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9 Places to Go for a Warm Winter Vacation

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These warm winter vacations will help you make it through the rest of this cold, dark, and dreary season.[st_content_ad]

Warm Places to Visit in December

The first day of winter has hit and you’re already over it. Time to head somewhere warm and sunny, such as:


dubai at sunrise.

In the summer, Dubai can be unbearably hot. In December, the temperature averages a pretty much perfect 79 degrees. If you’re still in the holiday consumerist spirit, the Dubai Shopping Festival is held every December, so you can get excellent deals on designer goods, electronics, and more. Time your visit for New Year’s Eve if you want to experience one of the country’s over-the-top celebrations.

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St. Thomas

St. thomas sunset mountain view.

If you don’t want to miss the holiday festivities but prefer to experience them in warm weather, head to St. Thomas in December for its annual St. Thomas Lighted Boat Parade. Hang out on the waterfront with an icy drink in hand (because it will be 84 degrees) and watch the celebrations. Although the island has been hit hard by hurricanes in the recent past, it’s rebounding and definitely open for tourists. Plus, you won’t even need a passport to visit this U.S. territory.

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aerial view of rio de janeiro brazil.

Wait all day in freezing Times Square just to watch a ball drop, or party on the beach with the beautiful people all day and night until midnight in warm Rio de Janeiro? No contest. December temperatures hover around 86 degrees in Brazil, so spend some time exploring before winding up your trip at Reveillon, one of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve parties, held on Copacabana Beach.

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Warm Places to Visit in January

The excitement of the holidays has passed, and now you’re staring down another two months of winter. Time to get out of town to:

Turks and Caicos

grace bay beach turks and caicos.

Averaging just 43 days of rain all year long, Turks and Caicos is the driest country in the Caribbean, so if you must have sunny skies, come here in January. Temperatures average around 81 degrees, and there are seven solid hours of sunshine during a typical January day. Thanks to an average water temperature of 79 degrees, you’ll even be able to comfortably swim in the ocean here.

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Phuket, Thailand

phuket island boats and scenery.

January is one of the best months to visit Thailand—temperatures average a delightful 81 degrees, and it’s solidly after monsoon season, so it’s one of the country’s driest times. Head to Phuket where you can expect long, sunny beach days and calm water that’s great for diving.

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Key West, Florida

Key west florida street.

If you can’t spare much vacation time but still want to get warm, look no further than Florida in January. This is one of the Sunshine State’s driest and least humid months, with temperatures averaging around 75 degrees. Key West throws quite a party in January—with tons of festivals happening this month, including the Mile 0 Music Fest, the Food and Wine Festival, and the Seafood Festival.

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Warm Places to Visit in February

The first day of spring still isn’t for another month, and you’re not sure if you’re going to make it. Get out of town to:

Kauai, Hawaii

na pali coast in the fog kauai hawaii.

Nicknamed the Garden Island for a good reason, this lush island is one of the wildest and least developed of the Hawaiian Islands. This is the spot to seek out if you’re looking for hiking, adventure sports, or simply lying on the beach—all of which you can do while enjoying average temperatures of 72 degrees.

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sunset barbados beach.

February is right in the middle of Barbados’ dry season, so you can expect eight or nine hours a day of sunshine and temperatures around 84 degrees. Plus, February is when Barbados holds its annual Holetown Festival, which celebrates the first English settlement in the country. Nightly concerts, daily parades, and a carnival liven up the island for an entire week.

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cheetahs on the serengeti national park tanzania.

While many other countries in Africa are in their rainy season, Tanzania is not. Which is pretty fortunate, since February is also the calving month for the Great Migration. This is the best month of the year to visit if you want to see baby wildebeest, and it’s also when you’ll have the best chance of spotting a cheetah.

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More from SmarterTravel:

 Caroline Morse Teel is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from around the world. 

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo,, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

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