winter city vacations

Stroll the Tampa Riverwalk. (Photo: csfotoimages, iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus)

Tips + Trends

10 Winter City Breaks Where There (Most Likely) Won’t Be Any Snow

Craving some outdoor time this winter? In some American cities, warmer climates make it easier to avoid hibernation. From open-air gardens and parks to dining al fresco, these 10 spots combine the best of city life with some milder winter temperatures. 

As always, whether you’re heading out for a little local exploration or thinking ahead for a future change of scenery, be sure to check local restrictions or closures prior to your trip.


Life’s a beach when it comes to winter in South Florida, and you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to beaches in the Tampa area. Stick your toes in the sand at popular beaches like the bustling Clearwater or St. Pete Beach, or head for more seclusion in nature at the pristine beaches of Fort De Soto Park (where you can also camp on the beach). To get even further off the beaten track, hire a boat or ferry to reach the more remote Egmont Key State Park or Caladesi Island State Park.

A walking tour of the historic Ybor City is a fascinating way to spend the day, as is tubing down the Manatee River or fishing under the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge. You can also explore the two-mile Tampa Riverwalk on foot — and the people-watching along the popular Bayshore Boulevard sidewalk never gets old.


Nature never goes out of season in Dallas. Wander the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, located on the shores of White Rock Lake Park, where you can hike, bike or run year-round within view of the gorgeous White Rock Lake, just five miles from downtown.

For a more urban nature walk, the Katy Trail is a 3.5-mile recreational pathway located along the route of an abandoned railway extending from the bustling Uptown neighborhood to the American Airlines Center.

Continue your outdoor exploration by riding the free trolley (known as the M-Line) which makes 42 stops throughout the city, including at the Nasher Sculpture Center and Klyde Warren Park, while birding opportunities can be had just outside town at the Trinity River Audubon Center or Cedar Ridge Preserve.

After all that nature, explore Dallas’ hip Deep Ellum neighborhood, packed with bars and music venues, by foot and stop in for a cocktail on the rooftop patio of Stirr, overlooking the city.

San Antonio

The starting point for any visit to San Antonio is the world-famous River Walk, Alamo City’s bustling, 15-mile urban trail along the San Antonio River packed with restaurants and shops, as well as the city’s five historic Spanish missions, including the Alamo. Explore the hyper-unique missions by bike before making your way into the expansive Hemisfair Park, where you can look out over San Antonio from the observation deck atop the 750-foot-tall Tower of the Americas.

Elsewhere in town, snap photos of more than a dozen murals that can be uncovered under the I-35 underpass at Murals at Midtown, or gawk at the historic mansions of the King William District. Those in search of dinosaur tracks can head to the 12,000-acre Government Canyon State Natural Area in the scenic Hill Country outside of town. Top local winter events include the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo, one of the premier rodeo events in the country.


Start your outdoor exploration of the Lone Star State’s biggest city in downtown’s Discovery Green urban park, where you’ll marvel at lush greenery surrounded by towering skyscrapers. Not far from downtown you will also find the expansive, 445-acre Hermann Park — home to McGovern Lake, the Houston Zoo, Hermann Park Golf Course and other outdoor attractions.

Those seeking sand between their toes should head to the beaches of Galveston Island, where you’ll find the nation’s longest continuous sidewalk (Seawall Boulevard). Back in the city, rent a BCycle or explore Houston with a beer in hand via Pedal Party, stopping to explore the murals in Arts District Houston before kicking back with a cold one in the hammocks at Axelrad Beer Garden.

New Orleans

There’s never a bad time to visit New Orleans. And while the winter season is most well-known for the Crescent City’s world-famous Mardi Gras festivities (check for festival status and restrictions before you go), that’s far from the only game in town.

A stroll through the iconic French Quarter is a bucket-list-worthy experience for any traveler, but be sure to save time to explore lesser-visited sections of the city, like the gorgeous Audubon Park near Tulane University or the recently constructed Crescent Park Trail, which extends along the banks of the Mississippi River in the city’s hip Bywater neighborhood.

The one-of-a-kind Music Box Village is open year-round for those interested in experimenting with strange sounds in an outdoor African village–styled art installation, while food can be found in offbeat settings like Rosalita’s Backyard Tacos, located along a graffiti-lined alley in a residential district.

Tourist boat tours take place year-round on old-timey paddleboats along the Mississippi River, or you can power your own vessel with drink in hand on the New Orleans Pedal Barge.


With an influx of “snowbirds” and some of the best winter weather in the country, winter is Phoenix‘s time to shine. And with 185 parks spread across more than 41,000 acres, there’s no shortage of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.

The most famous trail is the ever popular (and strenuous) hike to the top of the 2,704-foot Camelback Mountain, while easier opportunities to commune with nature can be found strolling Margaret T. Hance Park near downtown or in the massive Tonto National Forest east of town, one of the largest national forests in the U.S.

One of the most iconic late-winter activities in the Phoenix area is Cactus League Spring Training, when you can watch minor league squads from popular professional baseball teams, including the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers, take the field at stadiums across the metro area.

Street art can be perused along downtown Phoenix’s walkable Roosevelt Row Arts District, while the region hums with live music throughout the wintertime at outdoor music festivals such as M3F Fest and Innings Festival (check the latest status before booking tickets).


Atlanta may not have the climate of say, Miami or Phoenix, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get outdoors in winter. A stroll along the Eastside Trail of the BeltLine (which, when completed, will connect a 22-mile green loop around the city’s urban core along a former railway corridor) is a good way to see the sights of Atlanta’s buzzing arts-heavy Midtown neighborhood, as well as the picturesque Piedmont Park, home of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and views of the city skyline over Lake Clara Meer.

Bike the leafy Freedom Park PATH Trail from downtown heading east to Freedom Park, or take a detour along the way to admire the gritty graffiti murals at Krog Street Tunnel. Winter hikes can be enjoyed in nearby Panola Mountain State Park, while families can tube on fake snow at Stone Mountain Park‘s 400-foot Snow Mountain tubing hill through late February.


When it comes to winter, a trip to one of Orlando’s world-famous theme parks (there are more than a dozen besides Disney World, such as Universal Orlando and SeaWorld) is certainly not a unique proposition. But theme parks aren’t the only reason to visit O-Town in the winter.

Downtown Orlando’s Lake Eola Park is a leafy spot featuring a Chinese pagoda and skyline views, while Lake Jesup is another family-friendly location boasting the largest assemblage of alligators in the U.S. Admire these leathery creatures via airboat ride or soak your weary bones in the restorative, 72-degree waters of the 7,000-acre Wekiwa Springs State Park. The bamboo forests of Harry P. Leu Gardens make for another worthy day trip.

South Florida (Miami / Fort Lauderdale)

Do you really need a reason to visit South Florida in winter? With events like the Miami Marathon and the South Beach Wine + Food Festival (check festival dates for cancellations and changes before going), Miami is one of America’s most in-demand wintertime destinations.

But any time is a good time to sip a cocktail on a swanky Magic City rooftop bar like Sugar or dip your toes in the water at a rowdy Vegas-style pool party like those of The Clevelander. South Beach is, of course, the most famous beach in the area, although more laid-back options can be found in lesser-known spots like Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and Crandon Park. Over in Fort Lauderdale, the aptly named Fort Lauderdale Beach and the bustling Las Olas Boulevard are the main centers of action.

Unlike many cookie-cutter Florida beach destinations, Miami also doubles as a cultural paradise. Wynwood Walls in the Wynwood neighborhood is home to one of the world’s top street art collections, while Calle Ocho in Little Havana is a great place to soak in the city’s vibrant Cuban culture.


There are certainly warmer places to be in winter than Nashville, but that shouldn’t stop you from making Music City a wintertime destination. Tennessee’s capital bustles with activity 365 days a year, most famously in the tourist-friendly Lower Broad district, packed with live music venues and raging honky-tonks.

You can also admire local historic homes and mansions on a laid-back tour of Belle Meade Boulevard, get your fill of awesome street art in 5th Avenue of the Arts, or investigate the hipster neighborhood that is East Nashville on foot. Centennial Park contains a full-scale replica of the Parthenon that needs to be seen to be believed, and the World War II Memorial at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in the shadow of the capitol is also worthy of a visit.