Best U.S. Beaches for a Winter Vacation 2012

Snowstorms rage over the Rockies. Temperatures take a nose dive in the Midwest. New Englanders bundle up and southerners get ready for rain. That’s right: Winter has arrived, and people in chilly northern states may dream of warm breezes and sun-kissed beaches. There’s nothing like a healthy dose of sunshine to chase away the winter blues. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, America’s is lined with beautiful beaches that offer a warm respite from winter’s blustery cold. For ideas, see which places we picked as the best beaches for a winter vacation 2012 edition.

Warm Winter Vacation 2012: America’s Best Beaches

SoCal Beaches

Stretching along southern California’s scenic coast from Santa Monica and Malibu to San Diego, southern California beaches offer sunny days and stunning vistas. Choose from San Diego’s broad public beaches close to the city’s many attractions, or experience luxurious Newport Beach and tropical Laguna Beach in the heart of the California Riviera. Don’t forget Los Angeles, home to some of the world’s most upscale shopping and nightlife.

All of these areas offer over 200 days of sunshine every year, making it easy for visitors to enjoy hiking, boating, shopping and area parks. While many cities host the majority of their events in the summer, SoCal’s mild climate ensure everyone can celebrate year-round. Search SoCal vacation rentals to get started.

Florida Panhandle

From eastern Alabama to northwest Florida, the Florida Panhandle offers miles of gorgeous beaches. Those not into big crowds should schedule an Alabama beaches vacation to Orange Beach or Gulf Shores. These southern beach spots welcome thousands during the summer, but don’t skimp on the fun in the winter.

In Florida, head to Destin or Panama City Beach. These cities rank among popular beach cities for Spring Break and summer adventure, but winter welcomes a new crowd. With populations around 13,000 each, neither destination will feel too crowded during the winter season. In addition, they host fun events such as car shows, holiday festivities and food celebrations.

Central Florida

For tropical luxury, head for Siesta Key, Longboat Key or Sarasota. These three areas sit within proximity of each other in western Florida. Siesta Key, often named among the best beaches in the U.S., offers a barrier island location perfect for beachcombers and shoppers. As another barrier island, Longboat Key provides a quiet retreat from busier areas.

Both islands are located near Sarasota, a top spot for family-friendly attractions, arts and culture, museums, parks and more. The Sarasota area houses top attractions such as the Big Cat Habitst, Mote Marine Aquarium and Myakka River State Park.

South Florida

For those who want to mix beach time with gourmet dining, upscale fashion and exciting nightlife, Miami beaches provide the ultimate winter vacation destination. And you can’t get much warmer than Miami. In fact, the city sees much of its tourism in the winter, as highs stay in the 70s and 80s, with low temperatures reaching the 60s.

Its Cuban influence makes Miami a food haven. Or explore the city’s many attractions — from South Beach and Ocean Drive to professional sports and Zoo Miami. Catch a show, look for celebrities and learn about the area’s rich heritage. It’s a vacation and cultural experience in one trip.

Enjoy reading about these beaches for a winter vacation 2012? Check out the top places to spend New Year’s Eve 2012.