Turn up the heating, close your eyes, and fantasise about sun kissed climes. Here are six U.S. destinations where you won’t need your hat and gloves this winter.
The sprawling city of Phoenix lies in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, and offers plenty of winter sun with blue skies and temperatures in the 70s. Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens, a stunning 55 acre expanse of desert thriving plant life, spanning colourful cacti, flowers and trees. Explore numerous hiking trails and admire the art installations dotted around the grounds. Meet elephants, tigers, orangutans and komodo dragons at Phoenix Zoo, and ride the safari train. Take a hike up Camelback Mountain for wonderful views across the city. Visit Taliesin West in Scottsdale, former home of award winning architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who designed New York City’s ground-breaking Guggenheim. Explore the innovative buildings constructed by Wright and his students, which incorporate local materials to complement the stunning landscape. A UNESCO heritage site, his estate houses a school of architecture to nurture emerging talent.
Los Angeles, California
Grab your shades and hit the beach in the city of angels. Zuma, Santa Monica State and Dockweiler are all great bets. Catch the sunset at El Matador State Beach, an idyllic swathe of sand in western Malibu. Fill your boots with an international range of dishes under one roof at LA’s historic Grand Central Market. A bevy of traders offer tempting street food that spans Japanese bento to German currywurst and Texan BBQ. Take a hike in vast Griffith Park, where you’ll find over 4,000 acres of hikes and trails interspersed with great views across the city. Check out the excellent space themed displays at Griffith Observatory, a stunning architectural landmark.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The vibrant city renowned for its music, creole cuisine and period architecture enjoys mild winters with temperatures in the 60s. Take a walking tour around the cobblestone alleys of the bustling French Quarter, a National Historic Landmark. Mingle with street performers on Bourbon Street and sample its celebrated bar scene. Visit imposing St Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, the oldest cathedral in the U.S. Check out authentic jazz clubs on nearby Frenchman Street. For gorgeous historic architecture away from the crowds, take a streetcar to the peaceful Garden District. Discover beautifully preserved mansion houses and verdant gardens, alongside antique shops and excellent eateries.
The third largest and most visited of the Hawaiian archipelago, Oahu is a tropical idyll in the turquoise waters of the Pacific, offering a gamut of land and sea based adventures. Honolulu, its capital, offers a palm fringed crest of sand backed by a plethora of shops, restaurants and nightlife. Learn to surf on iconic Waikiki beach, or you’re already adept, get to grips with North Shore’s more challenging waves. Hanauma Bay and Shark’s Cove offer great diving and snorkelling. Visit the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, where you’ll board a boat to visit the poignant Arizona Memorial. Inland, hike up the volcanic crater of Diamond Head. It takes about 45 minutes to climb 560 feet to the summit, where you’re rewarded with a dramatic glimpse into the peak’s crater, plus superb vistas across Waikiki.
Palm Springs, California
Nestled in California’s Coachella Valley and framed by the backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains, Palm Springs makes a laid back winter destination. Boasting balmy temperatures and long sunny days, the town has long charmed visitors with its attractive mid-century architecture, excellent dining, shops and galleries, plus pools and spas aplenty. Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway across the ridges of Chino Canyon to Mt San Jacinto State Park. Each car gradually rotate as you climb to just over 8,500 feet, giving 360 degree views of the valley below. Pack hiking shoes and a picnic, then drive 40 miles east of the city to explore the dramatic, arid landscape of Joshua Tree National Park, where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge.
St Petersburg, Florida
The sunny, friendly city of St Petersburg sits on a projection of land flanked by Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Sun lovers, swimmers and divers flock to 35 miles of powder white sand beaches, lapped by bath-warm waters. Popular choices include Madeira, Clearwater and St Pete’s beach, where the distinctive pink Don CeSar Resort looms in the background. Along with its pristine shores, the city is beloved for its arts, restaurants and craft breweries, and supports a thriving LGBTQ+ community. Don’t miss the Salvador Dali Museum, a visually audacious structure, which houses the artist’s largest collection of work outside of Europe.
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