Georgia's Golden Isles Named Best Warm-Weather Getaway!

Puerto Rico; Lafayette, La.; Corpus Christi, Texas and Key West in top five

Sometimes the shorter days and weeks on end of cold weather that come along with the holiday season can give us a serious case of the winter blues.

  • Golden Isles, Ga.

    Situated halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Georgia's four barrier islands – St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island and Jekyll Island – collectively called the Golden Isles, encompass pristine wetlands, beautiful beaches, abundant wildlife and a host of historic attractions. Average highs in the 60s and 70s throughout December and January make it comfortable to explore the great outdoors of Georgia's coast.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Puerto Rico

    Puerto Rico offers a slice of Caribbean tropical paradise right in the backyard of the contiguous United States ... no passport required. The "Island of Enchantment" has something to satisfy every type of traveler - romantic sunsets, fresh seafood dinners, sun-drenched beaches, colorful and storied Old San Juan, mountains, rain forests and a melting pot of cultural influences to tie it all together.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Lafayette, La.

    Where New Orleans provides an introduction to Cajun culture, Lafayette, located 135 miles west, offers a master course. Local live music, cozy B&Bs and excellent restaurants serving world-class Cajun cuisine make it an ideal destination for a quick escape. Vermilionville, a recreated Acadian village near Lafayette, brings the region's Cajun history and heritage to life. Average highs in the 60s make winter a pleasant time to explore.
    Photo courtesy of Jay Faugot Photography

  • Corpus Christi, Texas

    Corpus Christi – the sparkling city by the sea – serves as both a gateway to Padre Island and a beach-filled destination in its own right. When you combine warm gulf waters and sunny skies throughout most of the year, you get a perfect winter getaway. Young vacationers flock to the J.P. Luby Surf Park for volleyball, surfing or bronzing on the sand.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Key West

    Colorful Key West is quite unlike any other place on earth, thanks to its diverse population of memorable personalities, six-toed cats, gorgeous sunsets and isolation from the continental U.S. Warm winter days on Key West are spent sipping margaritas in the sun, dining on fresh seafood, heading out into the crystal clear waters to explore colorful offshore reefs, or watching the day end at Mallory Square.
    Photo courtesy of Laurence Norah/Florida Keys News Bureau

  • Tybee Island, Ga.

    Less than 20 miles from lovely SavannahTybee Island is rich in restaurants, seaside live-music venues and eclectic shopping, all set on a three-mile stretch of beautiful Atlantic beach. The focal point of the island is the beautifully restored Tybee Island Lighthouse and Museum, a maritime landmark that has been guiding sailors since 1736.
    Photo courtesy of Visit Savannah

  • Sedona, Ariz.

    Sedona, located at the heart of Arizona’s stunning Red Rock Country, lies 116 miles north of Phoenix. Mild winter temperatures certainly add to Sedona’s appeal, but the majestic rock formations, artistic scene and blissful spas make for a fantastic getaway, no matter the temperature. Followers of New Age philosophies believe that the region contains some of the world’s most important energy centers, and that coming here promotes balance and well being. We think it’s worth a shot!
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • St. Augustine, Fla.

    Situated on the banks of the Matanzas River, the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in North America is replete with historic attractions, architectural gems and modern-day pirates. The city's pedestrians-only historic district, which dates back to the 1500s, has an unparalleled mix of influences: British, French and Spanish.
    Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

  • Maui, Hawaii

    A long-favored playground for surfers and beach bums, Maui is one of the world's top island destinations for good reason. To start, the entire west coast of the island is lined with beaches worthy of a postcard appearance, many with wave conditions perfect for surfing, snorkeling, kayaking and windsurfing. But the lush valleys of the interior are dotted with quaint small towns and cultural and natural wonders, like the towering Haleakala volcano.
    Photo courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

  • San Antonio

    Average highs in the 60s, paired with a plethora of historic, cultural and family-friendly attractions, make San Antonio a favorite winter destination for travelers of all types. Tops in the history department, the Alamo Mission draws more than 2.5 million people a year, while Nature lovers can visit the Natural Bridge CavernsNatural Bridge Wildlife Ranch and San Antonio Zoo and Aquarium.
    Photo courtesy of Visit San Antonio

We asked a panel of travel experts to pick their favorite sun-kissed North American destinations as nominees for Best Warm Weather Getaway. For the past four weeks, USA TODAY 10Best readers have been voting for their favorites.

The top 10 winners in the category Best Warm-Weather Getaway are as follows:

  1. Golden Isles, Ga.
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Lafayette, La.
  4. Corpus Christi, Texas
  5. Key West
  6. Tybee Island, Ga.
  7. Sedona, Ariz.
  8. St. Augustine, Fla.
  9. Maui, Hawaii
  10. San Antonio

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Larry BleibergEric Grossman, Anna Hider (Roadtrippers) and Gerrish Lopez were chosen based on their extensive experience covering travel in North America.

Other nominated destinations included Fairhope, Fort Myers, Honolulu, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando, Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Diego and Virginia Beach.

Congratulations to all our warm weather winners!

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Larry Bleiberg

Larry Bleiberg

Eric Grossman

Eric Grossman

Anna Hider

Anna Hider

Gerrish Lopez

Gerrish Lopez

Lydia Schrandt

Lydia Schrandt