2017’s Best Winter Holiday Destinations from 2017’s Best Winter Holiday Destinations
2017’s Best Winter Holiday Destinations
WalletHub’s analysts developed a ranking of the cheapest U.S. destinations that are also the easiest to reach. In total they examined more than 60 of the largest metro areas — grouped as “warm” or “cold” — based on 32 key metrics, including two weeks of flight data, safety indicators and weather predictions. The study focuses primarily on the cost and convenience of traveling to each location as well as its affordability. It also ensures that the number of attractions and variety of activities in each destination will keep everyone busy and entertained throughout the trip.
These cities have the lowest costs and the fewest hassles, according to the study. They also boast many tourist attractions – the second most on the list. Those of you who love winter adventures will have a lot of fun as you will find an abundance of cold-weather activities. This category includes proximity to ski slopes and ice skating rings.
Orlando tops the chart for warm winter getaways in the U.S. because of the number of attractions it offers tourists – SeaWorld, Disney World, Wet n Wild, Volcano Bay are just a few. Sanford won’t disappoint either. Take the kids to the Central Zoo and Botanical Garden or up to Lake Jessup, explore the Black Bear Wilderness Area, and go kayaking. There are plenty of art museums to visit as well.
Their attractions and cold-weather activities ranks are what keep them in the top. Portland is a wonderful destination for a family vacation on a budget. Vancouver is one of the best cities in the world to spend a weekend, largely because of its culture scene. Also, the city isn’t too far from Seattle or Portland, making for a perfect winter road trip.
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
Vegas is always an attractive destination, regardless of what the temperature where you live. Most people think of gambling, partying, and general debauchery when it comes to the Sin City, but that warped reputation overlooks a lot of what its surroundings have to offer – whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip lining, rappelling, hot air balloon adventures, hiking, hot springs, to name a few.
Traveling costs are low and visitors won’t face many hassles, if any at all. The capital is full of family-friendly activities. Take the kids to the Asia Trail, gaze up at the starts at Rock Creek Park, and visit the National Mall. It is where the nation celebrates, honors and demonstrates its commitment to democracy. The National Mall is accompanied by impressive structures, monuments and memorials.
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
This major American city will brighten your mood with its warm weather and overabundance of fun activities from beach-front ice skating rinks, concerts, holiday shopping and paddling. Winter surfing there is on the great American bucket list. Go in time for the famous Port of San Diego Holiday Bowl Parade, the country's largest balloon parade, on December 28. You can watch whales from the shores and cliffs of Point Loma. For car fans, the San Diego International Auto Show takes place December 28 – January 1.
This underrated American city is not at all just about the steel industry anymore. It has reinvented itself. Locals have a lot of clean and green parks to enjoy, architecturally beautiful buildings to marvel, and several rivers crossing. Thanks to its many college students, the city boasts a lively nightlife scene. Also, Pittsburgh is among the safest on the list.
Austin-Round Rock, TX
Austin, a fairly cheap city where hassles are practically non-existent, according to the study, is absolutely beautiful and a perfect vacation destination for people who love adventure. The city has warm weather nearly year-round, making recreational activities a favorite pastime for residents and visitors. On hot days you can cool off by kayaking on the river, go swimming, or take out a boat to a nearby lake. Austin also has a bustling nightlife, gorgeous sunrises, delicious food, and incredible festivals.
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
No one will be surprised to find out that these three places are in the Top 5 because of the exuberant amount of various attractions and cold-weather activities they offer. The general perception is that if you are bored in New York City, it’s your own fault. Still, there are certain things you should avoid while visiting.
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
These are top beach destinations for winter escapes. The City of Angels is known for its amazing weather, sandy beaches and picturesque piers. Visit Catalina Island, home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of California. Go to Descanso Beach for incredible snorkeling opportunities, South Beach for the ultimate relaxation, and Middle Beach for scenic views. Whatever you do, just don’t drive. L.A. has among the cities with the worst traffic in the U.S.
Seattle is often on lists for last-minute getaways that won’t break the bank. You can find very good flight deals to Seattle year round. Few cities are as tough to describe or as worthy of exploration as the ever-changing Seattle. With each neighborhood carving out its own slice of culture, there is no shortage of things to do or see.
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX
From all warm destinations on the list, the Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land metropolitan area is where you’ll spend the least and will experience the fewest hassles, according to the analysis. You can easily ditch the city lights of Houston if it gets too much for lights on the pier and sand beneath your toes. Nearby areas are full of beaches, attractions and plenty of festivals.
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI
These places have solid scores throughout the board. Their best ranking is for low travel costs and few hassles. Try biking while you’re there. Enjoy the 50-mile Grand Rounds bikeway; its paths are kept clear of snow during the winter.
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX
There is a lot to do and see in San Antonio – River Walk, the Alamo and SeaWorld are just a few. The city has the lowest local costs, according to the study. Taste some of the best Mexican food in all of the U.S. Combine the trip with adventures and sightseeing. Learn about the history of the city and the U.S. in general, and enjoy pulse-pounding rides at world-class theme parks.
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
This is one of the best cities in the world to spend a weekend. There are so many free things to do with your family. Explore the city by bike, visit Golden Gate Park, have a picnic, let your children play on the playground, see the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden. Then, take your family to a floating national park – the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. The city ranked among the very best when it comes to concerts.
The area is another one of the list with fairly high markings across the board. For a unique experience, however, spend the night at the Liberty Hotel. The famous former jail has 298 rooms and suites, which have been renovated to maintain the historic nature of the landmark building, the former Charles Street Jail. Accommodations feature playful nods to the hotel’s infamous past. Every room has floor-to-ceiling windows and offers skyline views of Boston.
Escape the snow and gloomy winter weather in sunny Tucson. The city boasts perfect environmental conditions for outdoor recreational activities – golfing, horseback riding, and hiking. Bonus: If you can’t leave your dog at home, take Fido with you. Tucson is one of the best cities for dogs and their owners. Also, if you like to ride a bike you should know that when the weather gets chilly the best cyclists and triathletes head to Tucson.
Traveling there won’t break the bank, according to the study. Both costs and hassles are on the low side. The Mile High City offers a lot to do outdoors. It boasts more than 4,000 acres of parks, 2,500 of which are urban. They offer perfect opportunities for cross-country skiing, sledding and snowshoeing. The Southwest Rink at Skyline Park is a must-see attraction. Check out the Apex Center, which has two ice rinks, a gigantic indoor aquatic play area, climbing wall, indoor track, and themed indoor playground.
New Orleans-Metairie, LA
As the Cajun French say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler”—let the good times roll. New Orleans, known for its food and night scene, is a destination unlike any other, steeped in history, famous fare and good times. Visit the historic French Quarter, tour the Garden District and take one of the amazing ghost tours that winds through bars, alleyways, and cemeteries.