Warm vacation spots in January? Best US warm winter vacation? As the arctic blast settled in and I looked out at the once again icy roads, I found myself on Google searching for a reprieve.
Florida, Texas and California are always an easy place to start, but what to do when we get there becomes the next issue. I’m not a lay on the beach for 4 days kind of gal, nor is my husband. Those kinds of vacations can be amazing, which is why we took my parents to a swanky wellness resort in Cancun for a 70th birthday.
But when you’ve been cooped up, the body is craving some adventure. Some fun. Someone to pamper you because you’ve been dealing with house stuff non-stop!
When San Diego first came to mind, I thought we’ve seen it all there…then the Fairmont Grand Del Mar crossed my path and I was intrigued. We’d still be enjoying the fabulously mild temperature, but away from the city with a variety of activities that meant no need to drive! Once I’ve arrived in a location, I have no desire to spend tons of time in the car going from place to place!
Del Mar, California Things to Do
Expecting traffic to be like LA, I was delighted to find that it took only 25 minutes from the airport to reach Del Mar, California. Blue skies, a slow lighthearted pace and the feeling of being wrapped in one of those delightful fluffy hotel robs took hold upon arrival!
If you too have been searching for that US winter getaway to enjoy as a couple or a family, but are tired of the same old same let me introduce you to Del Mar! As noted, this stay was at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
From the moment you arrive, you’ll notice the staff to guest ratio is pretty incredible. Yet, unlike a store where someone is constantly asking “can I help you”, they’re simply friendly and busy right up until they seem to magically know you do need something and voila they have an answer!
Anyhow, let’s’ get on with the things to do and see!
#1 The Grand Golf Club
For those who love golf, this course is going to be hard to beat with the stunning landscaping to give you beautiful views and truly feel like an oasis. And, they’ve put a lot of though into the design of each hole, to create a great experience. . Add to that the temps in the 50’s-60’s throughout the winter and it’s an absolute win!
Grand Del Mar really pays attention to the little details. Consistent course maintenance, experienced caddies and many members of the pro staff have been there since the course opened, helping to continually refine and improve the course.
For example, they have a 12B hole that’s used any time they might need to close another hole for maintenance or even one of those LA film shoots.
Not an experienced golfer? No worries, you can fully enjoy riding in the cart or take some lessons!
They caddies love their job, which is also to help provide tips and ideas as you play.
And if you’re like the ladies I was with, you may find that looking the part helps you play better! So here’s a great resource to find the best golf clothing for women. I was surprised to find how useful my jacket with a tee holder would be!
Things to do At the Fairmont Grand Del Mar
For those in the family not interested in golfing, the activity list is still plenty long. Along with lots of ways to simply slow down, relax and enjoy some much needed winter sunshine.
The property itself always seems to have little activities going like an ice skating rink in the winter. Or there are multiple easy hiking trails that come directly off the property to give you that immediate feeling you’re away in nature while still being so close to things you need!
#2 Horseback Riding
I don’t think I’ve ever turned down a chance to go riding and the Grand Del Mar has just brought horses back on property.
A trail ride is an easy way for anyone (regardless of riding experience) to enjoy the fun of these beautiful animals. The horses are all retired from a previous life of racing or jumping, making this their enjoyable life of taking daily walks on a trail they know so well and being cared for in the extreme.
Having done this other places, I was again impressed with the little details. Helmets, the way the guides speak to you, a chance to feed the horses treats, the list goes on.
Those looking for more could do lessons and those looking for less can simply say hello these gorgeous creatures and feed them a treat!
After a day of golf and time on a horse, what more could you want than a massage. Not only was the massage itself top notch, but the continue to think about the little details.
The way you’re welcomed with a wellness drink, the salt water pool for additional relaxation, the warming blankets on the massage beds and if I can make one recommendation… DO THE SCALP massage. Heaven. Pure, pure heaven.
You can also do body wraps, salt scrubs, reflexology treatments, and facials. The only thing missing for me would have been a hair salon to put me back together after that incredible scalp massage.
#4 Pool and Gym
An active vacation is nothing without a good gym or places to run. I understand that the gym is not of interest for lots of folks, but it’s always at the top of our travel list.
Especially for a US Warm Winter vacation, I want to get my sweat on and then sit at the pool with a good book for hours!
This is one of the best hotel gyms I’ve found. It gets quite busy in the early hours, but has plenty of space and machines for everyone do what they need from Technogym treadmills to Peloton bikes and a great array of cable machines and free weights.
#5 Archery, Pickleball and Tennis
The activities continue with lessons in Archery and then open courts for you to put the whole family to the test in a friendly pickleball tournament! Throughout our stay the courts were frequently in use, but it always appeared there was an area open or the opportunity to jump in.
What would vacation be without fabulous food? I can absolutely vouch for this being some of the most delicious food I’ve eaten. Maybe it was simply being in great company, but I don’t think so.
At the Fairmont Grand Del Mar they believe in quality food and it shows. Every meal from room service to dinner was top notch.
In fact, Amaya is one of only 142 restaurants WORLDWIDE to be a 3 Star Michelin restaurant!!
It’s a super interesting restaurant because the layout changes daily and the menu focuses on current local fresh ingredients. Just know that with this new rating, there is always going to be a wait list to get in. But guests of the hotel are usually able to secure a spot if you check in advance of your arrival.
What’s in Del Mar?
When you have some time to leave the resort, you’ll find there are other things to enjoy in the area. As noted, I’m pretty content to open my balcony let the sunshine in as I relax and then find myself walking right out the front doors to find entertainment.
But of course getting to know the area is always part of what brings us back! Especially because who can resist heading to the beach to just get your toes in the sand, even for a moment. Since the Cali waters are often cold, it’s not where we spend a lot of winter time, but worth the short drive!
Del Mar is most known for it’s horse racing track. I visited there years ago and it’s a great addition to your trip if they happen to be running while you’re in town!
It also has an adorable Downtown area that you can walk to explore the local shops and restaurants. It’s a couple of blocks long and especially beautiful when lit up with holiday lights at night.
And of course you’ll find a number of hiking trails in the area to give you more sweeping views of the land. It really feels like you’re somewhere far more remote and quiet than you are!
All right, hopefully this gave you a new idea for your US warm winter vacation! I know it was absolutely a trip that ticked all the boxes for us and one I’ll be happy to go back to.
Looking for more California Travel ideas?
- Le Blanc Spa and Resort in Cancun Review
- Santa Barbara Wine Country Weekend
- Mexico Wellness Retreat (fabulous but maybe not winter)
- 10 Active Adult Vacations
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