America's Best Cities for Winter Travel
That’s the message, at least, in this year’s America’s Favorite Cities survey of Travel+Leisure readers. Last year, Salt Lake City took the gold medal in the winter category, but this year, the snowy Utah city—along with Denver—skidded down the mountain of readers’ affections, while warmer cities took their places, literally, in the sun.
Compounding the situation, The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting another big-snow winter for parts of the U.S., especially in the Northeast.
“More people appear to be flocking to warmer climates,” confirms Suffolk County, NY, travel agent Tim Joseph, who is seeing an uptick in snowbird-style bookings for this winter. “But I suspect it has as much to do with the weather as the economy.”
Caribbean destinations, he points out, offer many affordable all-inclusive resorts—and that’s one reason he loves Puerto Rico’s San Juan, a top 5 city in the survey.
“It’s also a real foodie city, and it’s still relatively low on the list for many travelers, so it’s not too crowded.”
Here are the top 10 winter vacation spots:
1) San Juan, PR
This winter, voters put the most value on sunshine and stellar deals. The capital of Puerto Rico—which was No. 3 last year—got high marks for being affordable, but it’s more than just beach chairs and cocktails. It ranked near the top for cultural getaways, and it’s a foodie magnet, winning both the ethnic fare and street food categories.
The Hawaiian capital holds steady in its silver-medal slot from last year and still offers solid winter credentials: great weather, fabulous outdoor activities, and appeal for both couples and families. In fact, there was no season that voters didn’t like here—the worst was summer, which still came in at a magnetic No. 13.
The Arizona metropolis rose two slots in the survey this year, but it’s all about timing for travelers. Between the holiday season and spring break, Phoenix ranked in the top 10, but it came in last place for summer and its blistering 4th of July. Voters were perhaps most interested in spending their days here shopping, golfing, or lounging around the spa, and then turning in early: the cities ranked in the bottom 5 for nightlife.