Now that it's officially winter, it's time to turn your attention to how to beat the slushy blahs. With that in mind, here are vacation ideas for how to beat those blues.
1. The first name in family fun across the globe is Disney ... well, technically the last name, but you get the idea. There is arguably no better time to go to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., or Disney World in Orlando than the winter, when both parks are still warm, but crowds are dramatically smaller than in the summer months.
2. Another pair of typical summertime destinations that are equally as good in the winter months are Washington and New York City. Although most people think of the tourist season for both as being the summer months, the list of museums, historic attractions and icons of American life stay open year-round, and are often free or open for a small donation. Add to that the ice rink in Rockefeller Center in New York or the lighter crowds at the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, and you have an ideal time to go.
3. Ask most Americans what places come to mind when you mention U.S. beaches, and they will undoubtedly name spots in Florida or California. A little further off the radar, but no less American, are a couple of often-overlooked Caribbean spots.
Puerto Rico sits perfectly in the tropics, offering a Spanish colonial heritage of movie-quality forts and settlements, a mix of cuisines and cultures, and mile after mile of pillowy beaches. The U.S. Virgin Islands, not far off Puerto Rico's eastern shores, are another passport-free Caribbean destination. The Virgin Islands belonged to Denmark until the United States acquired them in 1916, giving travelers a slightly different feel than they can find elsewhere in the Caribbean.
4. If skiing out West is your thing, consider Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico. Although designed with an eye on the more experienced skier (over half of its terrain is considered expert), the sheer size of the resort area means ample opportunities for less advanced skiers. Another advantage is its proximity to the town of Taos, with its restaurants, galleries and nightlife.
5. For those looking for some pampering, a visit to a spa resort can be just the thing. Need we say more?
6. Single. Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico, have long been destinations for singles, but now the resort area just to the south is starting to open up and offer new experiences. The Xel-Ha park in the area offers the unique experience of floating on an inner tube through a cenote, or cave, while the beaches in the area are far less crowded. With fewer couples and families visiting, it's a setting right for singles.
7. Gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. In January, Las Vegas will once again play host to the Sin City Shootout, billed as the largest GLBT sporting event in the world. About 6,000 athletes are expected to attend, competing in 12 events including softball, dodge ball, hockey and weightlifting, and partake of Vegas' entertainment options.