By now, the weather has really started to pick up and change its face, going from the sweltering heat of late summer to the bitter chill biting on the edge of the breeze, frost nipping at your morning windows, and the trees are becoming quickly barren. Not everyone can stand this winter gloom and we understand. Sometimes you just have to get out and trade in the weather for brighter days and warmer climates. So when you're feeling a little S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), just pack a bag and trade in the weather for something better!
Luaus and Leis and Volcanoes, Oh My!
Yeah, that's right, Hawaii! Our first destination on this list is none other than the subtropical archipelago of the Hawaiian islands. Totaling six major islands and innumerable beaches, natural wonders, and attractions, Hawaii can keep you occupied for a lifetime let alone a winter getaway. Start at the Big Island and see the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park where you can see the largest subaerial volcano in the world and one of the world's most active, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. From there, visit Oahu and the capital city of Honolulu to see Pearl Harbor, the 'Iolani Palace, and Diamond Head. The other islands grant access to stunning natural wonders and an abundance of outdoor recreation.
Sun, Sun, Sunny San Diego!
I have a soft spot in my heart for San Diego with its endless warm weather, bright sun, marine wildlife, and smiles all around. The city finds winter weather easy to manage and can even find temperatures surpassing 70 degrees but the crowds still remain thin, making touring the San Diego Zoo a breeze. San Diego is a leader in tourism not only for its wonderful attractions but also for its public transportation system, warm weather, history, and its reputation as one of the safest and cleanest cities in America. SeaWorld, Balboa Park, Old Town San Diego, La Jolla Cove, and more await your touring student group with open arms.
Boiling, Beautiful Deserts of the American Southwest
When you're freezing in other parts of the U.S., the southwest and its vast deserts start to look pretty inviting. While they're too hot to visit during the summer months, cities like Phoenix and Albuquerque make great winter destinations. Surrounded by red deserts, clay mountains, canyons, and the endless horizon, these American Southwest cities have the perfect climate to enjoy outdoor recreation like hiking, rock climbing, or even just golf. Tour the historic sites, visit museums on Native American, Old West, and Gold Rush history, find yourself in the oldest churches in the U.S. and much more!
Plantations, Parties, and Gumbo in N'Orleans
Mmm mm, southern cooking! Just taste that gumbo, red beans and rice, and beignets steaming in the crisp Louisiana air. A food tour of New Orleans would not be the worst thing in the world and it would be a great excuse to get out and see the Big Easy! Wind your way from the French Quarter to Jackson Square, see the monuments, museums, and St. Louis Cathedral before heading on to the opulent mansions and plantations of the Garden District. New Orleans has a lot to see and it's not shy about showing you. Warm weather make exploring the nationally acclaimed Audubon Zoo a treat although you can also enjoy shopping along Bourbon Street, touring Voodoo museums and shops, and listening to pop up street jazz performances.
Disney It Up!
Either Disney destination would grant you nice weather and a sunny disposition but let's talk about Orlando for a moment. Florida is notoriously nice for winter escapees and has been the go-to destination for generations. Orlando itself is perfect during the winter months and the parks that make it so popular are generally in a low season from New Year's to Valentines Day. Walt Disney World is absolutely amazing, especially with off season pricetags and fewer crowds, but if you want more than one park, check out Universal Studios and their fantastic Wizarding World of Harry Potter park as well. The weather may not be warm enough for the beach but it's perfect for playing around the parks.
Howdy Pardner, Welcome to the Ole West
There are several cities that fit the bill as belonging to the Old West, many of which have a curious and rough history. Two that spring to mind, that are still in existence, are Tombstone, Arizona, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The first was, after its founding, quickly nicknamed "The Town Too Tough to Die" because of its lawless population, gunfights, and outlaws like the Earps, Doc Holliday, and others. Santa Fe, on the other hand, is the second oldest city in the country founded by Europeans back in 1607 on land claimed by Coronado more than sixty years prior. The "Kingdom of New Mexico" had a varied past that was not so different from Tombstone. Both cities are still around, both offering warm weather getaways and historic sites, but beware the ghosts of outlaws!
Texas Charm, Mexico Spirit
People swear up and down that San Antonio is the place to be to escape the bitter winters of Middle America. Close enough to Mexico to have that spice, culture, and flavor but firmly rooted in the patriotic and prideful Republic of Texas, San Antonio is a mighty spirited place to get away from the gloom and doom of late fall, early winter. Temperatures are high enough to tour the city comfortably and you'll definitely want to see the Alamo and the King William Historic District where you can also find more affordable hotel prices. You might even feel like trying out Six Flags Over Texas!
Trolley Ride, Anyone?
In case you couldn't tell, we're talking about San Francisco! The beautiful Bay City utterly transports you from the grime of your home winter to the lovely cool of Central California via the architectural wonder that is the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is a city of landmarks so it'd be impossible to visit and not see the following: Alcatraz, Chinatown, Coit Tower, Lombard Street, and the Painted Ladies to name a few. Not only are temperatures rarely below 50 degrees, the city is relatively quiet and less crowded making for easy touring and cheaper prices. Win-win!