America’s Best Cities for Winter Travel ( part 1 )

San Juan, Puerto RicoNo. 1 San Juan, P.R.

Readers don’t underestimate the value of sunshine and stellar deals. The capital of Puerto Rico gets high marks for being affordable, but it’s more than just beach chairs and cocktails. New, celeb chef-helmed restaurants and design-driven hotels, such as El Blok, have made it a true luxury destination.



Honolulu1No. 2 Honolulu

The Hawaiian capital holds steady in its silver-medal spot, and still offers solid winter credentials: great weather, fabulous outdoor activities, and appeal for both couples as well as families. In fact, there’s no season that readers don’t like it here.



ScottsdaleNo. 3 Phoenix/Scottsdale

For travelers, this Arizona metropolis is all about timing. Between the holiday season and spring break, Phoenix ranks high, but its blistering summer heatwaves keep visitors at bay. A trip here usually means days spent shopping, golfing, or lounging around the spa, and then turning in early. Phoenix isn’t exactly known for its nightlife.



Saint Louis Cathedral, new orleansNo. 4 New Orleans

A little party called Mardi Gras is an obvious draw for travelers during winter. Before that, you can find festive holiday activities—the city has killer Christmas and New Year’s celebrations—as well as lower hotel rates and more elbow room in the world-class cafés. Come during the first week in January, and you’ll see local sports fans out in force: the city is again hosting the Allstate Sugar Bowl.



HoustonNo. 5 Houston

This Sunbelt city is at its best during winter, with highs in the 50s or 60s—just the right temp for ice skating outdoors, open-air concerts, or, come early March, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (the world’s biggest). This is also the ideal time of year to enjoy the city’s well-regarded museums and classical music, as well as its decadent burgers.



La Jolla cove beach, San Diego, CaliforniaNo. 6 San Diego

Even though temperatures can easily reach 70, it’s still a fairly quiet time of year here—great for exploring the zoo, golfing at Torrey Pines, or jogging on the beaches (you just might want a wetsuit to swim or surf). San Diego is also hailed as one of the safest and cleanest cities in the country.



Miami south beachNo. 7 Miami

It’s the forefather of American snowbird vacations, and dazzles visitors with its mojitos and good-looking locals. While the Florida city has seen a major hotel and restaurant boom, thanks in part to the wizardry of Alan Faena, it’s still a little daunting to some travelers. In the first week of December, the city is completely and brilliantly consumed by Art Basel.



No. 8 Salt Lake City

This Utah city may no longer hold the crown for the best wintertime city, but it’s still a prime hub for skiing, in part because you can stay downtown and drive a half hour to the slopes. During winter, you’ll also save a lot of money by staying in the city—one way that Salt Lake won the silver in affordability.



orlandoNo. 9 Orlando, FL

According to readers, winter is the best time of year to come here—whether you get the kids out of school, or if you just want to chat up Mickey on your own. Indeed, in this favorite city for family vacations, winter means shorter lines at the theme parks—with the exception of the weeks right around Christmas and New Year’s. Orlando also receives high marks for its variety of hotel options.



Forsyth Park Fountain Savannah, Georgia, USANo. 10 Savannah, GA

Valentine’s Day is a big draw in this charming city—no surprise, since Savannah has always been a favorite for romantic getaways. Otherwise, winter is low season in this history-rich city, with thinner crowds and lower prices. Another draw? Savannah’s famous cocktail hour. Head here for New Year’s Eve, when the loose open-container laws are on full display in the quaint town squares.



Santa FeNo. 11 Santa Fe, NM

The offbeat New Mexico destination offers the best of both kinds of winter vacations: fairly mild temps in the piñon-scented city, and access to the slopes at Ski Santa Fe, Taos, or Angel Fire outside town. Cold or not, it’s the perfect place to chill out, readers said: the city is ideal for cultural getaways and peace and quiet.



River Walk in San Antonio, TexasNo. 12 San Antonio, TX

During the highly ranked holiday season, thousands of luminarias and 1.8 million LED lights will line the Riverwalk, and the festivals keep on going throughout the winter—even including the annual draining and maintenance of the river in January, celebrated as the Mud Festival. Winter’s the prime time for sports fans to see the city’s beloved Spurs, but T+L readers also like the city for being a solid value, with great flea markets.


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