Major metropolitan hotels offer competitive prices come December, but not all of them can provide sandy beaches, water sports, a golf course and sun in the cold weather of winter. You might actually pay less in New York City than you would on a quiet, Caribbean island, but that's only an option if you're willing to spend your winter vacation shivering. However, all is not lost if you prefer a warmer climate for your December getaway.
Take a Road Trip South
St. Petersburg on Florida's Gulf Coast offers the best of both worlds: its famous Snow Fest with a guaranteed visit from Santa paired with a 72-degree average temperature in December. Naples, Florida holds its annual boat parade in December at an average temperature of about 66 degrees this time of year. You'll find kinder rates for accommodations in Miami than you would during the summer months. Of course, Key West is one of the most famous southern destinations with natural beauty, snorkeling and cafes overlooking the water.
Video of the Day
You're not limited to Florida if you want to explore the Southeast. Beaufort, South Carolina puts you just a stone's throw from Hilton Head's beautiful beaches at a more reasonable price. It's a little further north than the tropics, but temperatures still average in the 60s in December.
Popular Destinations Out West
Santa Monica's Candle Night Walk is a December tradition, and you'll find some nice shopping opportunities here as well – all at an almost-balmy 66 degrees or so. Then there's San Diego if you'd prefer to keep your eyes open for the annual California gray whale migration. Don't forget Arizona. The weather is warm year-round, with plenty of sights for day trips.
Think Las Vegas if your idea of a good time is a great party. It's a little cooler than the coast, averaging about 57 degrees in the winter months, but you might be spending a lot of your time indoors enjoying the nightlife anyway.
Consider also: Is There an Airbnb in Your Travel Plans
International Travel and the Islands
Of course, there are always the tropics if you want to leave the good old U.S.A. Antigua offers posada parades every night from Dec. 15 through 24. Or enjoy the Giant Lantern Festival San Fernando in the Philippines. Island locations tend to average in the 70-plus degree range in December.
You might even fly to Europe if you're feeling particularly adventurous. Warm areas are scattered throughout France and Spain.
Budget-Friendly Travel Tips
Holiday season airfare is always more affordable if you book well in advance, and the day you fly can be very pivotal, too. Flights on Dec. 23 and Dec. 28 tend to go for top dollar, so you can save money by choosing an alternate date if your schedule allows it.
You can filter for "free cancellation" lodgings on Expedia in case something goes wrong at the last minute, which is possible during the ongoing COVID-19 siege. The same goes for buying travel insurance. Many policies offer trip cancellation coverage, but you'll most likely have to submit proof from your doctor if you cancel due to illness.
COVID-19 has turned out to be the uninvited guest who just won't leave a party, so you'll want to factor the pandemic into your December travel plans as well. Check in advance to find out whether any hotel or establishment you're considering requires proof of vaccination or a negative test result, and check with city and state authorities for any rules in place.
Many tropical areas remain at Level 4 as high-risk locations as of November 2021, including Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rico and Grenada. A few are considered low risk, however, including American Samoa and the Marshall Islands.
International travel requires a negative COVID-19 test result even if you and your family have been vaccinated. It must be dated within three days of your flight if you've been fully vaccinated, or within one day if you're not.
Consider also: COVID Made This Part of Flying Easier
Why Not a Staycation?
All things considered and warm weather aside, you might be thinking about skipping travel until next December. All doesn't have to be lost if you decide to stay home. Have your kids help organize and participate in your own lantern parade around your neighborhood. Dress up for your holiday dinner. It's not required that you dine in sweatpants or jammies just because you're tucked in at home.
And that fireplace can bring the temperature up a few degrees as well, either at home or at your favorite dining establishment. Ask for a table close to the flickering flames.
Consider also: 5 Ways to Have a Fantastic Winter Staycation
- Reservations.com: Warm Places to Visit in December in the U.S.
- CNN Travel: 8 Warm Places to Go for Christmas Around the World
- Hospitality Net: Holiday Travel Forecast – Expedia Reveals the Top Trending Destinations
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Documentation of Recovery from COVID-19
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Domestic Travel During COVID-19
- Allianz Travel: 5 Reasons Your Trip Cancellation Insurance Was Denied