Premier Destinations: Waterfront & Beyond

By Alyssa Mammano

According to reports compiled by U.S. News & World Report – considering the opinions of both experts and users – a comprehensive list of the world’s top winter destinations spans from a waterfront sabbatical in Hawaii, to a Canadian haven for snow sports. Whether you prefer to escape the colder months in a tropical oasis or embrace the snowy season, all of these destinations rank highly among travelers for their amenities, entertainment and accommodations.

1. Hawaii

Host to an array of destination preferences in one neat cluster of islands, Hawaii offers luxury, adventure and everything in between. The big island boasts sandy beaches and snowy peaks. Maui attracts families for its kid-friendly entertainment. Oahu is popular for surfing and exploring, as well as its nightlife. Kauai is for lovers with its luxury amenities and perpetual vacation atmosphere. Each island has honed its own unique vibe and as a whole, Hawaii can be an ideal destination for any genre of winter escape.

2. Rome, Italy

Rome’s rich history and awe-inspiring attractions are sure to captivate any traveler, any time of year. However, imagine some of the world’s most beautiful architecture draped in a thin layer of snow and decorated with gleeful Holiday décor. If it’s possible, Rome may be even more magical during the wintertime. Experienced travelers recommend Rome during cooler months as most others will be heading in the opposite direction, leaving typically crowded attractions to enjoy without sweltering heat and swarming tourists. December is the perfect time to begin an Italian getaway during the milder winter months.

3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

For those who prefer to settle in a more remote destination for the winter, Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a burgeoning, yet still entirely untapped locale. Major ski resorts have opened in the area, boosting its notoriety as an idyllic winter destination. It is even home to select art and performance venues that welcome visitors to the region. Although recently Jackson Hole has become a more popular location for celebrities and politicians to vacation, it remains a rugged frontier of vast land and wide-open space to be explored.

4. New Orleans, Louisiana

Founded on jazz, blues and rock ’n’ roll, New Orleans has a lively atmosphere designed to be enjoyed by vacationers, seasonal travelers and locals alike. Fantastic European architecture, local delicacies, parades and street performers emanate a deep-rooted southern culture celebrated all year long. Between gazing at the unique buildings, reveling in ghost stories, dining on cuisine specific only to this quaint town and dancing the night away on Bourbon Street, there is never a loss for activity and entertainment in New Orleans.

5. Phuket, Thailand

The clearest aquamarine water one may ever see in his or her lifetime, sugary white sand beaches as soft as silk to the touch and awe-inspiring limestone cliffs are the picture-perfect draws of Phuket, Thailand. Luxurious relaxation is made easy in this slice of paradise. Travelers and seasonal residents can escape the cool winter and enjoy boat tours, flavorful food and Buddhist culture. A lively marine ecosystem provides for wonderful snorkeling adventures, followed by a traditional Thai massage offered at most any major hotel or spa.

6. Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia is growing in popularity as a destination for all types of travelers, from honeymooners to spring breakers and all walks of life in between. Music lovers flock to the Caribbean island for the jazz and arts festival, while adrenaline junkies venture to the peaks for climbing and zip-lining. Dense rainforest is surrounded by beaches dotted with remote resorts and humble homes. Locals are heralded for their friendly demeanor and welcoming way of life, accepting all who stay for a short time or a season.

7. Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

Adjacent to the town of Jasper sits more than 2.7 million acres of protected parkland to explore in Jasper National Park. The largest park in the Canadian Rockies, it has been designated as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features snow-covered peaks and canyon caverns. The most significant draw for adventurers on the eastern edge of Alberta is the endless array of wildlife. Cold-weather activities abound in Jasper, such as skiing and snowshoeing, in addition to guided tours and excursions.

8. U.S. Virgin Islands

History, adventure and luxury, the U.S. Virgin Islands have it all. Close enough that cell reception is uninterrupted and U.S. dollars are still accepted, yet remote enough for an enthralling winter getaway. Saint Thomas is best known for luxury, showcasing mega-yachts in the harbor and upscale boutique shopping. Saint John is for adventurers and beach-goers who wish to explore the 7,000 parkland acres or enjoy the pristine coastline. Saint Croix is reminiscent of its past, still home to sugar cane plantations and rum distilleries. Each island has honed its own unique qualities.

9. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Renowned for its lush rainforests and mountainous terrain with sandy beaches at its perimeter, Rio de Janeiro has earned its title, “Cidade Maravilhosa,” or Marvelous City. The atmosphere is just as glamorous as the scenery – with its affinity for high fashion, competitiveness in sports and cultural celebrations that draw in visitors from around the globe. Rio de Janeiro is home to “Christ the Redeemer,” a 125-foot iconic landmark that presides over its beaches. The city has also hosted the 2014 World Cup finals and the 2016 Olympic Games at the famous Maracana Stadium.

10. Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Outdoor enthusiasts will revel in all that Whistler has to offer, from the incredible skiing, to snowshoeing and bobsledding. The Whistler Blackcomb resort attracts skiers from all over the world to its 8,100 acres of lodges and lifts. Blanketed in 40 feet of snow each year, the area celebrates the snowfall with several skiing and snowboarding competitions and festivals annually. Although popular for winter sports, Whistler has attractions and entertainment for every member of the family, including museums, art galleries, ice skating, shopping and dining.