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You don't need to leave the country to escape winter
// By Kae Lani Palmisano
By Kae Lani Palmisano
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Dauphin Island, Ala.
Most people don’t realize that Alabama has its own kind of island lifestyle. Nicknamed "The Sunset Capital of Alabama," Dauphin Island gives the best that the Gulf Coast has to offer and more. Along with beautiful, white sand public beaches, Dauphin Island is home to the Audubon Bird Sanctuary, the Dauphin Island Heritage & Art Gallery, and the historic Fort Gaines. With plenty of marine, wildlife and cultural activities, Dauphin Island is a fun and affordable vacation spot for families of all ages.
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Daufuskie Island, S.C.
Smack dab between Hilton Head Island and Savannah is South Carolina’s southernmost inhabited island: Daufuskie. It’s not just the warm weather and the unobstructed ocean views that draw visitors here throughout the year. Daufuskie is home to one of the Southeast’s richest cultures, Gullah, whose traditions, language and cuisine have been preserved for hundreds of years.
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El Paso is proof that not every winter getaway has to be a beach. In the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert, El Paso boasts a history that spans over 400 years, a taste of contemporary Tex-Mex cuisine and access to four beautiful Texas State Parks. El Paso is an excellent winter getaway because it can be explored in many ways. It’s the perfect locale for romantic escapes, great for bar-hopping bachelor and bachelorette parties, and serves as an educational adventure for kids.
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Fort Myers, Fla.
There’s a reason why Fort Myers was the winter escape for business moguls Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, whose estates are now museums open to the public. With average winter temperatures ranging from 70 °F to 80°F, Fort Myers is popular for its Gulf Coast beaches, luxury shopping and golf courses. This coastal destination has resorts for all types, ranging from leisure travelers to family travelers.
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When visiting the island of Maui, a stop in Kahului is a must. It’s where locals of the island go to hang out, grab a bite to eat and go shopping. On an island known for its adventurous activities such as downhill biking along Haleakala Volcano and zip-lining the Ka’anapali course, Kahului is the perfect hub to stock up on gear or slow down at the end of your day with a sunset dinner cruise.
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Laguna Beach, Calif.
Laguna Beach is the quintessential southern California experience. Known for its year-round warm weather, Laguna is the destination for surfers and anyone who enjoys the laid-back, SoCal vibes of Orange County. In addition to being an iconic beachside city, Laguna Beach is an artist haven. During the winter, nearly 175 artists and creators spend the holiday season selling art, hosting demonstrations and teaching hands-on art classes as part of the Sawdust Art & Craft Festival's Winter Fantasy.
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San Juan, Puerto Rico
You won’t need a passport to go to Puerto Rico. You won’t have to worry about a currency exchange either. And because San Juan is only a 3-to-5-hour flight from most major cities in the United States, Puerto Rico is one of the most popular Caribbean destinations for travelers. Though Puerto Rico sustained considerable damage after Hurricane Maria in 2017, much of the island is back open for business, including many stores, restaurants, tour companies and hotel resorts in the capital of San Juan.
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Scottsdale has a little bit of something for every kind of traveler. There are tastings of delicious wines, hot air balloon rides, food tours, and, of course, access to some of the best outdoor activities that Arizona has to offer. If you need a slower-paced winter getaway, Scottsdale is known for being a health and wellness retreat, boasting some of the region's best spas and spa treatments.
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St. Simons Island, Ga.
If Southern charm and island life had a baby, it would be St. Simons Island. This charming getaway has unspoiled beaches, golf courses with stunning vistas and charter fishing for every level of sportsman. And when you've had your fill of outdoor leisure, St. Simons will pamper you at one of its spas and salons. And with plenty of high-end restaurants serving local cuisine, you'll leave St. Simons relaxed and well-fed.
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St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
St. Thomas is one of the few Caribbean destinations that does not require a passport. You can just hop on a plane and, within a few hours, be sitting on the beach with a Rum Punch or a Banana Daiquiri. This slice of paradise is 32 square miles of sightseeing, shopping and dining. Offshore, visitors can go snorkeling and diving or perhaps sailing in St. Thomas' clear, blue waters.