One thing always on a New Yorker’s mind during the winter months is getting away to better weather. We thought about it consistently even this year, which had only about 5 inches total of snow in the city and rarely had a daytime temperature below 30 degrees. Seeking out sun and warmth is always a good way to hold off the frustration of living in a city where there all leaves die and fall off the trees in the winter months. (what a pretty picture I’m painting for you!)
Don’t think I’m a winter party-pooper though, as I like to take advantage of a cold and get out on my snowboard. Sometimes we travel as far away as South America to do so. ( like Here and Here) In a good snow season, winter can be the highlight of my year. But on occasion, theres nothing better than a weekend trip outside of the northeast to warmer pastures. In January, we headed to Puerto Rico. In March we headed to Florida, and I took a trip myself to California to visit friends just this last weekend. Both warmer than New York, both a welcome change of scenery, both extremely different.
Ok, so you all probably know that though both in the south, southern California and south Florida are different. One’s a coastal desert with mountains and some rocky cliffs, the other is tropical and flat with humid air and white sand. (can you guess which is which?) Back to back weekends in both places proves to show the contrast between the environment and thus the difference in experience on a winter weekend. Both trips engaged us in different activities in difference landscapes, though both thankfully involved flip flops.
The air in Florida is humid and sticky. This makes it a perfect environment for the swamps of the Everglades, the warm ocean water at the beaches, and the tropical plantlife that is popular in most Floridian landscaping. On a trip to Delray Beach to visit family, we rarely have much time to spend venturing out to the more wild locations, but we do get a chance to head to beach/pool for a short time, as well as the wetlands around the area. The humidity keeps the nights warm and often leads to an afternoon rain shower.
In contrast, southern California was originally all desert and horse country. The ocean water is cold due to west coast upwelling, creating a cooler coastline. Inland, the mountains and desert dryness keep the air hot. The San Bernadino Mountains border the Los Angeles basin from the north and are high enough to hold snow. They are also low enough to be the home to year round hiking, cacti, and orange groves. You will find yourself both hiking the trails above LA as well as walking along the sand on the Pacific Coast on a trip to LA. There are few places where both are in such proximity without compromising the enjoyment of the other.
I grew up in northern California, but frequently visited family in Pasadena as a young-in. Coming from the north, the dryness of the south was obvious to me then. Home was often rainy and cool. Pasadena was like a desert in comparison as it was always at least 20 degrees warmer, no matter what time of year. Now, coming from the humidity of the east coast to visit friends in La Verne, the dryness of southern California is even more obvious. Not just in the air, but also in the landscaping, the earth, and the mountains. (things you don’t pay attention when on family vacation as a 10 year old) Side note: Succulents are my favorite plant/flower. I had them in every arrangement at our wedding, and I try valiantly to not kill them in our Brooklyn apartment when I bring them home. (though I’ve never been successful. ever.) They are abundant in landscaping in southern California and in my friends Tina and Tom’s backyard. And they make me happy. Yes they do.
I consider myself very lucky that I was able to visit both Florida and California this winter. Both make good places for a winter getaway from the cold. When considering what type of warm-weather trip you want, its important to think about things like environment, water temperature, and even plants (flowers can definitely change the vibe of a place). For me, I have a soft spot for both types of places, but differently. Southern California is comforting as it brings me back to my home state and my memories of youth. Florida seems tropical and slightly exciting. (I know its still the US, but turquoise water will ALWAYS mean vacation to me) What is your preference when planning a winter getaway?