Besides the gorgeous greens at courses like Troon North and Grayhawk, the city features nine walkable neighborhoods in its historic center. But why walk when you can ride? JoyRidesAZ offers guided tours on street-legal golf carts, hitting whatever Old Town highlights you choose, whether that’s margaritas and tacos, brew samples, or local history.
For outdoor adventuring, explore the desert with an off-road tour or on a hot-air balloon for a bird’s-eye view. You can get a more curated take on native flora and fauna on a family nature walk at the Desert Botanical Garden. For an architectural icon in tune with nature, tour Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home.
In early winter, the Holiday Lights festival at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park lets kids enjoy train rides, a model train display, and thousands of dazzling lights. The Parada Del Sol Parade & Trail’s End Festival, held each February, showcases the world’s longest horse-drawn parade and follows it up with one heck of a block party filled with street vendors and live music.
Great stays await at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, which offers pools with kid-friendly features and a Trailblazers Kids Club, and the Scottsdale Plaza Resort & Villas, where you can enjoy mountain views and quick access to championship golf courses.
The Easygoing: Laguna Beach, CA
Lean into the laid-back vibe of Laguna Beach, set on a seven-mile coast of marine protected area that allows nature to flourish. Explore caves and tide pools dotted along the shore, or take your kids into the water for skimboarding. January and February are some of the best times for whale watching in SoCal, and Newport Landing offers whale and dolphin tours sure to be a favorite memory of your trip.
Roam the city’s 20,000 acres of green space, where you can hike, bike, or ride horses on sandy trails with gorgeous coastal views. You can find great trails at both Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (which includes the Laurel Canyon Trail). For quality accommodations with easy access to the sand and surf, stay at the five-star Montage Laguna Beach or the boutique Capri Laguna on the Beach.
The Tried and True: Orlando, FL
You know we had to list it. Packed with great vacation activities, Orlando is a perfect place to warm up on a winter holiday, even if you’re not tackling the major theme parks. Gear up for aerial outdoor adventures with Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding Flight Park, or bike on the 22-mile West Orange Trail (a nature lover’s dream) with a rental from Bikes and Blades.
If you want to skip the beach scene but still enjoy the water, check out the many area lakes. Glide past lakefront mansions and swaying cypresses on a boat tour in Winter Park, and then light out on a paddleboard or clear kayak for a Night Glow Tour of Lake Ivanhoe.
In the upscale Park Avenue District, you can book a private fitting at John Craig while your partner takes the kids to a museum or the botanical gardens. Afterward, meet up to sample libations at the award-winning Wine Room or get silly sips for the kids at Rocket Fizz Soda Shop.
If you’re planning to take in Disney as well, the Waldorf Astoria Orlando offers Disney View guest rooms, early park entry, and free shuttle service to and from the parks. Also near the Disney action, the four-star Grove Resort & Water Park Orlando features a heated water park with a Flowrider® double surf simulator and a lazy river.
The Historic: San Antonio, TX
The Alamo put San Antonio in the history books, and its battlefield, church, and museum exhibits are definitely must-sees when visiting this Texas town. But from its widely popular River Walk downtown to its theme parks, San Antonio offers so much more for winter travelers.
Peruse the artisan and novelty vendors lining the San Antonio River, and visit the Historic Market Square, where you’ll find over 100 locally owned shops celebrating Mexican culture. While you’re near the river, grab an alfresco lunch or dinner at Zocca, Casa Rio, or Biga on the Banks.
Want a spine-tingling history lesson? Take your family on an award-winning ghost tour of the city. For thrills of a less-creepy nature, Six Flags Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld San Antonio are both less than a half-hour from downtown. For quality stays within walking distance of attractions like the Alamo and downtown, book at The Westin Riverwalk, San Antonio or the Riverwalk Plaza Hotel.
If the winter chill has your family frozen in place, these great destinations are the perfect place to unthaw and make some memories that’ll keep you warm till spring.