Best Places to Visit in the Winter in the USA

If you’re like me you get a little restless during the winter months. I’m going to tell you about the best places to visit in the winter in the USA

It’s one of my favorite times to travel because there are typically fewer crowds since it’s not peak season. Pack your bags travel buddy and let’s check out winter in the USA

Winter in the USA

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Best Places to Visit in the Winter in the USA

There are three types of people:

1) People who HATE the cold weather and are looking to escape it. 🌞

2) People who LOVE the cold weather and can’t wait to embrace it. 🥶️

3) Intelligent people who find ways to enjoy themselves no matter what the weather is

There was a time in my life that I fell into category #3. I loved the beach and I loved to ski! After I had children I got scared to do winter sports so I stopped. Now that my children are grown, I think I’m ready to get back out there and freeze my butt off for the sake of having fun!

Great news… Here are some suggestions for people in ALL 3 categories for winter travel in the United States! 

Warm Places to Visit in the Winter in the USA

Okay, where are my category #1 people who hate the cold weather?! If you Google things like, “best winter vacations with warm weather” then you are MY kind of person. I have your cure for the winter blues! Below are some warmer places where you can escape the winter weather and avoid the snow.

Santa with snowboard

California

San Diego, California in the Winter

Winter is a great time to visit San Diego because the weather is perfect for checking out popular tourist attractions and discovering the city

Winter in the USA San Diego California sign

One of the most popular attractions is the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park. Winter is the perfect time to visit without the big crowds. They are open EVERY single day of the year

The San Diego Zoo has a special event in the month of December called Jungle Bells. For this event, the zoo is all lit up at night with special performances and games to celebrate the holiday season. The BEST part is that everything is included with your admission tickets

Winter in the USA San Diego Zoo

I always purchase skip-the-line tickets in advance because you can cancel for free up to 24 hours prior to your visit. Get Your Guide has the SAME price as the official website, but you can reserve your tickets now and pay later! 

Winter Weather in San Diego, California:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the mid-60s and lows in the low 50s. It’s perfect for checking out theme parks and attractions

Los Angeles, California in the Winter

Winter is a great time to visit Los Angeles because the weather is perfect for hiking, exploring the city, and enjoying walks on the coastline. It’s their off-season so it’s the cheapest time to visit

If you’re traveling to Los Angeles you might be thinking… Hollywood and celebrities! That’s fun! Do you want to get your picture taken in front of the iconic Hollywood sign? Take this fun 2.5-hour walking tour to get the best pictures!

Hollywood sign

Los Angeles is the place to be if you’re excited about touring movie sets, seeing the homes of popular celebrities, or seeing popular locations from your favorite movies.

Do you want to tour Warner Bros Studio with a behind-the-scenes tour on the set of Friends? 

Maybe you’d like to take a tour down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, and the Sunset Strip! Cue the lines from the movie Pretty Woman.   

If you’ve been reading this travel blog for any length of time then you know that I think one thing you MUST do EVERY time you travel is to take some sort of tour. Get excited because Los Angeles has plenty of unique and memorable tour options

Winter Weather in Los Angeles, California:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the high 60s and lows in the low 50s. It’s quite PERFECT for touring the city when it’s less crowded!

Palm Springs, California in the Winter

Palm Springs is approximately 2 hours away from Los Angeles. It is a popular destination to visit ANY time of year, and a great place to escape cold winters

The most popular thing to do in the winter in Palm Springs is to ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Winter in the USA Palm Springs Tram

Here’s why it’s SO cool…

Basically, you start out in Palm Springs which is a warm and sunny desert. Then, you take a 10-minute scenic tram ride up 6,000 feet where suddenly you’ve been transported to an Alpine forest. There you can do some hiking or rent equipment to go snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing.  

If you’d rather just stay in Palm Springs and enjoy more of the desert then you should try the San Andreas Fault Open-Air Jeep tour. I did an open-air jeep tour in Aruba and it was AWESOME! While you’re exploring the desert on this 3-hour private tour, you will travel through an active earthquake zone to learn about and explore the Coachella Valley. This is a truly unique experience and is likely to sell out! 

Winter Weather in Palm Springs, California:

A winter visit to Palm Springs is more ideal than the summer when temperatures will exceed 100 degrees. You can expect winter weather to have average temperatures in the high 70s and low 40s. There will be virtually no rain in this desert city that has 360 days of sunshine per year!

Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park

If visiting Joshua Tree National Park is on your bucket list then plan your trip in the winter. It is perfect weather for outdoor activities like hiking! Joshua Tree is only an hour from Palm Springs so add it to your travel itinerary. Take the Joshua Tree Guided Tour, which includes pick up and drop off at your Palm Springs hotel

Joshua Tree National Park

Winter Weather in Joshua Tree National Park:

You can expect winter weather to have average temperatures in the high 60s and low 30s at Joshua Tree National Park.

Florida

Miami, Florida in the Winter

Miami Florida is a perfect getaway in the winter. It is still warm enough to go to the beach and get a tan. You won’t even realize that it’s winter when you are touring the waters of Miami. For a memorable experience, take a fun airboat tour to explore the everglades, or a cruise to see millionaire’s homes and the Venetian Islands

Winter in Miami Florida

If you are going to be visiting Miami for a few days and you really want to SEE a lot of attractions, then I’d suggest getting the All-Inclusive Go City Pass. This pass includes 25+ attractions in Miami. You can visit any of the popular tourist attractions that are included in the pass like the zoo, aquarium, hop-on hop-off bus, and more! 

Not only does the pass offer substantial savings, if you try something and it’s not what you expected then you can just go on to another attraction on the pass

If you want to take an incredible day trip from Miami then you should definitely check out Key West! There’s an awesome excursion with a shuttle bus that picks you up and takes you to see 31 Caribbean Islands with experiences all around Key West.   

Winter Weather in Miami, Florida:

You can expect winter weather to have average temperatures of highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-60s. It’s excellent for exploring the city or relaxing on the beach with fewer crowds!

Florida Keys: Key West in the Winter

At the very end of the Florida Keys is Key West. This is one of the best warm winter vacations you can take because the weather is PERFECT! 

You will have a great time in Key West visiting the sandy beaches, shopping, and enjoying the fun nightlife

While you are in Key West you will want to get out on the BEAUTIFUL water. Enjoy the ocean as you take a dolphin-watching and snorkeling cruise or a sunset sailing trip with an open bar, food, and music. 

If you want to spend some time exploring the city, shopping, dining, and learning some interesting history, then take the 1.5-hour Key West Conch Train Tour. This fun train tour is the best way to see all the highlights in Key West! 

Winter Weather in Key West, Florida:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the mid-70s and low temperatures in the high 60s. 

Orlando, Florida in the Winter

The winter months in Orlando Florida are still warm AND it’s considered off-season. This makes it the perfect place to visit because it’s both budget friendly AND warm. Great news, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg for lodging and flights in the winter!   

Winter in Orlando Florida

I like to go to Orlando in the winter to visit Disney theme parks because it’s not as crowded. It’s the BEST time to visit all the popular amusement parks like Universal Studios, LEGOLAND, and the Wild Florida Wildlife and Nature Park.

I always get my tickets ahead of time through Get Your Guide because I can cancel within 24 hours of my scheduled activity for a FULL REFUND if my plans change.  

Are you ready for the ultimate winter getaway? Why not head into space?

Astronaut

There are some really cool tours of the NASA Kennedy Space Center with skip-the-line tickets and pickup available. TripAdvisor ranks it as the #1 thing to do so plan for more than 3 hours to see all that they have to offer!  

Winter Weather in Orlando, Florida:

You can expect winter weather to have average temperatures in the high 70s and low 50s. I think this is the BEST weather to see the parks and escape the cold from the north

Hawaii

Oahu, Hawaii in the Winter

You are not the only one who thinks it’s a great idea to escape to Hawaii in the winter. The high season for Oahu Hawaii is during the winter months. It is perfect weather for exploring the beautiful beaches, shopping, and touring the Dole Plantation. This is one of the most popular islands in Hawaii so check out ALL the fun things to do in Oahu.  

Winter in USA Hawaii

Since Hawaii is a popular tourist attraction in the winter, make sure you buy your tickets in advance for any tours or excursions you’d like to participate in. For a memorable experience, take time to visit Pearl Harbor, tour Waikiki on a glass-bottom boat, or snorkel with the sea turtles

Winter in USA Hawaii beach

Winter Weather in Oahu, Hawaii:

You can expect winter weather to have average temperatures in the high 70s and lows in the mid-60s. 

Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana in the Winter

New Orleans tourism in the winter is kind of crazy. It starts out as the cheapest, least busy time to visit in December. Then, it’s suddenly the busiest and most expensive time to visit after that. 

winter in the USA Mardi Gras Parade float

As you might know, the big deal is the Mardi Gras festival, which takes place in February/March; however, celebrations start at the beginning of January. If big crowds aren’t your thing then this is NOT the time for you to visit.   

Another fun activity, while you’re in New Orleans, is to take a Jazz Steam Boat Cruise. Board an authentic steamboat, enjoy a delicious brunch, and listen to live jazz music while you cruise along the Mississippi River.

The interior of the boat is climate controlled so no matter what the weather is, your cruise will be comfortable. 

Winter Weather in New Orleans, Louisiana:

You can expect average highs in the mid-60s and lows in the mid-40s. However, since New Orleans does whatever it wants to… the weather can change from being super cold to being very warm without much notice.

New Orleans isn’t typically hot in the winter but it’s warm and it’s DEFINITELY a popular time to visit. Unlike most other tourist destinations, New Orleans’ off-season is in the summer

Puerto Rico

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico in the Winter

Looking for an island to spend your winter getaway on? Puerto Rico has the best island temperatures to make you forget about your winter blues while you are on the beautiful sandy beaches. 

I have gone on a Sea Turtle Swimming and Snorkeling Tour before and it was my FAVORITE experience! This 1.5-hour tour will give you an opportunity to see sea turtles up close. It is likely to sell out so make sure you reserve your tickets now and pay later

Sea Turtle

If you love nature then you will love the El Yunque Rainforest and Waterfalls Tour! This 4-hour tour includes shopping, hiking, nature, swimming, and relaxing. If you have your own transportation then this is the BEST way to explore Old San Juan, Puerto Rico in the winter!

Puerto Rico Water Fall

Winter Weather in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the mid-80s and low temperatures in the 70s. It’s hard to find warmer weather than Puerto Rico in the winter in the USA. 

Texas

San Antonio, Texas in the Winter

I was in San Antonio Texas to see my son graduate from Air Force boot camp and it was a great time. One of our favorite things was exploring the River Walk area and taking the scenic drive down the San Antonio River on the riverboat cruise.

The San Antonio River Walk ranks #1 out of 266 things to do in San Antonio Texas on TripAdvisor. It also won the 2022 Traveler’s Choice Award. This area is full of fun shopping, awesome restaurants, and great hotels

For the month of December, the cruise along the river is beautifully lined with Christmas lights.

Winter in the USA San Antonio Texas

We also loved seeing the façade of the San Fernando Cathedral all lit up for the FREE light show. The outdoor show is 24 minutes long and runs on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. 

Winter in the USA San Antonio Texas

Winter is a great time to visit popular tourist attractions like Six Flags, LEGOLAND, and  Sea World. All of the parks have special celebrations for the holiday season

Winter Weather in San Antonio, Texas:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the mid-60s and low temperatures in the low-40s. It’s a great time to explore San Antonio while the weather is nice and the hotel rates are lower

Cold Places to Visit in the Winter in the USA

Alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska in the Winter

If you LOVE a cold winter and you LOVE all the magic of the Christmas season, then you will have a great time in Fairbanks, Alaska!

To put it simply, the BEST authentic winter vacations have…

The North Pole, northern lights, sleigh rides, and of course Santa Claus. I mean, it doesn’t get much more “magical” than all that!  

Winter in the USA Alaska Train

Did you even go to Alaska if you didn’t see the northern lights and check out one of the hot springs?! This experience isn’t in Fairbanks, but the 60-mile trip will DEFINITELY be worth it! 

Get Your Guide has an incredible tour package. They will accommodate pick up and drop off in Fairbanks. You will get to tour the Aurora Ice Museum, then go to the famous Chena Hot Springs Resort for dinner and relax in the healing mineral waters of the hot springs. Finally, you wait and watch for your opportunity to see the northern lights.  

Winter in the USA Northern Lights Alaska

*Keep in mind that seeing the northern lights can NEVER be guaranteed, but the tickets I’m suggesting from Get Your Guide can be purchased now and have free cancellation up to 24 hours prior to your scheduled visit. You have the opportunity to book now to reserve your spot and pay later

Winter Weather in Fairbanks, Alaska:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the SINGLE digits and low temperatures in the NEGATIVE digits. It hurts my heart to type those temperatures. Bundle up, people!! This winter adventure isn’t for the weak.   

California & Nevada

Lake Tahoe in the Winter

Lake Tahoe is located in both California and Nevada. If you love skiing or snowboarding then South Lake Tahoe is likely on your bucket list because it has the best winter adventures! 

If skiing or snowboarding isn’t your thing then you should try a scenic snowshoe adventure! It includes a 2-hour experience with professional tour guides and all the equipment you will need for a memorable adventure. This incredible experience won the TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice 2022 Best of the Best award

Winter in the USA Snowshoeing

After you’ve been hopping around like a snow bunny, or riding around on a fun snowmobile all day, head back to your ski resort and relax in the hot tub.

There are a TON of amazing resorts to pick from along the mountain and after being out in the cold all day you will want someplace cozy to stay. Just make sure you know what to look for when finding a hotel so you pick the best one!     

Winter Weather in South Lake Tahoe:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the mid-40s and low temperatures in the mid-20s. 

New York

New York City, New York in the Winter

New York City is an iconic east coast location to celebrate the holiday season. We’ve all seen movies with scenes of ice skating in Central Park

Winter in the USA New York City

Although it’s cold, there is something special about celebrating the winter season by looking at the beautifully decorated storefront windows and seeing the massive Christmas tree all lit up in Rockefeller Center

The BEST way to travel around NYC to see all the lights is in a horse carriage ride. This 40-minute tour will take you to see lights in Central Park, 5th Avenue, and Rockefeller Center

Make sure you get your Christmas lights horse carriage tour tickets in advance because they are likely to sell out. You can reserve your spot now and pay later.

One of my FAVORITE things to do in NYC in the wintertime is to see the Rockettes perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I buy my tickets to the Rockettes Christmas Spectacular in advance from Get Your Guide because they are likely to sell out, AND if something changes I can cancel for FREE within 24 hours of the showtime.   

Winter in the USA Radio City NYC

Winter Weather in New York City, New York:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the mid-40s and low temperatures in the high 20s. You DEFINITELY want to layer up for walking around the city in the winter! 

Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming in the Winter

Yellowstone National Park is a common destination on people’s United States bucket lists. Winter is a great time to visit the park and see the incredible wildlife!

Winter in the USA Yellowstone national park

If you’ve never been to Yellowstone National Park then it’s a good idea to take a guided tour for your first visit

If you want to have the ULTIMATE winter experience I’d suggest the Yellowstone Snowmobile Tour of Old Faithful. This is a 12-hour tour and includes: hotel pick up/drop off, snowmobile gear, a professional guide, breakfast, and lunch. During the tour, you will see wildlife, incredible views, waterfalls, and of course Old Faithful!  

Winter in the USA Yellowstone national park old faithful

Winter Weather in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming:

You can expect average highs in the high 20s and lows in the SINGLE digits. It will be cold but worth it so pack accordingly!  

Cooler Off-Season Places to Visit in the Winter in the USA

I’ve been known to escape to Panama City Beach Florida at the beginning of winter. (Think early December.) Although it would be too cold to go to my favorite place, Crab Island in Destin Florida, you can still enjoy Florida beach towns during the off-season and escape the snow from up north. The problem with visiting some off-season beach towns in the winter is that they close down a lot of the tourist attractions.

Winter in Florida Christmas tree

Here are some popular tourist destinations that you might want to visit but you haven’t because they are often too crowded.

These are less crowded, off-season options of places that can be chilly, don’t have snow, and DON’T close the tourist attractions down.  

California

San Francisco, California in the Winter

If you are looking to save money and avoid crowds during the off-season then you should plan a winter trip to San Francisco. It’s a good destination if you like it cold, but not snowy

My favorite way to explore a new city, and see popular tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, is with a hop-on hop-off tour bus.

Winter in USA Golden Gate Bridge

Unlike other cities that shut down during the off-season, San Francisco still has tons of events and live music performances to enjoy.  

Napa Sonoma Sign
Wine Tasting

Winter in San Francisco is a good time to experience film festivals and wine tasting. There are a TON of wine-tasting tour options with pick-up and drop-off transportation included.  

Winter Weather in San Francisco, California:

You can expect average highs in the 50s and lows in the 40s. 

Day Trip to Yosemite National Park

If visiting Yosemite National Park is on your bucket list then you can plan to take a full-day trip from San Francisco. There are a ton of great guided tour options for a full-day trip to explore the park, which include pick up and drop off from your hotel in San Francisco

Nevada & Local Day Trips

Las Vegas, Nevada in the Winter

Vegas is a very popular tourist destination, but winter is the off-season. If you hate the crazy crowds then this would be a better time for you to finally see Las Vegas.

I know the stereotype of Vegas is that it’s a “sin city” with gambling, but there’s so much more. Check out the full post about 6 awesome things to do in Vegas besides gambling.

In the winter, it’s not warm enough to lay out by the pools, but it is warm enough to explore the less crowded city

Winter in the USA Las Vegas

What better place to see lights than Las Vegas? Take the 3-hour Bright Lights City Tour with High Roller Tickets to tour the entire city and see all the lights from the giant Ferris wheel

Winter in the USA Horseshoe Bend

Day Trip to Arizona

The city of Las Vegas is a lot of fun but make sure you take a day trip to see the amazing landscape that is nearby as well. You can take a hiking tour to see the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam or see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. If you want to skip the hiking then take the helicopter tour to see the Grand Canyon

Winter Weather in Las Vegas, Nevada:

You can expect winter weather to have average high temperatures in the 60s and lower temperatures in the 20s. 

Day Trip to Death Valley National Park, California

What better way to escape the cold and the snow than to go to the desert?! Death Valley National Park is a great place to hike in the winter because the weather is PERFECT! 

Death Valley national Park

This is an excellent day trip from Las Vegas. There are a ton of different Death Valley tour options to choose from that will pick you up and drop you back off at your hotel in Vegas.  

Winter Weather in Death Valley National Park, California:

You can expect winter weather to have average temperatures in the high 60s and lower temperatures in the 40s. 

Tennessee

Chattanooga, Tennessee in the Winter

Chattanooga Tennessee is a popular tourist destination all year round, but there are smaller crowds during the winter. It’s a good destination if you like the cold, but don’t want snow.

One of the best ways to start exploring the city is with a Walking and Beer Tasting Tour. This 4-hour tour will take you to 4 of the best breweries in Chattanooga. 

Chattanooga has a ton of amazing restaurants, fun shopping, and unique tourist attractions nearby. While you are in Chattanooga, it’s the perfect time for a short drive south to explore the 3 main attractions in Lookout Mountain. In the winter, Rock City transforms its hiking adventure with an incredible Christmas light display. 

Winter Weather in Chattanooga, Tennessee:

You can expect average highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s. 

Nashville, Tennessee in the Winter

Nashville Tennessee is one of my absolute FAVORITE places and I think it’s one of the BEST places to visit in the winter in the USA. I’ve mentioned that one of my Christmas traditions is to take a trip and I have taken a couple of trips to Nashville in the winter for Christmas.

Nashville is a popular tourist destination all year round, but there are smaller crowds during the winter. It’s a good destination if you don’t mind a little cold and you don’t want snow. We always love visiting Cheekwood Estate and Gardens in the winter because it is all lit up

Winter in the USA Cheekwood Christmas Lights
Christmas in Nashville Cheekwood Gardens Lights

I mentioned in my post about New Year’s Eve Traditions from around the World that when we were in Nashville for the New Year we got to see the music note drop. They have AMAZING free concerts so make sure you stay for New Year’s Eve! 

New Year's Eve Nashville Tennessee

Winter Weather in Nashville, Tennessee:

You can expect average highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s. It’s been unseasonably warm every time we went. You will need to pack some layers just to be safe.  

Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia in the Winter

If you are looking to explore Atlanta Georgia with smaller crowds during the off-season then winter is a great time to visit. It’s a good destination if you like cool mild winters, but don’t want snow.

Winter in Georgia Coca Cola

My daughter and I took our Christmas trip to Atlanta, Georgia and there were a TON of great winter things to see and do! The top 3 most popular attractions in Atlanta are the Georgia Aquarium, the Zoo Atlanta, and the World of Coca-Cola but there are also seasonal options in the winter. 

Atlanta Georgia World of Coca Cola

Zoo Atlanta transforms into IllumiNights with an evening Chinese lantern festival during the winter months. It’s a LOT of fun! 

Zoo Tiger Light
Zoo Panda Light

Winter in Atlanta is the perfect time to take a ride in the climate-controlled private pods at the SkyView Ferris Wheel to see the lights across the city. They are open 365 days a year so we went on Christmas Eve to see the lights.  

Winter Weather in Atlanta, Georgia:

You can expect average highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s. Pack layers because the temperatures change a lot throughout the day.   

Savannah, Georgia in the Winter

You can expect to save on the cost of hotels and avoid crowds when visiting Savannah Georgia in the winter. We took our last family Christmas trip to Savannah and we had ALL the fun! You DEFINITELY want to take a Holiday Lights and Sights Trolley Tour, a Riverboat Lunch Cruise, or do what we did and get the combination (land and sea) Trolley and Riverboat Tour.  

Winter in USA Savannah Georgia Queen Riverboat

If you want to do something unique and fun to get into the Christmas spirit then you can take the Ghosts of Christmas Past Walking Tour. This 2-hour tour takes you through historic Savannah while you listen to interesting ghost stories

Make sure that you stop and visit the Cathedral of St. John because it is BEAUTIFULLY decorated for the holiday season. TripAdvisor ranks this cathedral #4 out of 191 things to do in Savannah, Georgia! 

Winter in USA Cathedral of St. John's Interior
Winter in USA Cathedral of St. John's Interior

Winter Weather in Savannah, Georgia:

You can expect average highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. It’s great weather for walking around and exploring the city during the day. Bring a jacket for the cooler evenings.  

Viator Ad

Hopefully, you have been inspired to travel and see winter in the USA. There really are options here for EVERYONE regardless of your favorite type of weather. With a variety of options for activities, you should be able to please everyone on your list!  

If you found one of the Best Places to Visit in the Winter in the USA, then you might also want to read How to Pack a Suitcase That Saves You Money so you can start packing for your trip!

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LET’S CONNECT: Which one of the locations from “Best Places to Visit in the Winter in the USA” would you like to visit? Do you like your winters warm or cold?

A Capone Connection

Andrea Capone is a travel blogger at www.acaponeconnection.com | A Capone Connection was started to help inspire and connect people who are passionate about travel.

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