- Trip Ideas
- Winter Vacations
What urban centers are most popular for winter travel? Almost anywhere that doesn’t require snow tires, according to Travel + Leisure readers.
No. 3 Phoenix/Scottsdale
America's Best Cities for Winter Travel
No. 3 Phoenix/Scottsdale
For travelers, this Arizona metropolis is all about timing. Between the holiday season and spring break, Phoenix ranks high, but its blistering summer heatwaves keep visitors at bay. A trip here usually means days spent shopping, golfing, or lounging around the spa, and then turning in early. Phoenix isn't exactly known for its nightlife.
This winter’s forecast: plenty of snow, and even more travelers fleeing it. That’s the message, at least, from Travel + Leisure readers.
Salt Lake City has long-been a gold medalist in the winter category, but recently, the snowy Utah city—along with Denver—skidded down the mountain of readers’ affections, while warmer cities took their places, literally, in the sun. Compounding the situation, The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting another big-snow winter for parts of the U.S., especially in the Northeast.
Snowbird-style bookings, such as Caribbean destinations with their all-inclusive resorts, are always popular during the winter.
San Juan may be getting a little more crowded this year, along with classic destinations such as Miami, Honolulu, and Phoenix, which are popular as ever. Winter-frigid Anchorage, Minneapolis, and Chicago slipped to the bottom.
Not all T+L readers are dreaming of beachy paradises this winter. Instead, cities that boast mild-winter weather, seasonal events, and often have the best prices of the year get a lot of love. Take Houston, for example. Its cooler temps, along with the world’s biggest rodeo championship, make the city come alive.
Sometimes, winter just means having the city to yourself. You’ll find shorter lines at theme parks in Orlando and San Diego, and you’ll have an easier time getting tables at hot restaurants in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
“I’m not looking for 90-degree beach weather,” says publicist Sue Jean Chun, who regularly goes to New Orleans during winter—though not for Mardi Gras. “I just want a city where food and music are the focus.”
The Connecticut resident also enjoys another simple winter pleasure in the Crescent City: “being able to walk out the door in jeans and a light sweater,” she says, “rather than a puffy jacket and beat-up boots.”