5 Unexpected But Brilliant Winter Getaways

The winter weather in the Northeast has been pretty horrible this year. From Washington to Boston, snow, cold and wind has been the norm. But the weather here has actually been better than parts of the Midwest and the South. So our Editors thought we’d put our heads together and come up with some easy, but not obvious places to escape to. So here are our brilliant winter getaways.

1.) Cartagena, Colombia

This is maybe the nicest, least overtouristed destination in the Caribbean. Cartagena de Indias as it was originally known is a gloriously preserved historic city nestled within 13 kilometers of centuries-old colonial stone walls. Cartagena’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with central plazas, churches and now boutique hotels and excellent eateries. It’s known for it’s mix of cultures, vibrant colors and laid back vibe.

One of the seminal writers of the 20th century, Gabriel García Márquez arrived in Cartagena in 1948 and instantly was inspired. Turning tales from the somewhat seedy port in those times into literary works of romance made García Márquez a Nobel prize-winning writer and also forever cemented Cartagena as a mythical destination. It doesn’t disappoint. It’s photogenic, it’s authentic and it’s an easy 5-6 hours of flying from most of the Eastern US and yet feels a world away.

2.) Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

When you mention the Dominican Republic most people instantly think about all-inclusive resorts but the capital city Santo Domingo is a treasure not to be missed. It is one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities with a preserved walled, cobblestoned historic core called the Zona Colonial. It still boasts buildings from the 1500s, including the cathedral, which was the first built in the New World. The area is filled with cafes, museums and never seems too busy or chaotic.

The city has an old world charm but wears its troubled history well. Dominicans will tell you they’re excited about the future and you can feel the imprint of many cultures in the city’s rhythms. This makes Santo Domingo unique and it gives the city an attitude, one that is confident and infectious.

3.) Lima, Peru

OK Lima’s official nickname is Lima the Grey but it is a lovely city of culinary treasures, luxury shopping and even some of the world’s best hand gliding. As the capital of Peru, Lima has museums, art galleries, historic buildings and lots of culture. With 9 million people it is the third largest city in the Americas but it doesn’t feel crowded or busy like Sao Paulo or Mexico City. Many people only think of Lima as a stop over on the way to Machu Picchu which is a shame as its a great destination in its own right. Colonial architecture, ancient Incan sites and a glorious Pacific Ocean coast make it special.

The tony Miraflores district is an upscale neighborhood of shopping, cafes and great ocean views. It’s a must visit.

4.) Oaxaca City, Mexico

Mexico is so much more than Cancun, Acapulco and resorts. Oaxaca (pronounced wah-ha-cah) is defined by its indigenous culture, its heady arts and crafts scene and its beloved culinary traditions. Oaxaca is definitely carving a niche in the international culinary world for its original flavors and innovative preparations. It’s a city which feels bohemian, artistic and very friendly, while also boasting real, traditional indigenous and Mexican culture. Colonial churches and stately plazas sit comfortably beside street art, hip boutique hotels and fantastic eateries.

It’s easy to mistake Oaxaca City as being a city made for tourists, but trust us, this is a city for travelers. It’s a place where you should explore, engage and experience. Oaxaca City is one of the many reasons why Mexico can be so special.

5.) Québec City, Canada

This is not a fun in the sun destination but its a place where you can embrace the winter rather than run away from it. And if you’re going to embrace the cold, why not do it in one of North America’s oldest cities, surrounded by great winter sports and some of the best French food in the world?

Strategically located on the Saint Lawrence River, Québec City’s heart is called Vieux-Québec and Place Royale. It’s an area of stone buildings and narrow streets which sits in the shadow of the Château Frontenac Hotel and the imposing Citadelle of Québec. The Petit Champlain district’s cobblestone streets are lined with bistros and boutiques.Walking the streets makes you feel like you are in Europe.

And if that’s not enough, every winter thousands of visitors flock to the Québec Winter Carnival for night parades, snow sculptures, live shows and skating. The city is alive with parties and events.

So there you have it, our best attempt to outline the coolest, hottest and most brilliant winter getaways.

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