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Best Winter Vacations

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Most of us are enchanted by winter's first snowfall. But after a while, when the freezing temperatures prevent your car from starting and the snow turns gray, this season starts to get the better of us. Don't worry: U.S. News has come up with a list of vacation destinations to help you defeat your seasonal doldrums and cure the wintertime blues. Use these ideas to start planning your getaway and vote for your favorite spots to help determine next year's ranking.

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Costa Rica

#1 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: In December, Costa Rica ushers in its dry season, leaving only 70-degree temperatures to accompany you on your hike through the rainforest. And if you visit in January, you'll find the tiny country basking in la pura vida while reveling in its many fiestas. Read More

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Bora Bora

#2 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: Bora Bora, with its turquoise lagoons and overwater bungalows, is a bucket-list vacation for many. But this paradise is pricey, and winter doesn't guarantee tropical weather. You won't combat many tourists, but you may encounter rain and mosquitoes. Read More

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Kauai

#3 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: Winter welcomes hordes of tourists and inflated room rates, but the cost and crowds are worth it. Relax on the golden sands of Poipu Beach or enjoy the scenery along Lumahai. And though the hike along the northwest Na Pali Coast is strenuous, the landscape is a must-see. Read More

Kauai View 19 photos
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Lake Tahoe

#4 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: Lake Tahoe is beautiful no matter the season, so you'll want to bring a camera to capture the sparkling snowy scenery. When you're not admiring the powder, tackle it at one of the massive ski resorts. After the slopes, scope out the area's top dining and nightlife venues. Read More

Lake Tahoe View 19 photos
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Barcelona

#5 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: Winters in Barcelona are mild compared to other parts of Spain. If you don't mind 40- to 60-degree temps, you'll be rewarded with lower room rates and fewer crowds. It may not be idyllic, but you won't have to elbow your way through La Sagrada Familia or Park Güell. Read More

Barcelona View 25 photos
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Whistler

#6 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: With more than 8,100 acres and 200 trails, Whistler Blackcomb Mountain is a skier's paradise. Even if you're not one to schuss the slopes, you can still hit the buzzing après-ski scene. Just make sure you book in advance this is the resort town's busy season. Read More

Whistler View 26 photos
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Playa del Carmen

#7 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: In Playa del Carmen, the beach atmosphere is laid-back, the mixed drinks are strong and the golf courses are plentiful. But ensure the price is right before you book the warm temperatures attract snowbirds, and the hotel rates can fluctuate dramatically. Read More

Playa del Carmen View 17 photos
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Tulum

#8 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go:  For such a tiny pocket of the Yucatán, Tulum offers plenty of things to do. Visit the Mayan Ruins, of course, but also consider snorkeling through the cenotes area or scheduling a massage at one of the many beachside spas. Just bring a thick pocketbook. Read More

Tulum View 19 photos
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St. Martin - St. Maarten

#9 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: You'll get two cultures for the price of one island vacation. Visit French St. Martin for some duty-free shopping and fine dining. Then, hop over to Dutch St. Maarten for the lively clubs and casinos. Or forget about picking sides and focus on the island's white-sand beaches. Read More

St. Martin - St. Maarten View 18 photos
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Puerto Rico

#10 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: In Puerto Rico, you can enjoy the perks of the Caribbean without needing a passport. Attractions range from adventurous (exploring the underground Rio Camuy Cave Park) to historic (traversing the 500-year-old El Morro walls) to luxurious (relaxing on a beach). Read More

Puerto Rico View 15 photos
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Queenstown

#11 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: On the other side of the equator, summer is in full swing. Take advantage of the gorgeous weather by hopping aboard a Skyline Queenstown gondola or bungee jumping off the Kawarau Bridge. Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? Hike the Ben Lomond Track. Read More

Queenstown View 18 photos
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Seychelles

#12 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: Though winter constitutes the rainy season in Seychelles, the precipitation doesn't seem to thwart travelers from flocking to this chain of 115 islands, especially around the holidays. You'll want to book several months in advance to ensure the best rates and availability. Read More

Seychelles View 21 photos
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Aspen

#13 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: Winter sports are king in Aspen. You'll find four main ski areas that welcome powder hounds of all skill levels, but you'll also come across plenty of high-end shopping and worthwhile museums. To miss the holiday crowds and save some cash on hotel rates, visit in February. Read More

Aspen View 29 photos
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San Miguel de Allende

#14 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: Winter is the best time to visit San Miguel de Allende. The rainy season has passed, leaving pleasant, 70-degree days – perfect for soaking up the local culture at El Jardin or hiking El Charco del Ingenio, a 170-acre botanical garden set in an ecological preserve. Read More

San Miguel de Allende View 14 photos
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Key West

#15 in Best Winter Vacations

Why go: Key West makes an ideal winter getaway for those looking for warm weather, frozen daiquiris and mellow afternoons. Snorkeling and scuba diving are big here, and you can hit one of the bike trails to shake off the cobwebs from your winter hibernation. Read More

Key West View 22 photos
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