Great American Cities to Visit This Winter

For many Americans, the season of winter can actually be a depressing time. The beauty of the first snowfall wears out quickly, and freezing temperatures seem to overstay their welcome. Add to that cloudy skies and less daylight hours, and vacation is certainly in order. Though tourist favorites like Chicago and Philadelphia may not be ideal to visit in the middle of January, there are a number of great places throughout the country sure to provide a great holiday, whether traveling alone or with family.

Of course most people’s idea of a winter escape is somewhere abroad. Lonely Planet, a highly-rated blog which caters to wanderlusts around the world, suggests destinations like the Philippines, Iran, and Guatemala. I don’t think anyone would disagree that each of those offer an incredible vacation experience, but with over 3 million square miles and varying attractions within our own country, most of which its citizens have never seen, one doesn’t have to go that far to find something equally exciting and interesting. Consider these awesome cities for your next vacay:

Phoenix, Arizona

Cacti in pheonixThis beautiful desert city, the largest in Arizona is a great for those looking for warmth to knock off the winter chill. Here, you’ll find sunny skies and average temperatures above 70 degrees in the months of January and February, and high 80s in March. This city is great for outdoor activity like hiking and nature walks. It’s home to the Grand Canyon and other marvels, like Hole In The Rock. The nearby suburb, Scottsdale, offers tons of shopping and entertainment, and is equally beautiful.

Check out: The Desert Botanical Garden and The Heard Museum

Memphis, Tennessee

Photo Beale StreetThis southern mecca of arts is sure to surprise newcomers with its charm, tons of history and vibrant, unique culture. If you’re a foodie, particularly a purveyor of great barbecue, this is the place you want to visit. Furthermore, as the hometown of classic artists such as Elvis Presley and and newcomers like Justin Timberlake, as well as the birthplace of Aretha Franklin, this town-like city maintains its ranking as one of the best places in the country to experience live music and incredibly talented musicians, in all genres.

Check out: Memphis Rock n’ Soul Museum and Beale Street

San Diego, California

San Diego waterfront parkUnlike nearby Los Angeles, you won’t find celebrity tours and movie studios, but you will find lots of sunshine, beautiful beaches along the Pacific ocean, and lots of character. Though the 8th largest city in the country, San Diego doesn’t get as much fanfare as, say, San Francisco, but it should. 32 million people visited “America’s Finest City” in 2012, due to its famous Balboa Park, distinguished food culture and craft beer scene. Winter is a low season for travel in the city; prime time to visit and great for children.

Check out: San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Cabrillo National Monument

Honolulu, Hawaii

Alex Atkind in HonoluluWith clear blue waters, white sandy beaches, Honolulu, the Hawaii state capital, is indeed the ideal cold weather getaway. Temperatures average around 80 degrees during the day, so going out for a surf or enjoying any of the many outdoor activities the city offers is a breeze. Also, winter is whale season, a time during which thousands of whales migrate to the state to give birth. Whale watching is certainly a main attraction for the many who visit during this time of year. Keep in mind, this is the most popular time of year to visit, so unlike San Diego, you won’t find great deals and short lines at tourist attractions, but it’s popular during the season for a reason.

Check out: Shangri La and Bishop Museum

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