It’s that time of year again in the Pacific Northwest. The forecast calls for grey skies and on and off again rain for the next few months. And though some northwest residents welcome the change in weather, others like to trade in their rain jackets for tank-tops and head south to enjoy warmer temperatures in their favorite snowbird destinations.
If sunny snowbird destinations are calling your name, be sure to check out AAA’s Travel Center, an online portal with travel tips, CDC travel advisories and up-to-date information to help you make the right choices when planning future travel.
For starters, the beaches are some of the most beautiful in the state and are often ranked among the best on the planet. Looking for rain forest and waterfalls? The famous Hāna Highway is hands down the ultimate jungle adventure drive in Hawai‘i. Volcano? Maui has one of those, too. Sure, it hasn’t oozed lava in more than 200 years, but watching the sunrise from atop 10,023-foot-high Haleakalā is an ethereal experience you won’t soon forget.
Palm Springs, California
The fashionable resort city of Palm Springs lies in the upper Colorado Desert at the foot of 10,804-foot San Jacinto Peak. The almost 350 days of sunshine per year, the average daily temperature of 75 degrees and the mineral springs have attracted visitors for years. The idyllic setting also has been the location of many Hollywood productions. Nationally known golf tournaments are held on courses—there are more than 100 of them—in Palm Springs and in neighboring communities.
Las Vegas, Nevada
With its neon flashin’ and one-armed bandits crashin’, this bright light city sets your soul on fire. Gambling. Glitter. Sexy entertainment. Gourmet restaurants. Swanky shops. Nightclubs galore. It’s all here in a 24/7 desert bacchanalia that on occasion makes Dionysus and his pals come off like amateurs. And when the tumblin’ dice reward you with stacks of chips that are oh so nice, you’ll sing “Viva Las Vegas!”
St. George, Utah
St. George is located in the south of Utah, where summers are warm and winters are mild. That makes it a popular place for boating, water skiing, fishing, camping and golf.
While a round of golf or a spa treatment tops most Phoenix vacation itineraries, there’s no shortage of fun things to do after you birdie the 18th hole or peel off that detoxifying seaweed wrap. If you plan to spend some extra time in the Valley of the Sun—which includes Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Sun City and Glendale, your days will be filled with history, art, architecture and great food!
Sedona rests between the massive, fire-hued rocks of Red Rock State Park and the lush gorges of Oak Creek Canyon. The dusty, semi-arid topography is the base for giant, striped monoliths that take on shades from bright red to pale sand and seem to change color with each passing cloud or ray of sunshine. Since most of the rock is sedimentary, the portrait is constantly eroding and changing shape. Verdant Oak Creek Canyon, with juniper and cypress trees lining a clear stream, provides a sharp contrast.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
By the mid-19th century Las Cruces—the crosses—was a major supply point for mining operations and forts that protected the trade routes to Santa Fe and points west. The largest of these posts was Fort Selden in nearby Radium Springs.
The Mesquite Street Historic District, east of Main Street, preserves 22 blocks of the original town site, which was plotted out in 1849 using rawhide ropes. Many of the small adobe houses, painted vibrant shades of pink, blue and green, are at least a century old.
South Padre Island, Texas
The southernmost 5 miles of Padre Island, the resort town of South Padre Island, are connected by a causeway to Port Isabel on the mainland. The area is a haven for artists, photographers and ecologists. Gulls, herons and rare brown pelicans are found among the island’s tropical foliage, waterways, dunes and long white beaches.
There is a seemingly limitless supply of seashells, and rumors allude to buried treasure beneath the sand—pirate plunder and debris from 5 centuries of shipwrecks.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Lake Charles’ Mardi Gras Day features an impressive parade with lots of music. Louisiana Pirate Festival , which takes place in early May, is one of Louisiana’s largest festivals; it centers on the legend of the “Gentleman Pirate,” Jean Lafitte, who supposedly hid his treasures along the shores of Lake Charles. When the holiday season rolls around, so does Light up the Lake. It features music, a lighted flotilla, a giant balloon parade, a carnival and fireworks.
In Biloxi, casinos and affiliated resorts offer visitors a lot of bang for their buck. Gaming establishments run the gamut from serviceable backwater barges with standard table games and slot machines to mega complexes that offer multistory luxury hotels, theaters, casinos, shops, spas, restaurants and golf courses.
Hurricane Katrina decimated many of the lovely beachfront homes that survived Hurricane Camille. But even the wrath of hurricanes can’t take away the area’s No. 1 natural attraction—its beaches. Against a ritzy, man-made backdrop, stretches of white sand and the blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico still hold their own, offering both recreational opportunities and serene beauty.
Orange Beach, Alabama
Orange Beach’s Wharf is a shopping, dining and entertainment complex. This marina location features a Ferris wheel, boat rentals and a full events schedule as well as an ice rink that’s open daily late November to early January. Sharky’s Family Adventure Park has miniature golf and ropes courses. Stay into the evening to watch SPECTRA, The Wharf’s light show choreographed to music.
When you travel to Savannah, take along a reverence for the past and a penchant for romance. You’ll also want to pack a spirit of adventure, because Georgia’s first city is full of surprises. There are plenty of things for couples to do as well as fun things to do with friends, a true snowbird delight.
Georgetown, South Carolina
The mid-19th-century export seat of the great Carolina Gold rice empire, Georgetown developed into an important shipping port thanks to its deep water harbor. Some of the town’s early 18th-century buildings are still in use and can be seen on a walk or ride along the historic district’s oak-shaded streets. To delve deeper into Georgetown’s history and natural environment, take a guided tour or explore one of its museums. Complete your visit with a dining and shopping experience on Front Street.
The appeal of greater Miami goes beyond sun-soaked beaches and a world-renowned climate. The relatively youthful snowbird destination also has diverse neighborhoods and a cultural richness suggestive of older, more established American cities.
A tropical sun and crystal-hued waters beckon those on vacation year-round. Mom, dad and the kids can build sand castles and frolic in the ocean during summer. Snowbirds anxious to leave ice scrapers and snow shovels for a temperate winter and fun things to do for couples.
Daytona Beach, Florida
Daytona Beach has been a popular family vacation destination for more than a century. But it was more speedway than beach in the early days of the automobile. Between 1903 and 1935 some 15 speed records were set on the beach racecourse by Barney Oldfield, Sir Henry Segrave and Sir Malcolm Campbell. The racing tradition continues at Daytona International Speedway.
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