Winter is upon us, and with it comes visions of jaunting off to picturesque snow-blanketed mountains, chic metropolitan cities, and sun-drenched beaches. Whether you’re interested in escaping or embracing the chill, we’ve picked three perfect locations for a winter getaway. Here, TSG Editors from each of the destinations weigh in on what to pack, where to stay, and what to do in their respective cities. Here’s to the season’s best, and remember: no one says you have to choose just one.
Why: Contrary to what many might expect of Colorado during the cold months, “During the winter, the weather in Denver is gorgeous,” The Scout Guide Denver Editor Cat Tatman says. The Mile-High City enjoys 300 days of sunshine with an average temperature of 45 degrees, and many days temperatures reach into the mild 60s. There’s lots of great shopping, dining, and walking tours through the city’s diverse neighborhoods, plus the slopes are just a short jaunt away—so you might want to plan more than a weekend getaway.
Stay: In an era of teardown urban renewal, the Hotel Teatro remains a rare gem. This boutique hotel was originally built as the Denver Tramway Building in 1911, and has since undergone a thoroughly modern renovation. Located in the heart of Denver’s arts, culture, and business center just steps from the bustling historic LoDo district, this exquisite luxury property provides the perfect jumping off point for your magical urban mountain getaway.
Play: “Denver is the land of craft breweries,” Tatman says. With 60+ brew houses to choose from, you’ll be hard-pressed to select just a few. To get a good variety, Tatman recommends heading to the up-and-coming neighborhood of RiNo for a guided tour of the area that includes stops at spots with the best local brews. You should also be prepared to explore Denver’s great shops, restaurants, and streets lined with murals from local artists (find recommendations from local blogger and artist Laura Krudener here). If you’re looking for a little more physical activity, several notable ski slopes are an hour’s drive away, including Vail, Winter Park, Breckenridge, and Keystone.
Discover: Tatman touts the notable Museum of Contemporary Art as a must on your itinerary. “Their standing collection is phenomenal and they always have incredible exhibits, curatorial talks, and engaging weekend events,” she says. While there, pop up to the rooftop deck to take in a gorgeous view of LoDo with a cup of coffee or cocktail. After admiring the scenery, spend some time hitting the streets to experience the historic architecture, including the landmark Union Station that houses a variety of shops and restaurants. In the evening, Tatman recommends warming up at rustic and cozy Hearth & Dram, where you can enjoy an intimate dinner or a nip from their extensive whiskey selection.
Pack: For the winter months, Tatman says it’s crucial to pack with layering in mind. Start with a stylish down vest, denim, and cashmere sweaters. And since it’s always sunny in Denver, Tatum adds, you don’t want to forget your sunglasses.
Why: “The weather!” says The Scout Guide Miami Editor Meredith Kallaher. With a seasonal average of a perfect 75 degrees plus weekly festivals celebrating everything from art to food to boat, it’s no wonder this bustling metropolitan city with a Latin vibe keeps the party going all winter long.
Stay: Buolic Coral Gables, frequently named one of the most beautiful towns in the United States, is home to The Biltmore. This 1920s stunner, boasting George Merrick’s classic Mediterranean-style architecture, consistently wins top luxury hotel awards. Kallaher’s favorite feature of the sprawling hotel is the outdoor pool, reputed to be the largest in all of the southeast. Whether you’re soaking up Vitamin D poolside, playing the links on the 18-hole, par-71 golf course, strolling lush gardens, or enjoying the four-star dining, you’ll be hard-pressed to leave this gem behind and explore Miami.
Play: “You can’t visit Miami without hitting the beach,” Kallaher says. “My personal favorite is at South Pointe Park.” If you’re up for an adventure, you can tour Miami’s beaches by boat—rentals from local owners are available through Boatbound. Or, stay landlocked and explore Miami’s parks, which are overflowing with lush, tropical gardens thanks to the temperate climate. Three of Kallaher’s top picks are Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the Deering Estate, and Vizcaya. In addition to the beautiful setting, Miami’s food scene is a draw in and of itself. Kallaher recommends popping into Jugo Fresh for fresh juices when you need a pick-me-up. For lunch, her pick is Whisk Gourmet in South Miami, where you can eat in or take out a sandwich, salad, or entrée. End your day with dinner at Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford’s Stubborn Seed or have fresh, local fare at The Brick Miami.
Visit: The art scene in Miami is world-renowned, owing to the annual Art Basel international art fair, which takes place in early December. Kallaher recommends spending some time in the Wynwood area, known for its large collection of street art. Her favorite spots to score finds for a private art collection are artist incubator Bakehouse Art Complex and David Castillo Gallery. Round out your visit to this culturally rich neighborhood with lunch or dinner at Beaker and Gray or KYU.
Pack: Even in the winter, summer clothing is totally acceptable, reports Kallaher. “We wear white and linen all year long.” Still, Miamians like to at least acknowledge the season, so they work in the latest fall and winter trends by wearing them with shorts. You can’t go wrong packing a light, on-trend sweater, cargo shorts, and booties.
Why: When you’re looking for an urban getaway rich in culture and history, look no further than our nation’s capital. “The national museums alone are reason enough for a trip to D.C.,” says The Scout Guide Washington, D.C. Editor Erin Fuge. Plus, roaming the plentiful indoor spaces offers a welcome respite from the cold. Add a wonderful selection of shopping and dining experiences and you’ve got the perfect ingredients for a supremely memorable vacation.
Stay: The Avery Hotel is a luxury boutique inn housing just 15 pristine rooms and suites located on a quaint street in the heart of Georgetown. Personalized customer service and wonderful amenities make this hotel a clear choice, but the complimentary French pastries and fruit for breakfast and nightly gratis happy hour consisting of local craft beer and wine make it a must-stay.
Play: If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a great way to start the day in D.C. is a hike along the Billy Goat Trail, which offers fantastic views of the Potomac River. If perusing the many boutiques is more your style, hit Georgetown for lots of eclectic choices. Fuge’s personal favorites include Tuckernuck for fun and unique styles for women and men, The Phoenix for one-of-a-kind, sustainable pieces, and Dalton Brody for a large selection of high-end gifts. In the evening, head to the Southwest waterfront for dinner and drinks at one of the many fabulous restaurants at The Wharf. Neighboring music venue The Anthem always has fantastic live acts, so plan your visit accordingly.
Discover: There are many gems to discover in D.C., but Fuge says you should not leave town without a visit to the National Gallery of Art, a treasure trove of world-renowned masterpieces with a gorgeous sculpture garden complete with an ice rink, and the National Museum of Natural History, where you’ll find everything from the Hope Diamond to jaw-dropping dinosaurs in the newly-renovated Last American Dinosaurs gallery.
Pack: D.C. can be quite chilly this time of year, so packing for warmth is key. Fuge says a cozy, on-trend zip-neck sweater and a warm but comfortable pair of black suede booties will keep you toasty as your tour the capital city.