Top 7 Warmest US States in Winter: Trade Ice for Sunshine

Ever dreamt of escaping the bone-chilling winter winds? How about trading in that heavy winter coat for a light jacket or even a T-shirt?

In this article, we’re about to embark on a journey exploring the warmest US states to spend your winter.

We’ll tour from sunny beach sides to dry desert landscapes, revealing the toasty corners of the country. By the end of this trip, you’ll have a neat list of destinations for your next winter getaway!

Understanding climate in the US

Before we dive into our warmth-seeking expedition, let’s shed some light on the climatic spectrum of the US. The United States, given its vastness, is a land of a myriad of climates. From the frosty peaks of Alaska to the balmy beaches of Florida, the country spans all possible weather patterns.

This is primarily due to its geographical expanse, stretching across various latitudes, altitudes, and eco-regions. So, while the northern states may be blanketed in snow during winter, their southern counterparts may be basking in sunshine.

Curious about where to find these sun-kissed states in the heart of winter? Let’s find out!

Criteria for ranking the warmest winter states

Now you may be wondering, how are we ranking these winter-friendly states? There are a few key factors to consider.

First off, we’re taking a close look at average winter temperatures. Naturally, the warmer the better! But we’re not just chasing heat; we want to enjoy our winter days too, right? That’s why we’re also considering sunshine hours. A sunny winter day can make all the difference, regardless of the temperature.

Finally, we’re considering the outdoor opportunities available. After all, what good is warm weather if we can’t get out and revel in it? Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s venture into our top picks of the warmest winter states!

Warmest US states in winter

Florida: The Sunshine State in Winter

Welcome to Florida, often lovingly referred to as the ‘Sunshine State’! Even in the depths of winter, Florida lives up to its moniker, offering a warm refuge to those weary of the cold.

The average winter temperatures here hover around the balmy 60s and 70s (Fahrenheit), making it feel more like a mild spring day than the middle of winter.

Bahia Honda State Park Review
Ben Hagen

Florida is full of cities that beckon with their warmth. From the sandy beaches of Miami to the theme park hub of Orlando, there’s a destination for everyone.

And let’s not forget the laid-back vibes of the Florida Keys, where you can enjoy a sunny bike ride or a tranquil day of fishing.

Hawaii: An Eternal Summer Paradise

Say ‘aloha’ to Hawaii, an archipelago that’s all about eternal summer! Winter temperatures here seldom drop below the 70s (Fahrenheit), making it an idyllic spot to escape the chill.

The Hawaiian islands bless their visitors with a delightful warmth that’s perfect for lounging on the beach or exploring the vibrant local flora.

Each island presents a unique perspective on Hawaiian warmth. Whether you’re exploring the iconic landscapes of Maui, experiencing the cultural vibrancy of Oahu, or seeking solace in the tranquility of Kauai, there’s no shortage of sun-drenched experiences.

Opaekaa Falls Kauai Trip
Baris Parildar

The Hawaiian warmth extends beyond the weather, finding its way into local winter festivities. From watching pro-surfers ride the massive winter waves on the North Shore of Oahu, to enjoying a traditional luau under the starry sky, Hawaii offers a winter like no other.

You may arrive looking for warmth, but you’ll leave with a heart full of unforgettable experiences and a deep appreciation for the aloha spirit.

Arizona: Where Winter Feels Like Spring

Next stop on our warmth tour: Arizona! While this state might be famous for its sweltering summers, winters here are surprisingly mild.

Average winter temperatures usually stay comfortably in the 50s and 60s (Fahrenheit), and occasionally, you’ll even enjoy days in the 70s. That’s like spring in most parts of the country!

Arizona’s cities offer a warm embrace during winter. From the urban charm of Phoenix to the stunning natural beauty surrounding Tucson, there’s no shortage of sun-drenched spots to explore. Sedona, with its red rock vistas, is a must-visit destination that offers an array of outdoor adventures in winter.

Arizona’s unique winter experiences are also worth noting. Ever watched the sunrise over the Grand Canyon on a crisp winter morning? Or strolled around the mystical landscape of the Petrified Forest National Park? These experiences bring a new dimension to winter warmth that goes beyond just the temperature.

Texas: A Blend of Warmth and Tradition

With average winter temperatures ranging from the mid-40s to the 60s (Fahrenheit), depending on the region, Texas presents an inviting alternative to harsh winter chills.

You’ll find some of the warmest corners of the state in its southern parts. Cities like Austin, San Antonio, and Houston offer a pleasant winter climate, coupled with a rich blend of culture and history.

Texas River Tubing Places
Dustin Larimer

But winter warmth in Texas isn’t just about escaping the cold. It’s about immersing yourself in unique winter traditions too. Try your hand at some winter fishing in the Gulf Coast, or join in the holiday festivities at the San Antonio River Walk, adorned with millions of lights.

In Texas, winter warmth is as much about the weather as it is about the hearty spirit of the people and their traditions.

Louisiana: Experience a Creole Winter

In Louisiana, winter temperatures tend to linger in the delightful 50s and 60s (Fahrenheit), offering a comfortable retreat from frigid winter chills.

New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport, among other cities, offer vibrant experiences under the Louisiana sun. Each city boasts unique attractions, from the French Quarter’s architectural charm in New Orleans to the riverfront casinos in Shreveport.

However, a warm winter in Louisiana isn’t complete without immersing yourself in the local culture. Have you ever danced to live Zydeco music, or feasted on warm gumbo on a cool winter evening?

These are the experiences that make a winter in Louisiana truly special. The state’s rich Creole and Cajun heritage provide a unique backdrop to your winter warmth quest, making it an unforgettable journey.

California: Mild Winters under the Palm Trees

This golden state sees average winter temperatures in the 50s and 60s (Fahrenheit), making it a great choice for your winter getaway.

California’s diverse landscape offers several warm spots to explore. From the glamorous streets of Los Angeles to the tech-savvy San Francisco, you can enjoy winter without bundling up in layers of clothing. Let’s not forget about the pristine beaches of San Diego, where you can witness spectacular winter sunsets.

Death Valley Badwater Basin
Shawn Yang

But what makes a Californian winter stand out? Perhaps it’s a drive along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, or maybe it’s the chance to explore Death Valley National Park without the brutal summer heat. Add to this the thrill of winter surfing and beach volleyball, and you’ll realize why California makes it to our list of warmest winter states.

New Mexico: The Hidden Winter Warmth

This state, known for its rich blend of Native American and Hispanic cultures, is a hidden gem when it comes to winter warmth. With winter temperatures usually resting in the 40s and 50s (Fahrenheit), New Mexico offers a milder alternative to freezing winter weather.

Cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe become a winter haven, presenting the ideal blend of warmth, culture, and history. From exploring the ancient adobe buildings in Santa Fe to riding a hot air balloon over Albuquerque, there’s plenty to enjoy.

Yet, New Mexico’s warmth goes beyond its climate. Have you ever marveled at the intricate patterns of Native American pottery, or savored a bowl of warming green chili stew?

These unique winter experiences turn up the heat on New Mexico’s winter appeal. In this land of enchantment, you’ll find a warmth that stems not just from the sun, but also from the rich tapestry of cultures that call this state home.

How to prepare for a warm winter vacation

So, you’re ready to escape the cold and embrace the warmth, but how exactly do you prepare for a warm winter vacation? Let’s dive into some handy tips!

  • First off, think light when packing. Forget the heavy coats and thermal underwear. Pack lightweight clothing, such as T-shirts, shorts, and light sweaters for cooler evenings. Remember to pack a swimsuit too, in case you decide to take a dip in the ocean or a heated pool.
  • But wait a minute, aren’t we forgetting something? Even in warmer climates, the sun can be quite strong. Make sure you pack a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays.
  • Weather fluctuations can happen, so do check the forecast before you head out each day. An umbrella or a light rain jacket can come in handy if rain showers are expected.
  • Last but not least, prepare for outdoor activities. Walking shoes, hiking gear, or even snorkeling equipment can elevate your warm winter vacation experience. And if you plan to partake in winter festivals or events, consider any special items you might need.

Healthy and fun winter activities in warm states

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean we need to hibernate! There’s a whole world of healthy and fun activities to explore in these warm winter states. Here are some ideas to get you started.

First on the list: outdoor sports. Thanks to the warm winter weather, you can engage in activities like hiking, biking, or even surfing. Exploring the Grand Canyon on foot in Arizona, or taking a bike ride along Florida’s scenic coastal trails are fantastic ways to keep fit while soaking up the winter sun.

Next, why not try your hand at water sports? Go kayaking in the clear waters of Hawaii or try paddleboarding in the calm sea surrounding California. If you’re feeling adventurous, winter is the perfect time for a diving excursion in Florida’s crystal-clear springs.

And then, there are the local festivities and events. Whether it’s the lively Mardi Gras parades in Louisiana or the festive holiday boat parades in Florida, joining in these events can be a fun way to keep active and immerse yourself in the local culture.


So there you have it, fellow sun seekers! A guide to the warmest US states in winter, complete with a tour of some of the country’s sunniest locales and suggestions for healthy, fun activities to indulge in during your warm winter vacation.

With this guide in hand, you’re all set to ditch the chill and embrace the thrill of a sunny winter adventure. So, are you ready to trade your snow boots for flip-flops?