Boy, it sure is chilly out there. If you’re like me when you travel, you gravitate to what’s cozy—you lounge with a book in a charming suite, toasty from a stone fireplace, or dine on an outdoor patio, warmed up from heat lamps and several cocktails.
Don’t forget, though, that winter is an ideal time to explore places sans crowds—to seek solitude, to enjoy the silence. You can often claim an entire beach or hiking trail to yourself, all day long.
A few off-season getaways and day trips for the month:
Photo by Ashwin Sodhi
Camping on Angel Island: Book one of the 11 campsites. Some sites have views of the bay, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate Bridge (like Ridge Site 4), but are open spaces (thus can be windy). Others have beach access or are a bit sheltered among trees (including East Bay Sites 2 and 3). Sites not reserved are available on a first-come, first-served basis. To reserve a spot, call (800) 444-7275 or visit ReserveAmerica.com.
Carousel Riding at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk: The kitschy, old-school beach boardwalk in sleepy Santa Cruz remains a favorite family destination, and rides, the arcades, and bowling lanes are open on the weekends. (Call 831-423-5590 the day of your visit to confirm which rides are open.) It’s breezy along the beach, but sunny winter days can be lovely; you can escape the cold by heading indoors, into Neptune’s Kingdom or, even better, onto the historic 1911 Looff carousel. Each winter, an artist comes to “groom” the horses, restoring them in time for the park’s busy season.
Photo by Tai Kuncio
Visiting Yosemite Valley: If you’ve explored Yosemite Valley during the summer, you know you must share the trails, the creeks, the meadows, and the views with everyone else. Come in the winter, however, and you will experience the vast, desolate wilderness that Ansel Adams captured in his shots.
Hiking in Redwood National Park: In the offseason, the Trillium Falls Trail in Redwood National Park is a 2.5 mile loop leading you deep into the home of the world’s ancient, tallest trees. The trailhead may be hard to find, but the misty trek down the narrow path to the 10-foot falls is worth it. Search for the trailhead in the Elk Meadow Day Use Area.
For more trip ideas near you, check out the latest on our sister site, Trazzler.