Winter Vacation Ideas

The best winter vacation ideas for some travelers are the simplest. Take your family camping in the mountains, or spend a week on a beach soaking up the sun, not doing much of anything. Other travelers opt to fill their vacations with cultural experiences and outdoor adventure. The best winter vacation spots are different for each traveler, but there are a few destinations that will please every palate.

One of the best places to go in the winter is the Golden State: California. Although the weather in the winter is not quite warm enough for casual swimming—nor is the ocean—it is still possible go surfing year-round as long as you wear a good thick wetsuit. Some of the best surfing areas are in Santa Cruz in the north, and Orange County, LA, and San Diego in the south of the state. California is also one of the best winter golf destinations, with many world-class golf courses and golf resorts.

One of the best winter destination spots for golfing is the desert retreat of Palm Springs, California, which is about 80 miles east of Los Angeles and hosts many travelers from colder climes, who come to spend the winter in resorts that feature beautiful green golf greens and year-round sunny weather. For more adventurous types, some great winter vacation ideas are skiing and snowboarding at the California ski resorts at Lake Tahoe and Mammoth. The great benefit of skiing in California during the winter is that day temperatures rarely drop far below freezing, so you have the benefit of snow without toe-numbing temperatures.

Australia and New Zealand are two of the best winter vacation spots for travelers from the Northern Hemisphere, as their summer season occurs during our winter. The Gold Coast of Australia is lined with pristine golden beaches and excellent surf, and Australia's relatively small population (only 22.5 million in this vast continent!) means that you don't have to share the waves with anyone. Australians love the outdoors, and one of many great winter vacation ideas is to go camping at hundreds of well-maintained campsites between Brisbane and Melbourne. This allows you and the whole family to enjoy the spectacular canyons and forests of Australia. Consider going camping in the beautiful Blue Mountains close to Sydney, one of the best winter vacation spots for nature-lovers. Here, you can camp with a view of mountains and canyons, and glimpse lorikeets, parrots and kangaroos in close proximity right at your campsite.

New Zealand is a close plane trip away, and is one of the best places to go in the winter, as its natural beauty is contained within a manageable area - perfect for a one or two week trip. Renting a car is easy, and will allow you to drive over the entire north and south islands, stopping at the hot springs of Rotorua, exploring the Fjordlands, or climbing Mount Ngauruhoe, fondly known as Mount Doom, as it was depicted in the Peter Jackson movie trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.

From Australia and New Zealand, you're just a hop, skip and a jump away from Southeast Asia, one of the best places to go in the winter for white sand beaches, beach parties, and intriguing culture. The tropical beach resorts of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia beckon both those hoping for a luxurious beach resort stay, such as those found at Thailand's Koh Samui or Phuket, as well as budget backpacker pleasure at the Malaysian Perhentian Islands. Meanwhile, you can enjoy warm (albeit humid) weather and fascinating local culture in countries such as Vietnam and Laos, both countries with colorful pasts and vibrant folk cultures.

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