Where are all the warm places in December? By the time the twelfth month rolls around, much of the US has settled into chilly temps and long nights.
That’s what makes December the perfect month to migrate south and find sunshine in these 11 top destinations for winter warmth. Before booking travel, make sure to check travel restrictions and local government guidelines at your destination.
|City, State/Country||Average Temperatures|
|Sanibel Island, Florida||77° / 57°|
|Miami, Florida||76° / 65°|
|Maui, Hawaii||72° / 56°|
|Honolulu, Hawaii||82° / 67°|
|Phoenix, Arizona||68° / 44°|
|San Diego, California||66° / 49°|
|Cancun, Mexico||83° / 68°|
|Tulum, Mexico||84° / 64°|
|Puerto Escondido, Mexico||84° / 72°|
|San Juan, Puerto Rico||82° / 76°|
|Lake Atitlan, Guatemala||80° / 51°|
Warm Places in December in the U.S.
1. Sanibel Island
Darling little Sanibel Island is the picture of simplicity. This quiet oasis is a quick bridge journey off the west coast of Florida, just 25 miles from the Fort Myers airport.
December’s highs of 75°F and lows of 55°F are optimal for spending time in nature with a little less phone service and a little more shelling. For extra seclusion, take a ferry or charter boat from nearby Captiva island over to Cayo Costa State Park, where you’ll find miles of untouched beaches and wildlife.
With average highs of 78°F and lows of 63°F, December is Miami’s least rainy month of the year. Though the water might be a bit chilly for a swim at around 76°F, the weather is great for a beach or pool day, a round of golf, or a boat rental.
Head up to the Wynwood area to take in the beautiful street murals of assorted styles, and try one of the social-distance friendly restaurants in foodie-heaven South Beach, like Chef Fernando Trocca’s Orilla Bar & Grill, which offers South American fusion with outdoor dining or takeaway.
Hawaii in December
The weather doesn’t get more perfect in December than on the second-largest island of the Hawaiian archipelago. Temperatures will be in the high 70s, and if you get some rain, it’ll typically be short-lived.
December is a popular month for visitors to the islands, so make sure you book flights and hotels early if you’re planning to spend the holiday season in paradise. Don’t worry, Hawaii is big into Christmas and visitors will get their fair share of holiday cheer, with a slightly more tropical twist. Maui is a great option for families looking for resort amenities and plenty of options for activities.
Find your dream resort in Maui now.
4. Honolulu, Hawaii
With the same beautiful weather as Maui, Honolulu is another great option for warm places in December. The island of Oahu is great for exploration. Head up to the North Shore to watch big wave surfing, hike the stairway to heaven, or visit Pearl Harbor in bustling Honolulu.
West Coast Warm Places in December
5. Phoenix, Arizona
Foodies will find their heaven in Phoenix, Arizona in December with highs hovering around 70 degrees to enjoy the outdoors whilst restaurant hopping.
The best tasting menu in town can be found at Restaurant Progress, located perfectly off the beaten track in the Melrose District. Their open kitchen, top-notch service, artistic plating, and craft cocktails are some of the reasons locals rave about this trendy New American spot.
Want something just as delicious but a bit more relaxed? La Piñata is a family-run restaurant serving Sonoran-Mexican food to Phoenix since the 1960s. The chimichangas are a must-try but all their offerings will have you licking your plate.
6. San Diego, California
San Diego is perfect for a cozy December trip where average highs will be around 65°F.
Go for a walk on one of San Diego’s beautiful beaches or hike one of the nearby trails. Hop a ferry for a stroll or bike ride around Coronado by day, then catch a movie on a rooftop via Cinema Under the Stars. For dinner, wander no further than Little Italy, where spots like Juniper & Ivy and Mimmo’s have lovely outdoor dining areas.
Warm Places to Visit in Mexico in December
For all-inclusive vacation lovers, you can’t beat Cancun. In particular, Costa Mujeres, a stretch of coastline north of the city, offers stunning beaches and ample space. This puts you smack dab across from Isla Mujeres and just south of the Isla Blanca beaches, both gems of the Yucatan that are well worth a day trip.
Families will feel at home at Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres where hotel staff goes above and beyond to welcome younger guests. The Palladium Group has guidelines in place on how they’re making their hotels safe during the pandemic. Next door, the adults-only TRS Coral is home to the ultra-lux Zentropia spa. Otherwise, check out a full list of Cancun hotels.
Two hours south of Cancun, Tulum is the more laidback Caribbean beach town where visitors come more for sunrise yoga and trendy eateries than nightclubs or all-inclusive resorts. Think outdoor bars with swing seats, fairy lights, house music, and boho-chic beach bars with plenty of Instagram-worthy decor. Many hotels have increased their cleaning standards and expect social distancing at pools and beaches.
The Tulum ruins are an incredible site along the beachfront cliffs, or you can head inland to visit the ruins of Chichen Itza or Coba and stop at plenty of magical cenotes (sacred Mayan swimming holes) along the way. Many large attractions are temporarily closed, but many are due to open soon, such as Chichen Itza in late September 2020.
Find your perfect hotel in Tulum now.
9. Puerto Escondido
On the opposite coast of Mexico from Tulum and Cancun, Puerto Escondido is the Pacific beach town alternative for December sun-seekers. Temperatures here hover perfectly between 72°F to 84°F this month.
Puerto Escondido is known worldwide as a top destination for surfing, but beginners have plenty of opportunities to test their skills with the waves as well. Beyond the surf, a visit during December means your smack dab in the middle of the baby sea turtle-hatching season. Head to Bacocho Beach where a small donation buys you a brief education on how to help with conservation, and your own baby turtle to release into the Pacific waves.
More Warm Places in December
10. Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico stays nice and warm through December (average highs in San Juan are around 84°F with average lows around 73°F) and has a wide range of activities and beauty to leave you feeling rejuvenated.
Start by wandering through Old San Juan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with cobblestone streets, stunning architecture, and colorful buildings. Visit Calle Loíza for an intergenerational taste of Puerto Rican culture, from galleries to street art and fine dining to food trucks.
For your adventurous side, drive an hour and a half from San Juan to Toro Verde Adventure Park where you’ll find the largest zipline of the Americas, or go for a hike in El Yunque, a beautiful tropical rainforest an hour and fifteen minutes from San Juan.
Check out hotels in San Juan now.
Lake Atitlan, Guatemala is a great option when it comes to warm places in December. Daily highs can reach 80 degrees and the waters of the volcano-ensconced lake are wonderfully refreshing for a quick dip. At night, temperatures cool off significantly and you can enjoy stunning views of the night sky. With plenty of different towns accessible by water taxi, you can find your own piece of paradise on Atitlan.
Disclaimer: Guatemala is supposed to open for tourism by December 2020 but always check current travel restrictions due to COVID-19. See map below.
Discover where you can go
Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.