Warm-Weather Getaways: 7 Sizzling Beaches | Midwest Living

Warm-Weather Getaways: 7 Sizzling Beaches

Trade in the cold, white snowdrifts of the Midwest for the sugary sands, sun and fun at our top winter beach picks.

Costa Rica: Monkey Around

At Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio National Park, you get the best of both worlds: A thick rainforest packed with howler monkeys and three-toed sloths behind a picture-perfect beach. December through March is peak tourist season for this white-sand beach, located on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast, and for good reason—it's downright balmy, making for the perfect weather to make like the three-toed sloth and lay around awhile (888/735-0703; visitcostarica.com).

Costa Rica Tourist Board

Sanibel and Captiva, Florida: A Shell of a Time

The islands of Sanibel and Captiva, along Florida's southwest coast, are a beachcomber's dream, covered in glistening maritime trinkets—400-plus varieties of swirly snail shells, delicate pink clamshells, sand dollars and more. You won't find streets lined with high rises, strip malls and fast food here. Instead, enjoy the distinctly mellow Floridian vibe, embraced by locals and visitors alike, all the warm winter long (800/237-6444; FortMyersSanibel.com).

Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau

Dominican Republic: Tropical Treat

In the Dominican Republic's Punta Cana, palm trees sway in a tropical dance, a breeze caresses your sun-kissed face and white sands sift between your toes. Ahead, the oh-so-blue Caribbean bustles with windsurfers, kayakers and water bikers. With 40 miles of beaches, a vibrant nightlife and an array of all-inclusive resorts, Punta Cana is an enticing—and affordable—winter getaway (809/221-4660; godominicanrepublic.com).

Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism

Mexico: Yes, We Can(cun)

The frigid Midwest melts away in Cancun, leaving your cheeks pink and your soul relaxed. The beaches are unrivalled—white sand contrasting the brilliant blue Caribbean—here, more than 1,000 miles from the northern Mexican border. Swim with the dolphins, brave a salsa lesson or just lie on the beach, hoping your vacation never ends (800/446-3942; cancun.travel).

Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau

South Padre, Texas: Coasting Along

Snowbirds agree: South Padre island is flockworthy. And it's not just a favorite among Lone Star Staters. Nationwide, South Padre is revered for its warm Gulf waves, boisterous surf culture and unending entertainment—from live music and clubs to kiteboarding, paddleboarding and other surf-related adventures. Leave your winter coat at home. Here, a T-shirt, boardshorts and flip-flops will do just fine (800/767-2373; sopadre.com).

South Padre Island

Lake Havasu, Arizona: Eternal Sunshine

Lake Havasu, Arizona, shines with 300 days of sunshine a year, lighting 450 miles of beautiful shoreline. Swim, water-ski and boat across the 45-mile lake, or just laze on the sandy beaches and forget about the snow and ice you left behind. Be sure and check out London Bridge, which was purchased for less than $3 million and transported from England in 1968 (800/242-8278; golakehavasu.com).

Lake Havasu Convention & Visitors Bureau

Costa Rica: Monkey Around

At Costa Rica's Manuel Antonio National Park, you get the best of both worlds: A thick rainforest packed with howler monkeys and three-toed sloths behind a picture-perfect beach. December through March is peak tourist season for this white-sand beach, located on Costa Rica's Pacific Coast, and for good reason—it's downright balmy, making for the perfect weather to make like the three-toed sloth and lay around awhile (888/735-0703; visitcostarica.com).

Costa Rica Tourist Board

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