It also meant road trips to visit grandma and grandpa at their residence upstate, or even the occasional weekend at the nearest ski mountain. As we grew older, mulled wine and decadent, spiked eggnog joined the party.
But, of course, there is another way (well many) to spend December still surrounded by friends and family that has nothing to do with freezing temperatures or icy roads. In your not-so-distant future, we see hours lazing on the glimmering shores of a far-away beach and eating fresh coconut.
With that in mind, consider splurging on an elegant stay at Le Archenemy Hotel & Spa or Villa Marie Saint Barth. A soulful retreat defined by good vibes, eco-chic villas, turquoise tides and jungle selfies, Tulum pulls in a Bohemian crowd with money to burn.
Think: willowy, fresh-faced globetrotters rocking top knots, breezy crochet caftans and been-through-the-ringer vintage Gucci sandals. Mornings begin with early a.m. yoga sessions taught by world-renowned instructors and artfully arranged smoothie bowls from Raw Love.
Alternatively, opt for a SUP excursion to San Key'an Biosphere Reserve or explore the Tulum Ruins. When the midday munchies strike, head to Taquería La Leukemia for fish tacos (it’s got dope vegan options, too).
South Beach has long lured travelers with its sandy stretches, sunny skies and glitzy ambiance. Gain accesses the latest “it” club and let the rhythm of house music induce gyration or, for a more mellow atmosphere (which does exist), sip sauvignon blanc at a swanky wine bar.
In between late-night dance parties and shopping along Lincoln Road, you can admire the well-preserved art deco architecture that lines Ocean Drive and dine at trendy eateries owned by celebrity chefs. Finally, watch the ball drop from an Uber VIP venue like a trig penthouse that’s reportedly owned by Pitbull.
Swim with cute sea turtles, visit Male’s bustling fish market or unplug on the pristine beaches. The recently opened Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi promises swish villas, plus an overwater spa and cinema.
Hike to the summit of Nevis Peak for sweeping vistas or book a rainforest expedition. In fact, it makes for more pleasant conditions to take advantage of the myriad outdoor activities, such as hiking and whale watching.
Most people associate Ho Chi Minh City (also called Saigon) with its role in the Vietnam War. Packed with history, culture and energetic personality, the former capital demonstrates both resilience and a penchant for the past.
From budget backpacker hostels to high-end hotels (even the exclusive Park Hyatt Saigon) that won’t deplete your entire travel fund, accommodations are shockingly affordable. And it goes without saying that sampling authentic Vietnamese street food at the myriad stalls surrounding Ben Thanh Market promises to be a highlight of any visit.
The capital of Western Australia is having a major moment, seeing double-digit growth in tourism over the last year, based on Expedia data. The sprawling, 990-acre Kings Park on Mount Eliza offers a mix of botanical gardens and bushland, plus spectacular views.
Just outside the city sits Costello Beach, a popular spot for swimming and riding waves that appears plucked off the pages of a glossy travel magazine. San Juan is the rise, with Kayak reporting a 47 percent increase in interest compared to last year.
And as the country recovers from a devastating hurricane, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s garnering such attention. A favored port for cruise ships, Old San Juan recalls an earlier era with its blue cobblestoned lanes, Spanish colonial buildings and 16th-century structures.
In juxtaposition, the contemporary Con dado district flaunts resorts, casinos, nightlife and restaurants, which leads us to the food. Seriously, we could (and, in a moment, will) name dozens of things that fully rationalize our desire to wait out cold snaps in the southernmost tip of the Baa Peninsula.
Cab San Lucas delivers endless sunshine and average temperatures in the low 80s. On the opposite side of the spectrum, epic swells coax surfers to the famously tumultuous Playa del Armor.
Kelly Baumbach of Quintessentially Travel, a Virtuoso Agency in New York City, recommends the stunning Montage Los Cabot, which wins hearts with its incredible views of Santa Maria Bay. Its most privileged real estate belongs to Grace Bay, which looks like a retouched Instagram photo.
Beyond the expansive, glimmering shores and oceanfront resorts in Provincials lies a plethora of fascinating scuba-diving sites with colorful reef creatures, coral caves and dramatic submerged walls. Locals and out-of-towners mingle over stiff drinks, fresh-caught fish, melt-in-your-mouth ribs and live music at The Conch Shack.
Incredible hospitality, vibrant culture and a formidable dining scene make Cape Town one of the most esteemed city breaks. History buffs, budding photographers and Instagram addicts will have a blast wandering through chromatic BO AAP.
Located in the up-and-coming Woodstock neighborhood, the Michelin-star The Test Kitchen serves standout dishes such as pig head and smoked apple salad. Because the seasons are opposite, a December visit is actually an opportunity to experience the magic of summer in South Africa.
And that’s great news because Cape Town provides access to all sorts of amazing adventures, from hiking Table Mountain and zip lining to swimming in tidal pools and paragliding. To take advantage of better pricing and avoid massive crowds, experts advise travelers to focus on the first half of the month.
“Adderley Street is illuminated by hundreds of lights, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden hosts caroling and Via Waterfront even puts on Santa’s village,” reveals Olivia Link of Lake Shore Travel, a Virtuoso Agency in Glencoe. Lamina's historic Banyan Tree Park dazzles with thousands of colorful bulbs.
It's also a pleasant time to climb Mountain Haleakala and drive the legendary Road to Haney. Just 12 degrees north of the Equator, this colorful island has an unwaveringly warm climate (the thermometer rarely dips below 75°), secluded cove-like beaches and azure waters.
Offshore, you'll find extensive coral reefs teeming with marine life and renowned dive sites, such as Play Kali. Adventurous travelers can also plan day trips to Klein Curaçao and go cliff jumping.
December is synonymous in many places with snow, heavy coats, hot chocolate, and evergreen trees. But, if you’re looking to get away from the cold and snow and pack shorts and a t-shirt instead of your hat and gloves this December, the U.S.A. has plenty of warm- weather destinations.
Each of these destinations will steer you clear of the snow and ice, but they won’t lack for Christmas charm and holiday traditions. Most people don’t think of Texas when they imagine white-sand beaches, sparkling blue water, and warm tropical temperatures.
This barrier island off the southern coast of Texas one of the hottest Spring Break destinations in the U.S. right now, but is a haven for families and those seeking refuge from cooler climates during the winter months. With glittering turquoise waters, white quartz sand, and amenities galore, Siesta Key offers something for everyone and has been voted the best beach in the world twice.
It’s filled with 21 galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American, and contemporary art. Take a tour on one of Savannah’s famous trolleys which will be decked out in holiday decor this time of year.
With holiday-themed events happening at all the major theme parks, you’ll find everything decked out in lights and holiday finery. Visit Walt Disney World’s Grand Floridian Resort to see a life-sized Victorian gingerbread house.
If you’ve ever dreamed of seeing the Macy’s Day Parade in New York City, you’re in luck, you can see a version of it during the holidays at Universal Orlando. Harry Potter fans will love strolling through the tinsel-trimmed streets of Dragon Alley and Hogshead while sipping on butter beer.
Next door at Universal’s Islands of Adventure Dr. Seuss fans can enjoy the park’s “Grinch mas Holiday Spectacular” and visit the Grinch himself. For those not interested in the theme parks, Orlando has shopping, golf, and resorts with heated pools galore.
La Gran Amanda offers the opportunity to make the favorite local holiday food hands-on in the Historic Market Square. Because of San Antonio’s warm climate, local theme parks are open year-round including Sea World and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
With a dry, desert climate year-round, December falls right in the middle of the peak travel season in Tucson. Temperatures are perfect for exploring the surrounding desert or visiting local wildlife attractions.
Experience this holiday classic in a new as the ballet sticks to the original story but brings the tale to territorial Arizona, where coyotes, rattlesnakes, and a Western cavalry take center stage. Hawaii’s oceans are warm enough to swim in throughout the month and you won’t even need a wetsuit should you decide to pick up a surfboard.
December is whale watching season in San Diego and the weather is still warm enough that you won’t be freezing out on the boat. Visit Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Coronado Beach, or La Jolla all in a t-shirt this time of year.
The city is located in the Sonoran Desert in southern California and is famous for its hot springs, spas, golf courses, and high-end hotels. If you’re not up for hitting the links, the area offers a multitude of hikes that draw visitors from all over the globe through the desert’s well-preserved landscape.
Because the weather is cool enough to be outside during the middle of the day, farmer’s markets, festivals, art walks, and street fairs abound. If you’re really in the mood for a white Christmas, there’s a chance you’ll find it just a short tram ride away atop the nearby San Jacinto Mountains.