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photo“Today’s Weather, 12° feels like 0°”.  OK “Polar Vortex”, you win.  It’s over, seriously.  I’m out.  I need to get away from this freeeeezzzzing f’n cold and right now.  If you’re anything like me, then you need to get out too.  With that in mind, our writers have put together 5 quick and easy destinations for a long weekend escape from the unbearable cold.  So read this post, get on “Kayak” and book your travel, and update your Facebook status with the 100% mandatory airport check-in that everyone hates you for.  It’s time to get Trip’N with our “5 Best Destinations to Escape the Cold.”

**We’re not putting Miami and Vegas on this list because, that’s just too obvious.  However, yes those are 2 very easy ways to get out of the cold, and empty your bank account at the same time.**

Charleston

1. Charleston, SC 
Direct flight: About 2 hours
Average winter temperatures: 60 high, 46 low
Good for: Historical Travel, Culinary Scene, Architecture
Restaurants: The Ordinary, Two Boroughs Larder, The Glass Onion, Extra Virgin Oven
Bars / Clubs: Griffon, Henry’s, Blind Tiger

Charleston is one of those places that’s interesting to visit any time of year. There’s a unique local culture that comes from it’s English, French, African and Caribbean influences.  There’s also a rich colonial history and beautiful architecture that gives you something to enjoy when you’re not downing their amazing food.  Oh yea, and Charleston also boasts one of the best craft brewery scenes in the US.  About a 2-hour flight from NYC with average temperatures in March of 65°, it’s also one of the quickest and most affordable warm-weather escapes from New York..

Key Attractions include: Fort Sumter, where the Civil War started; preserved Revolutionary-era homes, and antebellum plantations and gardens; a pirate walking tour; the South Carolina aquarium; and the Old Slave Mart Museum. When you’re ready to get some drinks in, make sure to check out Holy City Brewery and the Griffon. Also, if you can plan a last minute trip, consider checking out the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, taking place March 6-9.

 

New Orleans
2. New Orleans, LA
Direct flight: About 3 hours
Average winter temperatures: 65 High, 48 Low
Good for: Culinary Scene, Architecture, Culture, Nightlife
Restaurants: Domenica, Cochon, Mother’s Restaurant, Walk-ons, Acme Oyster House, Lüke, Bayona
Bars / Clubs: Ampersand, Old Absinthe House, Pat O’Briens’s

If you like food, booze and music and haven’t been to New Orleans, then your life seriously isn’t complete.  New Orleans is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting cities in the world, and a great destination for a quick long weekend trip.

“The good thing about New Orleans in winter is it’s not the height of tourist season, unless it’s Sugar Bowl or Mardi Gras time,” said Jill K. Robinson, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle who visits New Orleans multiple times a year. “There are fewer crowds and everything is more relaxed, so you have better opportunities to get into the best restaurants and to see great musicians like Kermit Ruffins and John Boutté. Pick up the free monthly magazine ‘Off Beat’ when you arrive to see who’s playing when.”

NOLA is one of those cities that literally has everything you could want, but with a fingerprint of local culture placed on it so that it’s unlike any other city in the country.  The nightlife ranges from some of the coolest hole-in-the-wall jazz/blues clubs you’ll ever experience, to the wild scene on Bourbon St., where you’ll feel like you’re back in college pounding back beers and shots until all hours of the night.

NOLA also has become a must-visit for foodies.  From local BBQ joints to 5-Star restaurants run by James Beard Award winning  chefs, no matter where you eat, you’re sure to walk away saying, “This is the best food I’ve ever eaten.”  Robinson specifically recommends any of the dining establishments helmed by John Besh, Donald Link or Susan Spicer, such as Lüke, Cochon and Bayona, respectively.

Oh and for all our “Vegas gamblers”, don’t bugout, NOLA has you covered.  There’s a sizable “Harrah’s Casino” right in the middle of the city.

 

Austin

3. Austin, TX
Direct flight: $300
Average winter temperatures: 50° – 75°
Good for: Music, Food, Partying, and Outdoors
Restaurants: Iron Works BBQ, The Carillon, Perry’s Steakhouse, Salty Sow, Roaring Fork
Bars / Clubs: Stubbs, Emo’s, and pretty much everywhere on 6th Street

The Live Music Capital of the US, Austin Texas is one of the most fun cities to visit in the country.  Located in the heart of Texas, Austin is seemingly nothing like the rest of Texas.  They are a super liberal city, who’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird”, so you know it’s a good time.  Ironically, it kind of feels like a newer, better looking version of NOLA.

Austin is built around the University of Texas, with the football stadium literally sitting in the heart of the city.  There are tons of great college/post grad bars spread throughout the city if you’re looking for some cheap beers and college co-eds.  However, if you’re looking for a slightly older but just as fun atmosphere – then you head over to 6th Street or South Congress.  On every night of the week there are so many live music shows, that your “Bands-In-Town” app will literally be buzzing nonstop.  For a classic Austin vibe, make sure to head over to Stubbs BBQ, where they have a 2,000 person outdoor  concert venue with beer and food tents flanking it on both sides.

If you’re looking for more things to do outside then just eating and boozing, you’ve got one of the best climates in the country for whatever you want to do.  With the Red River right outside your door, and Lake Travis only a few miles away, there are an array of water sports  and things to do.  Austin is also perfect for cyclists, with tons of long flat road rides to get out on that tri-bike and burn off some of those BBQ calories from the night before.

 

Los Angeles 
4. Los Angeles, CA
Direct flight: About 5 hours
Average winter temperatures: 68 High, 48 Low
Good for: Nightlife, Culinery Scene, Outdoor Activities, Romantic Travel
Restaurants: Berri’s, Herringbone, Tasting Kitchen, Son of a Gun, Animal, Sugerfish, Nobu, Rustic Canyon, Bestia
Bars / Clubs: 1Oak, Standard, Hooray Henry’s, Bootsy Bellows, The Bungalow, Everleigh

For many, there exists a deep and historical rivalry between Los Angeles and New York City. Though LA may have lost some if it’s luster to northern neighbor San Francisco, LA still has a lot going for it. For example, the weather is warmer, the air is dryer, and therefore, the food and the people always stay fresh.

LA is split into two sides that could not be more different.  The “east-side”, which includes Beverly Hills and Hollywood, and the “Westside” which is the more chilled out beach areas like Santa Monica, Venice and Manhattan Beach.  The majority of the posh hotels and crazy nightlife that you see on TMZ is located in Hollywood.  It may not rival NYC, but provides a much needed change-of-pace. Whether you want to hit the clubs, hang by the pool, check out an outdoor party or perhaps even a rooftop, LA always has you covered with the most exclusive parties in the country.

The “West-Side” of LA is a totally different vibe, heavily influenced by beach culture and the arts.  You can check out the 3rd street promenade or the Sunday Farmers Market on Main St. in Santa Monica or hit up the cool little boutique and art galleries on Abbot Kinney in Venice.  

LA does, contrary to popular belief, also have great eats.  Make sure to check out the best dive bar Mexican food you’ve ever eaten at El Coyote, the best burger at Father’s Office, or as we learned in “I love you man”, the best fish tacos at James Beach.  Also, don’t leave LA without a bacon-wrapped street dog with chili peppers or a lobster pizza from Berri’s Café.

If eating and partying isn’t your scene, there’s plenty of hiking trails and museums to keep you busy, as well as the Getty Villas, Griffith Observatory, and Cirque Du Soleil.

 

St Martin

5. St. Marten/St. Maarten
Direct flight: About 4.5 hours
Average winter temperatures: 81 High, 72 Low
Good for: Beach Vacations, Romantic Travel, Nightlife
Restaurants: Chesterfield’s, The Greenhouse, The Wajang Doll, The Hideaway, Saratoga, The Stone Restaurant, Peg Leg Pub
Bars / Clubs:  Bliss, Ocean Lounge, Pineapple Pete’s,

For a Caribbean vacation with more of a European flare, head to St. Marten in the West Indies. Three-fifths of the island is French, with the remaining 40 percent (St. Maarten) under Dutch rule.  The Dutch side of the island is a straight party the entire time, perfect for a blend of cocktails and dancing.  The French side is a lot less built up than the Dutch side, but there’s real French culture and amazing food.

St. Marten is situated in an arid zone, so expect to see lizards and cacti along with the island’s tropical birds and lush vegetation. Offshore of the nature reserve on the island’s northeast end is where to spot sea turtles from January to May and large dolphins and humpback whales during mating season, between January and June. Make sure to check out the planes landing over Maho Bay Beach.  When you’re ready to party, definitely head over to the Dutch side of the island, which is full of casinos and an active music and nightclub scene.

Mid-January round-trip airfares start at just over $400.

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