santa wears sunglasses here
Austin warms up as the 3rd best winter vacation spot in the U.S., per report
Somewhere between the arctic blast that recently chilled the state and the triple digit temperatures of the last few months, Austin is one of the top destinations for winter vacationers looking for a warm place to spend their holidays, a new report by WalletHub found.
The 2023 edition of WalletHub's "Best Winter Holiday Destinations" list divided 70 of the biggest U.S. metropolitan areas into two different categories: the top "warm" and "cold" weather destinations. The study evaluated every metro based on 37 factors, including travel costs, local costs, weather predictions, safety, and more.
Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown ranked No. 3 with a score of 65.64 points (out of a possible 100), just behind San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California (No. 2) and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada (No. 1). This was a slight downgrade from Austin's 2022 rating at No. 2.
For the purpose of the study, "cold" weather was determined to be less than or equal to 46 degrees Fahrenheit, while "warm" weather was greater than or equal to 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Both guidelines were analyzed based on the 50-year average December temperatures.
The report found that the Austin metro had the second-lowest travel cost and hassles, much of which can be owed to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Austin did not rank within the top five in the categories for the lowest (or the highest) local costs for activities. Austin falls somewhere in the middle, despite this popular tourist neighborhood's costly living expenses.
Luckily for Texans, the cheerful holiday season begins in November. There's plenty of time to make those festive weekend plans, from ice rinks to cowboy Santa appearances throughout the Hill Country and the rest of the state.
As expected, most of the best warm weather destinations in the report fall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The highest concentration of warm weather places is in the Sunshine State of Florida (10 metros), followed closely behind by Texas (nine metros), then California (eight metros).
However, Texas cities dominated the top 10. Right behind Austin in No. 4 is Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, then San Antonio-New Braunfels (No. 5), and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (No. 8).
According to Linchi Kwok, a professor of hospitality management at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, winter holiday travel around the country is going to be impacted by the current economy. That could possibly make other Texas destinations like San Antonio, Dallas, or Houston more enticing for Austinites.
"While Americans still want to travel this winter, they may pick a destination closer to home and find ways to stretch the dollar," Kwok said.
Oddly enough, if Austinites would like to get away and enjoy some cold weather, the report would send them to Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, Georgia (No. 1). Not exactly the picture of a winter wonderland. Chicago, at No. 3, is the highest ranked cold destination in the Northern states.
The top 10 best warm weather winter vacation destinations are:
- No. 1 – Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nevada
- No. 2 – San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California
- No. 3 – Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, Texas
- No. 4 – Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
- No. 5 – San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas
- No. 6 – Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina
- No. 7 – San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California
- No. 8 – Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas
- No. 9 – Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, Arizona
- No. 10 – Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California