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Where to Plan a Warm-Weather Getaway This Winter
Take a break from the cold in these sunny locales.
Instead of freezing in the Northeast and Midwest, head to these enticing locales found everywhere from Costa Rica to Queensland, Australia.(Getty Images)
With winter in full swing, it's the time of year when we start dreaming of getting out of town to defrost, relax and take in some sun. And let's be honest, getaways are a necessity; they are good for the body, mind and soul. So, grab your bathing suit and some sunblock and head to one of these sunny winter escapes.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua, a small Caribbean island roughly 250 miles southeast of Puerto Rico, offers turquoise waters, serene beaches and plenty of natural and historic sites to explore. And the secluded pink-sand beaches of nearby Barbuda are equally enticing. During your trip, you can expect to enjoy plenty of snapper, rum punch and nature. And thanks to the Antigua's calm Caribbean waters, your getaway can include kayaking, snorkeling, sailing and swimming with stingrays. Plus, Antigua features more than 365 pristine beaches, and even a little nightlife in its capital, St. John's. Best of all, you will be welcomed to the islands by some of the friendliest natives in the Caribbean. Another bonus for crowd-averse types: Antigua and Barbuda are far less-frequented spots than popular destinations, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Punta Cana.
With its striking natural beauty, impressive Mayan ruins and lack of a language barrier (it's the only English-speaking country in Central America), Belize makes for an idyllic warm-weather retreat. Plus, with abundant opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, from river tubing to cave repelling to experiencing a jungle tumble, Belize, is perfect for adventurous types. A jungle tumble, originally invented in New Zealand, puts you inside a giant 11-foot-tall inflatable ball that tumbles down customized tracks that stretch throughout the jungle. Alternatively, you can do some island-hopping along Belize's Northern Cayes. And if you are looking for something a bit more cultural, check out Belize's archaeological wonders, ancient ruins, lush jungles or plentiful lagoons.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona is the home of NASCAR and the famous Daytona 500. A fun getaway with a vibrant nightlife scene, Daytona Beach affords you the chance to try your hand at jet skiing, drive on the beach, explore the historic Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum and stroll along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, where you'll find plenty of fun, food and entertainment. Plus, the golfing opportunities in Daytona are fantastic, and with numerous festivals and events taking place year-round, you won't have to worry about entertainment.
Puerto Rico is an attractive winter vacation destination due to the fact that no passports are required. And thanks to its consistent 80-degree year-round temperatures, Puerto Rico is also one of the top wedding destinations in the world. And with picturesque beaches, welcoming locals and laid-back vibes, Puerto Rico appeals to those craving a worry-free getaway. Plus, the island accepts U.S. dollars, which means no pesky exchange rates and more opportunities to grab a piña colada, find a beach chair and take in the gentle ocean breeze without breaking the bank.
With summertime in the Southern Hemisphere during wintertime in the U.S., now is the perfect time to plan a trip to this part of the world to embrace comfortable temperatures and revel in the great outdoors. Plus, Queensland's beaches are splendid, and there plenty of thrill-seeking activities to experience in the region's capital, Brisbane, including the Riverlife Adventure Centre and the Story Bridge Adventure Climb. And Queensland's eastern coast is home to the Great Barrier Reef. Once you fly into Cairns, you can easily island hop along the Great Barrier Reef to admire protected treasures like Lizard Island or head south to the lively, popular beaches along the Gold Coast.
Chiapas is an ideal place for those seeking a nontraditional getaway. Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico, along the border of Guatemala, and is known for its archaeological sites, Mayan ruins, rich culture and unspoiled beaches. Chiapas's multicultural state is home to 12 Mexican indigenous groups and charming colonial areas. And here, you'll find a strong presence of indigenous traditions, language, folklore and customs. Plus, in Chiapas, you'll be far removed from crowd-heavy winter vacation spots like Cancún and Puerto Vallarta. Best of all, you can explore ancient Mayan ruins, and enjoy a bit of mythology: Local residents believe that every human being has a spiritual animal double; to this day, natives practice sorcery and traditional medicine in combination with magic and religious activities.
St. Augustine, Florida
Touted as the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States, St. Augustine was established in 1565 by the Spanish. And in St. Augustine, you'll find plenty of charm and European influences as you take in the city's architecture, historic sites and museums. One can't-miss site is Ponce de Leon's famous Fountain of Youth Archeological Park. Other must-see attractions, especially for families, include the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological farm, the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum and the Old Town trolley tour. And with 42 miles of sandy shores, St. Augustine offers the perfect retreat for sun-seekers and beachcombers, alike.
Costa Rica's underdeveloped beaches, varied landscapes and fascinating wildlife caters to a diverse group of traveler types. Whether you want to hit the beach, swim under waterfalls, unwind in a natural hot spring or even hike along a volcano, Costa Rica can fit the bill. And if you're searching for adrenaline-pumping experiences, Costa Rica offers the chance to enjoy ziplining and sky tram tours through the country's many verdant rainforests. And thanks to the country's dedication to sustainability, Costa Rica makes up around 5 percent of the Earth's biodiversity. Plus, Costa Rica intends to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world. Beyond its eco-friendly initiatives, the country's natural beauty, plentiful beaches and wildlife reserves make it an ideal winter getaway choice.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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