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Top U.S. Winter Beach, Boating and Desert Getaways

UPDATED January 2, 2014

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman


A warm and sunny getaway can be the perfect escape for those feeling snowbound during winter`s yearly assault on the U.S. Fortunately the country has plenty of locations for snowbirds to flap their winter-weary wings. Here`s a list of the top ten U.S. winter beach and boating destinations:

  • Miami, Fla.: This subtropical city is probably the first one that comes to mind when someone thinks about escaping the winter blues. With average winter high temperatures in the middle and upper 70s, Greater Miami is a veritable oasis for winter-time beach and boating fans. One note though - Miami has dropped below freezing in winter, with a record low of 27 degrees. Miami Beach has also dropped to freezing with a record low of 32 degrees. If you want a Florida city with no chance for 20-or-30 degree weather, see below:

  • Key West, Fla.: With a record low of 41 degrees, this is the only city in the continental U.S. that can call itself frost-free. On average, Key West has highs in the middle 70s and lows in the middle 60s in winter, with virtually no risk for tropical storms or hurricanes during this time of year. With miles of sand and plenty of boating (don`t forget to check out snorkeling at Fort Zachary Taylor!), this destination is a favorite for winter breakers.
  • Hawaii : Of course the Aloha state has great weather year-round thanks to its tropical latitude, but one thing it has to offer is more pleasant temperatures and lower humidity thanks to its near-constant trade winds. Average winter high temperature in Honolulu? 81 perfect degrees!
  • South Padre Island, Texas: Both a family and budget-friendly winter destination, SPI offers surfing, boating and bird-watching with an average winter high of a room-temperature 68 degrees.
  • San Diego, Calif.: This southern California city is known for having one of the world`s best climates. With seemingly never-ending beach and boating options, this city has an average winter high of 66 degrees and an average low of a pleasant 50 degrees.
  • Riverside County, Calif.: Part of the "Inland Empire", this county is perfect for those who want a warmer, drier getaway than coastal California can offer. Some of the main cities here are Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Rancho Mirage, which average winter highs in the 70s and low 80s. Despite its "inland" moniker, there are 46 lakes in the county for beaching, fishing, and boating.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.: Arizona`s largest city finally cools down in the winter-time, even with normally 110 days of 100-degree heat each year. When you`re not enjoying nearby Lake Pleasant, check out one of the metro`s 185 golf courses for some world-class desert golfing. During the winter, the city averages highs around 70 degrees, with lows in the middle-to-upper 40s. If that`s too cool for you, go a little farther southwest to:
  • Yuma, Ariz.: Where the average winter high ranges from 67 to 77 degrees. Yuma also is ranked as the sunniest place on earth by the Guinness Book of World Records, with sunshine 94 percent of the time. Combine this with cruises and kayaking along the nearby Colorado River, and you`ve got a fun winter getaway for the entire family.
  • Now two more places that are technically U.S. Territories, but may be a little too far-flung for some people, round out the top ten:

    • Puerto Rico With an average temperature of 82 degrees all year long, this island territory can`t go wrong for those looking for an international-feel close to home . With sandy beaches surrounding a mountainous island with 17 lakes, you may not want to leave this tropical paradise when your vacation is over.

  • U.S. Virgin Islands Like Puerto Rico, these islands are perfect for that winter getaway. The white sandy beaches and highs in the middle 80s make them perfect for a beach vacation or tropical cruise.
  • One thing to note, though - if you`re a U.S. citizen you don`t need a passport to go to any U.S. territory, but bring along some sort of photo identification, along with a birth certificate, for re-entry to the U.S. Also, check the local forecast before you take your vacation just in case one of these locales is having a rare bad winter. Bon voyage!


    Story image: The Key West, Fla., Aquarium. Courtesy: Marc Averette and Wikimedia Commons.

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