Honolulu, HI

7 Destinations to Spend the Winter in the Sun

Herve Mouyal

Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend the winter vacations in shorts and sandals in the United States?

While much of the Northeast and Midwest of the United States is swept by cold and snow, you can take advantage of the warmth of the southern states (or Hawaii) to surf, golf, hike, or just bask in the sun. So leave your winter coat in the closet and pack sunscreen in your luggage to visit these seven cities full of warmth and Christmas events.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Main outdoor activities: surfing, scuba diving

In the city of Honolulu, on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, sip Mai Tai cocktails and have fun in the waves at Waikiki Beach. During the Honolulu City Lights marking the city's lighting for the vacation season, there is a special atmosphere, combining Christmas magic, vacation atmosphere, and the Hawaiian spirit of Aloha. The festivities take place in front of Honolulu Hale, the city hall located in the center of Honolulu, where a 6.4 meter high Santa Claus is enthroned for the occasion. To take full advantage of the illuminations, the best is to board the Waikiki Trolley tourist bus for a night tour of the city. Many fun Christmas decorations also adorn the lobbies of Oahu's various resorts. Don't miss the Christmas-themed sand sculptures on display at the Sheraton Waikiki.

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Phoenix, Arizona

Main outdoor activities: golf, hiking, walking, etc.

Desert peaks, saguaro cactus forests, and nearly 200 golf courses await you in the sunny city of Phoenix, Arizona and the nearby tourist town of Scottsdale. Need to do some Christmas shopping? Visit Scottsdale's art galleries and specialty stores or the huge shopping mall in Fashion Square. Check out the bright Christmas decorations at the Phoenix Zoo in Papago Park, which is among the most impressive in the area. From late November to early January, the ZooLights event features 3D animal light sculptures, concerts, a carousel, camel rides, and ice sculpture demonstrations.

San Antonio, Texas

Main outdoor activities: River Walk

Feeling a little peckish? Mexican tamales (a mixture of "masa" dough, meat, and cheese cooked in corn leaves) are the Christmas specialty in the city of San Antonio, in south-central Texas. During the holiday season, homemade tamales are on the menu of restaurants throughout the city. Beware! Consume them in moderation or you will go home with a belly worthy of Santa Claus. To burn off a few calories, there's nothing like a stroll along San Antonio's River Walk, a network of walking trails along the banks of the San Antonio River lined with restaurants and specialty stores. In December, the trails are decorated with millions of small sparkling lights and thousands of paper lanterns.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Main outdoor activities: fishing, kayaking, etc.

New Orleans, Louisiana, in the southeastern United States, is a city steeped in history, best known for its major Mardi Gras celebrations in February. But I also advise you to discover it during the holiday season, a time of many festivities and interesting hotel prices. Don't miss Celebration in the Oaks, a light installation composed of two million light bulbs in the heart of City Park. The famous St. Louis Cathedral offers concerts and other year-end events. On New Year's Eve, mingle with the crowds of revelers in the historic French Quarter.

Orlando, Florida

Main outdoor activity: golf

Spend the holiday season with Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. Located in Florida, Orlando enjoys sunshine all year round and has more than a dozen major amusement parks. Walt Disney World Resort takes the big game out with shows, parades, and custom decorations. Cinderella's Castle, for example, is adorned with lights giving the illusion that it is covered with ice. I don't think I need to introduce you to the Universal Orlando amusement park, which has a section dedicated to the World of Wizards from Harry Potter, and which normally - outside the Covid period - offers a live show during the holiday season around the Grinch character created by Dr. Seuss. At Legoland Florida, a nine-meter high Christmas tree and a life-size Santa Claus, both made entirely of LEGO bricks, are the stars of the Christmas Bricktacular festival.

Charleston, South Carolina

Main outdoor activities: boating, fishing

A dynamic culture, rich history, preserved architecture, coastal location, renowned gastronomy, and friendly people make Charleston, South Carolina a popular destination, especially during the holiday season. Numerous museum-houses and plantations take you back to the time of their founding with traditional facilities and decorations. It's also an opportunity to find, at one of the oldest open-air markets in the United States, exceptional gifts that can only be found in the historic district of Charleston.

San Diego, California

Main outdoor activities: ice skating, surfing, etc.

Want to try ice skating at the seaside dressed in a simple t-shirt? Then come visit San Diego, California's southernmost coastal city, to enjoy the skating rink of the Hotel del Coronado, a Victorian-style establishment built around 1887, on the beach throughout the month of December. Throughout the city, landmarks such as Balboa Park (home to the San Diego Zoo), Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village, and Old Town celebrate Christmas with illuminations and special events. Include in your program San Diego Bay Parade of Lights, an annual light show that includes a parade of 80 illuminated boats through the harbor.

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Of course, my advice is to take a step back because of the Covid, so I advise you to check if you can go to these cities and if the places I have indicated are open.

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I have always needed to create and for the past 7 years I have been sharing my creativity by producing photo and video content for luxury hotels around the world as well as for brands. I don't like to stay in my comfort zone because I can get bored very quickly. I need to try new things because for each brand the speaking is different.

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