4 winter trips you must take right now

Have the blizzards and bomb cyclones, the atmospheric rivers and the Pineapple Express got you feeling the winter blues? Maybe you can’t “fly to the weekend somewhere” like Jimmy Buffett. But a road trip to sunnier climes goes a long way to curing a bout of cabin fever.

California Highway One (South)

The legendary Big Sur section of California’s Highway One is one of the classic American road trips. But not many know that the fabled road also has a southern section that stretches about 120 miles between San Clemente and Ventura.

Start your drive with a whale watching or paddle boarding adventure outside of Dana Point before checking into one of these clifftop hotels along the Laguna Beach coastline. Have a gourmet meal at a waterfront restaurant in Newport Beach before a hanging ten in Huntington (“Surf City USA”).

Long Beach is home to the Aquarium of the Pacific, an amazing array of ethnic eateries, and the historic Queen Mary (currently closed for renovation but still available for selfies). Highway One skirts the Palos Verdes Peninsula and its championship golf courses, passing through a series of surf towns—Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach—that represent the beach culture of Southern California.

Further north are yacht-filled Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica with its famous pleasure pier before a long run along the elegant Malibu coast to Point Mugu and finally the Ventura area with its historic Spanish Mission and ferries to Channel Islands National Park.

Florida’s Overseas Highway

Over on the other coast, US Highway One stretches about 100 miles from downtown Miami to Key West. Many drive straight through, a four-hour journey in light traffic. But the trip can easily fill a whole week with overnight stops along the way.

Right out of the gate is Homestead, the gateway to Biscayne National Park with its excellent kayaking, fishing and deserted islands, as well as the waterfront Flamingo section of Everglades National Park. Crossing the highway to the Florida Keys, Key Largo has laid-back boutique hotels (like Kona Kai) and the best diving and snorkeling in the continental United States at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Several ocean-going outfits on Islamorada offer day trips to two other fascinating state parks: historic Indian Key and the botanical wonders of Lignumvitae Key. Further down the island chain, Bahia Honda Key is famous for its bird watching, white sand beach and the large remains of an old railroad bridge that was destroyed by the infamous Labor Day hurricane of 1935. Take a short detour to Geiger Key, where Key West Eco Tours offers half-day sailings around the island or guided kayak or paddleboard trips to the local mangroves.

Wild West Texas and New Mexico

Never judge a book (or region) by its cover. In this case, the Chihuahuan Desert north of the Rio Grande River. Because there’s far more to it than meets the eye, including four national parks, many historic sites, and the best little art town in Texas.

Starting from El Paso or Las Cruces, motorists can drive a great loop through the region starting with the above-ground landscape of White Sand and the subterranean wonders of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico before flying over the border to Guadalupe Mountain National Park with its classic desert. nature.

Continue south to Fort Davis with its historic US Cavalry outpost, stargazing at the McDonald Observatory, and the option of an overnight stay at the historic Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park. Twenty minutes down Highway 17 is Marfa, known for obscure art galleries and strange alien lights.

But the ultimate prize is the Big Bend region, a mix of desert and forested mountain scenery with several hiking trails, scenic drives, the Terlingua ghost town, and river cruises along the Rio Grande that range from half a day to several weeks.

Tucson to Tombstone

Between the exceptional Mexican cuisine of Arizona, the eerie Aviation Cemetery at the Pima Air & Space Museum, and elegant Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson excels at human attractions. But it’s the nature surrounding the southern Arizona city that makes it such a compelling winter vacation destination.

Protected within the confines of Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon and Tucson Mountain Park, the cactus-studded Sonoran Desert surrounding the city offers plenty of opportunities for wilderness hiking and horseback riding.

Road trippers can also take a loop outside the city limits that can include Kartchner Caverns, Fort Bowie National Historic Site and the stunning rock formations of Chiricahua National Monument in a “sky island” mountain range that is home to the last known wilderness. Jaguars in the United States

The old copper mining town of Bisbee or Tombstone with its Wild West heritage are the best accommodations, before driving back to Tucson via the Sonoita wine country and charming boutique wineries like Rune Wines with its sunny outdoor patio and endless desert views.

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