Picture This: Our Favorite Warm Weather Winter Escapes in Photos

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Our Travel Editor shares the 7 REI Adventures he's daydreaming about this winter.

It’s all too easy to let the long, dark days of winter get you down. Sure you can pop up to the local ski hill for a day on the mountain, do a little snowshoeing in the backcountry or simply go on a winter walk through your favorite city park, but sometimes you just need to get out of town.

And trust me when I say my fellow co-workers and I at REI’s Seattle-area headquarters know a thing or two about getting out of town. Combine the city’s infamous rain with its northern latitude (it’s the most northerly major city in in the Lower 48), and you have a recipe for cabin fever without the cabin. So a midwinter retreat to sunnier locales is an annual tradition for many. Good thing we have the folks at REI Co-op Experiences, our adventure travel outfitters, to turn to for a little inspiration. Well, more than a little⁠: They have nearly 100 trips scheduled between Dec. 2019 and March 2020 alone, and their teams are constantly sending back photos back from their trips, many of which promise warm weather, sunny days and plenty of adventure. And as the Co-op Journal’s travel editor, part of my job is sorting through them, which is both a blessing and a curse. Here are a few I’ll be daydreaming of as winter settles in.

Paddle the Everglades

Length: 4 days
Price: $1,399 for REI members

At 1.5 million acres, South Florida’s Everglades National Park is the third largest national park in the Lower 48. And while paddling mangrove forests in search of manatees, white ibises and American crocodiles is enough to make me want to book a ticket, the chance to snorkel one of the world’s largest reefs at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is icing on the cake.

Cycle Vietnam

Length: 12 days
Price: $3,699 for REI members

As a cyclist, this tour from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi is a bucket list trip. But if you’re not up for 40 miles a day in the saddle, there’s also a 10-day hiking trip through the highlands of northern Vietnam and Laos. Or if you’re young at heart, this nine-day, multisport trek designed for ages 18 to 35 (and open to everyone over 18) will see you hike, ride and spelunk your way across the country.

Explore Costa Rica

Length: 6 days
Price: $2,599 for REI members

With hiking, kayaking, standup paddleboarding, snorkeling, zip lining and the chance to learn to surf, what more do I need to say?

Trek Across Southern California

Length: 4 days
Price: $1,999 for REI members

Desert or beach? Why not both? This four-day journey across Southern California starts in Palm Springs, hits both Joshua Tree National Park and Mount San Jacinto Peak before heading to the coast where you’ll explore La Jolla’s sea caves by kayak.

Volunteer in Patagonia

Length: 13 days
Price: $3,885 for REI members

REI partnered with Conservation Volunteers International Program to build this volunteer vacation to Patagonia’s famous Torres del Paine National Park. Much of the work you’ll take on focuses on improving overused hiking trails. Perhaps the best part is no experience is required.

Search for Waterfalls in Southern Arizona

Length: 4 days
Price: $1,699 for REI members

Waterfalls? In the desert? You bet. Day one of this trip starts with a hike to Seven Falls, you guessed it, a seven-tiered cascade just north of Tucson. But don’t worry, with stops in Saguaro National Park, Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, you’ll experience the Sonoran Desert in all its multifaceted glory.

Paddle Baja California Sur 

Length: 6 days
Price: $2,799 for REI members

Not pictured: Luxe safari-style glamping digs; fresh seafood and margaritas; sea lion colonies; beach-side bonfires; snorkeling excursions and day hikes. But really, if the picture above doesn’t sell you on this trip to Baja’s Espiritu Santo Island, nothing will.

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