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Where to go this winter - Florida?

Hi all!
We like to take a trip in the winter to escape the weather in Michigan. The last 2 years we've done an all inclusive resort in Mexico which was really nice, but we don't want to do that again. That was about $5000 for the week and I'm looking to spend less and would welcome ideas.

We're a couple in our late 50s, we like museums (art especially), historical/cultural sites, and relaxing by a pool or beach. Don't care about night life or foodie dining. Not into hiking or water sports. We feel pretty lukewarm toward the idea of a cruise and we probably want to stay in the U.S. this time. We don't need swimming weather, but would like to be able to go out without a coat during the day.

We have the week of February 26th for the trip. A few months ago we were vaguely thinking about flying into Miami and then driving down to Key West since we've never been further south in Florida than Orlando, but given the hurricanes I suspect this isn't the best time for that.

So other places in Florida? Elsewhere? Any suggestions welcomed!

Posted by
3917 posts

Tucson or Scottsdale, Arizona or Hawaiian Islands or San Diego?

Posted by
214 posts

Thanks Jean! Arizona might work. I love the Hawaii idea, but too much $$ and I'd want more time. San Diego is lovely, but we have family there so we've been a lot.

Posted by
19368 posts

To be absolutely sure of warmish weather you'd need to avoid northern Florida. My first thought was Miami/Key West, but you bring up a good point about the likely conditions at this time.

Tucson and Phoenix are both lovely in the winter. They often cool down at night to the 40s (you'll definitely need some sort of coat), but the days are usually very nice. You'd need a heated pool to go in the water, though. This area is not as warm as Miami and Key West in the winter. The other major difference is the foliage, Arizona being desert and Florida being green.

Posted by
6764 posts
  • Southern CA
  • Charleston, SC
  • Savannah, GA
  • St. Augustine, FL
  • Winter Park, FL
  • Sarasota, FL
  • Captiva/Sanibel Island, FL
  • Tucson, AZ
  • Scottsdale, AZ
  • Sedona, AZ

By the way, if you liked Mexico, I would recommend going again some day but not via an all inclusive resort route. There are many interesting places (largely old colonial cities) you can see independently at a fraction of the price of an all inclusive fare: Mérida, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Mexico City, Taxco, etc.

Posted by
2009 posts

When we lived in the Pacific Northwest we used to escape the miserable winters by going down to San Miguel de Allende every year. Liked it so much we went there about 3 or 4 winters in a row. Lovely place, perfect climate, nice people, with the added attraction of being a very cheap destination. Lots to see in the local area - there are still a few active silver mines from the old Spanish days - but the laid back ambience of the little town is so seductive that you'd probably not want to leave.
Can get there by flying into either Mexico City or Leon.

Posted by
147 posts

The Florida Keys reopened to visitors on October 1. Key West had less damage than the upper and middle keys. Take a look at fla-keys.com

Posted by
8602 posts

We ran from the Idaho (Troy!!) winter the end of last Feb for 2 weeks and enjoyed a loop down thru Joshua Tree NP, Tucson for a week , and Bisbee for a few days. 3 out of 5 of us are birders and that put us close-ish to a good spot. Wouldn’t choose Bisbee again altho some of the others liked it. We came back home via Grand Canyon (snowy), Zion ( pretty hot in the canyon and more crowded that I expected) and Bryce (too snowy and muddy to enjoy -no I’m not gonna hike in crampons because the mud is so slick!!).

I’d go back to Tucson in a second, in winter only, lol!! Loved the garden museums there.

Did not enjoy the 8 inches of snow that was dumped the day after we returned the 1st week of March!!

Have fun deciding!

Posted by
6824 posts

Someone mentioned Sedona in an earlier post. Be aware it gets snow. That is where many Tucsonsns go in the summertime.

Posted by
21322 posts

We are facing the same question. Typically we been cruising the Caribbean for the month of Jan and part of Feb. A few years ago we figured out it was cheaper to book cruises than to rent a condo in south Florida at that time. Most of the eastern Caribbean ports are pretty beat up and not on anyone's schedules at the moment. We are looking at Costa Rica and perhaps Hawaii if the price is right. Another area we like a lot is Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. But it fills up quickly.

Posted by
6570 posts

This is not going to be the year to go to the Caribbean due to hurricanes. And Mexico is going to be overrun with tourists originally bound for!the Eastern Caribbean. I have been to Mexico so many times that we no longer find it desirable.
The Dominican Republic has great inclusive resorts at great prices and they were not hit nearly as hard as Puerto Rico. My favorite island is St. Lucia.I
After working in Florida 5 weeks every year, I know why Floridians go to NE GA, E TN and W NC on vacations--change of scenery and mountains.
We just suck it up and accept that winter is a time of cabin fever. As soon as the weather breaks, we head for Europe on Norwegian Air Shuttle out of Orlando or Boston--on a cheap trip. We spend less traveling the world than our friends do going down to the Gulf.

Posted by
362 posts

Key West is great but pricey at that time of year. You can also look at Sanibel Island/Captiva Island in Florida. If you book ahead, you can score a much better deal.

Posted by
503 posts

I realize you wanted to stay in the US, but give Costa Rica a thought. It is beautiful, the people are so friendly, kind and helpful and there is a wide variety of activities that would suite anyone's idea of an ideal vacation. It is very inexpensive and you can hire a personal driver, guide or go it on your own.. There are also tour groups who will work with you to plan your ideal vacation and then set it all up for you. The many thermal baths and pools are not to me missed.

Posted by
6764 posts

Costa Rica sounds great for nature enthusiasts, but does it really have the (art) museums and historical/cultural sites the OP is looking for?

Posted by
362 posts

Costa Rica DOES have a lot going for it. I was just thinking Florida based on the original post.

There are museums in San Jose that are definitely worth seeing. And I have never found a more relaxing country except for Italy.

Posted by
214 posts

Thanks for all of your responses. I discussed the various ideas with DH and he said that he definitely wants to stay in country this time and would prefer Florida, so now we're exclusively looking at that. I'm tucking away the other suggestions for another year!

Posted by
3497 posts

Consider Ocala. It's an interesting town itself, and it's close enough to Gainesville, St. Augustine, Daytona, Kissimmee, Orlando, Tampa, and St Petersburg for day trips. Check it out on Google and see what you think.

Posted by
19368 posts

I enjoyed a visit to Winter Park (just a tad north of Orlando) back in the 1990s. At that time it bore no resemblance to Orlando; it was a pretty resort-y town. There's a ritzy private college and some small museums, one of which has a nice collection of Tiffany glass. I remember taking a boat ride through the canals and looking at the homes I could never afford to live in. I'm not positive this area is far enough south to provide an ironclad guarantee of warm weather. I lived in Jacksonville for 5 years, and on very rare occasions it was cold enough to get a bit of snow. But Orlando is almost as far south as Tampa, so it might be fine.

Posted by
1676 posts

A few Januaries ago, we spent a week in Sarasota and a few days in Tampa/St. Petersburg and really enjoyed our trip. Sarasota is particularly good for the arts, if that's an interest.

Posted by
601 posts

I second the suggestion for Sarasota. We live in St. Petersburg and love to go there for little getaways. They have a very nice museum complex from the Ringling family. There is a gorgeous botanical garden we love called the Marie Selby gardens. They have a lot of great restaurants with international flair and a nice downtown area for walking. Siesta Key is near Sarasota and has lovely beaches. If you want more of a laid back beach vacation, you can rent a place in Siesta Key and travel into Sarasota periodically for restaurants or sitea
There are lots of neat festivals in Sarasota during the winter. Really lovely area.

Posted by
3292 posts

An all inclusive doesn’t do Mexico justice. There’s so much there away from the beach.

Other places: Palm Springs, San Antonio

Posted by
3176 posts

Not a Florida fan.

In February, why not go to Arizona -- Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Scottsdale, Arizona Cactus League, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, Saguaro National Park. Not all of these or else you'd never enjoy them!! :-)

Maybe California and consider San Luis Obispo (Hearst Castle), Santa Barbara, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park

Posted by
136 posts

I would suggest that you don't dismiss the Caribbean so quickly. Florida sustained more damage than many Caribbean islands. Islands that are open for business and sustained basically no damage include Antigua, Jamaica, St Lucia, Barbados, Aruba/Bonaire/Curacao, Trinidad/Tobago, and others. Their economies are suffering because tourists are assuming that all Caribbean islands were damaged by the hurricanes and therefore are not visiting them. Do them and yourself a favor and check them out. You might be able to find some really great deals as they try to attract tourism, especially during the winter months which is for them the high season that they rely on to support their economies.

Posted by
136 posts

Although I love Arizona, I went there in March and it was really cold, except for Phoenix, Tucson and the Saguaro. Snow in Sedona and Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree was cold. The problem is that they are at elevated altitude, which depresses their temperatures. So they offer no winter escape to those of us from up north.

Posted by
11 posts

After reading your likes, I think you might be interested in Seaside, Florida. It is near Destin, which is cool in its own way, but Seaside is something of a quaint village.

Ever see The Truman Show with Jim Carrey? That's where it was filmed and it is so picturesque, you'll walk around the town and ask yourself "Is this for real?"

Seriously, check it out.