Just because the weather is getting colder doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. Summer vacations are fun and all, but you’re probably really in need of a seriously stress-busting vacation before or after dealing with the insanity of the holidays. Here are some of the best U.S. destinations for beating the winter blues and embracing the wintertime vacation of your dreams.
OK, this locale doesn’t include cold weather, but if your idea of the perfect relaxing vacation has to include sun, sand and surf, you can still make it happen without traveling halfway around the world. San Juan, Puerto Rico, is surprisingly affordable, gorgeous and doesn’t even require a passport for U.S. Citizens. Does it get any easier than that? Bonus: This sunny city is also home to sophisticated culinary options as well as award-winning street food for seafood addicts and food truck connoisseurs alike.
The fall and winter in the tropics are beautiful, affordable and when Puerto Rico is hosting some seriously fun celebrations. To see how the Caribbean celebrates the holidays, don’t miss the annual world-famous San Sebastian Festival in January. Called “SanSe” by locals, it’s a joyful way to kick off the new year with a parade, street fair and tons of live music.
Festival of Lights
If Clark Griswold from “National Lampoon’s Vacation” is your Christmas spirit animal, then you need to put a few of these incredible light displays on your bucket list. If you’re looking for a picture-perfect winter wonderland light show consider checking out the 500,000 light LED wonderland at the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington, D.C. For the classic small-town snow experience, Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City theme park boasts 5 million lights and a five-story special effects Christmas tree to end all Christmas trees.
If great big X-mas trees make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, you’ll love seeing the world’s tallest man-made Christmas tree at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. Rumor has it that the tree is so bright and tall, standing over 115 feet, that it lights the entire city up in a rainbow of holiday cheer.
Winter sports are not just for snow bunnies anymore. Snow sports are quickly becoming the best way to enjoy fresh powder. Not a big fan of steep slopes? No problem. Get a great workout cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Or lean back as you drive the snowmobile and enjoy the scenery. You can even step out of your element and opt for a dog sledding experience straight out Jack London’s classic novel, “Call of the Wild.” Ely, Minnesota, is known as the sled dog capital of the U.S. It boasts some incredible scenery and the 30-year-old Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, the only lodge in the country totally dedicated to dog sledding. Just make sure you’ve got some warm weather duds before you pack your bags, and start with your feet — Cabela’s has some functional and fashionable women’s winter footwear options.
If you’re a real thrill seeker who’s into snowboarding, check out the 22 foot half-pipe now open to the public in Tamarack, Idaho. It’s tall enough to get any double black diamond aficionado’s endorphins going. Just don’t forget your helmet!
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