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Checking In: Warm destinations

Katarina Kovacevic is a freelance travel writer specializing in hotels and resorts. She's the author of The Food Lovers' Guide to Phoenix & Scottsdale and founder/editor of Style Jaunt, a blog about fashionable travel. Her work has appea...

Winter travel spots

Sun, blue skies and snow-free sidewalks — these are the makings of a perfect winter vacation.

Checking in

Winter travel spots

Sun, blue skies and snow-free sidewalks — these are the makings of a perfect winter vacation.

The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa

Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa

When temperatures fall below freezing in other parts of the country, conditions in Tucson, AZ are just about perfect. And for a city that sees more than 350 days of sunshine per year, it’s surprisingly lush! Majestic saguaro cactus, blooming wildflowers and clear blue skies characterize winters in Tucson. Outdoor adventurers flock to the Old Pueblo for rugged canyon hikes, off-road biking, and rock climbing on five mountain ranges. At The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, a recent $30 million revamp includes a makeover of its guest rooms and suites with signature Westin touches like their Westin Heavenly beds and rainforest showerheads. For a look at Tucson’s Sonoran Desert setting, hop on one of the resort’s weekly nature walks.

South Coast Winery Resort and Spa

South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

Temperatures in Southern California’s Temecula Valley hover right around the 70-degree mark. (I think my frozen New York City heart just skipped a beat!) This is great news for oenophiles, considering the area’s wine country has 35 different wineries and tasting rooms within a 10-mile radius. You can stay and sip at South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, a 39-acre grape escape with rolling vineyards and rustic Tuscan-style charm. Sample South Coast’s varietals in the tasting bar or on the expansive terrace that overlooks nearby Palomar Mountain. There’s also the 15,000-square-foot GrapeSeed Spa with vine-based treatments, Vineyard Rose restaurant, Vino Vinyasa yoga class, and 50 specialty suites with their own private lanais set into the vineyards.

Pinehurst Resort and Spa

Pinehurst Resort and Spa

The village of Pinehurst in North Carolina’s Sandhills region is a major U.S. golf destination, covering more than 270,000 yards with over 720 holes. And thanks to moderate weather and sunny conditions, golf in Pinehurst is always in season. In 2014, both the Men’s and Women’s US Open are being held at Pinehurst Resort and Spa, where courses 2, 4 and 8 are consistently ranked among the world’s best. Even Pinehurst Resort’s fitness activities are geared toward golfers. The Golf Conditioning Workout covers fundamental exercises for the sport, improving flexibility, core strength and endurance. At nearby Pine Needles Golf Club, you can sign up for one-on-one lessons with legendary golfer Peggy Kirk Bell.

Hotel St. Cecilia

Hotel St. Cecilia

It’s no surprise that Austin is ranked one of the fittest cities in the country — outdoor activities like cycling, stand-up paddleboarding and water-biking are readily available within its city limits. Well, that, and the fact that Austin is blessed with an average temperature of 68 degrees. For lush Texas scenery and stunning skyline views, head to the 10-mile Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail. Besides the standard water sports, local company SUP ATX also leads stand-up paddleboard yoga sessions here! For stylish but comfortable digs, check in to Hotel St. Cecilia. This artistic hotel is within minutes of the best restaurants and nightlife in Austin’s South Congress district.

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