8 Warm Places to Visit in the US this December

If you’re looking for warm places to visit in December, the USA has an array of worthy destinations to escape the winter chill.

These delightful vacation spots boast blue skies and pleasant weather, perfect for exploring and celebrating the Christmas season with your loved ones.

Although you won’t experience snowy landscapes, there is plenty of festive charm and traditions to make your trip enjoyable, and wide range of activities for everyone to enjoy, from building sandcastles on the beach to scenic bike rides along the coast.

So, put away those heavy coats and grab your sunnies.

Here 8 must-visit warm places in the US in December for a sunny and memorable vacation:

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8 Best Destinations for Warm Winter Vacations (USA)

Let’s face it, sometimes we all need to get away from the cold for a bit. And December is the absolute perfect time to travel!

Why? Well first off, it’s cheaper. While most people are hunkered down for the month of December, you’ll take advantage of discounted flight and hotel prices.

Secondly, it’s so dang fun to experience how different places celebrate the holidays!

Whether you’re seeking an unwinding winter experience in a coastal city or desert town, you’ll find several suitable locations right here in the US.

Let’s have a look at the top warm vacation spots in the U.S. to explore.

1 | San Diego, CA

San Diego is a wonderful vacation spot, especially if you’re traveling on a budget. And as one of the warmest U.S. cities in December, you’ll have your choice of over 70 miles of coastline to relax, swim, and surf.

One of the best experiences in the city is witnessing the migration of gray whales across the Pacific Ocean. Although this mesmerizing sight is free to behold, a whale-watching cruise will offer a better vantage point along spectacular coastal views.

For more enchanting winter season experiences, visit Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo. It’s a great time to visit the world famous zoo as it’s lit up with Christmas cheer and boasts joyful music, tasty treats, and roaming entertainers. 

There are so many kid-friendly activities in San Diego to possibly list here, but some of our favorites for the holidays include the Gaslamp Pet Parade, the San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, or a seasonal show at the Old Globe Theater in Balboa Park.

2 | Lahaina, HI

When thinking of warm winter states, Hawaii is often one of the first that comes to mind. And the old whaling town of Lahaina offers an exotic escape with pleasantly warm weather in December.

Nestled between Maui’s serene western coastline and West Maui Mountains, Lahaina is home to some of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches along with stunning scenery. In town, you’ll find a vibrant art scene, rich cultural history, and fantastic restaurants for every taste and budget.

A winter event that should not be missed is The Annual Lighting of the Banyan Tree in the heart of Lahaina. Other exciting things to do are romantic sunset boat cruise, holiday luau, or a famous Maui whale watching cruise.

3 | San Juan, PR

As a territory of the United States, San Juan is a must-visit warm place in December for a well-deserved getaway with lovely weather and breathtaking surroundings. A better yet, there’s no passport required! 

Puerto Rico boasts year-round breathtaking beaches, lively nightlife, and plenty of outdoor activities, but is even more magical in December when the crowds are gone.

Here you can enjoy a glowy night kayak across Condado Lagoon. Alternatively, opt for a full-day adventure excursion including hiking the magnificent El Yunque and kayaking in the Bioluminescent Bay.

For a spectacular culinary experience, a food tour of the flavors of Old San Juan will certainly satisfy your taste buds. As the city is warm in December, you can comfortably wander around top attractions like Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Sitio Historico de San Juan.

4 | Palm Springs, CA

California is one of the most visited warm states in December, and with so many fun activities in Palm Springs, countless travelers flock to the city for a desert getaway each year. If you’re seeking a relaxing retreat with a laid-back atmosphere, Palm Springs certainly will not disappoint!

You’ll find famed hot springs, mid-century modern homes, and scenic golf courses. When yo’re not relaxing by the pool, wander around vintage boutiques, dine at top restaurants, or head out hiking (Joshua Tree National Park is a short drive away!)

Whether you want to tackle a bicycle adventure through Palm Springs’ historical neighborhoods or stroll around farmer’s markets and festivals, the city offers unforgettable experiences for everyone. With so much to do, it’s easy to see why it’s one of the best places to travel in December.

photo credit: the clever goose

5 | Seaside, FL

Florida is the warmest place in the U.S. in December, and what better way to experience the delightful weather than with a drive along scenic Highway 30A. This once rural road takes you along stunning white sand beaches for over 18 miles on coastline. 

The highway connects a number of vibrant beach communities, but one of our favorites is the idyllic town of Seaside. This small picture-perfect community has an Old Florida vibe, with a lively town square that hosts several holiday events from holiday storytelling to Christmas Eve at the Chapel. Or head to nearby Rosemary Beach for their annual Holiday Tour of Homes.

You won’t find sweltering temperatures in Seaside in December, but rather a perfect 65 degrees for enjoying a walk on the beach. Or trade in the bathing suit for sneakers: 30A offers 4 state parks and miles of hiking and biking trails that are best visited in the temperate winter months.

6 | Austin, TX

The welcoming city of Austin should certainly be on your bucket list when it comes to the top warm places to travel to in December.

The “keep it weird” Texas capital is known for it’s famous comfort food eats like tacos and tex mex, food truck parks, and finger-licking barbeque. And hanging out on South Congress is definitely the best way to see the quirky side of Austin.

The Texas state capital is home to plenty of holiday events too. There’s an abundance of twinkling lights to offer the perfect ambiance for creating memorable moments. Even if you only have 48 hours in Austin, be sure to visit the magical Trail of Lights in Zilker Park, Peppermint Parkway, Mozart’s Light Show, or Lumination at the Texas Arboretum.

7 | New Orleans, LA

New Orleans is an excellent travel destination year-round. But if you want to avoid the crowds, winter is a wonderful time to visit!

The southern city boasts breathtaking colonial architecture, live jazz music everywhere, an exciting nightlife, and world-class restaurants with scrumptious Creole cuisine. There are plenty of fun New Orleans activities to add to your itinerary, and you can enjoy a variety of celebrations and festivals during the holiday season too, like NOLA ChristmasFest.

New Orleans offers some of the warmest weather in the U.S. in December, which is ideal for a French Quarter architecture tour. A few other attractions that shouldn’t be missed include St. Louis Cathedral, live music on Frenchmen Street, and a walking tour of the Garden District.

8 | Scottsdale, AZ

A trip to this Arizona desert town is a great option for a variety of travelers. Whether you’re a nature lover or looking for a serene warm weather escape, Scottsdale, located in the Phoenix metro area, is an easy and affordable city to travel to. 

For those wanting to take it easy, book a stay at one of Scottsdale’s relaxing spa hotels, like Gurney’s Sanctuary Camelback Mountain or The Scott Resort & Spa.

If it’s the outdoors you seek, hike to the top of Pinnacle Peak or Camelback Mountain. The Scottsdale area boasts over 400 miles of trails through Arizona’s Sonoran desert landscape.

And when it’s time to head out for the evening, make your way to Old Town Scottsdale. During the holiday season, Scottsdazzle takes over the Old Town, with a month-long festivities like art workshops, music concerts, and a live nativity, to name a few.

Which warm US city would you most like to visit in December?

xo laura

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  1. Love your photos of the San Diego area. Where exactly is the the lovely boardwalk and stairs to the beach? Enjoy reading your blog and your family is lovely. Thank you. Ann

    1. Thanks so much Ann! It’s a short trail tucked between the Scripps Institute buildings near Birch Aquarium. If you search “Scripps Coastal Meander Trailhead” on Google Maps, you’ll find where the boardwalk starts!