14 Warm Weather Destinations for Reconnecting With Nature

Hiking trail by the sea side at Point Reyes National Seashore


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Hiking trail by the sea side at Point Reyes National Seashore

Nature Roll Call

While winter encompasses much of the United States and has you holed up dreaming of sunnier days, the fact is that you don’t have to leave the country to find fun in the sun, even in the dead of winter. In parts of our great nation, there are still-warm-weather destinations with plenty to get you outside and reconnected with the great outdoors. So pack your bags and get ready to have your world rocked by these 14 amazing places where you can soak up the sun, take in the wildlife, and reconnect with nature. For more ideas on ways to connect with Mother Nature, check out 21 Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close.

Wild Spanish mustangs of Shackleford Banks North Carolina

Beaufort, North Carolina

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy year-round in the charming town of Beaufort and its surrounding areas. Beaufort itself boasts a beautiful main drag and is basically surrounded by water, making it impossible not to have a breathtaking view no matter where you are. Nature-lovers rejoice in all the opportunities the area offers. Shackleford Island, which is accessible by ferry from Beaufort, is an uninhabited island that boasts amazing beaches with gentle waves for beginning surfers, as well as tons of wildlife, most notably wild Spanish mustangs that are ancestors of feral horses from a late-1500s shipwreck. The Island is part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore, which is worth exploring along with the Cape Lookout lighthouse. Downtown Beaufort also provides quick access to the Rachel Carson Coastal Estuarine Reserve with over 2,300 acres of wildlife and lots of hiking opportunities.

Sedona Vortex

Sedona, Arizona

Often referred to as a geological wonderland, Sedona has sights like none other. It has even been ranked as one of the Most Beautiful Places in America by USA Today. Needless to say, there are hundreds of things to do in Sedona to get up close and personal with nature, starting with over 100 hiking trails. Don't want to hike? Take a guided jeep tour instead. In addition to the amazing expanse of wilderness, Sedona boasts "vortexes" both large and small, believed by many to be spiritual in nature. There are four large ones emitting different energy, but smaller ones can be found throughout Sedona.

Jekyll Island, Georgia's St. Andrews Beach
Allen Allnoch/istockphoto

Savannah, Georgia, and Surrounding Areas

Yes, Savannah is a historic town in the United States, but along with its surrounding communities, it offers a ton to nature lovers. Salt marshes, swamps, and barrier islands await you in Savannah. Dolphin-watching and fishing are a given, but you can also canoe or kayak numerous scenic rivers, or hit up nearby Tybee Island for its beautiful beaches and water activities. If you really want a nature experience, you can camp or RV in several places, including Red Gate Campground and RV Resort, or set up basecamp at nearby Jekyll Island Campground to explore Jekyll Island State Park.

South Padre Island Texas

South Padre Island, Texas

If white sandy beaches, deep-sea fishing, dolphin sightings, learning to build a professional sandcastle, and kiteboarding are some things you think you would enjoy, then South Padre Island is your next warm-weather vacation destination. It’s beautiful there year-round — although if crowds aren’t your thing, we recommend you avoid a March visit due to spring break vacationers.

Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park, California

Often referred to as the Yosemite of Southern California, Malibu Creek State Park boasts over 8,000 acres of wilderness to explore, from plains to peaks and everything in between. You can also camp at the Malibu Beach RV Park, which has 35 tent spots and 142 RV spots — all with mountain or ocean views to help you feel reconnected with nature.

Na Pali Coast State Park

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. From cliff hikes and sailboat rides to helicopter tours and surf lessons, Kauai is brimming with nature and adventure. Kayaking, snorkeling, and zip-lining are also adventures to try out, not to mention Kauai's trails, rivers, rainforests, mountains, valleys, and cascading waterfalls.

Collier Seminole State Park
Florida State Parks

Marco Island, Florida

Marco Island offers a nature lovers' paradise and high-class resorts all in one. If you want a little of both you can’t go wrong here with its tropical climate, white sandy beaches, and tons to do right at your fingertips. Check out Collier Seminole State Park, which lies within one of the world’s largest mangrove swamps, just a few miles outside of Marco Island. There you will find over 7,200 acres of wildlife, primitive camping, canoeing, hiking, biking, and more. Boating is a given on Marco Island whether you want to fish, sightsee, or just relax and connect with the sea. Water sports are also huge, and who can pass up the beautiful beaches?

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina

Immerse yourself in the barrier island life by camping at one of four campgrounds on Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Enjoy the beach and all it has to offer: You can off-road in select areas, hike, take in all the scenic views, and explore the natural inhabitants such as sea turtles and other marine mammals.

Point Reyes National seashore in California

Point Reyes National Seashore, California

Visiting Point Reyes is a different kind of adventure altogether. Here you will see beautiful beaches, hillsides, grasslands, rocky headlands, over 1,500 species of animals, and have the opportunity to work with nature. The Point Reyes website lists ways you can volunteer to help with sand dune restoration, planting native plants, and habitat restoration — all while taking in the breathtaking views.

 Trunk Bay, St. John, US Virgin Islands

Virgin Islands National Park's Trunk Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Trunk Bay in Virgin Islands National Park is a place where nature lovers will delight in trails both above ground and underwater. Find a 225-yard-long Underwater Snorkeling Trail, which displays underwater signage about the coral formations and species that can be seen along the way. The hiking is amazing as well, and the beach itself has been named the third most beautiful beach in the world by Conde Nast Traveler. 

girl snorkeling in key west

Key West, Florida Keys

If you truly want to get away from it all, take a visit to Key West, where you won’t even feel like you’re in the United States anymore. Key West gives a true Caribbean vibe with all the activities, especially water activities. Connect with nature by scuba diving and snorkeling, boating, sailing, fishing, and kayaking the backcountry. And don’t forget to take in the breathtaking sunsets while you’re there. One of the best ways to connect with nature in Key West is at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. It’s an undersea park taking up 70 nautical square miles of coral reef. Scuba diving and snorkeling are popular things to do here, and you can also hike, swim, and camp.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, California

Big Sur has long been a spot sought out by many, including some famous authors in their quest to become one with nature. From mountains and beaches to rivers and valleys — and everything in between — Big Sur has nature and wildlife for you to explore at every turn. Some parts still don’t even have electricity — a purposeful decision meant to preserve the area’s mystique. If you're a nature lover, Big Sur provides a natural grandeur you simply can’t miss.

Toroweap point at sunrise, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

Grand Canyon, Arizona

No must-see travel list would be complete without the Grand Canyon, and the same is true here. There are so many ways to celebrate the beauty of the Grand Canyon and connect with nature at the same time, including hiking, camping, and whitewater rafting. The winter months mean fewer crowds, too, so chances are you’ll have plenty of room to roam free of other travel groups.

People biking on Sanibel Island

Captiva and Sanibel Islands, Florida

Visit two neighboring communities to take in the natural wildlife of Florida. Bordering several different nature preserves, guided nature walks are available, or you can bike the paths on your own. There are also plenty of opportunities to hit the water to explore and connect with nature, and, with over 230 different species of birds, alligators, and dolphins, there are tons of natural inhabitants to discover.