Winter in New York can be like a beautiful snow globe or a black slushy nightmare. More often than not it tends to be the latter, so a long weekend away is as necessary as layering up. Before the bone-chilling winds whip across the East River, book a flight to one of these places for respite. Airfares are actually reasonable for a last-minute getaway for New Year’s Eve, or just after.
New Orleans, Louisiana
This Southern city is an adult playground in every sense of the word. Hop on a quick three-hour flight and indulge in some of the best food and nightlife in the country.
The weather can reach into the low 60s in the winter, but it won’t matter because the Hurricane cocktail you’ll perpetually be sipping on will keep you warm.
Take a free walking tour of the Garden District and bask in the ornate architecture and colorful history of the neighborhood.
For the city’s best live music, skip touristy Preservation Hall and explore Frenchman Street. You can walk into pretty much any bar, cover-free, and enjoy some of the world’s best jazz.
Be prepared to gain a few pounds because you’ll want to eat everything. To sample crawfish in season and Swine Fries head to Bevi Seafood Company. Try the famous Muffuletta sandwich at Central Grocery & Deli or Cochon Butcher. End the night by braving the long lines for a classic beignets dessert at Café du Monde.
Stay at the famous and haunted Hotel Monteleone in the heart of the French Quarter with its rotating caraousel bar. Or go a little more off the beaten path at the Ace Hotel, and even further at the brand-new motel-turned-boutique hotel, The Drifter.
Once you experience the magic of New Orleans, it’s hard to wander outside, but a day trip to rural Louisiana is worth it. Book a swamp tour and see the gators in the morning and head over to the stunning Houmas Plantation in the afternoon. You’ll be back in time for Jambalaya and cornbread at Jacques-Imos for dinner.
If you book in Mid-February, you’ll escape the biting winter winds AND experience the drunken party of a lifetime during NOLA’s infamous Mardi Gras.
In the wake of devastating hurricanes, this cosmopolitan beach getaway emerged unscathed. Composed of three islands owned by Britain, Grand Cayman is the most populated and arguably the most popular. Here you’ll find the Seven Mile Beach, a crescent shaped piece of paradise with shockingly white sand and turquoise waters perfect for snorkeling.
The island’s latest luxury resort, the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is located directly on Seven Mile Beach. This boutique oasis has three signature restaurants to choose from. You can have a leisurely breakfast then dig your toes in the sand while enjoying a fresh fish taco at Coccoloba and finish the day off at Avecita for a Spanish tapas experience.
Enjoy a rub down at the islands’ only Turkish Hammam or just hunker down with a cocktail at one of the properties two pools.
On a tight budget? The Holiday Inn Grand Cayman is located across the bay. Aside from lounging at the resort or on one of the famous beaches, George Town, the island’s capital, is known for its colorful Caribbean architecture, luxury shopping and celebrity restaurants.
Every January foodies flock to the island for Eric Ripert’s Cayman Cookout. This year you can enjoy the local seafood while mingling with your favorite chefs at the Ritz Carlton Cayman Islands from January 10-14.
Riviera Maya, Mexico
This tropical resort region is the perfect excuse for a girl’s weekend or a couple’s retreat. Located on the Yucatán Peninsula, its a short flight to Cancun and a lengthy drive down one road that stretches all the way to Tulum. As you make your way down the coast, you’ll pass by seemingly endless resort options.
The majority of them are all–inclusive, meaning the food and drinks are paid for in the price of the stay. (So you can order Pina Coladas all day without racking up a massive bill.)
The Barceló Maya Grand Resort has five newly renovated all-inclusive properties to choose from with literally dozens of pools and restaurants to dine at. But the Barceló Maya Caribe is the only resort in Mexico with swim up rooms. They also have an unparalleled gym and a hydrotherapy spa to relax in.
When you’re not snorkeling or drinking by the pool, there are several worthwhile excursions in the Riviera Maya. Take a day and explore the cenotes. These natural underwater caves are filled with fresh water ideal for snorkeling. If you prefer something on land, then explore the ruins of Tulum built by the Mayans.
In January, the area is pumping with the 10-day underground music BPM Festival. Fly down the week before Ash Wednesday in February for a giant parade and plenty of dancing during Carnival.