There’s a lot to love about winter, but a lack of sunshine is usually not something that makes the list. And craving light is only natural: A lack of vitamin D — which your body creates after only a few moments in the sun — has been linked with depression, and research suggests that exposure to the vitamin can encourage the release of a feel-good hormone called serotonin in the brain. More time in the sun? That’s been associated with both lower levels of mental distress and a cheerier disposition. It’s enough, perhaps, to make the case for a sun-soaked trip.
But every sunny wintertime vacation does not have to equate to tropical bliss. These four spots deliver on vitamin D — and provide more than just sand along with it.
Park City, Utah
Thanks to the fact that nearby Salt Lake is one of the country’s sunnier cold-weather cities, film critics flocking to Sundance will likely enjoy bluebird days outside—when it’s not snowing, that is. Soak up rays on skis at Park City, the U.S.’ largest ski resort or its neighbor, Deer Valley, a luxe, ski-only option. Or, après at The St. Regis Deer Valley: You’ll get the ski experience riding the funicular up to an indoor-outdoor mountain terrace.
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria, about 75 miles southwest of Vancouver, is quieter than its neighbor to the north and brighter than socked-in Seattle (the Canadian city benefits from 2,109 hours of sunshine a year). Bundle up for a whale watching or wildlife tour via a heated, semi-covered catamaran or sip color-changing gin at waterfront Victoria Distillers.
You’d have to be bold to head to the beach where locals don puffers come winter (Beach House Hermosa Beach’s waterfront suites have in-unit fireplaces), but there are other ways to take in the Great Outdoors and sunny, 60-something-degree winters in Los Angeles city limits, too. Two musts: rooftop bars (don’t miss Mama Shelter’s colorful perch for sunset over the hills) and hikes galore (Runyon Canyon Park is the highest point in L.A. country and Barnsdall Art Park is an urban oasis for art lovers).
Descend into practically any Colorado city, and you’re likely to see the sun—the state sees more than 300 days of sunshine a year. But in less crowded and a-little-bit-higher-up Aspen (home to many of the state’s highest peaks), the sky seems that much clearer. Stay at The Limelight Hotel in town and ask about “First Tracks”: Guests get complimentary access to early rays and Aspen Mountain, skiing in solitude before the gondola opens for the day.