4 Winter Escapes from San Diego
From snowy peaks to tropical waters, winter is what you make of it. Whether you’re lounging on the beach, exploring a national park, or finding your bliss in a luxury resort, make this winter getaway one to remember.
Yellowstone Country, Montana
This time of year in Montana’s Yellowstone Country, steam billows from the geysers, and lift lines bustle with snow lovers looking for fresh powder. Those who prefer Nordic skiing or snowshoeing follow trails to geysers and thermal features. Snowmobiles and snowcats thrum into the West Yellowstone backcountry. A short drive from Gardiner, bison, wolves, elk, and more wildlife can be seen just off the road. Cooke City becomes a gateway to world-class snowmobiling via Yellowstone National Park. Coffee shops, breweries, and art galleries offer a cozy refuge. After snow-filled days, travelers retreat to mountain chalets, plush hotels, and even hostel bunks to share pictures of wildlife encounters and epic days in the mountains.
Cabo San Lucas, BCS
By night, Cabo San Lucas offers exceptional dining, nightlife, and hotel stays at the luxurious Casa Dorada Resort and Spa. Guests won’t want to miss the saltwater spa, the salon, or the simple luxury of sunbathing on the resort’s private beach—which is great for swimming, a rarity along this rocky coastline—or dual landscaped pools. By day there’s no shortage of wonders to explore—when you’re not lounging poolside or on the peninsula’s legendary beaches, that is. The warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez are ideal for swimming, surfing, deep-sea fishing, and tours where sightings of marine life, like whale sharks, are common. Golfers will relish the variety of links, including courses designed by Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent Jones II, tucked among arid peaks or fronting the emerald sea. Those with a taste for adventure can open the throttle of an ATV on an eco-tour of the surrounding desert, or take a jaunt to the charming seaside town of Todos Santos, just an hour’s drive away, brimming with art and architecture that exemplify the region.
Rancho La Puerta, BC
From guided nature walks and hikes to art, organic farm-to-table cooking classes, mindfulness workshops, and yoga, Rancho La Puerta heals the whole body, mind, and spirit. Book your winter getaway at the Ranch in December or January and find yourself immersed in unrivaled relaxation and luxury this winter. Just beyond its grounds, northern Baja’s stunning desert landscape begins on the slopes of 3,885-foot Mount Kuchumaa, a sacred site for the indigenous Kumeyaay people. The region is flush with wildflowers and wildlife like coyotes, rabbits, foxes, and birds of prey. To the east, adventure awaits in the otherworldly mountain hideaway of La Rumorosa. To the south, the highway traces the elegant curves of the wine-drenched and food-obsessed Valle de Guadalupe, with the culture and fresh mariscos of Ensenada just beyond. And of course, no visit to northern Baja is complete without a stopover in the cultural haven of Tijuana—a city that holds more than its share of world-class museums, art, food, and local beer and wine.
Hawai‘i Island (affectionately called “The Big Island”) and Maui embody the state at its laid-back best. The white sands and emerald waters promise a lifetime’s worth of sunbathing, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Spend some quality time with your fellow travelers—migrating humpback whales, that is—during the peak whale-watching season of January through March. The best way to get the lay of the land is via helicopter tours of the peaks, deep gorges, outer reefs, and waterfall-studded coast. On the Big Island, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, both towering over 13,000 feet, stand as dramatic backdrops. To understand how these islands came to be and how indigenous people thrived on them, visit any of numerous national parks, like Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, south of Hilo. The archipelago’s legendary coffee grows on the Big Island’s stunning volcanic slopes, making a tour of a coffee farm a vacation favorite. To see either island’s incredible biodiversity and varied landscape, strap on some shoes and hike through picturesque valleys and rainforests. Prehistory is preserved in places like the Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve, one of Hawaii’s archaeological wonders, on the Big Island’s northeast shores.
vNo visit to Maui, the archipelago’s second biggest island, is complete without a drive of the jaw-dropping Hana Highway, tracing the island’s eastern shores, with a stopover at the Seven Sacred Pools. Strap on a mask and dive into Turtle Town, where snorkelers can mingle with the gentle reptiles. Every type of water activity beckons on the islands: canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, and sailing. Those looking for a fix of golf and tennis are in luck, too. A plethora of tennis courts or golf courses offers active leisure under balmy skies.