Things to Do, Travel

Warm Winter Wonderlands: 5 Budget-Friendly, Not-So Winter Vacations

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If you live in Louisiana, there’s a chance you don’t have a high tolerance for cold environments. While everyone else is going skiing or somewhere far north for their winter vacation, you can’t help but want to stay warm. If this is the case, you might want to consider taking advantage of the light crowds and cheap flight tickets to these vibrant, beachy destinations.

St. Petersburg, FL
St. Petersburg, Florida (affectionately known as St. Pete) is a beach town brimming with charm, color, and plenty of sunshine. It is less expensive than other popular destinations in Florida, easy to navigate, and located mere miles from clear blue waters. Don’t be fooled by its size–there is plenty to do here, all within a short drive of Tampa and Orlando.

Start your day by visiting one of the many local coffee shops before working your way over to the Dali Museum. The museum itself is a work of art, featuring a helical staircase, an avant-garden, and a glass dome building. You can grab lunch in the museum and eat in the garden before heading downtown.

Before the sun sets, stop by the Don CeSar, an iconic pink hotel that overlooks the white sand beaches of St. Pete Beach. Grab a meal or a drink at the hotel and make your way over to the beach to watch the sky explode with the colors of the sunset.

Puerto Rico
Did you know that you don’t need a passport to go to Puerto Rico? Since it is a United States territory, you can travel to Puerto Rico without having to worry about updating your passport (or getting one to begin with). This vibrant Caribbean island says bienvenidos with its sprawling mountains, beautiful beaches, and rich culture. This little island packs a punch; each region is vastly different from the other, so prepare for a full itinerary!

Some must-see destinations in Puerto Rico include San Juan (the island’s colorful capital), El Yunque (the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System), and La Parguera (a village with crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling). Of course, you’ll have to taste Puerto Rico’s local cuisine and stop by the birthplace of the piña colada.

Long Beach, MS
Long Beach, Mississippi is known as “Friendly City” for a reason. This beach town is cozy and quaint, known for its small business community and as one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. It is the perfect beach getaway for those who want to avoid the crowds.

A tight-knit community resides in Long Beach, and it welcomes you to support its many local businesses and restaurants during your visit. Some of the best restaurants include Shaggy’s, Steve’s Marina, and Harbor View. As you explore, you may drive through peaceful and pedestrian-friendly streets lined with beach houses galore. Of course, you have to stop by the beaches when you’re there, especially the secret islands located a little further south such as Ship Island, Horn Island, and Cat Island–all great spots for fishing, wildlife watching, and relaxing.

Galveston, TX
If you’re looking for a warm, coastal holiday experience, Galveston is the place to be! Galveston, Texas is its own winter wonderland from November to January. You’ll be able to soak up the sun on the beach and take the Polar Express Train Ride to several holiday attractions in the city, all on the same day.

Moody Gardens’s event, Holiday in the Gardens, is a great place to start. Take a stroll through the mile-long Festival of Lights, go on an underwater journey of ice sculptures, sing along with Rudolph and his friends, and so much more. You won’t want to miss an evening cruise on the Colonel Paddlewheel Boat for a spectacular view of the holiday lights, either. Galveston has a delicious selection of restaurants to choose from as well, so don’t forget to bring
your appetite!

San Diego, CA
While San Diego, California is a little further away from home, it’s an excellent destination for a warm winter vacation. Plenty of holiday events, beaches, and sunshine await in this bustling waterfront city. And, for this time of year, airline tickets will be affordable, so book a flight for a quick trip to the west coast and see all San Diego has to offer.

One of the most iconic San Diego destinations is Balboa Park, a stunning public park that sprawls across 1,200 acres. It’s perfect for art lovers, history buffs, and casual visitors alike. With three museums, three gardens, a globe theater, and dozens of other attractions, Balboa Park is not just an ordinary park. If you’re planning a Christmas vacation, there are dozens of festivals, light shows, and free holiday events around town. You can also stop at the San Diego Zoo and check out notable neighborhoods such as Old Town and the East Village. In between destinations, you’ll want a taste of San Diego cuisine, featuring seafood and Mexican flare–often at the same time.

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