Blowing Rock Winterfest
Blowing Rock Winterfest

Blowing Rock Winterfest

Head to the mountains of North Carolina for the annual Blowing Rock Winterfest. This lively winterfest features a plunge into the icy waters of Lake Chetola, followed by the chance to warm up with hot chocolate and chili in downtown Blowing Rock.

When: Late January

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Todd Bush Photography  

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

Run for your life! This group of New Year’s revelers rushes from the freezing waters of Vancouver’s English Bay. 2014 marks the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim’s 94th year, making it one of the largest and oldest clubs of its kind in the world.

When: New Year's Day

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Reuters   

Courage Polar Bear Dip

Courage Polar Bear Dip

Courage, lads! Since its start in 1985, the annual Courage Polar Bear Dip in Oakville, Ontario, has become the largest polar bear dip for charity in Canada. Money raised supports clean water projects organized by the advocacy organization World Vision Canada.

When: New Year’s Day 

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Courage Polar Bear Dip  

Seattle Polar Bear Plunge

Seattle Polar Bear Plunge

They’re freezin’ for a reason. Plungers take to the waters off Seattle’s Matthews Beach for the city’s annual polar bear plunge. Now in its 12th year, the Seattle Polar Bear Plunge is one of 8 statewide plunges to benefit Special Olympics Washington.

When: New Year’s Day

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mordac, flickr   

Aruba New Year's Plunge

Aruba New Year's Plunge

In search of warmer climes to take the plunge? Head to Aruba for the Caribbean island’s annual Aruba New Year's Plunge. Hundreds of people gather at MooMba Beach for the “Unox Nieuwjaarsduik” (New Year’s plunge), which takes place at noon sharp. The event is open to everyone; no charge.

When: New Year’s Day 

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Aruba Daily Newspaper  

Coney Island Plunge

Coney Island Plunge

Cold enough for you? These 2 brave guys take part in the annual Coney Island Plunge organized by the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, the oldest ice swimming club in the US. The yearly dip into the Atlantic begins at 1 p.m. sharp; afterward, if you’re still breathing, check out the famous Coney Island boardwalk.

When: Jan. 1

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Getty Images  

Russian Orthodox Epiphany

Russian Orthodox Epiphany

In the name of the …wow, this water is cold! A Russian man celebrates the Russian Orthodox Epiphany with a dip in frigid waters. The age-old ritual commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, but we have a feeling the Jordan’s waters were a lot less cold.

When: Mid-January

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Reuters  

Tybee Polar Plunge

Tybee Polar Plunge

Thousands of people flock to Tybee Island, near Savannah, GA, for the annual Tybee Polar Plunge plunge into the brisk waters of the Atlantic. Plungers register for a nominal fee, with proceeds going toward the historic Tybee Post Theater, built in 1930.

When: New Year’s Day

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Tybee Polar Plunge   

Scotland's Loony Dook

Scotland's Loony Dook

Showing their white-and-blue Scottish pride, these 2 “loony dookers” take a dip in Scotland’s River Forth. The annual Loony Dook event in Scotland began in 1987 with a handful of participants; the event has since grown into a New Year’s rite of passage for thousands.

 

When: New Year’s Day 

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Lee Carson, flickr  

Baltimore PlungeFest

Baltimore PlungeFest

Holy moly, ma, Darth Vader’s not wearing any clothes under that cape! This wickedly cool plunger takes a dip in the Chesapeake Bay’s cold waters near Baltimore. The annual Baltimore PlungeFest kicks off in Annapolis, MD’s Sandy Point State Park, with proceeds going to Special Olympics Maryland.

When: Late January

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Steve Ruark Photography  

Chicago Polar Plunge

Chicago Polar Plunge

Skip the clothes, grab a wig! Celebrate the New Year (and a good cause) with hundreds of revelers who dive into the icy waters of Chicago’s Lake Michigan in early spring. 2015 marks Chicago Polar Plunge’s 15th year, with proceeds going toward Special Olympics Chicago.

When: Early March

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Grace Trivino, flickr   

Netherlands New Year's

Netherlands New Year's

Wearing colorful vestments, this man takes a dip in the waters off Scheveningen, a beachside resort town in the Netherlands. The annual event began in 1960, and attracts more than 10,000 people, who plunge into the icy North Sea on New Year’s Day.

When: Jan. 1

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Reuters  

Plunge Into 2016  12 Photos

Lars Homestead, Tatooine (aka: Chott el Djerid, Tunisia)

Lars Homestead, Tatooine (aka: Chott el Djerid, Tunisia)

The iconic exterior of Luke Skywalker’s home (aka: the Lars Homestead) from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was filmed in the desert of Chott el Djerid, Tunisia. George Lucas returned to this location to film new scenes for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 28 years later. 960 1280

By Stefan Krasowski (Flickr: Algeria Tunisia Libya 042)  

Lars Homestead, Tatooine (aka: Mamata, Tunisia)

Lars Homestead, Tatooine (aka: Mamata, Tunisia)

Matmata in southern Tunisia is home to a distinctive style of underground dwellings called troglodytes.  One of these structures, The Hotel Sidi Driss, which was used as the interior for the home of Luke Skywalker on the planet Tatooine in Episode IV.   960 1280

Bernard Gagnon [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0]  

Various Locations on Tatooine (aka: Death Valley National Park, CA)

Various Locations on Tatooine (aka: Death Valley National Park, CA)

To add some depth to Tatooine, George Lucas shot several different scenes in Death Valley National Park, including R2D2’s run-in with the Jawas in Episode IV and exteriors of Jabba’s Palace in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The majority of locations can be found off of Route 190 through the California section of the park. 960 1280

Twenty Mule Team Canyon by RoadTripWarrior - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia.  

Hoth (aka: Hardangerjokulen, Norway)

Hoth (aka: Hardangerjokulen, Norway)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back used this spectacular glacier to portray the ice planet Hoth. The 6th largest glacier in Norway, its highest point can sometimes only be accessed by skiers due to heavy snowfall. 960 1280

Steven8 [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0]  

Endor (aka: Redwood National and State Parsk, CA)

Endor (aka: Redwood National and State Parsk, CA)

Used to portray the evergreen planet of Endor (home of the Ewoks) in Episode VI, the Redwood National and State Parks have become synonymous with epic speeder-bike chases for Star Wars fans everywhere. With over 133,000 acres to explore, its easy to get lost on your own interstellar-inspired journey. 960 1280

Visit California/Carol Highsmith  

Naboo Royal Palace (aka: Royal Palace of Caserta in Caserta, Italy)

Naboo Royal Palace (aka: Royal Palace of Caserta in Caserta, Italy)

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Royal Palace of Caserta served as the filming location for Queen Amidala’s royal palace on Naboo in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, as well as Queen Jamilia’s palace in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Built in the 18th century in the beautiful style of the Baroque, it has affectionately become known as the Versailles of Italy. 960 1280

Livioandronico2013 [CC BY-SA 4.0]  

Theed, Naboo (aka: Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain)

Theed, Naboo (aka: Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain)

The Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain was used as the backdrop for Theed, the capital of Naboo (and home of Luke and Leia’s mother, Padmé Amidala). Featured prominently in both Episode I and Episode II, the plaza was built in 1928 and heavily influenced by the Renaissance Revival style of Spanish Architecture, bringing an ancient and elegant feel to Theed. 960 1280

Gregory Zeier [GFDL or CC BY 3.0]  

Unspecified Location in Naboo (aka: Villa del Balbianello at Lake Como, Italy)

Unspecified Location in Naboo (aka: Villa del Balbianello at Lake Como, Italy)

The site of Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker’s clandestine wedding in Episode II, Villa del Balbianello is located on Lake Como in the comune of Lenno, Italy. Lake Como has always been an admired retreat for the wealthy and elite, with ornate villas dating back since Roman times.  960 1280

Deror_avi [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0]  

Mountains of Alderaan (aka: Grindelwald, Switzerland)

Mountains of Alderaan (aka: Grindelwald, Switzerland)

While no physical filming with actors was done in the snowy alps of Grindelwald, Switzerland, footage of mountain scenery was later composited into the backdrop of the planet Alderaan, home-world of Princess Leia, in Episode III. 960 1280

Zacharie Grossen [CC BY-SA 4.0]  

Mountains of Kashyyyk (aka: Phang Nha Bay near Phuket, Thailand)

Mountains of Kashyyyk (aka: Phang Nha Bay near Phuket, Thailand)

Aerial footage of the limestone karst mountains at Phang Nga Bay in Thailand were used in Episode III as a backdrop for the approach over the Battle of Kashyyyk, one of the last few battles fought in the Clone Wars before the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire. 960 1280

Diego Delso [CC BY-SA 3.0]  

Unknown Star Wars Location

Unknown Star Wars Location

The plot of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has been kept tightly under wraps but there have been confirmed reports of new locations used for filming, including Skelling Michael in Ireland (pictured), the desert of the UAE emirate of Abu Dhabi, Scotland and Iceland. Add these new locations to your Star Wars travel itinerary as they will surely be as memorable as the last! 960 1280

Niki.L [GFDL or CC BY 3.0]  

Ryan Van Duzer in Santiago de Cuba
The Start in Santiago de Cuba

The Start in Santiago de Cuba

“I began the 850-mile bicycle adventure in Santiago de Cuba, on the far eastern side of the island. I didn't have a set route … all I knew is that I needed to be in Havana in 20 days. It was an incredibly liberating feeling to have no itinerary. It was just me, my bike, and the open road.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Adrian

Adrian

“It's very easy to make friends in Cuba. I met friendly and curious people every day who wanted to know all about the United States. There aren't a lot of American tourists, most visitors are from Europe and Canada. I met this guy Adrian on the streets of Santiago and he proudly showed me around his city.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Sunset

Sunset

“The sun sets behind the mountains on the Bay of Santiago. This is the city where Fidel Castro announced the victory of the Cuban revolution on January 1, 1959.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Bike POV

Bike POV

“Cycling in Cuba is an absolute dream. There's barely any traffic and the scenery is stunning. The only thing I had to worry about was having enough water. This Colorado boy wasn't acclimated to the tropical heat.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Coconut

Coconut

“In the States, we pay top dollar for Coconut water, but in Cuba, it's one of the cheapest roadside refreshments. This guy chopped open 6 coconuts and I quickly drank them down. It was the best 50 cents I ever spent.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Best Way to Get Around

Best Way to Get Around

“Bicycles are the main form of transport for most Cubans. They're simple, easy to fix and a safe form of transportation since there isn't much vehicle traffic on the roads.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Bike Taxis

Bike Taxis

“Bike taxis rule the streets in every city on the island. They cost a few pesos and can carry a few people.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Cuban Host Family

Cuban Host Family

“Lourdes and Alexi were my host family in Guantánamo. I never stayed in hotels. I preferred to rent rooms in Casas Particulares. Many Cuban families supplement their meager incomes by opening their doors to tourists. It's a great way to get to know the locals, and if you're lucky, they'll prepare a tasty meal for you.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

La Farola

La Farola

“The eastern side of the island is home to the Sierra Maestra, the highest mountain range on Cuba. The jungle clad hillsides are a beautiful sight, and a challenging ride if you’re on a bike.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Rice and Beans

Rice and Beans

“Luckily, I love rice and beans, because this is pretty much what's available. Food is pretty simple, as they're limited to eating only what's grown on the island.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Cool Off with Ice Cream

Cool Off with Ice Cream

“After cycling for hours in the heat, I always searched for the ice cream man, it was my favorite way to end the day. People set up shop outside their homes and sell these tasty treats for one peso (about 10 cents).”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Horse Parking

Horse Parking

“It’s not uncommon to find valet horse parking in the colonial city of Trinidad.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

La Boca

La Boca

“La Boca, a tiny fishing village south of Trinidad, is a great place to jump into the warm Caribbean water. This is also where I attempted to even out my horrific tan lines.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Local Pizza

Local Pizza

“In addition to rice and beans, I ate a lot of these tiny pizzas. Although not quite as tasty as a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza … they did the job.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

School Children in Old Havana

School Children in Old Havana

“A trio of kids walk to school on the streets of Habana Vieja (Old Havana). Cuba is the safest Latin American country I've ever visited, and the streets were always full of kids playing games.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Dominoes

Dominoes

“My favorite time of day in Cuba was when the sun went down – it's when the streets come alive. Kids play baseball, vendors sell food and the Domino players come out in full force.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Ché Guevara

Ché Guevara

“The revolutionary Ché Guevara is admired all over Cuba. Locals pay homage to him on billboards and artistic murals. He can also be found on souvenirs in shops everywhere if you want to take him home.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Jo Garcia, A Friendly Local

Jo Garcia, A Friendly Local

“Cuba is not a place where you'll ever feel lonely. The locals pull you aside and strike up a conversation everywhere. This is my buddy Jo Garcia. I sat with him for 30 minutes while he told me all about growing up in Havana.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Traffic in Cuba

Traffic in Cuba

“I shared the roads with many a horse-drawn cart. I swear everyone is always smiling in Cuba. These are definitely my kind of people.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

Vintage Car

Vintage Car

“There are not a lot of cars in Cuba, and the ones that have survived are beautiful relics from the 1950s. I felt like I had traveled back in time to my grandparents’ generation.” 960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

A Bike for a Gym Teacher

A Bike for a Gym Teacher

“At the end of my ride, I gave my bike to this guy, Yuleti. He's a gym teacher and will use the bike to ride to work. Although there are many bicycles in Cuba, they're mostly old Chinese clunkers. This bike will hopefully last him a lifetime.”  960 1280

Ryan Van Duzer  

kemi, snowcastle, ice hotel, finland
Hotel de Glace - Quebec

Hotel de Glace - Quebec

Inspired by the original in Jukkasjarvi, Hotel de Glace on the outskirts of Quebec incorporates the same functionality but in even more refined form. The hotel has framed paintings hanging on its ice walls, more elaborate ice furniture and a swankier ice bar. 960 1280

Matias_Garabedian, Matías Garabedian  

Hotel de Glace - Quebec

Hotel de Glace - Quebec

This hotel itself is large; 34 rooms, to be exact. Designers sketch up the hotel and build it in a matter of weeks every fall. Each year, the facility has something different -- a new bed, a new bar. 960 1280

By Matias Garabedian from Montreal, Canada (Hôtel de Glace) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Alta Igloo Hotel - Norway

Alta Igloo Hotel - Norway

If there is such a thing as a rustic ice hotel, the Alta Igloo Hotel in the northeast corner of Norway would be it. The rooms are not very large, and low ceilings make them a bit claustrophobia-inducing. Still, the experience of sleeping in an igloo under the Northern Lights is second to none. 960 1280

mcdonaldkar/Getty Images  

Alta Igloo Hotel - Norway

Alta Igloo Hotel - Norway

Apart from its 80 beds the Alta Igloo Hotel houses suites, an ice gallery, an ice bar, an ice chapel and several lounges. Sculpture work also is present here -- hulking ice sculptures that appear as stone until you touch them and they melt in your hand.  960 1280

Mark Hannaford/AWL Images/Getty Images  

IceHotel - Sweden

IceHotel - Sweden

Situated in the village Jukkasjarvi, 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden, the original Icehotel has been built every year since 1980. The facility didn't start out as a lodge; at first, it was simply built as a seasonal structure to house an art exhibit.
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By Laplandish (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

IceHotel - Sweden

IceHotel - Sweden

Accommodations inside the Icehotel are, well ... chilly. Regardless of the temperature outside, the air in the Icehotel is always between 17 and 23 degrees Fahrenheit. Bedrooms have blocks of ice as beds, covered with fur, skin, hides and sleeping bags. 960 1280

By Laplandish (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Aurora Ice Museum - Alaska

Aurora Ice Museum - Alaska

The Aurora Ice Museum, located on the grounds of the Chena Hot Springs Resort 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks, is the only ice hotel in the U.S. Ice-carving champion Steve Brice designed. Visitors don't even have to spend the night; at the hotel's ice bar, guests can down a chilled martini before heading back to Fairbanks for the day. 960 1280

Aurora Ice Museum  

Aurora Ice Museum - Alaska

Aurora Ice Museum - Alaska

In this hotel, everything is made of ice: the beds, the chairs, the counters, the glasses and more.  960 1280

Aurora Ice Museum  

Balea Lake Ice Hotel (Chapel) - Romania

Balea Lake Ice Hotel (Chapel) - Romania

Only accessible via able car in the winter, this ice church is located in Romania at the Balea Lake Ice Hotel. 960 1280

By Untravelledpaths (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Kakslauttanen Igloo Village - Finland

Kakslauttanen Igloo Village - Finland

Located in Saariselka, Finland, the Kakslauttanen Igloo Village is known for their world-famous glass igloos situated below the Northern Lights, which are visible from late August through the end of April. 960 1280
Kirkenes Snow Hotel - Norway

Kirkenes Snow Hotel - Norway

Opened in 2006 in Finnmark, Norway, near the Norwegian and Russian Border, the Kirkenes Snow Hotel features 20 bedrooms, an ice bar and more. 960 1280
Lainio Snow Village - Finland

Lainio Snow Village - Finland

Situated just north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland, Finland, the Lainio Snow Village is built every year using just about 40,000,000 pounds of snow. 960 1280
Lainio Snow Village - Finland

Lainio Snow Village - Finland

Covering over 65,000 square feet of space, Lainio features a snow hotel, an ice restaurant, an ice bar, a super-slick ice slide and a chapel. 960 1280
SnowCastle - Finland

SnowCastle - Finland

Known as one of the biggest snow structures in the world, the SnowCastle of Kemi, located in Finland, features a SnowRestaurant, a SnowChapel and a SnowHotel. 960 1280

By Art of Backpacking (Flickr: SnowCastle, Kemi, Finland) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Start Planning

Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City

For those who check ski conditions on the daily, you don’t have to leave the country for world-class skiing. Get thee on a direct flight to Salt Lake City, and you’ll be minutes from Utah’s premier ski village of Park City. At the site of the 2002 Olympics, you’ll find black diamonds fit for the US ski team, which has made Park City its permanent home base. Stroll along the main street, and you’ll see that it’s not lacking in century-old buildings, twinkling lights or exceptional restaurants. 960 1280

Adam Barker  

Washington's Methow Valley

Washington's Methow Valley

Take ski-in/ski-out lodging to a new level and experience the European tradition of hut-to-hut skiing in northern Washington’s Methow Valley, near the US-Canadian border. For novices or those more familiar with its downhill sibling, cross-country skiing is a thrill in its own right, and Methow Valley is home to more than 125 miles of tranquil, well-marked trails. If indoor plumbing is a must after a long day on the trails, you may want to trade camping for other mountain accommodations, such as the Sun Mountain Lodge, where you won’t sacrifice the scenery or vast view of the stars. 960 1280

Ty Milford / Getty Images  

Bahamas

Bahamas

If blue skies and tan lines seem like a distant memory, a quick Caribbean vacation may be what you’re craving. Consider the Bahamas, a chain of more than 700 islands, cays and reefs, which will feel downright balmy compared with East Coast temps. This year-round island paradise just off the Florida coast is in its peak season, allowing you to choose to splurge on a luxurious resort with all the trappings at Atlantis Paradise Island or escape to one of the more remote Out Islands. 960 1280

Daniel Korzeniewski / iStock / Getty Images  

Miami

Miami

Every winter, the promise of sunny, 72-degree weather beckons visitors to Miami. Beyond the requisite Cuban sandwich in Little Havana, in Little Havana, foodies will find memorable cuisine at the annual, star-studded South Beach Wine and Food Festival. With high season in full swing, you’ll see many a scantily clad European spend the nights dining at 9 p.m. and traipsing along Ocean Drive and sleep the days away in cabanas or on a bed of soft, white sand — that is how Miami is meant to be enjoyed. 960 1280

Neilson Barnard / Getty Images  

New Orleans

New Orleans

There are good times to be had in New Orleans year-round, but things get kicked up a notch when Mardi Gras and college bowl games roll through town. Not that you need added reasons to visit — snacking on beignets at Café du Monde and listening to jazz on Bourbon Street should be reason enough to check into the elegant Hotel Mazarin in the French Quarter. 960 1280

Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images  

Orlando, Florida

Orlando, Florida

When you think of Orlando, you think of theme parks — and for good reason. It is home to Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World, each with myriad parks and resorts. Whether it’s a special parade or fireworks display over the holidays or a much-needed break from frozen temperatures back home, there are countless reasons why winter is an ideal time to visit. The period just after the holidays and before spring break is, in particular, the least crowded and will have the shortest lines.  960 1280

Songquan Deng / iStock / Getty Images  

Paris

Paris

While the chilly temps in Paris may keep throngs of tourists at bay, put on your rose-colored glasses and take advantage of cheaper rates for an extra-long-weekend stay — to make up for the travel time — at hotels such as the intimate (and conveniently located, near the Louvre) Hotel Relais Saint-Germain. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast over café au lait and a chocolate croissant (clichés for a reason) before strolling along the light-strung Champs-Elysees and taking advantage of the semiannual soldes, or sales. Longchamp or Hermès at 50% off, n’est-ce pas? 960 1280

Xavier Richer / Photononstop / Getty Images  

Phoenix/Scottsdale

Phoenix/Scottsdale

Sun worshippers, take heart; you’ll find your oasis in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, the Greater Phoenix area has earned the nickname “Valley of the Sun” honestly. Most come to hit the links, as the area is dotted with more than 200 golf courses. But the Desert Botanical Garden is another year-round highlight. Like a relic of the Wild West, Old Town Scottsdale lures tourists, but most visitors will value a relaxing stay filled with shopping, golfing and lounging at the spa. 960 1280

Brent Winebrenner / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

While chilly during the winter months, visitors will find Southern charm in spades in Savannah. The low-season prices also mean it’s a great time to splurge on a romantic Valentine’s stay at the Green Palm Inn. Indulge in comfort food, including cheesy grits, fried green tomatoes and Lowcountry cuisine, as well as cocktails. Thanks to lenient open-container laws, you can take that hot toddy to go as you stroll through the historic district downtown. 960 1280

Daniela Duncan / Moment / Getty Images  

Maui
Maui

Maui

With more than 120 miles of coastline, Maui tops Mandy Ingber's list. Channel your inner roar, and strike a warrior pose, as you take in the sights and sounds of the deep blue Pacific splashing against the island’s rocky headlands. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Ibiza

Ibiza

“This is one of the most beautiful, soulful spots I have been to,” says Ingber of this Mediterranean island off the coast of Valencia, Spain. “Bohemian, a place where living and enjoyment are an art -- even just sitting on the beach feels like yoga here!” 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Viceroy Bali

Viceroy Bali

“I have wanted to travel to Bali, and have seen the pictures of the Viceroy -- luxury resort!” says Ingber. Luxury, indeed: The family-owned-and-operated property on the Indonesian island of Bali is home to 25 villas, nestled on a hill overlooking the “Valley of the Kings.” 960 1280

Viceroy Bali  

Harbour Island, Bahamas

Harbour Island, Bahamas

This island, located off the northeast coast of Eleuthera in the Bahamas, may be a trek to get to, but it’s worth it for the “quaint, sweet town [vibe] and casual, beachy feel,” says Ingber. We’re betting you’ll agree as you stroll past colorful rows of homes and “om” away on the island’s pink sand beaches. 960 1280

Adam Nowek, flickr  

Ganeshpuri

Ganeshpuri

This small village, about 50 miles north of Mumbai, is “very poor, but soulful and where many gurus have lived and died,” says Ingber. Explore the village’s Siddha yoga tradition at the local ashram, then while away the hours in one of the hot springs near the area’s Tansa River. 960 1280

Nadine Incoll, flickr  

Chiva-Som Resort

Chiva-Som Resort

This world-class resort in Hua Hin, Thailand, is on Ingber’s travel wish list. “They have programs tailored to detox, weight loss and rejuvenation here,” says Ingber. “Sign me up! Sometimes I want to be the one on the retreat!” 960 1280

Chiva-Som International Health Resort   

Kauai

Kauai

“Incredible setting!” says Ingber of this Hawaiian island. “Not only were we in a gorgeous, Bali-style house but the boat ride up the Na Pali Coast is dreamy. Waterfalls and beautiful hikes. So much wild nature here. One of the most bountiful and beautiful places I have been to and taught in.” 960 1280

Thinkstock  

One & Only Palmilla, Mexico

One & Only Palmilla, Mexico

Ingber gives this Los Cabos resort overlooking the Sea of Cortez high marks. “I have been here twice, and have had some lovely yoga sessions in this beautiful setting,” says Ingber. “Many of my clients love Mexico because it’s sandy and close -- and we love the sunny weather!” 960 1280

One&Only Resorts  

Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, Mexico

This ancient city, one of the last inhabited and built by the Mayans, appeals to Ingber for many reasons: “The ruins and the blue of the ocean. The open-night sky. This spot is a dream … we were at a private estate. Heaven.” 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Sha Wellness Clinic

Sha Wellness Clinic

This medical and luxury spa, overlooking Spain’s Costa Blanca coastline, also makes Ingber’s shortlist. A big draw is the surrounding natural beauty; the resort is situated in the Sierra Helada Natural Park, home to protected areas of plants as well as vibrant marine wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins. 960 1280

Sha Wellness Clinic  

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence

This region in southern France is another personal favorite; Ingber stayed at a private estate in the country. “We had fresh eggs from the chickens on the property and practiced yoga daily,” she says. “A little sweaty in the summer, but with a farmers’ market and incredible architecture!” 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat

Pranamar Villas and Yoga Retreat

This posh oceanfront hotel, built on a stretch of sand near the Costa Rican town of Santa Teresa, came recommended by a friend. “It’s on my wish list,” says Ingber. With 2-story villas built around a saltwater pool, a restaurant with organic fruits and veggies, tropical gardens … ah, we can see why. 960 1280

Pranamar Villas Yoga Retreat   

fiji, snorkeling, beach, coral, island
Fiji

Fiji

Located 1,242 miles from New Zealand, Fiji is a great spot to explore a soft coral reef while you scuba dive in the South Pacific Ocean. 960 1280
Brazil

Brazil

Join hundreds of sunbathers who flock to Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 960 1280

By EUDOXIO (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Maldives

Maldives

Stay at an over-water bungalow, enjoy the beautiful blue sky and take a relaxing swim when you visit the Maldives. 960 1280

Andrew Shiva [CC BY-SA 3.0 or Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons  

Hawaii

Hawaii

Sand, surf and sun are all good reasons to visit Kauai, HI. 960 1280
Mauritius

Mauritius

Take a spiritual break from the cold weather to visit the Shiva Hindu temple on Grand Bassin Lake on the island of Mauritius. 960 1280

Olaf Protze/Getty Images  

Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

In addition to great weather and beaches, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, has a booming resort business, making it a perfect winter getaway. 960 1280
Morocco

Morocco

Tourists can explore the Jardin Menara, a lush garden with orchards, olive groves and a pavilion, located west of Marrakech, Morocco. 960 1280

By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Mayan Riviera

Mayan Riviera

A couple enjoys the warm Caribbean Sea at a beach along the Mayan Riviera near Playa del Carmen, Mexico. 960 1280
Jamaica

Jamaica

The white-sand beaches, Dunn's River Falls and the Coyaba River Gardens are just a few reasons why Ocho Rios, Jamaica, is a fun winter hot spot for families. 960 1280

By Diego Delso (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Florida Keys

Florida Keys

Winter is the perfect time for fishing in the Florida Keys. Book a charter to catch a variety of fish, including mackerel, sea trout, blue marlin, swordfish and red snapper. 960 1280

Winter Hot Spots  10 Photos

Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach

Just 5 minutes from San Diego, this family-friendly beach boasts wide stretches of sand, mostly calm surf and ideal whale watching (January through March). The lifeguards on staff, nearby public facilities and free parking along Ocean Boulevard add to its convenience -- and popularity. Couples can take a romantic walk to the luxury beachfront Hotel del Coronado and sip cocktails on its patio overlooking the Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

Tashka/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach, founded by the Chumash Indian Tribe, is located in central California, between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Whichever direction you travel from, there’s plenty of activities to keep you here: fishing on the 1,200-foot-long pier, strolling through the Monarch Butterfly Grove, horseback riding along private trails, and exploring tide pools and caves, to name just a few. 960 1280

Mimi Ditchie Photography / Getty Images  

La Jolla

La Jolla

You’ll have to leave the surfboards and boogie boards behind, but trust us it will be worth it. La Jolla Cove is the most desired area for swimming, snorkeling and diving; it is ecologically protected, making it a safe home for the bright orange Garibaldi fish (among others species) in the crescent-shaped cove. Called “the jewel” of San Diego, this beach is small, but you’ll find more room to stretch out on the mile-long La Jolla Shores to the north. 960 1280

John Hoffman/ iStock/ Thinkstock   

Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast State Beach comprises 13 miles of coastline, stretching from Blind Beach to Bodega Head. It’s dotted with nothing save hidden beaches tucked between the rocky coves and tall bluffs. Follow the Sonoma Coast Trail to visit these secret beaches and take postcard-worthy pictures, #nofilter necessary. 960 1280

Jairo Leiva/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Main Beach in Santa Cruz

Main Beach in Santa Cruz

For most beachgoers in Santa Cruz, Main Beach is where the action is -- complete with restaurants, shops, surfing spots, beach volleyball courts and, of course, a scenic boardwalk and bandstand. If you ask us, it’s just the right amount of Americana. 960 1280

Mitch Diamond/ Photodisc/ Getty Images  

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Pier

With a location at the end of Main Street and a nickname like “Surf City, USA,” Huntington Beach evokes a time gone by. The pier (one of the longest on the West Coast), the year-round surf (thanks to ocean swells around Catalina Island) and Ruby’s Diner (the milkshakes are a must) will continue to draw crowds here for years to come. 
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Christopher Riddler/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Our resident beach expert, Marianela Pereyra, can attest to its weirdness, but there’s a reason Venice Beach is world famous. It may bring to mind visions of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Muscle Beach of the ’70s, but let us assure you that the 1 1/2-mile-long boardwalk is still the perfect storm for people watching, street performers and souvenir shopping. 960 1280

Christian Kober/ AWL Images/ Getty Images  

Baker Beach

Baker Beach

To the west of the Golden Gate Bridge lies the rocky serpentine shoreline of Baker Beach. Rip currents make swimming unsafe, but you’re here for the panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge … and maybe to picnic. Just don’t venture too far north unless you’re looking for another kind of scene: the northernmost end of Baker Beach, which attracts clothing-optional sunbathers. 960 1280

Jamairani/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Malibu Surfrider Beach

Formerly known as Surfrider Beach, Malibu Lagoon State Beach’s famous right point breaks have made it the most-surfed spot in Los Angeles since the ’60s. Arrive early to find a parking spot and pick a point -- some of the perfect swells due to Surfrider Beach will give you a ride all the way to the pier (a couple hundred feet away). And for non-surfers, the historic wooden Malibu Pier offers excellent saltwater fishing, bird-watching and picnicking. 960 1280

Ryan McVay/ Digital Vision/ Thinkstock  

Dockweiler State Beach

Dockweiler State Beach

Located just west of the LAX runway, Dockweiler Beach is where people come to relax and party. That’s because the 3-mile-long shoreline is the only Los Angeles beach that has an RV park and allows bonfires. S’mores, anyone? 960 1280

Jose Gil/ iStock/ Getty Images  

Rishikesh, India

Rishikesh, India

"Located at the foothills of the great Himalayas and the banks of the holy river Ganges, Rishikesh is an ideal place for a spiritual retreat. The city has attracted a lot of spiritual leaders to establish ashrams and yoga schools, providing tourists and pilgrims a nourishing atmosphere to revitalize their mind, body and spirit." — Yogi Kanna, author of Nirvana: Absolute Freedom 960 1280

Getty  

Chartres Cathedral, France

Chartres Cathedral, France

"When I was here in 1987, an old Frenchman who reminded me of Grandfather Charlemagne took me by the hand and led me to the labyrinth in the center of the apse and showed me how to walk it." — Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage 960 1280

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Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

"I made my pilgrimage here in 1996 in honor of my father, who gave me a book about the magnificent site when I was a boy. When I finally made the journey in his honor, the first person I met was a Buddhist nun whose hands had been cut off by the Khmer Rouge. She offered to pray for me." — Phil Cousineau 960 1280

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Negev, Israel

Negev, Israel

"Deserts often numb me, but the Negev numbs me in a particular way. As a Jew, I view it as a powerful reminder of and metaphor for my history, my ancestors' journey, our collective isolation and pain, our fortitude and courage." — Niles Goldstein, author of God at the Edge 960 1280

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Mount Shasta, California

Mount Shasta, California

"Believed by many to be a spiritual power point, Mount Shasta has the power to rejuvenate, revitalize, heal and inspire those who visit her. Standing at a spectacular 10,000 feet, she has power, grace and beauty that are especially palpable in summer, when the sun brings out the best in her." — Yogi Kanna 960 1280

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The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

"A place where your prayers rise to heaven — made a little easier, it is said, by the 6 minarets that poke holes in the sky so your words reach God." — Phil Cousineau 960 1280

Mikael Damkier  

Newgrange, Ireland

Newgrange, Ireland

"The oldest megalithic site in Europe, at least 1,000 years older than the Giza Pyramids, and an example of the old Celtic belief in the rebirth of their heroes. To venture inside is to have your spirit rekindled, whatever your faith." — Phil Cousineau 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

"To witness the raw juxtaposition of blinding white pack ice to the north and lush mountains, tundra and wildlife to the south — of death and life — was mind-blowing. And to see how both ecosystems, separated by so little physical space, were so symbiotically linked — all of it made me feel a sense of interconnectedness that I can only describe as spiritual." — Niles Goldstein 960 1280

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Sedona

Sedona

"I've never been to Sedona (it's on my list!), but it is regarded as a 'thin place,' where the veil between spirit and flesh, life and death, is believed to be more permeable. There are 'energy vortexes' where visitors say they can feel spiritual energy more fully. Even people who don't buy into that idea ... are still impressed by the gorgeousness of the red rocks and the landscape.” — Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood 960 1280

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Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Berkshires, MA

Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Berkshires, MA

"Kripalu offers yoga retreats for all skill levels but also functions as something akin to a spa. It has some of the best yoga teachers in the world and also offers related seminars on health and wellness." — Jana Riess 960 1280

Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health  

Tiruvannamalai, India

Tiruvannamalai, India

"Home to the sacred Mount Arunachala and Sri Ramanasramam, Tiruvannamalai is my favorite of all sacred sites. Believed by many sages to be the physical manifestation of the male aspect of the divine, Mount Arunachala has a wonderful transformative effect on those who tune into his energy. Thousands of pilgrims circumambulate around the holy mountain and visit the Arunachaleshwara temple during the full moon every month." — Yogi Kanna 960 1280

Getty  

Northwestern Mongolia

Northwestern Mongolia

"I had never seen such spectacular expanses of mountains and steppes or met such hospitable people in my life. The culture of the nomad was a culture of hospitality, trust and even a strange sort of love. Other than animals, there was very little to see in the way of actual possessions. But a palpable abundance of spirit permeated everything." — Niles Goldstein 960 1280

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San Juan Capistrano, California

San Juan Capistrano, California

"Aside from its historical significance as one of the oldest Spanish missions in California, this is a beautiful place to visit. It's one of my favorite places in the American West. Be sure to listen to the 'Voices of the Mission' audio tour, which explains the history of Spanish colonization. The chapel is particularly beautiful and peaceful, and Catholic visitors might wish to catch an early-morning daily Mass here." — Jana Riess 960 1280

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Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

Canyon de Chelly, Arizona

"I shot a documentary here in 1993 and was stunned to hear that the Navajo and Hopi had been making sacred journeys here for about 1,000 years. The stillness stays with me to this day." — Phil Cousineau 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Daintree National Park, Australia

Daintree National Park, Australia

"I felt as if I had gone back in time to some prehistoric era. The rain forest and reef met on the beach where I stood, and the coral sea I had gone diving in the day before was lapping against the shore, feeding the wilderness. It was a riot of green, blue, white and yellow. I could have died there and never felt so alive." — Niles Goldstein 960 1280

Jochen Schlenker  

The Community of Jesus, Orleans, MA

The Community of Jesus, Orleans, MA

"This ecumenical, monastic community is a wonderful place to go on retreat; visitors can soak up not only the natural beauty of Cape Cod, but also the community's world-class choir and band. Its new basilica is resplendent, with visual arts such as fresco, mosaic and stonemasonry. It's amazing how the brothers and sisters care for visitors with first-class dining and attention to detail." — Jana Riess 960 1280

Church of the Transfiguration, 5 Bay View Drive, Orleans, MA 02653  

mismaloya cove, beach, mexico, puerto vallarta
Mismaloya Cove

Mismaloya Cove

The Mismaloya cove was the setting for the 1964 film 'Night of the Iguana,' starring Richard Burton. Puerto Vallarta became a popular tourist destination after the media extensively covered the romance between Burton and Elizabeth Taylor during filming. The pair later purchased a vacation home in Puerto Vallarta. 960 1280

Westend61/Getty Images  

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

An aerial view of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of Puerto Vallarta's most iconic landmarks. The original crown was damaged in a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in Mexico City in 1995, but has since been replaced by new reinforced cement castings. 960 1280
Villa Life

Villa Life

The view from a luxury Puerto Vallarta villa -- complete with an infinity pool and the Pacific Ocean. 960 1280

The Resort at Pedregal  

Iguanas

Iguanas

Native to tropical regions of Mexico, the Iguana is one of the most popular species in Puerto Vallarta. 960 1280

By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Danza de los Voladores de Papantla

Danza de los Voladores de Papantla

Men performing the 'Danza de los Voladores de Papantla' (the Dance of the Flyers), a pre-Hispanic ritual designed to appease the gods and prevent drought. During the ritual, men climb up a 50-foot pole, winding their ropes all the way around. When they reach the top, they jump off and spin around the pole back to the ground. 960 1280

By B.navez (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Flea Markets

Flea Markets

Colorful flea markets are a staple of the culture in Puerto Vallarta. 960 1280

By ProtoplasmaKid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  

La Playa de los Muertos

La Playa de los Muertos

La Playa de los Muertos (The Beach of the Dead). The section of the large Playa de los Muertos known as Blue Chairs is Puerto Vallarta's most popular gay beach. 960 1280
Los Arcos Amphitheater

Los Arcos Amphitheater

The 4 stone arches at Los Arcos Amphitheater, an open-air theater that features nightly performances in downtown Puerto Vallarta. Watch the sun set over Banderas Bay. Plus, sample local food from the street vendors who congregate in the area. 960 1280
Parasailing

Parasailing

Go parasailing at one of Puerto Vallarta's many beaches and get a bird's-eye view of Banderas Bay. 960 1280

By Luciano Bernardi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

The Malecon (Oceanside Boardwalk)

The Malecon (Oceanside Boardwalk)

Walk along the Malecon, Puerto Vallarta's oceanside boardwalk, and take a look at some of the many impressive sculptures. Pictured is Rafael Zamarripa's 'Caballero del Mar,' (the Seahorse). 960 1280

By Cintyafloars (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Ceviche

Ceviche

Sample some local ceviche with tortilla chips or tostadas.
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By karol m from arizona, USA (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Los Arcos Marine Park

Los Arcos Marine Park

Los Arcos Marine Park, located near Mismaloya in the Bay of Banderas, is one of the most popular spots for snorkeling and diving in Puerto Vallarta. 960 1280

Elenathewise/Getty Images  

Huachinango Zarandeado

Huachinango Zarandeado

Huachinango Zarandeado, or grilled red snapper, a Puerto Vallarta specialty. 960 1280

By Eneas De Troya from Mexico City, México (Huachinango - AntesUploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

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