Holiday Getaway Destinations

December is an underrated month for vacations if you ask us. Traveling in the off-season means fewer lines, smaller crowds and, best of all, better deals.

Okay, so you might have to deal with a few lines at the airport (it is the holiday season, after all). But we’d say that’s a small price to pay for a sunkissed tropical getaway or a magical winter retreat, wouldn’t you?

Whether you’re dreaming about sipping piña coladas on white-sand beaches or shredding some powder on snow-capped mountains, there are some places around the world that just do December better than others. Here are the best places to visit in December that will make for the perfect holiday getaway this year.

Southern Tide Ambassadors on boat

St. Lucia, The Caribbean Islands

Just the mere thought of St. Lucia’s breathtaking beaches and turquoise waters is enough to make us put down our sugar cookies and start working on our beach bods. This lush and unspoiled Caribbean island boasts a gorgeous coastline, scenic views and mild winter temps (how do the mid-80’s sound?), as well as authentic island food.

Things to Do

Honestly, where do we even start? You can ride ATVs through the countryside, zipline through the rain forest, chill on Sugar Beach with a good read (if you need recs, pretty much anything by Emily Griffin), snorkel around Pigeon Island and go clubbing on Rodney Bay strip. 

The best time to head to St. Lucia is during the first half of December. Not only is it the perfect time for scoring some amazing deals on flights, but you can also partake in the island’s annual Festival of Lights & Renewal — a two-week-long event in December that celebrates Saint Lucia, the patron saint of light.

What to Wear

This is a tropical destination, after all, so be sure to dress for the heat and humidity. For the ladies, we recommend packing a seersucker dress and other warm-weather pieces, along with a few stylish bikini bathing suits (they’ll get plenty of use on this tropical vacay, trust us). 

For the guys, we recommend packing several performance polo shirts to keep cool and dry on the island. Don’t forget a pair or two of men’s swim shorts—preferably, ones that can stand up to cliff jumps, kite surfing, and other adventure-seeking activities.

Southern Tide Cliffs

Munich, Germany

There’s a common saying by locals in Munich: Holen Sie sich Ihren Hintern Nach München, which is “get your butt to Munich.” 

Okay, so that’s actually not true at all (had you fooled though, didn’t we?), but the point still stands. Head to Munich this December and we promise you won’t regret experiencing its magical winter delights.

Things to Do

Forget Oktoberfest—Christmastime in Munich is incredible and not to be missed. Check out its festive Christmas markets (yes, as in plural) and nosh on Schnitzel before experiencing the Hofbräuhaus, Munich’s world-famous beer hall. Need a break from the cold? Dip into one of Munich’s many museums and soak up the historyand some much-needed warmth! 

What to Wear

Leave your lederhosen at home, unless you plan on yodeling your way into the good graces of Munich locals (not a bad strategy, tbh). Instead, bundle up with layers to brave the cold, which often dips below 40 degrees F. Guys can look festive but stay comfortable by wearing a casual button-down shirt and layering it with a quarter zip pullover

Ladies can look warm and chic in Munich by pairing a long sleeve shirt and women’s puffer vest, which will help block the winter chill. Don’t forget to pack wool socks and winter boots to keep your feet warm and dry!

Kaikoura, New Zealand

Although there’s never a bad time to visit the coastal town of Kaikoura, visiting this South Island town in December has its fair share of perks. For one thing, it’s summertime there, so you’ll enjoy mild temperatures in the high 60s. It’s also the perfect time for hiking Mt. Fyffe for breathtaking views from above the Kaikoura Peninsula. 

Things to Do

Kaikoura’s main appeal to travelers is its dramatic landscape and marine mammal encounters, and there are plenty of ways to experience both. From guided sea kayaking tours to piloting your own airplane over the Kaikoura mountain range, you’ll find an abundance of adventures in this rugged coastal town. And if by some small chance you get bored of the stunning scenery and wildlife, you can always guzzle—um, we mean, sample—internationally-acclaimed wines on a Kaikoura winery tour. 

What to Wear

Even though it’s summertime in Kaikoura, you might still see a hint of snow on the tips of the mountains. The ladies should plan to pack a few pairs of jeans in addition to shorts. It’s not a bad idea to bring a cozy pullover or a windbreaker along, too. The guys should also bring along a couple of pairs of men’s jeans, a few long sleeve t-shirts and maybe a cozy men’s vest for added warmth.

Also, remember to keep your attire relaxed and casual. If you dress to the nines, you’ll probably get a few funny looks from the locals. The kiwis rarely dress up for anything, much less casual bar drinking or wine tastings.

Southern Tide Winter Snow

Whistler, Canada

If you’re a self-professed snow bunny, Whistler is a must-visit. This alpine mountain village is a mecca for winter sports enthusiasts (good looking ones too, if we do say so ourselves) who are attracted to Whistler for its incredible skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing, winter ziplining, dog sledding—we could probably go on all day, the list is THAT long.

Things to Do

There are two subjects that can instantly break a Canadian of their hallmark politeness: Hockey and ski resorts, both of which Whistler happens to have in abundance. Ask a Canadian about Whistler Blackcomb and you’ll get an earful about how it’s one of the top ski resorts in all of North America–if not the world–for its epic terrain.

Apart from winter sports, you’ll find other reasons to visit Whistler in December. The city is transformed during the holiday season, with a beautiful display of Christmas lights, locals going around caroling, and the annual Skate with Santa at Whistler Olympic Plaza.

What to Wear

It’s no secret that Whistler is pretty damn cold, with temps often reaching well below freezing in December. Don’t worry though! We’ve got your foolproof layering strategy for winter in Whistler.

First, start with your base layer. For this layer, stick to a moisture-wicking long sleeve top that will keep you dry Then, choose a suitable mid-layer designed to trap in heat, such as a fleece vest or a quilted pullover. 

Finally, complete your layering with an insulating jacket. Sure, you might look a little marshmallow-y. But hey, at least you’ll be warm (and in good company). 

New York City, New York

There is truly nothing like spending the holidays in the Big Apple. The city dazzles with shimmering lights, ornament displays and stunning tinsel everywhere you look. While you won’t be beating any crowds in New York City during this time (the holidays are when NYC is perhaps most crowded, unfortunately), we guarantee that the trip will be well worth it for a taste of that indescribable holiday magic. 

Things to Do

The iconic lighting of the Rockefeller Christmas tree is not to be missed, nor is a classic ice skating session on The Rink (book reservations early!). Turn around and witness the Saks Fifth Avenue light show, a stunning digital display and music show that projects onto one of the buildings that face Rockefeller Center. 

Speaking of displays, NYC’s window displays are another tradition you’ll want to experience. Just walk around all of the biggest department stores for festive window displays that get better every year.

What to Wear

December in NYC is chilly, so be prepared for cold temperatures. Take a few style notes from our Whistler vacation tips and layer like a pro. 

Since heavy coats and layers can be a nuisance to travel with, try to make room in your suitcase by packing light. For instance, consider bringing along a men’s reversible sport shirt that can be flipped inside out for a new pattern to wear the next day. 

Southern Tide Ambassadors in Thailand

Phuket, Thailand

With its delicious grub, beautiful beaches and diverse art and culture, Phuket is a bucket-list destination for the travel-obsessed. Although Phuket is warm all year-round, December is a great time to visit because you’ll be missing both it’s monsoon season (which runs September to October) and it’s hotter-than-hot season (March to May).

What to Do

As Thailand’s largest island, there is an endless number of things to do. You can explore the Day Market, experience night clubs, kayak through limestone caves, hike rainforest trails, tour famous landmarks, relax on Nai Harn beach and so much more.

Also, it’s practically a crime to visit Phuket without getting a Thai massage before you go. For an unbelievably relaxing day, book a visit to Ton Mai Spa. Located in Rawai (Southern Phuket), this hidden gem includes a steam room, a pool, amazing massages and mouth-watering Thai food galore. 

What to Wear

Whether you’re hiking trails or cruising around Phang Nga Bay, plan to bring sunscreen, a pair of sunglasses and a sunglass strap to keep them in place through all your adventures. 

When packing for Phuket, just pack for the summer. For the guys, we recommend moisture-wicking t-shirts, classic polo shirts, and men’s performance shorts or swim trunks.

For the ladies, consider packing an active dress that will wick away moisture and keep you dry. Also, be sure to pack your best anti-frizz shampoo to keep hair under control in the humidity. 

Making Your Trip a December to Remember

December is arguably the best time to escape from it all and experience the holidays in a whole new way. Whether you’re in search of a relaxing tropical getaway or a festive city bursting with holiday tradition, these six destinations are definitely worth traveling to this year. 

 

wave drawing