If you are searching for warm places to visit in December in the USA, to spend your winter vacations, look no further! This list is packed with great suggestions on places where you can travel whether for a break from the winter blues or to spend your Christmas holiday.
Being the USA such an extensive country with an incredible variety of climates and weather, you have a variety of places where you can travel if you are looking to escape the cold.
Although you will see that Florida and California seem to be the most popular places to go in December, you will find a nice choice of interesting off-the-beaten-path places if you love to explore lesser-trendy destinations in the USA.
I have curated this massive guide to the best places to visit in December in the USA, where professional writers and travelers suggest their favorite warm places in the USA winter.
We have made sure to select places where the temperature never (almost) goes below 65F.
So, pack your T-shirts and sundresses and choose among these fabulous winter wonders!
The best warm places to visit in December in the USA
These are the best December destinations in the United States, according to avid travelers. Where will you go next?
1. Kauai, Hawaii
Contributed by Aram @ Next is Hawaii
December is a wonderful time to escape to Hawaii as it will greet you with warmth, palm trees, and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Kauai is one of the best places to visit in December in US and the most underrated. In fact, December is an ideal time to visit if you are suffering from the winter blues a bit early in the season.
During December, Kauai does get a bit of rainfall (approximately 15 days) and the temperatures are slightly cooler with an average low of 53F and a high of 71F. The ocean remains a bit chilly too at around 75F.
However, this is a fantastic time to go for a hike in the cooler weather (and avoid many crowds) and it is still going to likely be warmer than where you live on the mainland or abroad!
One thing to note is that prices do rise a bit in Hawaii during the Christmas season and New Year as this can be the peak time to visit.
During December on Kauai, you will enjoy gorgeous state parks like Polihale State Park and Kokee State Park. And, naturally, a trip to Kauai is not complete without visiting the Na Pali Coast and taking a helicopter tour to view this Jurassic World from over the Pacific Ocean.
There are several things to do in Lihue and other places on the island.
But, be sure not to miss one of the most beautiful waterfalls, Wailua Falls, during this time. Because of the rainfall, it will be powerful and even more breathtaking than usual!
2. Big Island of Hawaii
Contributed by Francesca Makana @ Homeroom Travel
Hawaii, also known as the Big Island, is one of the best warm places in the United States to visit in December. The weather is warm, in the high 70s, without too much humidity. Thus, it makes for a great place to escape the colder weather elsewhere.
You can get to the Big Island by flying to Kona International Airport. There are many direct flights from the United States and Asia. Flights can range from $200-$600. Plan to rent a car to get around the Big Island.
Opt to spend at least 5-7 days exploring what the Big Island has to offer. The main city, Kona, contains tons of great restaurants, bars, and beaches.
You can also opt to go on a night snorkel with manta rays as well. If looking for a more laid-back vibe, head to the eastern side of the island and spend some time in Hilo. Both Kona and Hilo are great places to base yourself on your stay.
Other can’t-miss places on the Big Island include Pololu Valley, Waipio Valley, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, South Point, and Mauna Kea. Make sure to grab a shaved ice or two before you leave!
Find the best car rental deals and explore around freely, at your own pace. My favorite way to enjoy a destination!
3. Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
Contributed by Sally @ Our3kidsvtheworld
Waikiki is the place you’ll see on all the Hawaii postcards, a sun-drenched white sand beach, many a sun umbrella, and bikini-clad tourists sun-baking or swimming in the all-year-round perfect conditions.
December is a great time to experience Waikiki, you’ll be greeted with the most spectacular sunsets, and all you have to do is look towards the horizon – best of all it’s free.
Waikiki is the central hub of Oahu, the best place to stay in the hotels closest to the beachfront. They are also the most expensive however even staying one street back will save you a considerable amount of money.
While in Waikiki you must hike to the top of Diamond Head for panoramic views straight down Waikiki strip, take a snorkeling tour where you’ll almost have a 100% chance of seeing turtles, a shopping experience at an ABC Store which is on nearly every Waikiki corner and last but not least experience a traditional Hawaiian luau
I highly recommend Nutridge, the most authentic experience on the island.
Island is small and can be explored in one day. North Shore will give you a more relaxed, laid-back experience compared to Waikiki.
A stop at the Dole Plantation to taste-test the island’s finest pineapple is also recommended.
So, yes, also Waikiki is definitely among the best places to visit in December in US.
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4. Key West, Florida
Contributed by Kylie @ Between England and Iowa
I can think of many reasons why Key West must be on the list of the best places to visit in December.
Visiting Key West in December is a great option for a warm-weather winter getaway in the US. December is officially the end of hurricane season and the temperature averages around 75F.
Key West is actually closer to Cuba in the Caribbean than it is to Miami and is the southernmost point of the Continental US!
The water temperature is still warm enough to enjoy water-based day trips, such as snorkeling, however, some companies will offer the use of a wetsuit if needed.
If traveling at the beginning of the month, you will also benefit from cheaper accommodation prices before the Christmas and peak season travel begins.
A popular thing to do in Key West is to watch the sunset from Mallory Square. In December the sun sets between 5.40 pm and 5.50 pm which leaves you with enough daylight hours to enjoy a full day of exploring.
Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is among the favorite places to visit with a lovely beach and Duval Street is jam-packed with restaurants and bars.
‘Caroline’s Cafe’ has lovely food and make sure to have Key Lime Pie from the ‘Southernmost Key Lime Shop’!
You can fly directly into Key West airport, or an alternative option is to fly into Miami airport and rent a car. From here it’s around a 3 hour 30-minute drive through the Florida Keys.
It’s an amazing drive and there are lots of fun stops along the route. Several hotels have free parking and shuttles to downtown, so park up and then continue on foot!
5. Dry Tortugas, Florida
Contributed by Camila Neves @ Travel Cami
Dry Tortugas National Park is for sure one of the most lovely warm places to travel in December.
It is warm and perfect all year round.
When I visited in December, I couldn’t quite believe it was winter, and I was on this stunning tropical island right in the Gulf of Mexico.
Dry Tortugas is not only a beautiful national park but also one of the most remote ones.
Because of this, the national park has amazing and vibrant marine life that makes it amazing for snorkeling and fishing.
To get there, there are two popular options. The most common one is taking the Yankee Freedom Ferry from the island of Key West.
The other far more expensive option is hiring the seaplane tour to Dry Tortugas. Both options are fantastic; however, the ferry takes about three hours while the seaplane gets you to the park in only 40 minutes.
Since it is located in the Gulf of Mexico, during December, the climate in Dry Tortugas National Park is just as nice as at any other time of the year, with an average high temperature of 75.6°F (24.2°C), and an average low temperature of 66°F.
Pro-tip: When you visit, make sure to book way in advance. Tickets to this paradise sell super fast!
6. Lake Kissimmee, Florida
Contributed by Trijit Mallick @ Budget Travel Buff
Looking for a warm destination to visit in the US in December? Look no further than Lake Kissimmee. You may wonder why I am recommending this place instead of the popular Florida beaches.
Well, if overcrowded beaches are not a problem for you, you can definitely visit the famous Florida beaches.
But if you are someone looking for a less crowded family-friendly warm place in the US, Lake Kissimmee can be a perfect destination for you. Located just 25.5 miles south of Orlando International Airport, Lake Kissimmee is one of the best lakes in Florida.
This quaint place can be visited at any time of the year. However, if you are looking for charming weather and outdoor activities, December is the best month to visit Lake Kissimmee.
Lake Kissimmee is heaven for bass fishing and wildlife watching. Even in winter, you can catch largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, and chain pickerel.
The water can be cold in late December to swim, but in November and early December, you can take a refreshing dip in the lake.
For outdoor adventure, rent a kayak or canoe from the nearby rental stores and explore the lake at your own pace. Keep your camera ready to capture the bald eagles, ospreys, sandhill cranes, white-tailed deer, bobcats, alligators, and much other wildlife.
Nature lovers can hike 13 miles of trails winding around the lake to observe the abundant plant and animal life.
Lake Kissimmee State Park has a large, shaded picnic area with picnic tables and a playground where your kids can play and you can enjoy a family get-together.
7. Everglades National Park, Florida
by Victoria @ Guide your travel
The Everglades National Park is a spectacular National Park in southern Florida and one of the best places to travel in December if you are looking for warm weather. The most convenient way to get to the park is to fly to Miami International Airport.
Because the Everglades are so close to the city, you can reach areas of the park in as little as 30 minutes from Miami.
In Florida, hurricane season ends in November, so the weather will most likely be warm but not excessively so in December. Temperatures will reach 75°, which is significantly cooler than the sweltering summers.
There will also be fewer other tourists, which means more opportunities to enjoy the Everglades’ natural splendor and, of course, lower prices.
The Everglades are all about nature and getting out in the fresh air. Hiking, camping, and animal watching are all popular activities here.
The popular Bobcat Boardwalk, which is just under a kilometer long and appropriate for all types of hikers, is an easy and accessible track. There are, of course, longer hikes that are more difficult.
In the Everglades, a boat excursion is a must-do activity. This is a fantastic experience and a perfect opportunity to explore the park on the water, with stunning mangrove forests and waterways.
Kayak or airboat tours are available, though kayaking is generally quieter and more environmentally friendly.
8. Naples, Florida
Contributed by Lori @ Travlinmad
If you’d like to escape the winter cold in December, look no further than Naples on the Gulf Coast of southwest Florida. Temperatures are warm and moderate, the humidity is low, and the wet season won’t begin until late May.
This is a great beachy time of year so light clothing and sandals are all you need. Lounging on fabulous beaches is a bucket list item in Florida and those you’ll find in Naples are some of the best.
In December the sun is less intense and with an average ocean temperature of 71° swimming is comfortable, and annoying bugs like mosquitoes and no-see-ums are scarce.
And more good news, the beaches are not so crowded as during the peak of the vacation season after January. When it’s time to take a break from fun in the sun, you can enjoy premier shopping, cultural activities, or maybe go hiking on the nearby trails.
A great day trip from Naples is to drive the short distance to the Everglades and either hike the many trails or treat yourself to an exciting airboat ride.
Naples is easy to get to. Many major airlines have service to Southwest Florida International (RSW) which is only 30 minutes north of Naples. One thing not to miss is a beautiful sunset over the Gulf.
Go to any beach, or better yet, head to the Naples Pier. December is a perfect time for fiery sunsets.
This is indeed one of the best places to visit in December!
9. Boca Grande, Florida
Contributed by Lori @ Naples Florida Travel Guide
It’s December. Time to pack your bathing suit and suntan lotion. One of the warmest places to travel in December is the charming small town of Boca Grande, Florida.
This barrier island has beautiful beaches literally from one end of the island to the other. They’re one of the best things to do in Boca Grande, but anglers will find some of the best saltwater (tarpon) fishing in the world.
Located on the pristine barrier island of Gasparilla, Boca Grande has that slow-paced laid-back vibe you might have experienced in Sanibel Island 50 years ago — like time has passed it by.
December is the dry season in southwest Florida with moderate temperatures and low humidity. There are no daily storms or downpours like in the summer months, and the ocean is calm and relatively warm. Boca Grande is a great place to just relax and unplug.
There are no theme parks and the main attractions are the two lighthouses which are interesting to visit.
Driving a golf cart along paved pathways is the only transportation you’ll need. Long-standing restaurants feature the fresh catch of the day and many other options as well.
To get here, take I-75 or Rte. 41 and exit at Englewood. There’s a $6 toll to cross the Boca Grande Causeway over Gasparilla Sound, a small price to pay to spend winter in paradise.
As you can see, Boca Grande is among the amazing places to visit in December, and stay warm!
10. Tampa, Florida
Contributed by Dymphe @ Dymabroad
One of the best places to visit in the United States in December is Tampa in Florida where the weather is very mild and the average temperature is about 75°F.
Tampa is a great city, packed with fun things to do such as going to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and the amusing Riverwalk where you can enjoy the temperate weather while strolling on the 2.4-mile walkway. Stop by the history museums, and grab a delicious Cuban sandwich in the iconic Columbia cafe, when you finish your tour.
Tampa Museum of Art is found at mile 1.3. If you love art, here you will find incredible modern and contemporary art expositions.
From the Riverwalk you can also get beautiful views of the city while you relax in one of the fancy restaurants.
If you love to explore further, you will find many Instagrammable places in Tampa where you can practice your photography skills and get spectacular pictures of the cityscape.
Tampa also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida that you can enjoy year-round. Enjoy the warm sun on the most popular Ben T. Davis Beach, the largest beach in the city, and get more off the beaten path to the secluded beach of Caladesi in Clearwater, 40-minute drive away from Tampa.
All the major US airlines can fly you into Tampa international airport from many cities in the US or if you are up for a road trip in Florida make sure you include Tampa in your itinerary.
11. Clearwater, Florida
Contributed by Terri Markle @ Female Solo Trek
The slogan for Clearwater, Florida is “Bright & Beautiful: From Bay to Beach.” There are no better places to visit in December, as this west coast Florida city offers fun in the sun when it is snowing elsewhere.
It’s like a little Caribbean getaway on the US side of the Gulf of Mexico. USA Today named it a Top 10 Beach in the USA. Winter is mild (typically 53-73 degrees).
The nearest airport to Clearwater is Tampa Bay International (22 miles away). But the city is also less than a three-hour drive from Orlando. You should also spend a day visiting St. Petersburg, which is just 17 miles by Florida FL-699 S.
The list is endless of fun activities. Stroll Pier 60 (Clearwater’s Main Street) and enjoy amazing sunsets. Fresh seafood is on the menu everywhere. Book a local boat at the Clearwater Harbor and Marina to go fishing or just a joy ride on the bay.
Clearwater offers everything required for a winter vacation in the US—relaxing on the beach in the sun plus shopping, dining, and live entertainment. The Cleveland Street District features concerts, festivals, and exhibits.
Drive to nearby islands including Sand Key and Caladesi Island State Park. Plus there is a score of free things to do while staying in Clearwater.
So when you visit this December, remember to “Have Yourself A Sandy Little Holiday.”
You may also like: The 31 best places to visit in Europe in December
12. Miami, Florida
Contributed by James @ Parks Collecting
December is the ideal time to visit Miami. Days are warm, dry, and super pleasant. The hurricane season ends in November and the extreme heat of summer is over. The average high and low are 76°F and 65°F.
This is perfect beach weather! For the best beach experience, head to South Beach where there are miles of white sand beaches.
There is also a bike path that winds its way along the length of the beach – great for biking, walking, or even rollerblading.
This is also where you’ll find most of the restaurants, bars, and clubs. The main street at South Beach, Ocean Drive, is lined with classic Miami-style art deco buildings, and many of them are small hotels.
It is right across from the beach, so the location couldn’t be better.
If you want a little break from the beach, Miami is also close to two great – but very different – national parks. Drive south for one hour and you’ll be snorkeling in Biscayne National Park.
Also, an hour from South Beach is Everglades National Park. Take an airboat tour of the wetlands to see alligators and birds. They are both at their best in December.
For something a little different, head to Little Havana. The Cuban food there is second to none.
From downtown, head up SW Eighth Street between SW 12th and 22nd. If you eat beef, definitely try the ropa vieja, Cuba’s national dish.
No matter what you like to do, Miami is among some of the best places to visit in December.
13. Siesta Key, Florida
Contributed by Nikki @ She Saves She Travels
If you’re looking for warm places to visit in the US in December, then Siesta Key, Florida is it! Located less than an hour from Sarasota, this gem on the western coast of the Florida peninsula is the perfect wintertime getaway.
With sand so incredibly soft it feels like you’re walking on powder, you’ll fall in love with this beach!
The average high temperature in Siesta Key is 74 each day, with an average water temperature of 69 degrees, so it’s really a great spot to escape wintry weather in much of the rest of the US.
It’s a great vacation destination not only because of the weather but also because there are so many things to do in Siesta Key. Aside from the near-perfect beach, be sure to visit the Siesta Key Village for shopping and dining.
And for more adventure, you can rent bikes and explore the island, go mangrove kayaking, parasailing, kiteboarding and so much more.
To get to Siesta Key, you can fly into the Sarasota airport, or for a long drive, Tampa or Fort Myers airports are within a couple of hours.
You won’t find a lot of high-rise hotels in Siesta Key, instead, look for smaller hotels or vacation rentals. Book them more than 60 days in advance for the best pricing!
14. Orlando, Florida
Contributed by Victoria @ Florida Trippers
There are few better places to experience warm weather in the USA than Orlando Florida!
Now, you may think that Orlando is just a theme park, and while winter is a fantastic time to visit the theme parks because the weather is not too hot, there is so much more to do in Orlando besides the parks.
Winter in Florida is the perfect time to visit the springs in Florida! Orlando is the perfect home base for stunning springs like Rock Springs, Wekiwa Springs, and Blue Springs and they can all be found nearby.
The springs are the perfect way to see pure Florida and one of the best things to do in Orlando!
If you want to hit the beach, you can use Orlando as your home base and travel to the nearby Cocoa Beach which is about 1.5 hours away to enjoy the warm weather, sand and beach waves!
Orlando also offers hiking, shopping, museums, and more. If you want to head outside of Orlando for an epic day trip, consider Bok Tower Gardens. It looks like Rapunzel’s tower and is located about 1 hour from Orlando.
In all, the weather in Orlando in winter is perfect and warm, yet not too hot, making for an enjoyable experience for everyone!
16. San Antonio, Texas
Contributed by Kate Storm @ Lone Star Travel Guide
Beautiful, historic, and packed with interesting things to do, visiting San Antonio in December is a fantastic way to squeeze in a quick cultural vacation to a warm weather in the USA.
Known for its charming River Walk, delicious TexMex food, and being the home of Texas’ only UNESCO World Heritage Site, a trip to San Antonio in winter means that outdoor activities are pleasant and coats are (usually) optional.
December weather in San Antonio is quite mild, with an average high temperature of 64° and low of 42°.
Some of the best things to do in San Antonio include exploring the River Walk, visiting the interesting Witte Museum, shopping in La Villita, touring the five historic missions of San Antonio (there are far more than just the Alamo, though it is worth a visit), and even visiting theme parks like Six Flags Fiesta Texas, one of the most popular Texas Landmarks
For those hoping to get out of the city, day trips to nearby Hill Country towns like Boerne and Fredericksburg make excellent options. And if you wish to spend a night in nature but with glamour check out the best Texas Hill Country Glamping spot.
And, of course, San Antonio is one of the best places to enjoy a festive Christmas in Texas! There are plenty of Christmas events in San Antonio in the month of December, including the Light the Way Festival and the famous River Walk Christmas lights.
Also read – The 23 best Christmas getaways in Texas
17. South Padre Island, Texas
Contributed by Ladona @ Walking The Parks
The month of December is the perfect time to visit South Padre Island in Texas one of the most popular beach towns in Texas. The weather is sunny and moderate, averaging in the mid-70s.
The water temperature is 72 degrees and in general, you don’t really want to swim in December. However, the beaches are free and beautiful for shell collecting, fishing, or just a simple relaxing day in the sun.
South Padre Island is at the tip of the Padre Island National Seashore, a 70 mile long National Park. There are over 380 bird species and it is a haven for the endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle.
To learn about the wildlife, visit Sea Turtle Inc where you meet rescued turtles or the Sealife Center where you explore the ocean life “touch tanks”. And don’t miss the very popular and fun dolphin watch cruises.
The island is small enough to explore by bike or golf cart which you can rent from quite a few places. There are many restaurants with outdoor seating offering fantastic views of the ocean as well as some with live music.
You’ll love the wide variety of hotels and adorable rental properties on the Island, all within walking distance to the beach. Many hotels have heated outdoor pools, perfect for a December swim.
The nearest airport is about 1/2 hour away in Brownsville where you can rent a car or take the free shuttle service to the island.
South Padre is a true island, only reachable by crossing the 2 mile Queen Isabella Causeway. Watch for the nearby Port Isabel Lighthouse. Also, it makes it one of the top Christmas getaways in Texas!
18. Fredericksburg, Texas
You will still be able to hike the famous pink granite dome of Enchanted rock and go shopping on Main street without feeling a blistery cold front.
The town decorates beautifully for Christmas to get you in the spirit, and you’ll be able to find a cozy spot to relax and meet some of the locals.
There are lighted Christmas parades, a big downtown tree lighting ceremony, and a host of other events that make the town festive such as an ice skating rink, visits with Santa, and carriage rides.
Plus, Fredericksburg’s German heritage ensures there are plenty of traditional holiday foods and drinks to enjoy.
Fredericksburg is also a premier wine-growing region.
In December, the wineries are in full swing with holiday season celebrations. You can enjoy live music, festive decorations, and of course, wine tastings.
So if you are looking for a warm holiday destination with a sparkle of German heritage then Fredericksburg needs to be at the top of your list!
19. New Braunfels – Texas
There are so many things going on in New Braunfels Texas in December! If you are looking for all the fun of the holiday season without the cold weather to come along with it, consider heading to New Braunfels, Texas.
A small German town located 30 minutes from San Antonio.
You can take a drive through Santa’s ranch, a festive drive-thru Christmas experience with more than two million lights, displays, and animated characters.
Or get into the holiday spirit at The New Braunfels Christkindlmarket is a German-inspired holiday market that takes place in the Historic Gruene District each year. It features local artisans, food vendors, and entertainment.
With the warm Texas winters, you will find plenty of outdoor activities like hiking or biking through the Texas Hill Country or spending a day at The Comal County Fair.
The fair is a four-day event that takes place in early December. It features a variety of rides, games, food, and live entertainment.
My favorite December event in New Braunfels is the annual Wassail fest. This is a great way to meet locals and try some wassail.
There is no shortage of things to do in New Braunfels during December. If you are looking for a festive and warm getaway, this is the place for you.
20. San Diego, California
Contributed by Megan @ Megan & Aram
Visiting San Diego in December is a wonderful time to escape the cold and visit one of the warmer places in the United States during winter.
In San Diego in December, you can expect an average high of 66F and a low of 49F. While it is the rainy season in SD, you will only see about 4 days of rain, on average, making it still an excellent time to visit the Southern California city!
There are several things to do during a December weekend in San Diego but one of the top things to do is to go whale watching.
It is the season for whale watching in California as over 20,000 gray whales pass through on their way to Mexico from Alaska.
The season starts in mid-December and typically lasts into mid-spring. Another popular thing to do in San Diego during December is to check out the Parade of Lights.
It is a holiday season tradition there that has been going on for 48 years.
About 100k come to see them and it is one of the most beloved things to do in December there!
During this time, you can still go hiking, surfing, and check out a national park in Southern California. San Diego truly is a perfect winter destination!
21. Disneyland in Anaheim, California
by Nicole Hunter @ Go Far Grow Close
If you are looking for warm places to visit in December in the USA, you should consider Disneyland Resort in Anaheim Orange County, California. Disneyland is a theme park that opened in 1955 that features characters, rides, and shows based on the original creations of Walt Disney and the Disney Company.
The weather is fantastic. The temperature is usually around 20 degrees Celsius or 67 degrees Fahrenheit and most days are sunny. You will have a hard time finding public transportation that easily takes you from Los Angeles International Airport to Disneyland.
Instead, most people either rent a car or take an Uber or a shuttle from the airport. It is only 30 miles away.
Disneyland Resort is actually made up of two theme parks – Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, each with its own unique attractions, shows, and restaurants. Most people spend a minimum of two days at Disneyland Resort so that they can experience at least one day at each park.
You can split your time between the two parks provided you purchase a hopper ticket that allows you to go to both in one day. However, there is so much to see and do in each park, that it is best to give yourself a minimum of a day in each.
Disneyland Resorts caters to people of all ages. There are gentle rides for young children and crazy exhilarating rides for brave children, teenagers, and adults that are young at heart. Experiencing Disneyland, no matter what your age, is truly an iconic American experience.
22. Los Angeles, California
Contributed by Sophia Bawany @ Fly Eat and Repeat
While there are endless destinations where you can enjoy a cold, picturesque December, if you are a lover of a warmer climate, we recommend sunny Los Angeles.
There is no shortage of outdoor activities and with the warm weather, you will have a great time fully enjoying the holiday spirit in a relaxed environment. The temperatures normally range between 65 – 70 F during the day with the evenings cooling down to 46-49.
This is a perfect destination for anyone who wants to escape the cold weather. Just because we have warm, sunny days, doesn’t mean there is any shortage of holiday cheer in the city of Angels.
You can visit the iconic Rodeo Drive and see the festive holiday displays. If you are really missing snow, head down to The Americana in Glendale and experience the beautiful snow that falls from Santa’s sleigh every evening during the holidays.
Of course, no trip to Los Angeles is complete without visiting the pristine beaches. Unfortunately, the water on the West Coast is freezing all year round, so you may not be able to actually get in, but the Pacific Coast Highway has tons of waterfront restaurants with stunning ocean views. Don’t overlook a trip to South Bay, either.
We recommend flying into Los Angeles Airport (LAX), you will find more flight options and if you book early, you may even get a great deal.
This is not the cheapest city to visit, with hotels being slightly pricier than many other cities in the US.
If you want a glamorous, warm winter respite, Los Angeles is the perfect destination for you.
23. Palm Springs, California
Contributed by Jessica @ Uprooted Traveler
Palm Springs is definitely one of the best places to visit in December and here I am going to tell you all the reasons why!
It’s the perfect destination for a balmy December getaway, with highs in the 70s and an arid desert climate. It’s a city where you can truly unwind, with plentiful spas, like the Parker Springs Yacht Club, to indulge in a massage or other relaxing treatments.
And while it may not be peak pool weather, there are still plenty of hotels with outdoor heated pools and hot tubs to lounge in while taking in the views of the surrounding San Jacinto Mountains.
Looking to do something a bit more active? Check out the nearby Joshua Tree National Park, for world-class hiking and rock climbing amongst massive morganite boulders and the park’s eponymous Seussian-like trees.
You can even decide to sleep in the desert and choose one of the fancy Joshua tree Glamping sites just outside the park for a night under the stars.
If you, instead, prefer more urbane activities, consider strolling around Palm Springs’ endless art galleries and other quirky boutiques.
With the city’s omnipresent retro-luxe vibes, it should come as no surprise that there are dozens and dozens of perfectly curated antique shops full of mid-century modern furniture and funky vintage clothing, harkening back to the days when Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dean Martin vacationed here.
For those interested in this type of design or history, there are plenty of do-it-yourself walking tours to explore the mid-century modern architecture of the city (and enjoy the fantastic weather!), like visiting the house where Elvis honeymooned with his wife, Priscilla, or the Twin Palms estate, commissioned by Frank Sinatra himself (complete with a piano-shaped pool).
Whether you’re looking for a rousing outdoor adventure, a relaxing getaway, or something in between, Palm Springs is a perfect place to shake off those winter blues.
24. San Luis Obispo, California
Contributed by Haley @ Gathering Waves
One of the best US warm-weather destinations in December is the quaint, sunny town of San Luis Obispo, California.
Located on the Central Coast of California, this small town gets the lovely combination of beautiful California beaches and weather, but none of the crowds of Southern California or the bay area.
December weather in San Luis Obispo stays in the ’60s, and it rarely rains, making it the perfect winter destination.
To get to San Luis Obispo, you can fly into either LAX or SFO, as SLO (as the locals call it) is equidistant to both of those international airports.
It is an easy drive from either direction, along the scenic Highway One from the north, or 101 from the south.
In San Luis Obispo, there are many wonderful things to do. There are numerous hikes in the area, and hikes like the Pismo Nature Preserve and the Avila Beach Ridge even have ocean views!
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try surfing here! There is also a drive-in movie theatre, which is always fun for the family or for a nice date night!
And don’t forget to check out downtown San Luis Obispo, and if you’re in town on a Thursday night, the famous SLO farmers market will be taking place.
One of the best things to do in San Luis Obispo is to visit one of the many beautiful surrounding beaches. Even in December, you can have a sunny beach day here.
25. Phoenix, Arizona
by John V @ Your Destination is everywhere
When someone mentions Phoenix, you might instantly think of cacti, dry sand dunes, desert landscapes, and hot weather.
However, believe it or not, Phoenix is also an amazing place to visit in December as it’s brimming with many interesting things to do.
On most days in December, you can expect mild pleasant temperatures and clear skies (from 40 F to 65 F).
I actually prefer to visit Phoenix this time of year because there are fewer crowds and the climates aren’t as extreme.
Being a major city, Phoenix can easily be accessed by cars through various highways. Phoenix Sky Harbor is the only international airport within the city limit.
One of the best things to do in Phoenix this time of year is attend the annual Light of the World Festival. This Chinese-inspired event features a dazzling collection of lanterns from all around the globe, carnival rides, street performers, delicious food, and live music on most days!
Glendale Festival is a very similar event where the entire downtown blocks are turned into a winter wonderland. With holiday-themed concerts, baked goods, and over a million lights on display, you’re in for a good time.
If you’re not really into those loud and crowded festivals, no worries. Winter is the perfect time to go hiking in Phoenix because the torturous summer heat is just not ideal.
There are various trails in and around the city that are suitable for hikers of all abilities.
If you don’t mind paying for the mandatory tour, then I’d highly recommend checking out Antelope Canyon. Cathedral Rock Trail is also a must-visit. It is short, steep, and offers stunning panoramic views.
26. Savannah, Georgia
Erin Clarkson @ Savannah First-Timer’s Guide
If you want a winter escape, but don’t want to freeze your tail off, Savannah is definitely one of the best places to visit in December and makes a great place for a quick getaway!
The temperatures cool down during December, but it’s often still warm enough for short sleeves – sometimes even shorts – during the day. Temperatures are generally mild and vary between the low-60s to upper 70s on the high end.
Pack lightweight layers to accommodate warm midday temps and cooler evenings. Make note that there’s often a strong breeze blowing off the water along River Street if you plan to spend time in that area.
You’ll find plenty of gorgeous Christmas lights in Savannah, but the overall holiday decorating style leans towards classic and traditional.
The Historic District almost looks like a Dickens novel come to life. If you’re lucky, you might even spot carolers strolling around downtown!
The Holiday Tour of Homes is one of the most popular December events, although tickets often sell out in early September.
Broughton Street is particularly joyful during the Christmas season, with string lights draped from one side of the street to the other and magical window displays like you might expect to see in NYC.
City Market also hosts numerous holiday gatherings and has large Christmas trees on display. The Plant Riverside District on River Street hosts a festive holiday market that extends the entire month of December. You will feel the holiday spirit everywhere!
One of the top “must-see” spots in the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Their nativity scene is truly breathtaking, and parishioners fill the cathedral with thousands of red poinsettias.
A few of the best hotel recommendations for the holiday season include
✅ The Marshall House – Book here
✅ JW Marriott Plant Riverside – Book here
✅ River Street Inn – Book here
If you’re flying into Savannah, Georgia the closest airport is the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport. From there, it’s just a quick 20-minute drive to the Historic District.
27. Jekyll Island, Georgia
Contributed by Alanna @ Periodic Adventures
On the southern coast of Georgia, you’ll find a quaint little barrier island called Jekyll Island. Known for its unique wildlife and cinematic beaches, Jekyll Island is one of the places to visit in December in the US.
You can get to Jekyll Island by taking state route GA-520 E from route US-17, which connects Savannah, Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida.
Route 520-E runs right into the island, where there is a large gated entrance to pay the daily parking fee of $8.
The island was popularized by big names in the late 1800s such as Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, and Pulitzer who frequented the island during winter for hunting and leisure. It was used as a private retreat to escape the bitter cold in the Northeast.
Now, it’s a low-key tourist destination and is perfect for December travel. During this month, the temperatures range from the mid-60s during the day and the high 40s at night. December also sees less rain.
There are many things to do on Jekyll Island. One of the best activities is visiting the Georgia Sea Turtle Center where there is a large effort to rehabilitate sea turtles and educate the public. Tickets cost $10 per adult and all funds go toward helping the turtles!
Another must-do is Driftwood Beach. It’s a photographer’s dream where there are large trees that have drifted ashore creating a wild juxtaposed beach landscape!
28. New Orleans, Louisiana
Contributed by Agnes @The Van Escape
December is one of the best months of the year to visit New Orleans, Louisiana. The weather is mild. There is no excessive heat, and the air is not as humid and rainy as in summer.
Temperatures still reach 64 – 68°F during the day. At night temperature can dip as low as 48 – 54°F. Most days in December are sunny or partly sunny. An average of few days might be a little rainy, but that is not significant rain.
What’s more, the city is dressed up in holiday decorations, and it looks fabulous. There are no crowds which also means cheaper rates for travel and accommodations.
The easiest way to get to NOLA is by plane. There is a Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which offers good flight connections.
The perfect place to stay is in the city center with the famous French Quarter. If you visit only New Orleans, you don’t need to rent a car, as it’s a pretty walkable city.
But if you would like to visit other attractions in the area like the famous swamps of Louisiana or historic plantations is worth taking a car or book a tour in advance with hotel pickup.
To feel the holiday spirit in New Orleans, you can go caroling in Jackson Square. All days and nights, artists play there and on Bourbon Street. As a city of jazz NOLA is full of music and life.
You can marvel at the holiday lights on every building, house, and the spectacularly decorated historic Roosevelt Hotel. It’s a Winter Wonderland boasting nearly 50 Christmas trees and over 60,000 lights.
What’s more, a few days of each December is LUNA Fête. The Arts Council New Orleans creates a visionary wonderland downtown which includes light projections, illuminated installations, and more.
This interactive festival is great for families and takes place at Lafayette Square. More inspiration on what to see and do you will find in 3 days of the New Orleans Itinerary.
29. Puerto Rico
Contributed by Ale @ Sea Salt & Fog
The island of Puerto Rico is a tropical paradise and one of the best places to visit in December in USA when you’re looking to escape chilly winters for warmer weather.
Located in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico has gorgeous, sunny, and hot weather year-round, stunning beaches, and so much history.
Plus, if you’re from the US you don’t even need a passport to get here. The island is less than a three-hour flight from Miami – with the airport located in the capital city of San Juan.
Speaking of San Juan, the city is steeped in history and gorgeous, Spanish colonial architecture. The streets of the old city are paved with blue cobblestones, and the buildings are painted in the most vibrant colors (making for great photos!)
Visit El Morro, a military fort that has guarded the city for hundreds of years to see a bit of Puerto Rico’s past. In Old San Juan, walk the Paseo de la Princesa to see fountains, historic plazas, and water views.
Need a break? Stop at Barrachina for an ice-cold piña colada (they were invented here!)
And of course, no trip to Puerto Rico is complete without stopping in El Yunque – the only tropical rainforest in the US. Go for a dip at Juan Diego falls, or La Mina, and hike to Mt. Britton Tower for panoramic views.
30. Las Vegas, Nevada
Contributed by Roxanna Keyes @ Gypsy With a Day Job
When looking for warm US places to visit in December, Las Vegas always comes to mind. If you are planning your first trip to Las Vegas you may not know that it is an excellent December choice, and have not considered it an option.
Experienced visitors know that it is the best time of year to spend time in Las Vegas, and there are plenty of flights into McCarran International Airport from across the US to get there.
So, why visit Vegas in December? First, because it is warm- warm as opposed to sweltering hot. Seven months out of the year the city is too hot for my taste, but December is comfortable.
The average December temperature is in the high 50s to 60 degrees. You won’t see half-dressed showgirls on the strip, and you’ll need a jacket in the evenings, but you can still enjoy the heated pool at your resort on the strip.
Las Vegas always pushes the limits, but it takes Christmas festivities over the top. Resorts strive to outdo each other with lavish holiday decorations and events.
Of particular note are:
- the Bellagio Conservatory floral Christmas displays
- the Aria Winter Wonderland
- Christmas in the Palazzo Waterfall Atrium
- the Christmas in the cactus garden displays at Ethel M Chocolate Factory,
- the carolers and Christmas market at The Park,
- the drive-through light show at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
If you need to get your holiday shopping done, there are numerous options, and if you feel the need to be active after all the holiday festivities, there are plenty of opportunities.
Don a Santa suit for the annual Santa run, try ice skating at the Cosmopolitan rink, or spend a day skiing and sledding on Mt. Charleston. For something “non-Christmasy,” it is the perfect weather to try out one of the city’s many golf courses.
Best December Destinations FAQs
What is the warmest place in the USA in December?
Florida tends to be the warmest US destination in December, with cities like Miami and the Florida Keys being the hottest.
What beaches are warm in December in USA?
Beaches in the Southern US will be warmest in December. That includes destinations like Key West, Miami, Lake Kissimmee, and South Padre Island.
What US state is warmest at Christmas?
Florida – Miami, in particular – is the warmest state at Christmas and throughout the rest of December.
Where in the US is it warm enough to swim in December?
If you want to get in the water, Florida is your best bet. Miami and Key West typically have the warmest water. California is another option, though their water is often colder.
Where is it warm all year round in the US?
If you’re looking for year-round sunshine, head to California, Hawai’i, Nevada, or Florida.
Is Key West nice in December?
Very! December is a great time to visit Key West and avoid the crowds while still experiencing the best the town has to offer.
Best places to travel in December: Final thoughts
I hope this travel inspiration post about the best places to travel in December in the USA gave you a few ideas on when to go next. If you want to learn more about the best places to visit in the US for special Christmas celebrations I got you covered as well.
And if you want more ideas on the best places to visit in November here you have some lovely ideas.
Happy travels 🙂
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