Winter in NYC can be a grim experience. From perpetually wet feet to relentlessly cold temperatures, the need to escape the city is a feeling many of us know well. What you need is a quick, last-minute, a three or four-day weekend escape, to get you over the final hump of winter. So here are 7 sunny places to escape to when you’re having your yearly existential crisis about why you ever moved to the iceberg known as NYC.
The birthplace of Bob Marley, reggae, and jerk cuisine, Jamaica packs a lot in its punch. The third-largest island in the Caribbean attracts millions of visitors every year, not least for its dazzling landscape of white sand beaches, 7,000-foot mountain peaks, waterfalls, and glorious sunsets. But beyond its iconic beach life, mega-resorts, and gorgeous scenery, it’s Jamaica’s deeply-rooted African culture and friendly people that catch visitors by surprise. Coupled with a “no problem” outlook on life, it’s no wonder Jamaica tops many a traveler’s bucket list. As the Jamaica Tourist Board aptly says, “Once you go, you know.”
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
The Cayman Islands are a British Overseas territory in the Caribbean made up of three islands: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman. Grand Cayman is the largest of all of the islands, as well as the capital, so it offers more activities than the other two. It’s very well-known for its underwater reefs, so definitely plan on going snorkeling!
Costa Rica’s got everything! Beautiful beaches, rainforests, culture, cute animals, adventure activities, and more. It may be well on the tourist trail and expensive by regional standards but that doesn’t make this country any less amazing. The beaches feel like paradise, there’s great surfing, diving, and plenty of places to get away from the hoards of retired Americans that live here. There is always a quiet spot to be found if you look. Moreover, the local food uses a variety of spices and flavors that excite your mouth.
Cancun and the Riviera Maya, Mexico
It’s all about the beach-town feel, and, of course, the Mexican food! Since Cancun and the Riviera Maya – a stretch of coastline on the Yucatan Peninsula that includes famous towns like Playa del Carmen and Tulum – are close to each other, it’s possible to visit them all in one trip. Generally speaking, Tulum is more laid-back than Cancun, which historically has been associated with raging spring breakers (though it’s in the midst of changing its image now to appeal to more of an upscale crowd). The Yucatan Peninsula in particular is known for its cenotes, which are natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock.
Key West, Florida
Key West is laid-back and beautiful, but also touristy – so it helps to know which attractions to hit, and which to avoid. It’s in the U.S., first of all, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like that’s the case. Located just 90 miles north of Cuba, Key West is the southernmost tip of Florida, and has a laid-back Caribbean vibe.
Curaçao is an island in the Dutch Antilles that’s north of Venezuela. Generally speaking, it’s considered pretty under-the-radar, especially in comparison to its well-known neighbor Aruba. But since JetBlue introduced direct flights to Curacao, it’s become an increasingly popular destination for New Yorkers. One of the best parts is that the beaches are crystal clear and beautiful, yes, but the colorful, vibrant streets are just as pretty!
Calling all river rats and lake lovers! When you’re in the mood to get your feet wet, head to one of the Scottsdale area’s many scenic waterways. From fishing, jet skiing and parasailing to river rafting, shore-side hiking and historic steamboat tours, you’ll enjoy hours of fun under the sun in a breathtaking Sonoran Desert setting.