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10 Best Southern Travel Destinations for Snowbirds

A snowbird generally refers to someone who migrates south for the winter to a warmer locale, and if you’d like to trade your harsh winters for warmth and brilliant blue skies, these are some of the best destinations to make your own escape, even if your responsibilities don’t allow you to do it for the entire season.

Valley of Fire State Park - Overton, Nevada Valley of Fire State Park
Credit: Valley of Fire State Park by © Antonel | Dreamstime.com

Valley of Fire State Park - Overton, Nevada

While Nevada’s desert can get chilly at night in the winter, you can expect beautifully pleasant days with average temperatures in the low 60s and plenty of sunshine in places like Valley of Fire State Park. One of Nevada’s best state parks, it’s just a short drive from Las Vegas but feels as if its world’s away, with red sandstone rock formations that appear as if they’re fire spewing from the desert sands. The landscape’s impressive features were molded more than 150 million years ago, via erosion, shifting sand dunes, and moving fault lines. Take one of the many trails to get a closer look at the park’s “fire,” along with its ancient trees and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs. With few crowds, no neon lights, or dancing water fountains, it’s the ideal place for just enjoying the silence.

Desert Hot Springs, California View of Coachella Valley from Desert Hot Springs
Credit: View of Coachella Valley from Desert Hot Springs by © Vadim Startsev | Dreamstime.com

Desert Hot Springs, California

You know Palm Springs, but chances are, you’ve never even heard of Desert Hot Springs, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. It’s become a popular alternative as a spa destination, taking its name from the natural mineral waters that percolate to the surface in the region. Home to a multitude of spas and generally less expensive accommodations that feature warm, healing mineral waters and spa treatments, like Tuscan Springs Hotel & Spa, it’s a great place to detox without paying an exorbitant price. With Palm Springs less than a 20-minute drive away, you can always indulge in a little upscale dining or shopping over there. Plus, you’ll be even closer to Joshua Tree National Park, which offers amazing hikes and spectacularly rugged landscapes dotted with the unique Joshua tree and other fascinating desert plants.

St. Pete Beach, Florida St. Pete Beach, Florida
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St. Pete Beach, Florida

Even when the weather is frightful almost everywhere else, the sun is probably shining on this island off the Florida coast west of St. Petersburg. Air temperatures do cool down a bit on Central Florida’s beaches during the winter months, with average highs during the day in the low 70s, but that’s just perfect for relaxing on the soft, powdery white sands and dipping your toes in the shallow Gulf of Mexico waters. With an average of 361 days of sunshine every year, St. Pete is hard to beat. It’s a great place to learn to surf with mellow swells, or if you want to stay on land, ride a beach cruiser along the shady bike trails. Just 15 minutes away by ferry, Shell Key Preserve offers outstanding swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. There are indoor attractions too if you can pull yourself away from the view, including world-class museums and The Pier, a five-story dining and shopping complex.

Fredericksburg, Texas Willow City Loop, Willow City/Fredericksburg
Credit: Willow City Loop, Willow City/Fredericksburg by Theodore Scott via Flickr

Fredericksburg, Texas

Offering a long list of things to do, the small community of Fredericksburg is an exciting destination in Texas. It’s known for its German culture and spring wildflowers, making it an ideal base for exploring the Texas Hill Country, which enjoys mild winter temperatures in the 60s. Wine enthusiasts will especially appreciate the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful, laid-back wine experience in what’s considered to be one of the top wine-producing states in the country, with over 40 wineries and tasting rooms scattered throughout the region. In between tastings, you can explore the National Museum of Pacific War, the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park and even sample a little nightlife in nearby Luckenbach, famous for its saloon and dance hall which hosts top Texas country artists every week.

San Diego, California San Diego, California
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San Diego, California

San Diego enjoys an abundance of sunshine and average high temps of 65 degrees in December, January, and February. One of the country’s most popular vacation destinations, you won’t be able to beat the crowds, but you will find miles and miles of gorgeous stretches of sand to take advantage of the warm climate. Coronado Beach, often ranked the finest in the entire nation, with its powder sugar-like soft sands that glisten in the sun thanks to a high mineral content. In addition to hitting the beach, you can visit Balboa Park, home to the internationally renowned San Diego Zoo, a beautiful rose garden, and a number of museums.

South Beach, Miami, Florida South Beach
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South Beach, Miami, Florida

It goes without saying that the warm temperatures, sunshine, and idyllic beaches of South Florida are what bring so many visitors to the region during the winter months. And Miami happens to be home to one of the world’s most famous beaches, South Beach, which enjoys a magnificent backdrop of the largest collection of 1930s Art Deco buildings on Earth. They’re filled with stylish hotels, top-notch restaurants, jazz joints, and trendy nightclubs jam-packed with beautiful people. But during the day, you’ll probably want to spend most of where time at the beach, where you can rent a lounge chair and watch all the action, or take a stroll down Ocean Drive to gaze up at the mesmerizing architecture you’ve probably seen on TV and in films so many times.

Buenos Aires, Argentina Cityscape of Palermo district, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Credit: Cityscape of Palermo district, Buenos Aires, Argentina by © Neurobite | Dreamstime.com

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is a city unlike any other, especially during the summertime, which happens to fall during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months. Visiting during this season, you’ll find the raucous nightlife doesn’t stop until the sun comes up every night of the week. During the day, you can enjoy strolling its wide, pedestrian-friendly European-style boulevards lined with a multitude of wine bars, cafes, and steakhouses that serve up some of the best chops in the world, all filled with people enjoying the exciting summer atmosphere. There is nonstop fun to be had everywhere you look, and it’s not uncommon to run into an impromptu tango show right on the streets.

Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Australia The Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef
Credit: The Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef by Bigstock.com

Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Australia

Another country in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia also enjoys summer during America’s winter months. The Whitsundays region is an internationally famous holiday destination, with iconic places like the Great Barrier Reef, Whitehaven Beach, and Heart Reef. Airlie Beach is the region’s hub along the Whitsunday Coast and a paradise for those who are seeking a tropical adventure to escape the cold of winter. Just a few of the possible activities ere include overnight sailing excursions through any number of the 74 islands found in the region, some of the most outstanding scuba diving and snorkeling in the world, sea kayaking, four-wheeling through the bush, and even skydiving. It’s not all outdoor attractions either – there is a wealth of great wining, dining, and a hopping nightlife.

Kauai, Hawaii Kauai, Hawaii
Credit: Kauai, Hawaii by bigstock.com

Kauai, Hawaii

Winter draws many to the Hawaiian islands, with temperatures averaging in the upper 70s, providing the opportunity to enjoy all sorts of active pursuits under the sun against a backdrop of spectacular scenery. The island of Kauai offers an ideal mix of relaxation and activities. Take a dip in secluded Hanalei Bay, watch monster six-foot or higher waves along the North Shore, or, if you’re a very strong, experienced surfer, you can even take advantage of the swells by getting out on a board. On the southern end of the island, Poipu Beach offers tranquil waters ideal for snorkeling among colorful tropical fish and vibrant coral reefs. If you like to hike, don’t miss the Na Pali cliffs where you’ll find awe-inspiring coastline views. When the winter rain hits, there When winter rains hit, head to the Kauai Museum in downtown Lihue, with its two floors of exhibits documenting the island’s heritage, from the times of the Native Hawaiians to the island’s plantation days, along with an extensive array of historic and contemporary art by regional artists.

Tucson, Arizona Signal Hill, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
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Tucson, Arizona

November through March is the high season in Tucson, attracting lots of snowbirds from the north with temperatures ranging between the mid-60s and the mid-70s. The climate is ideal for getting in a round of golf or going on any number of outdoor adventures, including hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and caving. After dark, it’s one of the world’s best places for stargazing. By visiting the Kitt Peak National Observatory, located high above the Sonoran Desert, you can expect to view some of the most incredible night skies on Earth through the Nightly Observing Program. And, if you plan to visit in February, you can check out the famous Gem and Mineral Show too.

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