Escape the cold in these beautiful cities. 

By Mikaila Rushing

Antigua, Guatemala

While not an undiscovered gem, Guatemala certainly is underrepresented on many people’s travel bucket lists. With its beautiful lakes, the most impressive Mayan archeological site in Central America (pictured right) and a rich cultural history, it’s time to add a trip to Guatemala to your 2018 plans.

The city of Antigua, one hour from Guatemala City, always tops travel lists. The cobblestone streets and Spanish monuments exude a quaint atmosphere. The Volcán de Agua, towering above 12,000 feet, sets the perfect backdrop for this scenic destination.

Are you ready to plan your trip? A flight to Guatemala City takes approximately five hours, but the drive to Antigua takes another hour from the airport. Antigua is also known to have quite the weekend party scene, so if you choose to travel here, make sure you know what times best suit the kind of vacation you’re looking for.  

L’Ajoupa-Bouillon, Martinique

Martinique is a French-Caribbean island that has stayed primarily under the radar in comparison with other popular tourist destinations like Jamaica or The Bahamas. With white, sandy beaches, underwater caves and charming French culture, Martinique has its own unique vibe. The island is also small enough to travel to several locations with ease during one trip.

The commune of L’Ajoupa-Bouillon is a destination perfect for those seeking adventure. The real highlight is Les Gorges de la Falaise, a hiking trail that leads from a community center to the center of a rainforest. Trek through the water, enjoy the greenery and unique plant life and marvel at the gorgeous waterfalls.

Flights to Martinique take about seven hours. Once landing on the island, it’s an hour’s drive from Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique, to L’Ajoupa-Bouillon.  

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

A trip to Mexico can seem a cliché, but there are many places to visit that make it worth a second look. Enjoy beautiful beaches, Aztec ruins and great cuisine. There are many wonders to still be uncovered, even to seasoned travelers, in Texas’ Southern neighbor.

The city of San Miguel de Allende is a favorite for many. The quaint 16th century town is a popular tourist destination. Cobblestone avenues are dotted with historic churches and vibrant buildings. The cuisine and marketplace, full of handcrafted items, provide for an immersive and bountiful experience.

Nestled between the Sierra Madre Mountains, San Miguel de Allende is also known as one of the best winter travel destinations, and is rather affordable. From Austin, it takes less than three hours to land at the closest airport.

Marigot Bay, Saint Lucia

        The island of Saint Lucia has some of the most stunning natural wonders in the world. Jade hills, called The Pitons, jut from the island, and visitors can still explore the only drive-in volcano in the world, Sulphur Springs.

        There are many fantastic towns to consider visiting when staying on the island, whether you like the relaxed environment of the Southern side of the island or the nightlife of the Northern side.

        Marigot Bay is often called one of the most beautiful bays in the world. Surrounded by lush green hills and beautiful blue waters, this port town has plenty to offer. Lovely through and through, Marigot Bay has captured the hearts of plenty of tourists and, on a few occasions, Hollywood.

The flight to Saint Lucia takes a full day, so be prepared to schedule two extra days, one for heading in and one for heading back.

Oranjestad, Aruba

The Dutch island of Aruba is a favorite getaway destination for those escaping the cold and is also a popular spot for experienced scuba divers. The USS Antilla was a United States Navy cargo ship that sunk during World War II and today, it sits just 60 feet below the surface of the water. Amateur snorkelers can swim over ruins, while divers can take a closer look at the ship’s sunken glory.

Oranjestad, the capital of Aruba, is a wonderful holiday destination. With many nightlife options, restaurants and historical sites to visit, Oranjestad is perfect for a trip that includes plenty of sightseeing.

Travel to Aruba takes approximately six hours by plane.


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