To get away from snow, rain, wind, or whatever winter weather ails you, consider a trip down south to one of these warm-weather retreats, where the sun shines all year long. Here is an overview of places you've probably dreamed of visiting, but with specific suggestions on where to go and what to do in order to make your getaway a reality.
Sunset surf at Ocean Beach, San Diego. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Yelena Sukhanov.
Weather: In winter, the coastal cities enjoy daytime highs in the 60s that drop into the 50s at night. Sunshine is still prevalent, but winter months are the rainiest relative to the rest of the year. As you move inland and up in elevation, expect cooler temperatures and chillier winds.
In winter, crowds thin out on San Diego's best beaches like La Jolla Cove, Mission Beach, and Tourmaline Surfing Park. Winter is also a great time to go hiking around San Diego, and trails are plentiful. For scenery in the surrounding hills, check out Mission Trails Regional Park, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Three Sisters Waterfall, and the photo-famous Potato Chip Rock.
Los Angeles stays mild in the winter as well, and there are plenty of outdoor escapes in the metro area. Must-do beach walks include the classic strip of sand at Santa Monica Beach, lively atmosphere at Newport Beach, eye-popping sea cliffs at El Matador, and whale watching at Point Dume. For hikes in the hills and views of the city, explore Runyon Canyon, Temescal Ridge, and get behind the Hollywood sign via Hollyridge.
Cholla cactus, Organ Pipe National Monument. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Denis LeBlanc.
Weather: The low-elevation deserts of Arizona stay sunny and warm for much of the winter. Daytime highs are in the 60s or warmer, and nights drop into the 40s. Extremes are not uncommon, however, with rainy days, frigid winds, and nighttime frost sometimes occurring, especially at higher elevations in the mountains.
Phoenix is a tremendously popular city for snowbirds and vacationers because of year-round warm weather. It also happens to be in a rugged desert valley surrounded by adventure opportunities. Close to downtown you can do classic hikes like Camelback Mountain or Piestewa Peak. If you venture further from the city, the Superstition Mountains region opens up many more possibilities like paddling or fishing the Salt River, driving the Apache Trail Scenic Byway, exploring ruins at Tonto National Monument, hiking in Tonto National Forest, and camping among the cacti in Lost Dutchman State Park.
Further south, nearly to the Mexican border, is even warmer weather and an incredible amount of desert diversity in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. For a tour of otherworldly cactus forms in this prickly forest, hike to the rock formations on Arch Canyon Trail or the abandoned mines in Senita Basin.
Oahu's lush landscape, seen from Kuli'ou'ou Ridge. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Daniel Sherman.
Weather: Hawaii's winter weather varies slightly by island, but in general you can expect sun and daytime highs in the 70s. Rain is more common than in the summer months, but most of it falls overnight or at the higher elevations. With its location so near the equator, Hawaii's ocean waters remain comfortable all year round.
Hawaii is an obvious tropical getaway and bucket-list destination for many. If you can make the trip to the middle of the Pacific, you will find a wealth of adventure in paradise. Every island has picture-perfect beaches and rugged rainforest mountains, however, and each island has its own unique character that you must experience for yourself. Explore the Awini Trail on the Big Island, Maui's incredibly scenic Road to Hana, the treacherous Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail or less-treacherous Kuli'ou'ou Ridge on Oahu, sand and surf at Tunnels Beach on Kauai, or the Napali Coast of Jurassic Park fame.
Point O'Rocks sunset at low tide. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Daniel Sherman.
Weather: The semi-tropics of the east lie in Florida, land of year-round sunshine. South Florida is often even warmer than Hawaii in the winter time, aided by the effect of very humid air. Daytime highs can soar into the 80s even in wintertime, and nights stay in the 60s. Plus, Caribbean and Gulf waters stay much warmer than anywhere on the West Coast,
On Florida's Atlantic coast, witness the swamp country's wildlife at Wakodahatchee Wetlands and explore the numerous beaches around Miami. On the Gulf Coast, paddle around the Everglades, 10,000 Islands National Wildlife Refugee, or enjoy numerous sandy beaches like Point O' Rocks south of Tampa Bay. In the Florida Keys, discover the historic Caribbean stronghold which is now preserved as Dry Tortugas National Park.
Viewing the sunset from the West End, Roatan. Photo by Outdoor Project Contributor Shane Kucera.
If the suggestions above are not sufficiently far south for your tastes, go even father. Grab your passport, pack your sunscreen, and head for one of these tropical destinations. Take in the abundant wildlife in Tortuga Bay, then head to Las Grietas for a swim and cave exploration in the Galápagos. Tikal National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a must-see when visiting Guatemala. In the heart of the jungle in Belize you'll find Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and Jaguar Preserve. It is the world's first jaguar reserve, and it is home to about 200 jaguars. The 32-square miles of Roatan may not be on the top of your adventure list, but white sandy beaches and local culture of Punta Gorda, West Bay, and West End might entice you.