Samantha Brown's Top Destinations For Escaping The Cold This Winter

There are few things cozier than being snuggled up on a cold winter day, sitting on a window seat with a blanket and a steaming cup of coffee to warm your hands while watching a fresh coat of snow blanket the ground. The season of snowman building and snow days might be fun for a little while. Yet, as December fades into January and the flurries show no signs of stopping, there comes a point where you crave nothing more than a pocket of sunshine.

When the cold becomes too much to bear in the thick of winter, take the plunge and book a ticket to that white-sand beach you just can't stop staring at on Pinterest. If anyone knows a thing or two about travel, it's Samantha Brown. The Travel Channel host has garnered a favorable reputation among globetrotters and nomads who traverse the world's continents. Luckily, scoping out warm-weather destinations to treat the winter blues is one of Brown's specialties, and the travel icon has shared some of her favorite locations for a warm-weather getaway. From Florida's palm-lined beaches to California's quintessential coastline, there's a place on the map to satisfy everyone's craving for a little sand and sun.

A quintessential SoCal getaway

According to a U.S. News report, San Diego ranks as the most fun city to live in across the U.S. This southern sanctuary of sun and sea caters to city dwellers looking for a taste of luxury and the beachgoer eager for a day of slow, refined leisure seaside. Located on the southern tip of San Diego, Coronado is a tiny picturesque island sporting a collection of local boutiques, hip cafés, and the iconic Hotel Del — one of Brown's top recommendations when visiting this sun-soaked island. Those with an exotic palette shouldn't skip out on North Park — San Diego's hipster, trend-setting neighborhood known for its indie bars, brunch spots, and obscure boutiques. When it comes to selecting the city's best beaches, the debate ends at La Jolla's Windansea Beach and Moonlight State Beach in Encinitas.

Just a short road trip up I-5 North, the Los Angeles skyline is framed by a backdrop of whispering palms, posh high rises, and the San Bernardino mountains. LA is the capital of fashion, farm-to-table dining, and sun-soaked shorelines. From the northern city limits that meet Malibu's shores to the southern edge of Manhattan Beach, you'll never be bored in this SoCal city. Paralleling the coastline, LA is marked by its notable cuisine and al fresco cafés. Brown recommends visiting Sqirl for a healthy dose of carbs and organic superfoods, served with an exotic flair. Peruse the streets of Venice Beach, an iconic beachside neighborhood with a bohemian vibe and a collection of funky storefronts.

Spend winter underneath the palms in Florida

Floridians have the best of both worlds, with a flourishing city scene balanced by the serenity of small coastal towns that remain sheltered from the hustle and bustle of urban living. According to Brown's website, "If you're looking for city life, check out Miami, Jacksonville, or Tampa." From Miami's South Beach designer district to the Tampa Riverwalk, it's easy to see why this state is a beacon for those who thrive in warm, tropical climates. Florida Keys, Naples, and Sanibel Island make up the southern edge of the Sunshine State and are hot spots on Brown's Florida travel list.

Sanibel Island, in particular, enjoys an unhurried lifestyle characterized by a relaxed beach culture and a passion for collecting seashells! Curated art galleries and quirky souvenir shops give Sanibel Island its enchanting small-town vibes. On the northern end of this crescent-shaped island is Sanibel's sister island, Captiva. This idyllic stretch of sand is a beach lover's dream, with its coat of white sand dappled with a collection of intricate seashells.

Taste adventure in New Zealand

The far-flung coast of New Zealand is unmatched in both beauty and culture, making it a popular solo trip for wayfarers and a mecca for surf lovers. For those with a wanderlust spirit and a wild-at-heart personality, New Zealand is a treasure trove of adventure waiting to be unveiled. Auckland, in particular, is one of New Zealand's most sought-after destinations and a top recommendation from Samantha Brown. The ocean is the foundation of life in Auckland, with one in four Kiwis owning their own boat. Holistic wellness, environmental conservation, and a thriving economy are its core pillars and contribute to high levels of life satisfaction among locals in Auckland. 

A few hours east of Auckland, Cathedral Cove sits below enamoring bluffs, and the majestic cave is one of New Zealand's most premier sights. Further south in New Zealand, Christchurch combines an urban lifestyle with English heritage. Contemporary art galleries, an ever-evolving restaurant scene, and a diverse landscape make this a prime setting for those seeking a stronger city environment with a hint of the great outdoors mixed in.

An exotic retreat in Indonesia

A colorful canvas of mountains with lush, rolling hillsides and turquoise waters, Bali is known for its rich history and warm, welcoming communities. With sunshine and high temperatures year-round, the region rarely sees temperatures below 79 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal destination to escape colder climates. According to Brown's website, "After becoming famous for those simply seeking a fun vacation of 'sun, sea, and sand,' [Bali is] hoping to welcome more long-term visitors seeking 'serenity, spiritualism, and sustainability.'"

Spend the morning getting lost in Ceking Rice Terrace, a tiered hillside of rice fields and one of Bali's most photographed landmarks. When the sun is at its peak, cool off in the crystal clear waters of Tanah Lot, a small rocky outcrop that forms a sheltered cove, perfect for swimming or sunbathing. After watching the sun sink into the waves, sample traditional Balinese cuisine, marked by wholesome foods, such as steamed rice, chicken, pork, and fresh vegetables. Just off the coast of Bali, Brown recommends visiting the Nusa or Gili Islands for an exotic retreat. These two archipelagos are filled with coconut palms, white-sand beaches, and fringed coral reefs to keep you warm during the winter.