I love snow, lots of it, especially around the Christmas holidays. But by the end of January, I’m done with winter. I’m sick of bundling up in hats, gloves, and scarves. I’m tired of the short gray days, the slush on the streets, the blowing heat indoors. Popping Vitamin D tablets might help with Vitamin D deficiency but it sure doesn’t resolve my sun cravings. What is a girl to do but grab her sun hat, flip-flops, and sunglasses and head south?
As much as I love the beach, I’m not always in the mood for vegging out on the sand all day. Here are my top 5 winter escapes that are not all about the BEACH.
1. Havana, Cuba
Cuba is hot right now. Literally and figuratively. This is not your typical winter escape. It’s a cultural experience. The best part is, we no longer have to sneak in through Mexico or Canada. I was there 10 years ago and am planning to return in the spring.
2. Cartagena, Colombia
I love Cartagena. Old and new meet here and make for an unforgettable journey. You can find stunning boutique hotels on the narrow streets of the old town. I stayed at Casa San Augustin, which had just opened. Modern, chic design is woven into the historic architecture. Like the pool in one of the courtyards that goes under the Old City Wall.
3. Buenos Aires, Argentina
The land of tango and great steak! And beautiful leather goods. You cannot find Prune purses outside of the country because of the export limitations. I bought three when I was there last spring and regret not buying more. My girlfriends have already placed orders for future Christmas and birthday presents.
4. St. Lucia
St. Lucia is my favorite Caribbean island because it’s not all about the beach. You can go hiking in the rain forest where you’ll find amazing tropical flowers and waterfalls. You can explore the volcano and take mud baths. And you can enjoy all the water sports you can think of.
5. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
If it’s sun you’re after and you have a bit more time, head out to Africa. I love the Masai Mara National Reserve or, as the locals call it, The Mara. You can see Africa’s big predators and visit Masai villages where you can befriend the iconic red-robed Masai warriors. My favorite way to take in this massive expanse of land in all its glory is from the air. Nothing compares to floating silently in a hot air balloon, watching the animals from above, undisturbed, as the sun rises over the Masai Mara.
Have you been to any of these 5 places? What did you think? What are your favorite winter escapes?