7. Riviera Maya, Mexico
Head south to a beachside oasis along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Dig your toes into the sand at Playa del Carmen, stand in awe at the ancient Maya sites in Tulum or less visited Cobá, and dine on fresh seafood tacos. While there are plenty of all-inclusive resorts in the area, especially around Cancun, smaller towns dot the coast and lure adventure-minded travelers with tours to pristine white beaches, historic sites, and tropical forests and ocean reefs teeming with wildlife.
8. Disneyland, Anaheim, California
There are countless reasons to visit Disneyland any time of the year, but now just might be the perfect time to go. Festive decor and special twists on favorite rides make the holidays extra special October through early January. But don’t despair when the fairy lights disappear in the new year—mild temperatures, a quieter park, and frequent discounts reward visitors. Cruise through the park to check off your must-eat food list, get front row seats at magical shows like a Disney pro, and rejoice in the best the Happiest Place on Earth has to offer kids and adults. Bonus: Earlier sunsets mean you can see the lit up park and some marquee shows without staying up past bedtime.
9. Ashland, Oregon
Best known for its Shakespeare Festival, which starts the season in March, Ashland feels like a fairytale come to life when dusted with brilliant snow. Spin around the ice rink in downtown’s Lithia Park, dine on the season’s best bites—including artisan chocolates—and warm up in captivating art galleries, or work off extra energy at the kid-beloved ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum. When you’ve had your fill, make a break for the slopes at Mt. Ashland, only 22 miles away, or the quiet respite of Crater Lake—just two hours away, it feels more like an undiscovered wonder than a national park in the off season. While the lodge and other amenities (including the North entrance and Rim Drive) are shuttered until the spring thaw, there’s still plenty to keep you busy, from ranger-guided snowshoe walks to sledding.
When you desperately crave the sun on your face and the caress of a warm breeze, retreat to the Hawaiian Islands. No matter which island you choose, you can look forward to calm beaches, gourmet bites, and dazzling nature. Must-do activities, such as driving the road to Hana and seeing the force that built the islands up close at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, are a worthy reason to leave the beach or poolside cabana. From Kona to Honolulu, Hilo to Poipu, visitors can find an affordable getaway or a luxury escape.