The Perfect Warm Weather Ports for Maximizing Fun

The best spots for a few (warm) days of fun!

By the end of the winter, you can feel a bit desperate to trade snow and cold for sunny skies and warm sand. And we don’t blame you. If you’re making time for a quick vacation over a long weekend, these sunny southern port cities are perfect for a little R&R on the coast! 

What’s more, they’re also great for catching a 2-5 day mini-cruise (hello Cozumel!) and tacking on a day or two of adventures afterwards. So check them out!

No visit to New Orleans is complete without swinging by the French Quarter.

New Orleans:

The “Big Easy” has a lot going for it when it comes to relaxing and enjoying some Southern indulgence. To start your tour of the city off right, get some beignets at the famous Café Du Monde, and when ordering a classic Po’ Boy sandwich, opt for a local specialty, like oyster, catfish, or alligator!

Speaking of gators, you can take a nearby swamp tour and see them right from your boat (if you’re brave). Be sure to catch another classic New Orleans experience—a brass band at the historic Tipitina’s club. You’ll also want to wander down the music Mecca of Frenchmen Street and pop into any bar that looks good.

Don’t miss: A ghost tour! With New Orleans’ history of voodoo, famous battles, and pirates, there’s plenty of ghostly options to pick from. Try to find one ending at “Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop,” one of the oldest bars around.

Catch a mini cruise to: Cozumel, Yucatan, and Costa Maya, Mexico

Tampa Bay is a city built around water.

Tampa Bay:  

As with other Floridian cities, the amusement park may come to mind first, and Tampa’s Busch Gardens is a major draw. 

But there’s also excellent fishing, so a great day outing is to charter a boat and test your angler skills for redfin, sea trout, snapper, and grouper. And with water at the heart of the city, Tampa’s riverwalk is an essential stroll through plazas, past the children’s museum, sports stadiums, dog parks, restaurants, and more!

 Don’t miss: Tampa Bay’s lively brewery scene and the citrusy IPA from the highly rated Cigar City brewery.  

Catch a mini cruise to: Mahogany Bay, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

Galveston’s historic pier has rides galore.

Galveston: 

Why Galveston? Well, the beaches are open year-round and the waters in the Gulf of Mexico are almost always warmer than the Atlantic. Galveston also has the historic Pleasure Pier jutting out into the waves for more than 1,100 feet of fun! Brave the twists, turns, and loops of the Iron Shark Rollercoaster—or look on with your cotton candy while someone else does.  

Inland (slightly), the Strand district boasts Victorian era buildings housing cafes, galleries, antiques, and restaurants—plus the Texas Seaport Museum, perfect for midday meandering.

Don’t miss: The jellyfish, penguins, and sharks at the 1.5 million gallon “Aquarium Pyramid” at Moody Gardens.

Catch a mini cruise to: Yucatan, Costa Maya, and Cozumel, Mexico

Nowhere else does art deco like South Beach.

Miami: 

Miami is known for more than beaches and the unique architecture tops the list. The South Beach neighborhood is home to the Art Deco Historic District, where you can see iconic neon lights, towering skinny-lettered signs on landmark hotels, and pastel colors well worth a stroll down Ocean Drive. For newer designs, head to the Design District, which includes a parking garage that’s actually cooler than some buildings!

When it comes to eating, it’s all about Little Havana. Start with the most famous, Versailles Restaurant Cuban Cuisine, where you can sample croquetas until 2:30AM on weekends. You can’t go wrong with a Cuban sandwich anywhere in the neighborhood, but try the “frita Cubana” from El Rey De Las Fritas. It’s a Cuban burger made of beef and chorizo, and served under potato strings.

Don’t miss: The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden just south of the city and bursting with orchids, hibiscus, queen’s wreath, and more.

Catch a mini cruise to: Half Moon Cay, Nassau, and Princess Cays, Bahamas; Key West, FL; Cozumel, Mexico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos, Amber Cove, Dominican Republic