Winter is the perfect time to take a vacation. If you live in an area that's cold this time of year, you're probably itching for some sand between your toes. Unfortunately, with holidays on the horizon, money can be a bit tight and that trip might epic adventure might cut too much into your gift budget. Luckily, if you need to get away to somewhere beautiful and sunny, there are some affordable options. We'll fill you in on four of the best vacation destinations that are gorgeous in the winter and won't break the bank.

The Florida Keys

beach chairs, umbrella, and palm tree on the beach in the Florida Keys
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Connected to mainland Florida by the impressive U.S. Highway 1, the Florida Keys are a favorite winter destination for those in need of some Vitamin D. One benefit of going to the Keys is you're still using the U.S. dollar. Another benefit is you can save on airfare by flying into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale and making the four-hour drive to Key West, which is a pretty magical road trip in its own right. Not only does this save you money, but you can also experience the wonders of the Overseas Highway. Of course, you can fly into Key West directly too, either from another Florida airport or, perhaps, from your home airport.

Once in the Keys, go sailing, explore reefs by snorkeling or scuba diving, see nature and wildlife in state parks, and kick back on the beach. There are all-inclusive resorts that keep things simple. But you can cut costs further by booking your own hotel or vacation rental.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico beach with vacationers relaxing
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Puerto Rico is the perfect destination for a winter vacation because you don't even need to make sure you have a current passport. Enjoy all the luxuries of a Caribbean vacation without any of the hassle. Since there are plenty of independent hotels that are budget-friendly, you can find affordable accommodations all over the island. Flights aren't too expensive either.

Even during Puerto Rico's coldest time of the year, the average low is 70 degrees, and the average high is 83 degrees.

Yosemite National Park

mountains and forest in Yosemite National Park
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Okay, we know this one isn't a piña colada sipping, sand in your toes type of vacation. But Yosemite is truly a spectacular place in the winter, and way less crowded than during the warmer months. If you're looking for an inexpensive vacation where you can find some solitude, you may want to check out Yosemite National Park. The park does have limited access in the winter, but the Yosemite Valley is still open.

The peaceful atmosphere is a far cry from visiting during peak months, and you'll still get to see a lot of the same highlights such as Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. Plus, you can enjoy the park in a whole new way by snowshoeing and tubing. While you might experience snow when you're there, the average winter highs are in the low 50s, so it's not as if you're going to the Arctic tundra.

There is lodging in and around the park with low rates throughout the winter. So if you've never been to Yosemite and don't like crowds, this might be the perfect, inexpensive winter vacation for you.

Panama

Cars heading toward Panama City
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Panama is an overlooked destination that we wholeheartedly recommend visiting, and winter is a great time to do so since it won't break the bank. Flights might be more expensive than closer destinations such as Cabo, but once you arrive the cost of your vacation drops significantly. Food and lodging are cheaper than on many Caribbean islands, and you'll still enjoy the same crystal blue waters. Plus, you won't feel like you're on vacation with every other person on earth.

You may be surprised to find that Panama City is a large metropolis with towering buildings, eclectic cuisine, and plenty to do. So if you want shopping, clubs, and incredible restaurants, you'll find that there. Plus, since Panama City is only 50 miles from the beach, you can easily go back and forth between relaxing and sightseeing.