A warm vacation in direct-flight from MSP
January 28, 2014 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Minnesota winter has drained me of the will to live. Help me find a warm, US vacation. Criteria inside.

I have some specific criteria for this, mostly revolving around that fact that this will be my first plane ride in almost 10 years. I'm terrified of flying, but I'm more terrified of not seeing the sun again, so here we are. (As a note, I don't need any help with the flight phobia - I have coping skills covered for that).

  • Warm. Above 60 is fine.

  • Beach town would be a plus, but not necessary. I don't need to go in the water, but it would be nice to be near it.

  • In the continental US.

  • Direct flight from Minneapolis/St. Paul. I want to make the flying/traveling portion as stress-free as possible because I'm the worst on planes.

  • I don't care about hiking, sports, special attractions or anything physical. I just need to drink, eat and be warm somewhere. The only attraction I care about is liquor.

  • Safe enough for an inexperienced, single traveler

  • I'm a liberal 30-something woman who likes music, art, theater, history and did I mention liquor.

  • What say you, MeFi? I'll take anything at just about any price range. The only city I'm not too interested in is Vegas, which I know would fit some of my criteria there. I want to leave in the next month. My work schedule is flexible and I can work from anywhere, so I can take off whenever the timing is right.
    posted by Zosia Blue to Travel & Transportation (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
    Delta has direct flights to Puerto Vallarta, which will meet all of your requirements. I've been twice and basically all I do is sit by the hotel pool all day, ordering drinks and nachos.
    posted by joan_holloway at 11:54 AM on January 28, 2014

    San Diego? Florida Keys? Both have beaches and liquor, I know that much! And, generally, warmth when the rest of the country isn't.
    posted by rtha at 11:59 AM on January 28, 2014

    Puerto Vallarta is in Mexico, not the continental US.

    Honestly right now, there are really only about two regions that are above 60 - parts of the Southwest and Miami. It's cold kind of all over right now. I was just in central Florida and it was 32.

    So I think your options are Miami, LA, Phoenix, Tucson or San Diego.
    posted by Lutoslawski at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

    Oops, sorry - missed the part about staying within the US. I still recommend it if you have a passport! Otherwise, San Diego for sure. There's a great cocktail scene there.
    posted by joan_holloway at 12:04 PM on January 28, 2014

    Sun Country Air has a direct flight from Mpls to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Not continental US, but no passport required and WARM!
    posted by Floydd at 12:07 PM on January 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

    Fly to San Diego. I was there in late December and it was great. Depending on the dates, you could even fly Sun Country which allows you to fly through Terminal 2.
    posted by Area Man at 12:08 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

    Death Valley National Park, California, is very pretty and warm.
    posted by Melismata at 12:12 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

    L.A. is always pretty nice relative to the rest of the country this time of year, but this year more than ever -- we've had one of the driest and warmest winters on record. So, terrible for us in terms of the drought that's coming, but great for visitors. I think you'd love a long weekend in Santa Monica.
    posted by scody at 12:14 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

    Sun Country runs direct flights to Palm Springs from Minneapolis. Not a beach, but perfect and reliable weather and lots of nice resorts that pretty much exist for "drinking next to the pool" purposes. There's a totally decent art museum in PSP, and some galleries and lots of good places to eat. Similarly, Phoenix, which is super cheap to fly to most of the time.
    posted by goodbyewaffles at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2014

    Yup, southern California. My mom said it was 73 last week. San Diego, LA, or Palm Springs. (or somewhere in between... Santa Barbara is pretty, too)
    posted by jrobin276 at 12:30 PM on January 28, 2014

    Key West or the Florida Keys, maybe? It's quirky and small, and there's plenty to drink. But it is high season, so the prices are potentially a detriment. Temps are currently highs in the seventies and lows in the sixties.

    Alternatively, I might recommend my hometown area, Fort Myers/Sanibel - the Southwest Florida area. It's tourist season, but cheaper (generally) than the Keys. Highs were in the eighties last I checked, lows in the sixties/fifties. My father was complaining about needing to wear pants and socks for the first time all season.

    The water in either place will probably be too cold for swimming, though.
    posted by PearlRose at 12:32 PM on January 28, 2014

    Response by poster: Oh, this is great. Just reading these answers is making me warmer. I might have to take a few vacations now. I'm leaning towards starting with the shortest plane ride, which is likely Phoenix, but I would love, love, love to get out to Southern CA again. It's been years. I'm still open to anything else.
    posted by Zosia Blue at 12:35 PM on January 28, 2014

    Do you mind renting a car? Get on a plane of about 3 hours and 15 minutes and your in Tampa. Drive south about an hour (a little less) and go to Sarasota. There is a little section at Siesta Key beach that has little hotels at or on the beach in walking distance to a little area with bars and restaurants. The beach is amazing and the water is terrific. Then if you get motivated Sarasota is a town with anything you could want.
    It's nothing fancy but it is easy, and low key. You can walk to get a bottle of wine and sit on your chair at your little inn and watch the waves. There also about a dozen places to eat or drink nearby. You could walk to hear live music, etc.

    If you want to see a hotel I chose a random one sandbox on the beach.
    If you street view 5248 Ocean Boulevard you'll get the idea.

    If you get ambitious you can get of the key and see Sarasota. It has anything you could want - Opera, museums, botanical gardens, zoos, nature, aat galleries, etc.

    posted by beccaj at 12:43 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

    come to san diego. it's been freakishly sunny almost all winter -- I went to the beach on satuday! I was hot! -- and we have all the liquor. also not *that* much farther than phoenix.
    posted by changeling at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2014

    It's probably about the same amount of time to fly from anywhere to either Phoenix or San Diego, so don't let that stop you.

    It's been pretty in San Diego, but it's supposed to actually be cold (like, frost in the mornings in some parts of town, or even actual ice that I have to rinse off my damn windshield) and rainy in Jan-Feb. But the sun tends to come out in the afternoons even on rainy days.

    It's a little easier to get close to the beach in San Diego, I feel like, without spending a zillion bucks, but there are certainly decent deals in LA if you prefer more stuff to do.
    posted by Lyn Never at 1:07 PM on January 28, 2014

    I recommend the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. A standard king is $125/n and you can usually get a deal if you stay 4 nights.

    The flight on Sun Country only $258 RT if you leave on Monday, and you can usually get the flight for $340 RT if you fly on weekdays.

    LA obviously has more to do, but if you don't want to do anything besides drink and get sun, Palm Springs will be 10-15 degrees warmer. If you are staying in Santa Monica or Venice, LA can get disappointingly chilly, even during this warm winter. Given your preference, Palm Springs is a better desert destination than either Phoenix or Tucson, and I'm saying that as a Minnesotan whose family has a place in Tucson and has spent a lot of time in the Southwest. Arizona is cool if you want to get out into nature, or play golf, or purchase weapons without ID, but it doesn't sound like you want to do any of those things.

    The only caveat is that there is not much else to do in Palm Springs besides sit around in the sun and drink, so you have to be committed to this plan.
    posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 1:42 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

    Response by poster: Really, I only chose Phoenix because it was a (slightly) shorter flight. But now I'm re-thinking that completely, and would be willing to drug myself for an extra hour on a plane. This is all warm sounding. So warm. Thank you. I'll let you know what I end up doing.
    posted by Zosia Blue at 1:48 PM on January 28, 2014

    For the record, having been to both Phoenix and San Diego, I would MUCH rather go to San Diego. Also, beaches.
    posted by breakin' the law at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2014

    My in-laws are in San Diego right now (actually, Coronado) and they've been sending text messages back to Minnesota taunting us about the weather. They mock complained the other day about a 68 degree "windchill". We've also heard about it how it feels chilly for a moment when they get out of the hot tub.
    posted by Area Man at 2:53 PM on January 28, 2014

    It's a 3h45m flight from MSP to MIA (Miami) and then an hour drive down to Hawk's Cay. It's a full service resort that has fabulous restaurants, a wonderful spa and clear aquamarine blue waters. If you conjure up enough energy and motivation, you can take the 45-55 minute drive down to Key West and enjoy all of the crazy fun down there. I've never had a bad time at Hawk's Cay, in fact, I don't think it can be done.
    posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:45 PM on January 28, 2014

    Speaking of Miami, I have really, really fond memories of sitting by myself out on the beach at night in Miami Beach, drinking a bottle of wine and watching ships out on the water, knowing that everyone I knew back in Minneapolis was freezing their asses off at that moment. It's not super cheap in Miami Beach, but it's warm and beautiful and there's food and culture and liquor.
    posted by COBRA! at 7:49 AM on January 29, 2014

    I'm in LA and I agree that if you come here, you want to avoid staying near the beach - it's generally much cooler there. For example, it's often in the low 60s near the coast, low 70s inland, and upper 70s / low 80s in the valleys. If you opt for the LA area, you might enjoy staying in Pasadena - part of it is walkable and nice and it's one of the warmer areas.
    posted by insectosaurus at 3:14 PM on January 29, 2014

    Response by poster: A non-update: I haven't yet gone anywhere. But if I had to choose right now, it would either be Miami or Southern CA somewhere. I'll let you know if I make it out of the state!
    posted by Zosia Blue at 11:32 AM on March 3, 2014

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