Dealing with January and February can be tough. The glittering snow of December is replaced with the slush and sludge of days filled with runny noses and cold fingers. It’s the time of the year when you’re likely to feel seasonally depressed, going to work gets harder, and the gloom becomes pretty much unbearable. But, all of that can be fixed with a quick trip. Winter lodges can feel like Thoreau-esque escapes, warm sand can bring your toes back to life, and strolls through ancient cities will transport you to another world, reminding you that you’re lucky to live during a time when heaters exist.
Don’t believe us? Here’s a list of some of the best destinations for you to escape January & February’s gloom.
Mt. Tremblant is like the Vail of Canada. Its resorts are frequently hailed as some of the best skiing a person can experience in Northeastern America. The surrounding village is wonderful and offers equal numbers of hiking and cuddling opportunities. Whether it’s hot tubs or ski trails you’re looking for, Tremblant will have it. Even better, the city is connected to a number of neighboring villages via ski trail so that visitors can really experience cross-country skiing. If that’s not your thing, don’t sweat it — there’s ice-skating in the village. And, if that’s not your thing, many cheerful shops and cafes have warm fires you can cozy up to while you sip on hot cocoa.
Ho Chi Minh City
You risk experiencing whiplash trying to keep up with all the bicyclists, cars, and motorbikes that are sure to pass by you. Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, is chaotic, fun, and charming. Perched on the banks of the Saigon River, Ho Chi Minh City has surpassed its war-time roots to become one of Southeast Asia’s most powerful and beautiful cities. With this economic revival comes a series of wonderful opportunities for tourists to get the most out of their cheap plane tickets during those bleary winter months. Sites like Dong Khoi — known as the Times Square of Ho Chi Minh City and the Saigon Opera House — are sure to wow. Best of all? The weather. January and February is the region’s mildest season — so, you’ll skip the stifling heat and flooding.
If the cold really isn’t your thing, head to the white beaches of Indonesia. These volcanic mountains are known for their colorful coral reefs, friendly locals, and peaceful retreats. If the cold weather is stressing you out more than usual, Bali has a number of calming yoga and mindfulness retreats. Truly, there’s no better way to forget snowflakes and dark days than miles of turquoise waters, a little bit of meditation, and a deep sense of spirituality. The island has a number of different cities to visit, and based on your interests, you may end up bouncing between them. Options include Kuta, where surfers find their delight, Lovina, famous for its ebony beaches, and Seminyak, for ritzy shopping. Wherever you might end up, there’s no better place to be than in Bali.
While you won’t encounter any wonderful sandy beaches, the colorful cafes and shops that line the famous Riverwalk will make you feel like you’re in Venice (but with a Texan twist). A quieter and tamer option than Miami, San Antonio offers visitors an opportunity to explore a unique culture and history. The 18th-century buildings and roads combined with a visit to the Alamo will remind you of the US’s rugged past. A dip into most restaurants will reveal San Antonio’s culinary masterpiece: chili. And what better way to forget your icy home than with a spicy bowl of chili? With art museums, colorful murals, and markets, San Antonio may just be the least snow-white place in the US.
Bern feels like a Swiss fairy tale. With small, rolling hills, 15th-century cobblestones, and a one-of-a-kind bear park, you’re sure to feel like this place belongs in the heart of a Harry Potter movie. The Bear Pit — also known as the Bärengraben — is one of Bern’s more unique features, home to a sprawling reserve where bears can be watched from afar by visitors. The bear has long been seen as a symbol of Bern and has been kept in the city for centuries. Bern’s rich history can be explored in its wonderful museums, medieval towers, and local stories and histories. If winter isn’t your thing, a quick conversation with a native-born Swiss might just be able to change your mind.
Rio De Janeiro
If the only thing that can make you forget Jack Frost decimating your home is good food, good people, and good times, then look no further than Rio. Rio de Janeiro is one of the most colorful and fun cities to visit. Considering the size of Rio — 6 million people live within its boundaries — there’s something for everyone in this city. For the athletic types, the waves of Prainha Beach are famous for surfers, but if chilling is more your thing, watching the surfboards cut and glide through the waves is like nothing else in the world. Notably, a quick gondola ride up Sugarloaf Mountain offers views of the city below or views of the Christ the Redeemer statue. And, every night can end warm and fuzzy with a cocktail in hand, while you stare at the stars on the coast of Ipanema Beach. Snow? What snow?
Barbados offers beach-goers a more purist attempt at a vacation. Crowded beaches, clubs, and restaurants are replaced by miles and miles of pristine beaches. Originally settled by the British in the 1600s, a lot of their traditions remain, although the Queen is gone. There’s a certain “poshness” that is unique to Barbados, with afternoon tea and cricket being not only expectations but passions. Visitors are privy to some of the world’s most spectacular orange and pink sunsets and sunrises, capable of turning the entire island into a Kandinsky painting. With hotels and hostels dotted around the whole island, anyone on any budget can find their wintry retreat here.
If there’s one thing that the dead of winter has to offer it’s the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. This ephemeral, wonderful, and spectacular light display can be found in only a handful of places like Norway, Iceland, and Finland. The ideal viewing time is in the dead of winter when it’s the coldest and darkest. What emerges from the inky depths of the night sky is like the night’s own wonderful sunset. While there are many places to see the Northern Lights, Norway’s Tromsø takes the cake. As challenging as it may be to make the Arctic appealing, by combining unique natural experiences — the Northern Lights and Midnight Sun — and modern amenities, the city feels like an Arctic resort. Tromsø can make you think that maybe winter isn’t so bad after all.
Did we miss your favorite January & February escape? Let us know what it is in the comments below!