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Sunny, affordable escapes for winter

Christine Sarkis


In winter, there are two types of people: those who are cold and those who are warm. Claim your spot in the second camp without draining the vacation coffers.

These 10 sunny destinations offer warm days and cheap deals. So go ahead, ditch the mittens and hop a plane to hotter climes.

Panama City Beach, Fla.

Let Panama City Beach soothe your winter woes with its white-sand beaches, emerald water, and an annual average of 320 days of sunshine. Throughout January, Osprey on the Gulf and Driftwood Lodge (both highly rated by TripAdvisor users) have a special rate of $50 per night. Through April, one-bedroom condo units at participating Sterling Resorts start at $36 per night, with added perks like yoga classes on the beach and fishing excursions.


Ditch the snow for the sand of Hawaii. Pleasant Holidays' Hawaii Winter Sale adds a free convertible, SUV, Jeep, or minivan rental onto already impressive five-night air-and-hotel package prices at resorts across the islands. Sample prices include $599 for round-trip airfare from Oakland plus accommodations at the Maile Sky Court on Oahu or $779 from Seattle with a stay at Maui's Kaanapali Ocean Inn. Even better, many of the participating resorts offer free stays for kids under 17.

South Padre Island, Texas

Reclaim some of winter's lost vitamin D on sunny South Padre Island. Expedia's Winter Paradise sale includes the beach destination, with deals such as $533 per person for round-trip airfare from Chicago and three nights' accommodations at the Blue Bay Inn & Suites for a long weekend in late January.

Sanibel Island, Fla.

Take a break from the cold and relax into warm days and a slower pace on Florida's Sanibel. Rich in wildlife and unspoiled beaches, the island gets high marks for affordability in the coming months. Stay two nights at one of four hotels on Sanibel Island and receive $50 credit with the Winter Escape promotion from Luxury Resorts. Stay longer and earn more money to use on dining, golf, spa treatments, or other activities. Rates start at $149 per night at Sanibel Inn, Sanibel Sunset Beach Inn, Seaside Inn, or Song of the Sea.

Orlando, Fla.

JetBlue delivers more Mouse for less moolah this winter. Its Walt Disney World getaways bundle round-trip airfare and accommodations. Sample low prices include $285 per person with airfare from Washington, D.C. or $319 per person from New York. The trick to finding the lowest price is to look for times when kids will definitely be in school.

New Orleans

Skip the Mardi Gras festivities and you'll be able to find great deals in New Orleans during the next few months. has a ton of discounted hotel packages with added extras for the winter months, including accommodations and breakfast for two adults (and up to two children) at the Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette Hotel from $159 per night, or $189 for one night's stay and a spa treatment at the JW Marriott New Orleans.

San Diego

San Diego can help you remember a time when you didn't need a parka and ski hat just to check the mail. Average winter highs hover just above 65 degrees, and between January and March each year, about 72 percent of days are sunny. San Diego's SUNsational deals put a sun-kissed vacation within reach, with hotel deals ranging from about $50 to $180 per night.


Pack light: With daytime temperatures averaging around 75 degrees in the winter months, you can trade snow boots for sandals in the Bahamas. The islands are awash in deals, including $300 off stays of six nights or more (or $200 off shorter stays) at participating resorts. Atlantis Resort has winter rates from $65 per person per night, and kids under 12 eat free. also has a revolving door of heavily discounted deals worth a look.

Palm Springs, Calif.

Whether you're more "hipster" or "hip replacement," Palm Springs beckons with its hot winter deals and cool desert vibe. has a long list of current deals—including free nights and discounts of up to 40 percent—from local hotels and resorts.

Laguna Beach, Calif.

Its beckoning coastline, thriving arts community, and average wintertime highs nearing 70 degrees make Laguna Beach an appealing winter getaway. Through the end of February, the Winter Getaway deal at the Inn at Laguna Beach includes accommodations, treats such as wine and cookies, beach amenities, and parking from $139 per night with promo code PROLOW.