Cold winters can really start to feel eternal, and an escape to somewhere sunnier and brighter around Christmas and New Year can be great to lift your spirits!
Thanks to the sheer size of the country, there is an array of warm winter destinations in the US. Places like Colorado show off their snow-capped mountains during the winter months, whilst in California, people are still surfing on the beach.
If you’re not a fan of winter sports and cold weather, you’ll be looking for a sunny place where you can spend parts of December, and maybe even catch a winter tan! From little towns to big cities and islands offshore, here are some of the warmest destinations in the USA that you can escape to when you need some sun.
- 1 Warm Places To Visit In December In The USA
- 2 Plan Your USA Itinerary
Warm Places To Visit In December In The USA
Big Island, Hawaii
Though Hawaii isn’t on the mainland of the USA, it is still a part of it. The Big Island is the biggest of the Hawaiian islands. There’s a diverse set of landscapes here, locals like to say you can walk in the snow and swim in the sea on the same day!
Whether you want your winter escape to be full of adventure or relaxation, Big Island can scratch every itch. There are five different volcanoes on the island, Mauna Loa, Kilauea, Kohala, Mauna Kea, and Hualalai, whose steep slopes are the perfect playground for extreme adventurers, as well as picturesque tropical beaches for those who just want to catch a winter tan!
One awesome thing about Big Island is that it has black, white, green, and salt and pepper sand beaches. Relax, hike, swim with manta rays, escape into tropical botanical gardens and delight in Hawaii’s laid-back culture and slowed-down pace of life.
With average temperatures in December staying between 20 and 23 degrees, and highs of almost 30 degrees, Big Island is the perfect escape if you want to have a summer-like Christmas this year!
Temecula Wine Region, California
Fancy doing something a little different this December? Then make your way to the Temecula wine region and make the most of the California weather. This wine-producing region isn’t as well known as the Napa Valley, but it’s just as scenic and the wine tasting is just as great!
The most popular thing to do in Temecula is to go on a wine-tasting tour. There are loads of different choices, from wine-tasting tours by bike to fun trolley tours. Looking for an adrenaline rush? Then go on a hot air balloon ride over the vineyards and rolling hills!
Lucky for you, there are more than 35 wineries in the region with over 50 varieties of wine to sample between them. But that’s not all there is on offer at Temecula, the region is also known to produce excellent craft beers.
In December, the lowest temperatures can be a bit colder than other California destinations, with temperatures dropping to around 6 degrees, but with highs of 20 degrees and an average of just 7 days of rain, snow, or hail throughout the month it’s still warm for winter!
Key West, Florida
Quirky and cute, Key West is a lively beach town that has great nightlife, incredible beaches, and a slow pace of life. The other great thing about Key West is that it’s very warm in December! Temperatures stay between 20 and 25 degrees here, which is warmer than some places get in summer.
Spend your days snorkelling at Fort Zachary, and your nights dancing and sipping on cocktails. If you’re feeling adventurous, head on a diving tour, that way you can visit the Florida Reef which is several miles offshore and get up close to the spectacular tropical marine life.
San Diego, California
San Diego is a lively and bright coastal city that has great cultural events and music festivals in December that will add some sparkle to your winter. Check out the Snow n Glow Festival, the Balboa Park December Night and the La Jolla Christmas Parade whilst you’re there!
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Head to the city’s beaches, like Coronado Beach, and let the fresh December breeze and sea views warm your soul. With mild temperatures of between 10 and 20 degrees throughout the month and sunny winter days, San Diego is a gem to visit in December.
Jekyll Island, Georgia
This quaint and sunny island off the coast of Georgia is connected to the mainland by a bridge, making it super easy to get to! It’s just 20 minutes’ drive away from Brunswick and it’s one of the most popular destinations in the Golden Isles.
It’s been a destination families escape to during the cold winter months for decades. Rich families used to come here from across the USA to enjoy the mild weather and breathtaking coast.
With lows of about 8 degrees and highs of 20 degrees, the island is pleasant in December. There’s plenty to do here too, from golf courses to wildlife watching (keep a look out for dolphins and sea turtles!).
Palm Springs, California
The desert landscape surrounding Palm Springs makes it a unique spot to spend part of December. There are loads of outdoor things to do near the city too. Hop on the Palm Springs Tramway for a viewpoint above the city and take in the panoramic views, then go for a slow walk in the Moorten Botanical Gardens and explore the range of desert flora that grows there.
Palm Springs is close to the Jacinto State Park and Coachella Valley Preserve too, so book a tour and make your way deep into the barren landscape around the city. Plus the Coachella Valley Preserve is just 30 minutes drive away and it is riddled with a desert palm oasis that you just have to visit, like the Thousand Palm Oasis. Whilst you’re there remember to keep a look out for the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard!
With temperatures staying between 9 and 20 degrees throughout the month, and very little rainfall, this desert city is a great place to retreat to in winter.
New Orleans, Louisiana
This enchanting city sits along the Mississippi River and has mild temperatures all winter. One thing that makes New Orleans so attractive as a travel destination is its proximity to a range of landscapes, from almost-tropical beaches and eye-catching lakes to charming towns and adventures in the swampland.
On a sunny winter day head on a Mississippi River cruise! Soak in the winter sun and see the city’s most famous attractions from the water. The most spectacular tour available is onboard the old steamboat that still runs today, the Natchez.
If you’re here around Christmas time, consider having a traditional Reveillon Dinner! It’s traditionally eaten after the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, and the custom dates back to the 1800s. With temperatures staying between 10 and just below 20 degrees throughout December, you’ll be safe from the bitter cold!
If you’re looking for a warm destination that is quiet and secluded, Idyllwild is perfect. It sits in the San Jacinto Mountains, and it boasts incredible nature spots nearby like Lake Fulmor and Mount Jacinto State Park. The latter has a 10,834 foot tall peak, the San Jacinto Peak, that you can hike up! Another trail worth considering is the Deer Springs Trail that passes by Suicide Rock.
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It really is the perfect winter escape for hikers and nature lovers. Don’t let the winter months stop you from getting out into the wild. Pack your hiking boots and enjoy hiking around this sleepy town in the winter sun. With the lowest temperatures in December falling just below 10 degrees and highs of 20 degrees, the climate is mild and enjoyable.
Crystal River, Florida
Along the Gulf of Mexico there’s a little city with excellent wildlife, unique landscapes, and warm December weather! Crystal River is known as the manatee capital of the world as each year they migrate here looking for warmer waters. The peak season is November through to April, so you’ve got a good chance of seeing manatees if you come in December.
Because it’s warm throughout the winter, it’s a great place to come for water sports. You can kayak, snorkel, and swim with manatees even in December. There are lots of great wildlife watching and refuge spots along the shores of the river, and downtown there’s a cute area that’s great for shopping and dining. Make sure you check out Hunter Springs Park too.
The average temperature in December is around 20 degrees, with cooler days reaching lows of about 10 degrees.
There you have it, 9 amazing warm places to visit in the US in December. Where will you head next?
Plan Your USA Itinerary
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