Oh baby, it’s cold outside! If the harsh winds of January are biting at your cheeks and numbing your toes, travelers may wish to escape the chillier parts of the country for someplace warm and cozy. And as long as you’re nurturing your body with warm weather, you might as well nurture your brain.
We’ve rounded up some of the best warm-weather cities for museums, so you can pack light for a January journey with comfortable weather and cultural cornucopias.
When visiting Santa Fe for museums, it might be hard to even know where to begin. The city boasts and amazing collection of diverse institutions, none more beguiling than the Harrell House Bug Museum. It may not be for the skittish, but you can touch thousands of insects in the company of brilliant entomologists. For something a bit less crawly, visit the Museum of International Folk Art to get some inspiration for you own DIY projects. The Poeh Cultural Center houses a beautiful collection of Pueblo works, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is the world’s largest collection of O’Keeffe’s art. Focus your tourism on the numerous museums for indigenous people and you can’t go wrong.
Bring a light jacket and a knit hat and you’ll be prepared for San Francisco’s chillist weather. There’s a variety of aquariums to check out, starting with the beautiful underwater tunnel at the Academy of Sciences. The Asian Art Museum will take you on a spellbinding journey, and you’ll be amazed by the history on display at the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Museum of African Diaspora. The Exploratorium is fun for all ages, and the Walt Disney Family Museum dives deep in the history of the media empire that will one day own us all.
If you’re traveling with family, you’ll be surprised to find New Orleans quite accommodating, its debauched reputation notwithstanding. Mardi Gras World is surprisingly great for kids, and the Audubon is perfect for young nature-lovers. There’s a ton of historic homes to tour, perhaps none more important than the Whitney Plantation, about an hour’s drive fro the city, where visitors can learn how the region’s legacy of slavery continues to reverberate to this day.
While LA may seem like a cultural wasteland, there are oases to be found here and there. While they’re pretty, you can skip the mega-institutions like LACMA and The Getty Center. Instead, go a few steps off the beaten trip with a visit to the art collection at The Broad, or the Annenberg Space for Photography. The California Science Center has an amazingly cool space shuttle, and exhibits at the Japanese American National Museum range from an exploration of internment to the cultural impact of Hello Kitty. You might also consider a trip to the Petersen Automotive Museum, a shrine to the technology that’s destroying the planet.
If you can tear yourself away from the beach, you’ll find yourself richly rewarded with treasures both historic and cultural. Iolani Palace tells an incredible story of Hawai’i’s history, as does the Queen Emma Museum. The Shangri La houses a stunning collection of Islamic art, and the Lucoral Museum houses local geological wonders.