Cool Winter Break Destinations

By Ashley Paskill on November 20, 2019

Most students think of going on vacation over spring or summer breaks, but they tend to overlook the fact that winter break exists. Though this time is usually spent with family members over the holidays, there is still time for either a solo vacation or even a family vacation. You might want to escape somewhere warm if you live in a cold environment or going on a skiing or snowboarding trip. No matter where you go, spending your winter break on vacation is a great way to relax and gear up for the spring semester.

Luckily, there are a lot of great travel deals during the winter months since most people do their traveling during spring and summer. This makes traveling over winter break perfect. Also, winter break is usually too short to have an internship or study abroad semester, while you have a chance to do both of these things over the spring or summer breaks. Therefore, traveling over winter break is less intrusive on your already busy schedule. This also gives you time to spend with your family in the midst of everything going on in your life.

Before you go, make sure you check the weather of where you are going so that you have an idea of what kind of climate to pack for. Also, have your itinerary planned out somewhat so that you do not forget to pack a nice outfit if you plan on going to a nice dinner or performance. It is better to have clothes that are too fancy than to not have anything nice.

Also, make sure you stay safe and follow the rules of the country you are going to if you are traveling abroad. For example, if you are going to a beach, some places have rules against collecting certain types of seashells to take outside of the country. Being aware of these rules, even basic things such as traffic laws if you are driving, is crucial for ensuring that you enjoy your vacation and stay safe.

New York City

While New York City will be cold over winter break, there is so much to enjoy, whether you go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, catch a Broadway musical, or go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you decide to stay a few days, the city is known as the “City that Never Sleeps,” so there is plenty of nightlife to enjoy. New York City can be a bit pricey, so consider staying outside of the Times Square area or even out of Manhattan or the city. Hotels are cheaper in one of the other boroughs or just outside the city.  If you go right before or after the holidays, you will get to see the decorations.

Image: Emiliano Bar via https://unsplash.com/photos/kheTI8pIywU

Disney World

Disney World is located in Florida, so if you decide to go, you will have the added bonus of the weather being warm. Many think of Disney as being only for kids, but as a college student, you will be able to make memories such as riding more intense rides or taking in the cultures of Epcot. You can even plan to visit Universal Studios. There are usually vacation deals for families of four, so you can go with your family or get a group of friends together. Aside from the main parks, there is Disney Springs, which is a shopping and entertainment district, and the water parks.

Florida

If Disney World is not your thing, you can still take a vacation to Florida. It is known for its beaches, so you can plan to beach hop. Florida also has a lot of cultural experiences and golfing, so you can plan to go somewhere based on things you like and what you would like to do. Florida has cities that are not on the coast, so they are destinations known for other things. Do your research ahead of time, especially if you want to do a beach trip while including other things to do so that you can plan your trip to ensure you get to do and see everything.

Washington D.C.

Whether you love history, politics, or a little bit of culture, Washington D.C. has something for you. It is obviously a great place to soak up some history and delve into politics, but the Smithsonian Museum collection spans from science to art. Though it will be cold, you should also check out the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall, the Capitol, and the White House. Many of the museums in Washington D.C. are free, so this can be a great trip for students who are on a budget. Make a list of everything you are interested in and see where you can fit them into your trip.

Atlantis

Atlantis is a resort located in the Bahamas. You can participate in a variety of activities such as waterslides, snorkeling, and a casino. One of the added bonuses is that it is warm all year, so you can escape the winter cold if summer is more up your alley. There are also a wide variety of entertainment options to check out during your stay. Of course, you can spend time on the beach or at the waterpark.  This trip may be a bit expensive, so start saving your money ahead of time so that you can go.

Colorado

Colorado is home to some of the best skiing and snowboarding mountains in the United States. It is a popular destination for those wanting to partake in these activities, so if you are looking to do these things, Colorado is definitely for you. If skiing or snowboarding are not your things, you can always go hiking. Many of the cities and towns that are known for their outdoor activities also have a variety of shopping places, so they truly have something for everyone.

Image: Holly Mandarich via https://unsplash.com/photos/qF39KxkvpOE

Austria

Austria is perfect for anyone who wants to do a variety of different things within their trip. Of course, this country is known for the Alps, so there are plenty of opportunities to go skiing and hiking. This is also perfect for those wanting to get into biology or science as there are a ton of animal and plant species. For music lovers, Salzburg is the perfect place to explore as “The Sound Of Music” was filmed here. Several other places in Austria have things for those who want to explore art, natural history, and even handiwork. There are so many opportunities to take in the culture, food, and history of Austria that you will want to make an entire vacation of it.

Cruise

Going on a cruise is a great way to escape the winter doldrums, or you can choose a destination that is cold (such as Alaska). While cruises usually have destinations and excursions on land, the cruise ship itself can be a vacation. Many cruise ships are like floating resorts with ziplining, waterparks, entertainment, and a variety of food options. A cruise can be a great way to face fears you may have by trying new things and give you a chance to visit multiple new places in one trip. Of course, there plenty of chances to relax while on a cruise, whether you hit up the spa or are sunbathing.

Las Vegas

If you are 21 or older, Las Vegas is a great trip. This city is known for its casinos and entertainment, so there is always something to do. However, there are also a variety of museums in Las Vegas, including Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum. There is also a theme park, a zoo, an aquarium, and CSI: The Experience, so even if you are not into gambling, you will still be able to find something you love. Just keep in mind that you need to be 21 to check into the hotels, so if you are underage, plan to go with someone who is at least 21 so you can have a successful trip.

Belize

Belize, located in Central America, is a great destination if you are looking for a beach trip without breaking the bank. If you go in December, the travel deals are great, so winter break is an ideal time for those on a student budget to go. Aside from the beaches, Belize has Mayan ruins, the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, the Great Blue Hole, and the Belize Barrier Reef. There are a wide variety of things to choose from to help you create the vacation of your dreams, especially if you want one where you are on an adventure but can find time to slow down and relax.

Jamaica

Jamaica is another tropical destination that is perfect for escaping the winter blues. Whether you love snorkeling, exploring mountains and rainforests, or just relaxing on the beach, there is something for you to enjoy. While your there, be sure to appreciate the fact that this country is famed to be the home of reggae music. If you go to the capital city of Kingston, Jamaica, you can even check out the Bob Marley Museum, which is dedicated to the famous reggae singer. Other notable places to check out include Montego Bay, which is known for its colonial British architecture, and Negril, known for its sites for snorkeling and diving.

Italy

While Italy is located in southern Europe, it still gets cold during the winter months. Italy is famed for its history and its food, but skiing and snowboarding are also popular. If you go for Christmas, you can see the Christmas Mass at the Vatican if you request your free ticket early enough. There are Christmas markets open in December as well, so even if you do not plan on seeing the Mass, there are still plenty of Christmas activities to participate in. Take time to visit the popular sites as well as some smaller towns so that you can get a deeper appreciation of the country than most do.

Hawaii

Hawaii is the perfect getaway for those who want to go somewhere warm within the United States. This is perfect for students within the U.S. who may not have the means to get a passport or travel outside of the country. Not only is Hawaii known for its beaches, but it is also known for its volcanoes. It even has a Pearl Harbor memorial, which is perfect for those who love history or those who have family or friends who served in World War II. Hawaii is made up of multiple islands, so make sure you carve out some time to visit all of them.

Alaska

It may seem like Alaska is nothing but snow and ice. However, it is so much more than that. Alaska is the perfect vacation spot for those who love doing anything outdoors. It is a hotspot for hiking, fishing, and exploring nature. However, if you are not a fan of these, Alaska still has something that you might like. They have a variety of museums of all sorts. Since Alaska is home to Native American tribes, there are festivals that are part of their culture that guests are invited to witness. Of course, you will want to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, but there are other forms of nightlife, such as performances ranging from Shakespearean plays to world premieres.

Puerto Rico

While Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, it is slowly but surely making a comeback. Actually, traveling there during the recovery will help their economy so that everyone can get back on their feet. Most major resorts and cities are okay to visit. While there, you can hit up the beaches, whether you just want to relax or even surf. Puerto Rico also has a vibrant nightlife, from bars to live music and even dancing. The Discover Puerto Rico website highlights a number of nightlife options that are LGBTQ-friendly. Be sure to seek out a Pina Colada, which is Puerto Rico’s national drink.

When deciding where to go over winter break, there are a lot of options, whether you want to break free from the cold or embrace it. Winter is the perfect time since there are several deals on travel accommodations.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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