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Holiday Travel Guide: Best Locations for a Winter Vacation

The weather is cooling down throughout much of the country, but holiday travel is heating up! That means that it's time to start looking for where you're going to spend your festive winter months. Will it be a winter wonderland where you can embrace the thrills and chills for which this season is known? Perhaps you want to head somewhere nice and warm instead—with less snow shoveling and more light sweater weather. Or maybe you want to focus more on the holidays themselves and have a festive winter. Take a look at our holiday travel guide and see what best fits you!

Head to a Warmer Climate

Warm winters are a dream for many, and Southern California is a terrific option for enjoying holiday vacations with warmer weather in gorgeous locations like San Diego. But don't let the nice weather fool you. San Diegans love holiday festivities just as much as those in colder climates, creating a merry and bright atmosphere throughout the area. Welk Resorts San Diego especially goes all out to bring snow, sun, and family fun at our annual Winter Wonderland event. Here you can enjoy fresh, real snow while still basking in the warmer Southern California climate.

Other festive sites to visit include Old Town San Diego, which is always beautified with decorations while it also plays host to a variety of festive events. San Diego Botanic Garden's Garden of Lights is also a holiday paradise with more than 100,000 beautiful lights strewn around the grounds, while local theme parks such as SeaWorld and Legoland offer Christmas-themed attractions. Meanwhile, football fans descend on America's Finest City in high numbers for tailgating with friends and catching the annual Holiday Bowl, which is played on New Year’s Eve.

The desert is another warm destination that is quite popular for vacationers looking for holiday travel deals. A popular spot for California locals and visitors, is Palm Springs. During the holidays, you can find fun events like the traditional Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade for those looking to be dazzled by stunning Christmas light displays. Throughout winter, a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a stunning trip with views of the snowy mountain tops and surrounding scenery. In fact, there’s so much you can do and places to explore during winter, we’ve compiled a list to help you make the most of your Palm Springs winter getaway.

Another popular desert hotspot for winter is Arizona. Areas like Phoenix and Sedona have average winter temps just under 70 degrees that allow for relaxing options like year-round golfing and hiking. Plus, the moderate weather creates the perfect weather to lounge in the valleys while you enjoy stunning views of snow-capped hills and surrounding mesas.

Snow for the Holidays

One of the best places to go if you're looking for an ideal mountain escape this holiday season is Lake Tahoe. Skiers will be especially delighted with this location as some of the world's best ski resorts are located here. In fact, the powder is so nice and slopes so perfect, the 1960 Winter Olympics were held here. But if you're not a skier, this area still has a lot to offer. Snowshoeing is a popular activity while the views are spectacular from a variety of vantage points on the mountain. A sleigh ride is another option that can really put you in the festive spirit. Plus, the wilderness feel of Lake Tahoe in and of itself is enough to attract many to this year-round destination. Simply put, this hot spot is a great place to get away from it all and immerse yourself in nature for more than just holiday travel.

Another great option for snow lovers is Breckenridge, Colorado, as this mountain town is a holiday travel destination for skiing enthusiasts the world over. Many heading here can look forward to the Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas, which offer plenty of holiday-filled fun for those here during this time of the year.

Additionally, sports fans are sure to get their adrenaline going when they take in December's Dew Tour, a high-profile event featuring many of the world's best skiers and snowboarders. In addition to the winter activities offered here such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sleigh riding, Breckenridge provides a number of other attractions to enjoy throughout winter. For example, Breckenridge Brewery is the area’s oldest craft brewery as it's been brewing beer since 1990, and the Breckenridge Arts District provides art enthusiasts with plenty of opportunities to get inspired.

Exotic Adventures for the Season

One magical place to visit for the holidays is Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. This locale is modeled after Saratoga Springs, N.Y., offering some classic architecture and easy access to Walt Disney World. The world's most visited theme park is always decked out for the holidays while it plays host to events like Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Sunset Seasons Greetings and Flurry of Fun, where visitors can even take in a winter feel with some falling snow despite December temperatures reaching the 80s in Florida. Meanwhile, Epcot International Festival of the Holidays shows how different places in the world celebrate the holidays.

Those looking for an international vacation during this colder time of the year should consider a holiday vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. In fact, if you're looking for especially warm temperatures, this would be a great option as the average high temperature here in December is 80 degrees. In this holiday travel destination, one of the more traditional Christmas events is Las Posadas. This nine-day celebration features candlelit processions each evening as the journey of Joseph and Mary is reenacted for the enjoyment of tourists and guests. Cabo is a top place to visit after the holidays as well, with whales migrating through the area from December to April. The fantastic weather also makes it easier to explore the region and visit amazing local attractions for cultural adventures.


When deciding your holiday travel plans, Welk Resorts offers luxury accommodations in a family friendly setting that’s perfect for your winter escape, no matter where you choose to go. Be sure to book your stay at one of our scenic resorts in San Diego, Tahoe, and Palm Springs. We also offer our highly sought-after Experiences Collection, which features high-end resort options in ideal winter hotspots like Florida, Arizona, and more! If you're not already a Welk Platinum Program Owner, call 877.279.3569 to schedule a tour at any one of our beautiful properties and learn how you can access these exclusive resorts.

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