Are you dreaming of a warm escape from the frosty chill of winter weather? Does your inner Yuletide spirit resonate more with the sun and sand vs. the ice and snow? In that case, you’ll love this list of warm places to visit in December in the US!
As December rolls in, many people dream of hitting the slopes in Salt Lake City, while others dream of tropical destinations. Instead of bundling up and battling the cold New England winter, imagine swapping snowflakes for sand grains and icy winds for ocean breezes. If this sounds enticing, you’re in luck! I’ve put together this list of warm US destinations that are particularly enjoyable in December.
December travel has its perks. For one, you can enjoy off-peak travel rates, leading to a cheaper vacation. Off-season travel also means fewer tourists, allowing you to experience popular spots without the usual crowds.
Wondering where you should travel this December? Fortunately, the US brims with unique experiences this month, from special festivals to serene beach moments. As the year draws to a close, there’s no better time to explore and find that ideal warm destination within the US.
Ready to swap Jack Frost for sunscreen and mojitos? Let’s take a look at a few of these sunny havens!
How to score airline discounts for warm places to visit in December in the US
Are you looking for cheap airline tickets for an affordable December vacation in the US? Before going in-depth on the best places for a warm December vacation, I want to share a quick tip on how to save on airfare.
For the past 3 years, I’ve used Scott’s Cheap Flights (now called Going) to get amazing flight deals. Every week, they send insanely cheap flight deals directly to my inbox. And the best part? It’s 100% FREE!
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However, if you want to be a global wanderer, it’s worth upgrading to the paid version. It only costs $49 per year and’ll pay for itself after only a few flights. Not sure if the premium is right for you? I recommend trying the free trial. Then, if you find value in it, use my special discount code (JON20) to save 20%!
The best places to travel in December for warm weather
Looking to dive into all the warmest vacation spots in December? This list of warm places to vacation in December has got you covered.
1. Miami, Florida: A warm place to travel in December in the US
If you’re looking to escape a northern winter, there’s no better destination than Florida. There’s a reason it’s so popular among the “snowbirds.” Miami, in particular, is a hot haven come December, especially if you’re looking to party instead of hibernate. As night falls, the city comes alive with a nightlife that’s hard to match. From rooftop bars to pulsating clubs, the energy is infectious. And let’s not forget the iconic art-deco district of South Beach. This picturesque locale seems straight from a postcard with its pastel-hued buildings and charm.
Want to work on your tan this winter? December beach days in Miami are unlike any other. The warm weather makes sunbathing a joy, while the Atlantic Ocean remains inviting for those eager to take a dip. December in Miami is far from boring; you can enjoy many events, from art fairs to festive boat parades. It all adds a touch of magic to Miami’s already captivating ambiance!
2. San Diego, California: go west in December
Looking to escape the cold this December? Go west! San Diego’s gentle December climate hovering around the mid-60s offers a reprieve from the biting cold. It’s the Californian gem that promises sunshine in the depths of winter.
This family-friendly destination offers something for everyone. Looking to enjoy some beach time? The family-friendly La Jolla Shores or the surfer’s paradise of Pacific Beach, are prime attractions. Want to get a little wild on your trip? Visit the renowned San Diego Zoo, home to a diverse range of wildlife. It’s the perfect destination for an educational day out.
While you won’t experience any blizzards, December in San Diego is still a festive affair. With events like December Nights at Balboa Park, the entire city lights up in celebration. Want to get a head start on your New Year’s Resolutions? The temperate weather also means outdoor dining and nature hikes remain on the table.
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3. Honolulu, Hawaii: A December paradise
When one thinks of escaping winter, it’s hard not to let the mind wander to Hawaii. After all, this is one of the best tropical places you can visit without leaving the United States. Honolulu, in particular, is among the best destinations for a warm vacation in December. This Hawaiian capital offers an intoxicating mix of city vibrancy and serene beaches.
In December, events such as the Honolulu City Lights parade and festival bring an island twist to traditional holiday celebrations. To further put a twist on traditional holiday traditions, a December vacation in Hawaii brings crystal clear waters to the table, in addition to twinkling lights.
Planning a trip to Honolulu in December is to experience paradise without the throngs of summer tourists. With its aloha spirit, it’s an experience that beckons with promise. Imagine festive luaus on the beach and the chance to immerse yourself in an island winter wonderland. Can you imagine a better way to end the year than catching a perfect wave or sipping mai tai’s on the sandy shoreline? It’s easy to see why this is among the best places to travel in December for warm weather.
4. Key West, Florida: fun for all ages
Instead of icy winds, feel a gentle sea breeze and listen to soothing waves. You can find all that and more with a trip to Key West in December, where a tropical wonderland awaits your discovery.
One of the best reasons for planning a December vacation to Key West is its laid-back island charm. While the rest of the country wraps up in thick layers, Floridians are lounging in beachwear. Looking to stay active during your Florida vacation? Snorkel and dive beneath the waves to witness an underwater world teeming with colorful marine life.
While the Florida Keys are known for coral reefs and beaches, Key West also resonates with literary and historic charm. Trace the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, discover tales of pirates, and explore the rich tapestry of Key West’s past.
So, as December’s frost begins to bite, consider a beachy escape in Key West! It’s not just a change in scenery; it’s an invitation to savor every moment. As such, it’s no wonder that Key West is among the best warm weather destinations in December.
5. Phoenix, Arizona: a desert-like vacation
When one thinks of winter warmth, deserts may not be the immediate thought. Yet, Phoenix, in its vast expanse of golden sands and towering cacti, presents a December haven! So, if you’re looking for a change of pace from the traditional beach vacations, I recommend you consider Arizona as your next winter escape. It’s one of the warm places to vacation in December for all types of travelers.
The “Valley of the Sun” is best known for its desert landscape, historic landmarks, culture, cuisine, and Cacti. And while you’ll find the landscapes as perfect as a postcard, the sprawling landscapes of Phoenix are not just for admiration. It’s a hot spot for recreation, too. Popular hiking trails snake through the Sonoran Desert, revealing its unique flora, fauna, and ancient petroglyphs.
The heart of Phoenix is deeply rooted in its rich Native American heritage. The city’s museums, art installations, and cultural events echo stories of tribes that have thrived here for millennia. If you’re looking for a warm US city in December, Phoenix offers unique insight into history, culture, and unparalleled desert vistas.
6. New Orleans, Louisiana: a cultural phenomenon
If you’re looking for a city abuzz with energy even in the cold month of December, head down south Louisiana. More specifically, New Orleans. Now, imagine the cobblestone streets of the French Quarter echoing with the jubilant sounds of jazz, vibrant balconies adorned with festive decor, and a culinary scene that promises to tantalize every palate. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to end the year?
At its core, New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures. French elegance, Spanish flair, and African rhythms blend seamlessly, creating an unmatched ambiance. December amplifies this charm with its festive spirit. This unique city truly comes alive in December, thanks to its holiday parades, bonfires, fireworks, and outdoor sporting events.
Be sure to enjoy all the cuisine NOLA has to offer before you start any New Year’s Resolutions. From spicy jambalayas to the sweet ecstasy of beignets, your taste buds are in for a treat! Of course, music is the perfect pairing to a full belly. The jazz music, synonymous with New Orleans, reaches a crescendo in December, with live performances filling the streets, clubs, and bars.
In short, a December in NOLA is a symphony of experiences rich in culture, music, and warmth. Once you experience December in this colorful city, it will be hard to imagine any other way to end your year. Is this one of the warmest places to visit in December? You bet!
7. Austin, Texas: a musical getaway
Everything is bigger in Texas, even the winters–but not in the usual way. Austin, often dubbed the “Live Music Capital of the World,” wears December like a comfortable old jacket. The moderate temperatures allow residents and visitors to bask in the season without the usual winter constraints.
Certainly, music is the city’s soul. From foot-tapping country tunes to electrifying rock performances, Austin’s live music scene is unparalleled. December sees an influx of unique cultural events, music festivals, and year-end celebrations.
Additionally, for those inclined towards outdoor escapades, Austin offers kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, hiking trails filled with scenic vistas, and relaxing picnics in Zilker Park. While the North starts hunkering down for the winter, Texas is ready to host you with some mouth-watering barbecue, craft beer, and down-home hospitality.
So, if you’re looking for a winter retreat bursting with culture, creativity, and lots of festivals to keep you busy, there’s no better place than Austin, Texas. This young, invigorating city is one of the best US cities to enjoy in December.
8. Charleston, South Carolina: historical beauty in the US
Amidst the chilly December of many US cities, Charleston, South Carolina, offers a mild climate, making it a delightful reprieve. Here, history is everywhere; it’s sprawled across cobblestone streets, whispered by horse-drawn carriages, and etched into centuries-old buildings. If you’re looking for an Old World Christmas without the frigid temps, you’ll be happy here.
Charleston transports you back in time. Its Southern charm manifests in historic mansions, pastel houses, and iconic landmarks. As December approaches, the city comes alive with festive events and celebrations. The Charleston Christmas Parade and the Holiday Festival of Lights are just a few spectacles that add a unique festive touch to this historic city.
Imagine strolling through streets lit up with holiday lights, the melodies of holiday songs in the air, while you admire palm trees and the sound of ocean waves. If the weather is right, you can even celebrate your holidays relaxing on the beach with an umbrella drink in hand.
9. Los Angeles, California: visit Hollywood for a warm December destination
Looking for a warm weather vacation in December? When you’re looking to escape the cold realities of winter, it’s hard to beat LA.
December in Los Angeles is truly unlike anywhere else. While the city does not boast a white Christmas, it more than compensates with its sun-kissed beaches. And while December is one of the coldest months in LA, it’s practically paradise for anyone in the Northeast or Midwest.
Los Angeles, the City of Angels, is particularly wonderful this time of year, with so much to see and do. Christmas tree lightings, star-studded parties, and movie premieres make December in Hollywood especially radiant. Looking for something a little more low-key? the beaches provide a serene backdrop for December picnics and sunset views.
The shopping experiences range from the luxury boutiques of Rodeo Drive to quirky stalls at LA’s many Christmas markets. Dining options encompass everything from trendy rooftop bars to old Hollywood classics like Musso & Frank Grill.
In short, choosing LA in December is to opt for glamour, sunshine, and a hint of movie magic. It’s your ticket to a starry festive season.
10. Savannah, Georgia: moss-draped trees adorn this warm place to visit in December in the US
Savannah in December is a warm embrace. The city, known for its historic parks, moss-draped trees, and scenic riverfront, takes on a magical glow as the holiday season approaches.
Often adorned with festive decorations, the Forsyth Park fountain becomes a focal point for many December activities. The historic streets, meanwhile, resonate with the sound of carolers and the sights of holiday markets. For a unique insight into Savannah’s festive transformation, I recommend booking one of the city’s special tours. From on foot or by carriages, you can get a front-row look at what makes this city in Georgia so unique.
Prefer to enjoy the city via boat? Book a special December cruise to enjoy the serene Savannah River by riverboat. It’s the best way to escape the hustle and bustle. The unique blend of old-world charm and festive warmth truly makes Savannah an unmatched December destination in the US.
11. Las Vegas, Nevada: g glittering getaway
Do you want the glitz and glam of a warm holiday season? Vegas in December is a glittering spectacle. Beyond the neon lights of the Vegas Strip, the desert city bathes in warmth, offering a unique December experience.
Entertainment is Vegas’s middle name. And while this party town offers thrilling sights and sounds all year round, it truly comes alive this time of year. With December comes special holiday shows, concerts, and events that cater to all tastes. From the world-famous Bellagio fountains dancing to festive tunes to the unique ice rink experiences amidst the desert, Las Vegas ensures December is unforgettable.
While the entertainment options are boundless, so are dining and shopping experiences. Renowned chefs set up shop here, ensuring a culinary journey like no other while shopping ranges from luxury boutiques to quirky holiday markets. Need last-minute Christmas presents? You’ll have no problem finding the best gifts in the Entertainment Capital of the World.
12. Tampa, Florida: experience the Sunshine State in December
Tampa’s balmy December is an invitation to enjoy the outdoors. Nestled on Florida’s west coast, Tampa promises beaches that gleam under the winter sun and plenty of outdoor activities for those looking for a warm place to visit in December in the US.
Tampa’s Cuban influence lends the city a unique flavor, evident in its food, music, and festivals. Additionally, December sees the city adorned in lights, with events like the Lighted Boat Parade adding a distinctive touch to holiday celebrations.
Between sunbathing at Ben T. Davis Beach and savoring Cuban delicacies in Ybor City, Tampa ensures a vibrant blend of nature, culture, and warmth. It’s a coastal delight wrapped in festive joy, particularly at this time of year!
13. Palm Springs, California: paradise for those looking to travel to a warm place in the US
When December’s icy fingers clutch much of the US, Palm Springs emerges as a sun-kissed oasis in the Californian desert. Palm Springs is a haven of mid-century modern aesthetics that permeates the city, from upscale hotels to cozy homes. It encapsulates the elegance of the 50s and 60s.
Meanwhile, for those with a penchant for active leisure, the city offers many beautiful golf courses, each providing panoramic views of the mountains surrounding the valley. A December vacation in Palm Springs provides you with more than just warmth. This city is a chance to escape, where the desert sun complements the city’s lavish amenities.
14. Corpus Christi, Texas: embrace this warm December destination
As snow blankets various parts of the US, Corpus Christi gleams under the Texan sun, offering its visitors a balmy coastal retreat. Its beaches, especially Mustang Island, are a treat with their golden sands and tranquil waves. So, whether you’re a sunbather or simply someone looking to relax by the water, these shores promise serenity.
But the allure of Corpus Christi extends beyond the beaches. The Texas State Aquarium showcases marine life, offering insights into the aquatic wonders of the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, if you’re looking to celebrate the season, you can delight in Corpus Christi’s many festivals and activities to ring in the holiday season. The Harbor Lights Festival is among the most popular events, featuring live performances, food vendors, and a festive parade.
In Corpus Christi, winter becomes a distant thought. Here, you can embrace a blend of nature, history, and warmth and let the coastal winds carry away your winter blues.
15. San Juan, Puerto Rico: one of the warmest US cities in December
San Juan in December is a confluence of tropical allure and festive spirit. The warmth of the sun merges seamlessly with the warmth of the Puerto Rican culture. As you meander through Old San Juan, you’re greeted with a kaleidoscope of colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, and the echoes of centuries gone by.
Additionally, nightlife in San Juan is vibrant, pulsating with rhythms of salsa and the clinking of glasses. Revel in local festivals and allow your palate to dance to the flavors of Puerto Rican cuisine. While not one of the 50 US States, this tropical paradise is within arm’s reach for US citizens, requiring no passport. Looking to spend your winter off the continental United States? Experience San Juan, where history and the promise of a warm December await!
16. Santa Barbara, California: experience paradise in this warm place to visit in December
It’s hard to find warmest places to vacation in December that can rival Santa Barbara. Nestled between the shimmering Pacific Ocean and towering Santa Ynez Mountains, Santa Barbara in December is a coastal paradise graced by a temperate climate. Here, you experience the beautiful coastal scenery as well as historical remnants. The city’s Spanish colonial heritage is evident at every corner, especially in landmarks like the Santa Barbara Mission.
Santa Barbara is also California’s renowned wine country. So, when you sip on a glass of Chardonnay with the ocean in the distance, it’s easy to forget that much of the country is freezing. When you’re here on vacation, Jack Frost is just a distant memory, and winter is something you don’t have to worry about until next year. Ready to escape toa land that doesn’t know winter? Start planning your trip to Santa Barbara!
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about warm places to visit in December in the US
Looking to expand your knowledge about the warm places to visit in December in the US? Here are some common questions I get a lot about warm places to visit in December in the USA.
What is the warmest place in the United States in December?
During December, Hawaii consistently ranks as the warmest place in the United States. Specifically, Honolulu on the island of Oahu boasts average high temperatures that hover around 80°F (27°C). The Aloha State, positioned in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, benefits from a tropical climate. While the rest of the U.S. grapples with winter chills, Hawaii offers balmy weather, making it an ideal escape. Its inviting temperatures are paired with stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and lush landscapes, ensuring that visitors are treated to both warmth and beauty. Whether you’re lounging on Waikiki Beach or exploring the volcanic landscapes of the Big Island, Hawaii provides a sun-drenched December retreat.
Where is it warmest in December in the US?
In December, the warmest areas in the United States are generally found in the southernmost regions, particularly in states like Florida, Hawaii, and parts of the Southwest. Here are some of the warmest places:
- Miami, Florida: Known for its tropical climate, Miami experiences warm temperatures even in December, often ranging from the mid-60s to mid-70s Fahrenheit.
- Key West, Florida: This island city in Florida’s Keys is another warm December destination, with temperatures similar to Miami.
- Honolulu, Hawaii: Hawaii enjoys a tropical climate year-round, and December is no exception. Honolulu sees average highs in the upper 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit.
- San Diego, California: While not as warm as Florida or Hawaii, San Diego offers milder temperatures compared to much of the U.S., with highs often in the mid-60s Fahrenheit.
- Phoenix, Arizona: Known for its desert climate, Phoenix experiences mild to warm winters, with December highs often in the mid-60s to low 70s Fahrenheit.
- New Orleans, Louisiana: While not as warm as some other destinations, New Orleans offers relatively mild winter temperatures, often in the 60s Fahrenheit.
- Corpus Christi, Texas: This coastal city in Texas also experiences milder winters, with December temperatures often in the 60s to low 70s Fahrenheit.
These destinations offer the warmest climates in December and are popular choices for travelers looking to escape colder winter temperatures. Activities like beach-going, outdoor dining, and water sports are often still possible in these locations during December.
What beach is warm in December in the US?
In December, the beaches of southern Florida and Hawaii are notably warm and inviting. Miami’s South Beach, for instance, often sees daytime temperatures in the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit, with its azure waters remaining pleasantly warm for swimming. Similarly, Waikiki Beach in Honolulu maintains warm temperatures, making it perfect for sunbathing and ocean activities. These beaches, blessed with consistent warmth, attract December visitors looking for a sun-soaked getaway amidst the winter season.
Where is it hot in America over Christmas?
Over the Christmas period, several regions in the U.S. maintain notably warm temperatures. Hawaii remains a top contender, with its tropical climate ensuring temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit. In the contiguous U.S., southern Florida, especially Miami and the Florida Keys, experiences balmy weather, making it a popular Christmas destination. Additionally, areas in the Southwest, like Phoenix and Tucson in Arizona, provide desert warmth during this festive season. These areas not only offer respite from the cold but also come alive with unique holiday festivities that merge with their local cultures.
Which side of Florida is warmer in December?
In December, the southern and southwestern parts of Florida, particularly the Gulf Coast, tend to be slightly warmer than the Atlantic side. Additionally, cities like Naples and Tampa on the Gulf Coast often register warmer water temperatures and slightly higher air temperatures compared to cities on the Atlantic Coast. It’s worth noting that the more south you go, the warmer it generally becomes, making places like Key West among the warmest spots in Florida during December.
Where is it 80 degrees in December in USA?
In the United States, the most likely places to experience temperatures around 80 degrees Fahrenheit in December are in southern Florida and Hawaii. Here are some specific locations:
- Miami, Florida: Miami is one of the few places in the continental U.S. where you can find temperatures close to or at 80 degrees in December. The city’s tropical climate makes it a popular winter getaway.
- Key West, Florida: Similar to Miami, Key West experiences warm temperatures year-round, often reaching around 80 degrees in December.
- Honolulu, Hawaii: Hawaii’s tropical climate means that Honolulu and other parts of the state often see temperatures around 80 degrees in December.
- Maui, Hawaii: Like Honolulu, Maui also enjoys a warm climate year-round, with December temperatures often hovering around 80 degrees.
These destinations are popular for travelers seeking warm weather and are ideal for outdoor activities like swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing even in the middle of winter.