Take me Back – Winter Escape Edition

I enjoy living in New England and experiencing all four seasons. I do. But after the holidays and the excitement of the first couple snow days, I start wishing winter was the shortest of the four. Regardless of the predictions made on groundhog day, it’s around this time that my dreams of a warm weather escape kick into full gear. If you’re feeling the same and wondering where to go, read on for some of my family’s favorite winter vacations over the years. No passport required (for most).

Planning a Winter Getaway? As a Fora Travel advisor I can help and hopefully add in some perks too =)

St. Petersburg, Florida

Apparently, my GG was never a big fan of the cold New England winter. She left CT for St. Petersburg, Florida. And while I haven’t been since visiting her as a baby and toddler, I can’t wait to go back with my own little ones. Clearwater Beach (No. 1) and St. Pete’s Beach (No. 4) both ranked among the top five on TripAdvisor’s Top U.S. Beaches for 2019. White sands, turquoise waters, dolphin watching, and sunset views over the Gulf of Mexico make this spot the perfect place to relax and unwind. I know from my sister’s text updates during February break last year. She forgot to take her sister. A stay at the luxurious Don Cesar Hotel (Pink Palace) or hip and playful Sirata St. Pete, will put you steps away from St. Pete’s Beach.

Photo credit @siratastpete

San Diego, California

I have such fond memories of our entire California trip, but for sun and beach worshipers I recommend a stay at the iconic Hotel del Coronado. Beach activities include surfing and paddle board lessons, fitness classes, bonfires and movies on the beach. Pacific Ocean not warm enough for you? The resort pool is heated with ocean views so you get the best of both worlds. Speaking of both worlds, the hotel is rumored to be haunted. Something my parents left out at the time. Probably because Nickelodeon’s Are you Afraid of the Dark? was too much for us to handle – let alone a real life haunted hotel. I learned this frightful fact watching the Travel Channel years later. No ghost sightings for us thankfully! Rather, our memories are filled with hours by the pool and day trips to the San Diego Zoo and Sea World. Click here to browse more family friendly activities in and around San Diego.

Puerto Rico

We loved the El Conquistador Resort in Farjado, Puerto Rico. I remember it being removed from San Juan, but we weren’t motivated to leave the resort. Ocean views from the cliff side setting, a hotel spa, and access to a private beach on Palomino Island left us pretty content. We left one night for a boat and swimming tour of the Bioluminescent Bay. This was a unique experience. It seems from more recent reviews you’re not allowed to swim in all the bays anymore (there are three on the island), but kayak tours are available. To be honest I might have preferred this. Watching the water light up while you swam was magical, but I also couldn’t relax swimming at night, amongst dinoflagellates and whatever else swam beneath the surface! My sister was happy to watch from the boat.

Cancun, Mexico

We stayed in the all-inclusive Moon Palace Resort and took day trips to the Mayan ruins in Tulum and Xcaret Park where we swam in the underground rivers. Other excursions by Xcaret include swimming with dolphins, Sea Trek underwater walk, speedboat rides, white water rafting, ziplining, and visits to Chichén Itzá among others. There’s so much to see and do in Cancun if you can pry yourself away from the Moon Palace beach and pool. Did I mention the room had a double whirlpool bath? To my sister and I, it was like having a swimming pool in your room at the time.

Kona (The Big Island), Hawaii

One of the best perks of our mom’s job as a travel agent (for us) was when her work trips lined up with school breaks. One of our all-time favorites was staying at Hilton Waikoloa Village in Kona, Hawaii. The property was expansive – as in boats and trams take you around the property expansive. On site activities included pools and a water slide, swimming with dolphins, snorkeling, kayaks, hydro-bikes, golf and tennis, and of course luau’s. You could relax under the palm trees in one of the hammocks or treat yourself to time at the spa. As incredible as the resort is on its own, I recommend venturing out for some island excursions. We spent a half a day on a catamaran and snorkeling followed by time at one of the black sand beaches. Another day we rode ATVs on Kahua Ranch. The views as we rode around the hills were spectacular. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, view the island from a helicopter tour or visit an active volcano!