Admit it: You’re ready for a warm-weather vacation. All this rain and cold weather make you want to hit the reverse button on the change of seasons.
“If your personal travel bug doesn’t allow you to let go of summer just yet, there are plenty of warm and sunny locales still offering summer-like experiences,” says Adam Lawless, a spokesman for Viator.
Full disclosure: I have one of those personal travel bugs. I grew up in a place that once proudly proclaimed that it was the destination in which winter took place. (But I still love Austria, just maybe not in January.)
Since then, I’ve chased the sun and have lived in Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas — you get the idea. For me, the perfect temperature in late December is the mid-70s.
Unless I’m skiing.
The top U.S. destinations for fall 2022
Here are the top domestic destinations this fall, according to TripAdvisor:
1. Las Vegas
2. New York City
5. Lahaina, Hawaii
6. Key West
8. Myrtle Beach
9. New Orleans
10. Miami Beach
Notice a trend?
Only two places — New York and Nashville — are not warm-weather destinations. Unless, of course, you visit during the summer. These are excellent places to find a warm-weather vacation experience near you. I know because I’ve lived in a few of them (Florida Keys, Orlando, Honolulu).
But there’s more. Here’s my list of destinations where you can still experience summer.
Anaheim is the place if you like year-round sunshine and being close to everything. Plus, they have a little theme park you may have heard about. Anaheim is halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, so you can get anywhere quickly, as long as you avoid rush hour on I-5. The city also has first-rate hotels, including the JW Marriott, the Westin Anaheim Resort and the Viv Hotel. The Disneyland fireworks are free for anyone nearby — no tickets are required.
Florida is, of course, on everyone’s list for a warm-weather getaway. Bradenton, which largely escaped Hurricane Ian’s wrath, is a classic Florida beach destination, with a historic fishing village and an eclectic restaurant scene. You can visit the Florida Maritime Museum, which preserves traditional knowledge and cultural artifacts from Florida’s fishing and seafaring heritage. Can check out Bradenton’s Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, which is home to a manatee rehabilitation habitat. And, of course, there’s the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, a 66-acre museum complex located in nearby Sarasota. High temperatures are in the low 80s at this time of year.
Jekyll Island, Georgia
Summer lasts until early November in this part of Georgia, where you can still get 70-degree weather this time of year. Located on the coast of Georgia between Jacksonville, Fla., and Savannah, Ga., this barrier island is all about nature. It’s a small town next to an enormous preserve where you can go bird-watching, boating and enjoying the great outdoors. Don’t forget a visit to the internationally acclaimed Georgia Sea Turtle Center, where you can learn about the island’s ecosystems and history.
If you don’t mind a longer flight, you could check out Hawaii — specifically, Maui. It’s the trendiest of the Hawaiian islands, and no palace on Maui is more trendy than the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea. The Four Seasons has a fall program for visitors that includes tours of the night sky with a Hawaiian navigator, a class on coral reefs, and botanical block printing, among other things. Maui is about as close as you can come to having an eternal summer. The temperatures are consistently summer-like unless you climb to the top of the volcano, in which case you will feel right at home if you’re from the East Coast, at least in terms of the temperature.
Average daytime temperatures are still in the mid-70s this time of year. “Our summers are quite hot and humid, so by the time we reach October and November, it feels like a normal U.S. summer,” explains Christopher Falvey, co-founder of Unique NOLA Tours, a ghost tour company in New Orleans. If you don’t like crowds, avoid Halloween, which is a big draw for tourists. “It’s almost as big as Mardi Gras,” he notes. Falvey says there’s an occasional cold snap in the winter, but a few days later, the warm weather returns.
It’s still summer in San Antonio, where daytime highs are pushing 90 degrees this weekend. But don’t worry, the weather will cool down later this week. San Antonio is known for more than its famous Riverwalk. The rolling hills around the city have vineyards, hillside bed-and-breakfasts and resorts that offer a five-star experience. If you visit, check out the city’s vibrant arts scene, including The Witte and the San Antonio Museum of Art.
If you can imagine an Old West town meeting Beverly Hills, you can imagine Scottsdale. With more than 330 days of sunshine, this suburb of Phoenix has an almost endless summer (it’s still in the 80s well into October). Scottsdale has more than 70 hotels and resorts, including the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa and the world-famous Phoenician. Plus, Scottsdale has one of the best shopping malls in the world, Scottsdale Fashion Square.
If you want something close — like, really close — check out Virginia Beach. “Our city is within a day’s drive for two-thirds of U.S. residents,” says Nancy Helman, director of the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau. “And while we may be known mostly for our beaches, there is so much more to enjoy.” Virginia beach offers biking, hiking, birding, and fishing at our numerous parks and open spaces. You can stroll through the ViBe District and watch the walls come alive with local artistry. Today’s forecast high temperature: 74 degrees and sunny.
But is it a real summer?
You can find a place nearby where the weather is warm, but it’s not a real summer, experts say.
“If you want to experience summer travel outside of summer, you have to travel somewhere it is actually summer,” says Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion Travel Group. “The southern hemisphere offers a wealth of places to escape to when it is winter at home.”
Friedman recommends spending a little more time on a plane and exploring Australia, New Zealand or South America, all of which have southern hemisphere summers.
“It’s a great opportunity to leave our winter and see summer again,” she says.
Don’t worry, my friends. I’ll be reporting from there soon. After all, winter is coming. I mean, summer.
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