Best Places to Visit in January: Top Destinations for a New Year Getaway

Traveling in January offers a unique opportunity to experience the best of winter and the allure of escaping to warmer climates. As a travel enthusiast, I’ve learned that this month brings the dual advantage of beating the holiday crowds and often enjoying off-peak rates. Whether it’s cozying up in charming winter wonderlands, soaking in the sun on a tropical beach, or diving into vibrant cultural festivals, January has something for everyone.

best places to visit in january

From the snowy slopes of renowned ski destinations to the sun-kissed shores of beachfront paradises, the variety of options ensures travelers can find their perfect getaway. For those intrigued by urban adventures, many cities offer a refreshing twist this time of year, with fewer tourists and a more authentic local experience. Meanwhile, for the outdoorsy types, January presents unique activities, from ice-fishing in frozen landscapes to wildlife spotting in lush national parks.

Key Takeaways

  • January is an ideal time for both winter escapes and warm-weather getaways, with fewer crowds.
  • The beginning of the year offers rich cultural experiences across various destinations.
  • Travelers can enjoy a diverse range of activities, from urban exploration to outdoor adventures.

Global Weather Patterns in January

In January, weather patterns around the globe exhibit a wide variety of climates, largely dependent on the hemisphere. In northern hemisphere countries, it’s the heart of winter, and temperatures commonly range from cool to bitterly cold. I’ll often see significant snowfall in regions such as North America, Northern Europe, and parts of Asia. This can be the perfect time for winter sports enthusiasts to revel in snowy landscapes.

Heading to the southern hemisphere, I find a stark contrast, as countries here bask in the peak of their summer. It’s typically warm or even hot across much of South America, Southern Africa, and Australia. For travelers longing for sunshine and beach weather, this is the ideal time to visit these regions.

The equatorial belt, on the other hand, doesn’t experience drastic temperature changes throughout the year, remaining warm and often humid. Places close to the equator often have their dry and rainy seasons, with some enjoying a sunny respite in January, making them attractive destinations for those looking to escape the cold.

Here’s a quick overview:

Hemisphere Weather Trends
Northern Cold, often with snowfall; true winter season
Southern Warm to hot, summer conditions
Equatorial Consistently warm, potential for dry or rainy season

Remember, while I’m experiencing winter chills in one part of the world, somewhere else, summer rays are just waiting to embrace any visitor.

Top Winter Wonderlands

January brings some of the most pristine winter conditions to numerous destinations around the globe, making it a prime time for snow sports enthusiasts and those looking for a picture-perfect snowy retreat. Below, I’ll guide you through three standout types of winter wonderlands, each offering its own unique allure.

Skiing and Snowboarding Destinations

Vail, Colorado, provides some of the most impressive ski terrain in the United States. The Rocky Mountains here are blanketed in light, fluffy powder, offering both skiers and snowboarders an expansive playground. With over 5,200 acres of ski-able area, the back bowls are legendary, and the meticulously groomed front side makes Vail a top destination for every level of snow sports aficionado.

Zermatt in Switzerland is a ski paradise nestled in the Alps. Skiers here enjoy breathtaking views of the iconic Matterhorn and miles of piste in both Switzerland and Italy. Zermatt boasts excellent snow conditions and the highest ski area in Europe, ensuring a memorable skiing experience.

Picturesque Snow-Covered Towns

The charm of Europe’s snow-covered towns in winter is undeniable. Zermatt, aside from its ski slopes, offers a storybook village atmosphere with its chalet-style buildings and car-free streets. At night, the town transforms into a twinkling wonderland under the shadow of the Matterhorn.

In Japan, towns such as Niseko are famous not only for their snowboarding and ski culture but also for their distinctive aesthetics. Winter here means traditional onsens, softly lit lanterns, and gentle snowfall that blankets ancient shrines and tranquil forests, providing a serene escape from the hustle of modern life.

Wildlife Watching in Winter Habitats

Closer to home, the mountains near Denver, Colorado, become a haven for winter wildlife. Elk, bighorn sheep, and even the occasional lynx can be spotted against the snowy backdrops of the state’s protected parklands. Nature photography and wildlife tours here offer a tranquil contrast to the adrenaline of snow sports.

In the wider American region, opportunities abound to witness animals in their seasonal element, from moose foraging in frosty forests to bald eagles soaring against crisp blue winter skies. Observing these animals in their natural winter habitats reminds me how dynamic and vibrant nature remains, even in the coldest months.

Warm-Weather Escapes

In January, when much of the world is shivering, I like to seek out destinations that offer respite with generous sunshine and temperate breezes. The best warm-weather escapes typically blend beach leisure with nature’s splendor, offering a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure.

Best Beach Destinations

I find that Miami, Florida, stands out as an exemplary beach destination, with its vibrant city life complementing miles of sandy retreats. The experience of lounging on South Beach with the backdrop of Art Deco buildings is a unique blend of culture and relaxation that I highly recommend.

  • Miami, Florida
    • Beach: South Beach
    • Activities: Lounging, water sports, exploring Art Deco district

Venturing outside the United States, the Caribbean islands beckon with their pristine beaches and turquoise waters. Islands like Jamaica not only provide an idyllic beach setting but also present a rich tapestry of culture and flavors to explore.

  • Caribbean Islands
    • Beach: Seven Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica
    • Activities: Snorkeling, cultural experiences, enjoying local cuisine

Wildlife Adventures in Warmer Climes

An entirely different warm-weather journey that I find compelling is embarking on a safari in Africa. It’s the height of summer in places like South Africa, making it a perfect time to witness the majesty of wildlife in their natural environment.

  • African Safari
    • Location: Kruger National Park, South Africa
    • Wildlife: Lions, elephants, leopards

Further east, I’ve experienced Thailand’s Phuket, a marvel of natural beauty where exploring the lush rainforests is as enthralling as the beach life. With its warm temperatures and rich ecology, it makes for an outstanding January escape.

  • Phuket, Thailand
    • Nature: Rainforests, beaches
    • Activities: Hiking, diving, wildlife viewing

Central America, a gem that often gets overlooked, is also ideal in January. Costa Rica’s coastlines for beach exploring and Panama City for its vibrant urban life and nearby rainforests provide visitors with diverse experiences in a compact geographic area.

  • Central America
    • Costa Rica
      • Beaches: Guanacaste
      • Activities: Surfing, wildlife tours
    • Panama City, Panama
      • Urban: Casco Viejo
      • Nature: Metropolitan Natural Park

Each of these destinations offers its own unique set of attractions and activities. Depending on what you’re looking for—be it beach lounging or adventurous exploring—you’ll find a January escape that caters to your preferences.

Cultural Celebrations and Festivals

In January, I find myself drawn to the vibrant cultural celebrations and festivals that promise a lively start to the new year. Across the world, different cultures mark the beginning of the year with unique traditions and jubilant festivities.

Asia, particularly, is a treasure trove for such cultural spectacles. India, with its diverse heritage, hosts the Lohri festival, which commemorates the passing of the winter solstice. It’s an opportunity to witness the rich Punjabi culture, where the evening is filled with folk dances and songs around bonfires.

During the same month, Bangkok in Thailand celebrates the Chinese New Year with grandeur. The city becomes a hub of red lanterns, dragon dances, and night markets, allowing me to immerse myself in a blend of Thai and Chinese traditions.

Here’s a snapshot of not-to-miss January festivals:

  • Lohri, India: Witness the traditional dance, Bhangra, and savor Punjabi delicacies.
  • Chinese New Year, Bangkok: Enjoy the vibrant parades and authentic Chinese cuisine.

These celebrations not only mark the advent of a new year but also offer a deep dive into the local culture and traditions. It’s fascinating how each festival is a new lesson in cultural richness and the unity of people celebrating together.

Unique Outdoor Activities

Exploring the great outdoors in January offers a myriad of activities tailored for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. From the serenity of national parks to the thrill of underwater discoveries, I’m here to guide you through some of the most remarkable experiences.

National Parks Exploration

National Parks are havens for wildlife and stunning vistas in January. A highlight is the vast Death Valley National Park, where I can attest to the remarkable contrasts from salt flats to sand dunes. Hiking here is otherworldly amid the desert landscapes, particularly at Zabriskie Point. For those seeking something more verdant, the Ella region in Sri Lanka is a true gem. The Ella Rock hike promises lush greenery and panoramic views, creating an unforgettable experience for those willing to trek through its trails.

Marine Life and Snorkeling Spots

For snorkeling aficionados, the clear waters of Railay Beach in Thailand are not to be missed. Here, I find the marine life to be vibrant and diverse, providing an up-close encounter with tropical fish and coral reefs. Similarly, St. Kitts & Nevis offers some of the best snorkeling spots where the clarity of the water makes every detail of the sea life beneath the surface stand out, offering a peaceful escape from the winter elsewhere.

Hiking and Biking Trails

Lastly, biking and more hiking opportunities abound for those seeking active pursuits. Austin, known for its outdoor culture, has trails that cater to cyclists of all levels, and the local food trucks offer a culinary reward after a day of exploring. On the other hand, a safari hike in a destination such as Tasmania can bring me face to face with unique wildlife, where the vast open spaces become a sanctuary for both animals and hikers. Whether it’s pedaling through a bustling city or trekking silently through the wild, each path offers its own unique January adventure.

City Breaks with a Twist

When I explore new cities in January, I look for unique experiences that blend traditional sightseeing with unexpected pleasures. Whether it’s lacing up skates or savoring local cuisine, each city offers something special.

Urban Winter Sports

In Los Angeles, winter hardly touches the sun-soaked streets, yet I find ice skating at the seasonal rink outside the famous Staples Center quite magical. For those willing to venture a bit north, San Diego’s outdoor rinks come with the benefit of ocean views, a rare twist on the typical winter experience.

Los Angeles:

  • Ice Skating: Temporary rinks at Staples Center
  • Nearby Hotels: Luxe City Center Hotel
  • Shopping: After skating, fashion aficionados can shop at the nearby FIGat7th.

San Diego:

  • Ice Skating by the Sea: Hotel del Coronado offers this unique experience
  • Local Culture: The rink is close to San Diego’s vibrant Gaslamp Quarter, known for its historic charm.

Culinary Delights and Nightlife

Austin, Texas, glistens with culinary gems and robust nightlife. I’ve discovered hole-in-the-wall eateries serving up mouthwatering brisket that competes with high-end restaurants. As night falls, I usually find myself drawn to the live music scene for which Austin is famous.


  • Restaurants: Franklin Barbecue for iconic Texas brisket
  • Nightlife: 6th Street’s bars and live music venues

In Bangkok, tantalizing street food and luxury dining coexist, offering a taste of the city’s dual nature. From spicy noodles served on bustling corners to exquisite dinners at rooftop restaurants, Bangkok is a sensory feast.


  • Street Food: Try the famous Pad Thai on Khao San Road
  • Rooftop Restaurants: Sirocco for a sky-high dining experience
  • Hotels: Many options close to culinary and nightlife hotspots

By choosing destinations like these, where urban adventures are infused with local customs and flavors, I’ve transformed standard city breaks into experiences rich with cultural engagement and unforgettable activities.

Accommodation Highlights

In my travels during January, I’ve found that accommodations can deeply influence the overall experience of a trip. Whether it’s the allure of ski-in, ski-out convenience, the serenity of a beachfront view, or the charm of uncommon dwellings, these aspects are often what make a vacation memorable. Keep reading to discover some premier lodging options in sought-after January destinations.

Luxury Ski Resorts

Switzerland’s Zermatt offers an array of luxury ski resorts, noteworthy for their unrivaled Alpine views and upscale amenities. Here, hotels like the illustrious Mont Cervin Palace not only provide direct access to the slopes but also feature fine dining and wellness centers, making it a magnet for ski enthusiasts and luxury seekers alike.

  • Peak Season Splendor: January is peak skiing season in Zermatt, and travelers often find that resorts such as The Omnia with its seamless blend of modern design and cozy mountain comfort live up to every aspect of the alpine dream.

Beachfront Hotels

Costa Rica’s coast stands out with beachfront hotels that cater to both honeymooners and wanderlust-filled travelers yearning for warm January escapades. For instance, The Palms Private Residences in Playa Flamingo merges luxury with nature, providing an idyllic setting for romance or relaxation by the Pacific waves.

  • Turquoise Views: Many beachfront accommodations, including Tulum’s boutique hotels, offer open-air lounges and pristine pools that ensure every sunset is an event all its own.

Unique Lodgings

If you’re searching for something beyond the traditional hotel, January offers ample opportunity in unique lodgings. From the ice hotels in the Nordic regions to the treehouses nested in the forests of Montana, these accommodations offer an enchanting and unconventional stay.

  • Montana’s Rustic Retreats: Consider staying at a lodge like The Ranch at Rock Creek, where the rugged wilderness meets luxury living, providing a particularly American spin on unique upscale accommodations.

Transportation Tips

When planning my January travels, I consider various transportation options to ensure a smooth experience. Here’s what I’ve learned about getting from point A to point B efficiently:

By Road:
For a road trip, I ensure my vehicle is well-maintained for winter conditions. I check the tire pressure, antifreeze levels, and battery health. I always carry an emergency kit including blankets, food, water, and a first-aid kit. It’s crucial to monitor weather reports and have alternative routes planned.

Train Travel:
Taking the train can be a scenic and relaxing option. I book my tickets in advance to secure the best fares and seats. For long journeys, I prefer overnight trains where I can book a sleeper car. It’s a good idea to check the railway’s policy on luggage and onboard amenities before my trip.

Winter cruises can be a great value. When I book a cruise in January, I typically find competitive pricing and fewer crowds. I make sure to pack for variable weather and to take advantage of any early check-in options for smoother boarding.

If I opt for a sailing adventure, I choose a destination with stable winds and mild weather during January. I always verify the experience level required with the charter company and prepare for seasickness just in case, carrying medication or acupressure wristbands.

Mode of Transport Key Considerations
Road Trip Vehicle prep, route planning, emergency kit
Train Advance booking, sleeper options, luggage policy
Cruise Off-season pricing, packing for weather
Sailing Destination’s climate, experience level, health

In all cases, I ensure to stay updated on travel advisories and local regulations that might affect my journey.

Health and Safety Concerns

When traveling to the best places in January, I prioritize my health and safety by staying informed and prepared. Before traveling, I check the most recent health advisories and ensure my vaccinations are up to date, particularly if I’m headed to a destination with known health concerns.

For those interested in wellness, participating in yoga can provide both physical and mental benefits, especially when adapting to new environments. It’s important to practice in a safe space, free from hazards, and ideally guided by a certified instructor to prevent injuries.

Here’s what I consider for health and safety during January travels:

  • Climate Impact: I stay abreast of any extreme weather conditions like hurricanes or floods, which are now more frequent due to climate change, to avoid travel during such times.
  • Emergency Preparedness: I have a list of local emergency numbers and locations of nearest hospitals, just in case I need urgent care.
  • Food and Water Safety: To prevent foodborne illnesses, I make sure to eat at reputable places and drink bottled or filtered water.
Safety Gear Use Case
Sunscreen Protects against sunburn during outdoor activities.
First-aid kit Aids in handling minor injuries or cuts.
Reflective clothing Increases visibility if traveling at night.

I also ensure that I have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies. It gives me peace of mind so I can enjoy the natural beauty and local culture that January destinations have to offer.

Sustainable Travel Practices

I understand the significant impact travel can have on the environment. I aim to provide insights into how travelers can make positive contributions to conservation and local communities, focusing particularly on the responsible enjoyment of nature and cultural experiences.

Ecotourism Initiatives

I’ve observed that well-managed ecotourism initiatives offer powerful incentives for preserving natural beauty and wildlife. Programs such as those in Morocco’s Ait Bougmez region encourage the conservation of delicate ecosystems by financially benefiting the local community when these landscapes are maintained in their pristine states. Exploring the Happy Valley in Morocco is not just about immersion in stunning scenery; it’s an act of supporting environmental sustainability.

Supporting Local Businesses

When I visit a new place, I always look for ways to support local businesses, as this is a direct route to cultural preservation and economic growth. By opting for family-owned lodges, local guides, and artisans, visitors ensure that the economic benefits of tourism are not lost to external corporations but instead enrich the community, fostering a greater appreciation and celebration of distinct cultural identities. For instance, by staying at accommodations with a commitment to ecological responsibility, such as those in Bhutan, I not only experience authentic Bhutanese hospitality but also contribute to the country’s status as the world’s only carbon-negative country.

Historical and Educational Experiences

In January, I often look for destinations that offer enriching historical and cultural experiences. Southern California and Georgia, for instance, feature a spectrum of museums and memorials that provide insights into America’s diverse history. Let me guide you through some notable sites that combine education with exploration.

Museums and Cultural Sites

Southern California is a treasure trove of museums and cultural sites that illuminate the rich tapestry of American and global history. Here, I find The Getty Center not only offers impressive art collections but also provides panoramic views of Los Angeles, enhancing my appreciation for the city’s cultural landscape. In San Diego, the USS Midway Museum, aboard an aircraft carrier, offers a hands-on history lesson about naval aviation and military life.

In Georgia, Atlanta’s renowned museums delve into American history. The Center for Civil and Human Rights connects the American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements. It’s a place where the past and the present converge, educating visitors on the enduring impact of activism.

Furthermore, cultural enrichment is profound when I visit the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. This museum is committed to telling the story of African Americans, from enslavement to mass incarceration, which I find deeply moving and educational.

National Memorials and Monuments

Georgia and Alabama are home to poignant national memorials that honor the legacies of historical events and figures. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also in Montgomery, is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, those terrorized by lynching, and those humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow. As I walk through, I am reminded of the need to reflect on past injustices to build a more just future.

I’ve found that visiting these historic sites in January usually means fewer crowds, offering a more personal and reflective experience. Whether I’m exploring indoor museums or outdoor memorials, the insights into culture and history are profound and unforgettable.

Adventure and Sports

When January rolls around, I always get excited about the range of outdoor adventures and sports available. From snow-capped mountains offering serene trails for snowshoeing to the rhythmic pulse of kayaking along a glittering river, the options are both invigorating and abundant.

Off the Beaten Track

For those of us seeking solitude away from crowded resorts, I recommend exploring the less traversed parts of mountain ranges. I’ve found that the Ligurian Alps in Italy beckon with their pristine snowshoe trails, offering a combination of crisp air and tranquility. Securing snowshoe rentals allows adventurers to traverse marked circular trails, some providing breathtaking sea views—a unique blend of alpine and maritime landscapes.

Water Sports and Activities

Turning to warmer pursuits, water sports dominate in destinations like Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, where I’ve experienced some of the best conditions for surfing. These islands cater to all levels—whether it’s the thrill of riding the waves at El Quemao or finding the gentler tides for windsurfing. Further south, the famed Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentine Patagonia presents an unparalleled opportunity for kayaking. Gliding between icebergs in the shadow of the towering glacier isn’t just an activity; it’s an immersive encounter with nature’s grandeur.

In my travels, I’ve also discovered that rafting down a racing river offers an exhilarating escape, blending physical exertion with the raw power of the water. For those who favor calmness and poise, a yoga retreat in a serene location can realign the spirit with the rhythm of nature, offering a contrasting pace to the more adrenaline-fueled activities of the month. Whether you’re scaling a remote trail or paddling through icy waters, January’s adventure sports are as diverse as they are thrilling.

Leisure and Relaxation

When I think about the ideal January getaway, leisure and relaxation always take center stage. Whether it’s indulging in self-care at tranquil spa retreats or browsing the latest fashions in bustling shopping hubs, there’s no shortage of opportunities to unwind and treat myself.

Spa Retreats

In Southern California, I often find myself lounging poolside, with a hot chocolate in hand, amidst the backdrop of picturesque palm trees and serene sea views. This region is acclaimed for its luxurious spas that offer a wealth of rejuvenation treatments. For example, the array of services often include massages that integrate local ingredients such as sage and citrus, which are designed to soothe both the body and mind.

  • Popular Treatments:
    • Hot stone massage
    • Hydrating aloe wraps
    • Zen shiatsu

Shopping Hubs

I’ve discovered that Georgia’s shopping scene is a delightful experience, especially in January. The mild winter weather is perfect for strolling through outdoor malls and quirky boutique streets. I tend to gravitate towards the local artisan shops and upscale boutiques that reflect the region’s rich cultural tapestry.

  • Shopping Highlights:
    • Hand-crafted jewelry
    • Designer clothing boutiques
    • Charming antique stores

Clubs and nightlife also add to the leisure experience, but during my January visits, it’s the soothing spa experiences and the thrill of finding unique items in local shops that really encapsulate the essence of relaxation and leisure for me.

Regional Highlights

In January, I find that each region has its own unique allure, whether it’s the winter charm of the United States, the tropical beauty of Asia and the Pacific, the storied locales of Europe, or the vibrant ecosystems of Africa. Let me take you through some standout destinations that shine during this time of year.

Best of the United States

  • California: The Golden State is a year-round destination, but in January, the crowds are thinner, and the coastal cities like San Diego offer mild temperatures perfect for sightseeing.
  • Arizona: Tucson’s desert landscape provides a stunning backdrop for outdoor activities, and with cooler temperatures, it’s an ideal time for hiking and exploring the natural beauty.
  • Colorado: A skier’s paradise, places like Breckenridge are covered in a blanket of snow, offering some of the best slopes and charming mountain town experiences in the country.
  • Texas: Austin, with its lively music scene and rich cultural offerings, remains vibrant despite the cooler weather, making it an exceptional visit for those looking to escape extreme cold.

Exploring Asia and the Pacific

  • Thailand: Bangkok’s grand palaces and bustling markets are less crowded in January, providing a more comfortable experience exploring this vibrant city.
  • Ella: Sri Lanka boasts its own serene beauty, with Ella offering a peaceful retreat with lush landscapes and pleasant climate, away from the island’s coastal humidity.
  • Japan: Winter in Japan is special, where one could find themselves enjoying the serene temples of Kyoto with a gentle dusting of snow, or joining in on winter festivals.

European Gems

  • Alps: Zermatt in Switzerland presents the quintessential winter wonderland with its majestic peaks and excellent skiing conditions in the heart of the Alps.
  • Spain: Seville enjoys a mild winter compared to the rest of Europe, and the lower number of tourists makes it a perfect time to appreciate its rich Moorish heritage and vibrant Andalusian culture.

African Safaris and Sun

  • Safari: African safaris are a year-round affair, but January can be one of the best times to visit for wildlife viewing, with sparse vegetation making animals easier to spot.
  • Costa Rica and Panama: Although not in Africa, these Central American countries offer their own version of safaris with rich biodiversity. January falls in their dry season, making it ideal for rainforest expeditions and beach relaxation alike.

Frequently Asked Questions

In my exploration of travel options, I’ve gathered a wealth of knowledge on the best places to visit during the chilly first month of the year. Whether you’re looking for warmth, romance, or unique experiences, I’ve got you covered with the most insightful recommendations for your January travels.

What are the top destinations for warm weather travel in January?

Escape the winter chill by visiting destinations like the stunning Argentine Patagonia. January’s pleasant weather makes it a prime time for hiking and enjoying long daylight hours. For consistent sunshine and balmy temperatures, Florida’s cities like Miami and Orlando are also fantastic choices.

Which European cities are ideal to visit during January?

Europe in January offers its own charm with fewer crowds. Cities like Vienna with its elegant coffee houses and classical concerts or Seville, where the mild winter allows for pleasant explorations of the city’s rich Andalusian culture, stand out as excellent European city destinations in January.

What are some recommended travel spots for couples in January?

Couples looking for a romantic January escape should consider Venice, where the canals and architecture provide a picturesque backdrop for love. Alternatively, a cozy cabin near Lake Tahoe offers couples the chance to snuggle up by the fire after a day of snow activities.

Which countries offer the best travel experiences in January?

Countries such as Thailand or the Philippines offer incredible warm-weather travel experiences in January, with their beautiful beaches and lush landscapes. If you’re seeking adventure, consider Chile’s diverse landscapes, from the Atacama Desert to the vineyards of the central valley.

Where can one experience unique attractions in January?

January is an ideal time to witness the Northern Lights in Iceland or Norway. Alternatively, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China showcases an icy wonderland of carved, illuminated sculptures that’s sure to be a unique experience.

What are the most popular US locations to visit in January?

The USA has diverse options for January travel. New York City post-holiday season offers a more authentic experience with fewer tourists. For natural beauty, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon has a magical quality with its snow-covered landscapes. Death Valley National Park in California is another popular January destination, providing a stark contrast with its desert vistas and milder winter temperatures.

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