Escape Washington's snow and ice by heading for these warm-weather destinations

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By Andrea Sachs and Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, February 21, 2010

After nearly 55 inches of snow, Washingtonians are experiencing some serious freezer burn. We're tired of sloshing through slushy puddles, tiptoeing around icy patches and feeling the cold of winter bore through our down coats and fleece hats. We now despise the color white. We are sick of snow days. If the snow, snow, won't go away -- then we will.

With this kind of urgency, you need a special kind of destination: one that's easy to plan and to reach; domestic, so you don't need to dig out your passport; and, most important, too warm for sub-zero clothing. In the spirit of adventure, we skipped the obvious choices -- Miami and San Diego, for instance -- seeking out escapes not typically found on the snowbird route. We also checked historical data from the National Weather Service and local bureaus, and the Weather Channel's forecasts to be sure that these spots would deliver some much-needed warmth. (Dryness, however, is another story.) Not to nag, but you should go as soon as possible, in case another monster storm dumps on our city and foils your getaway.

Anaheim, Calif.

Summer extends through winter in this SoCal city and its environs, the TV settings of such guilty pleasures as "The Real Housewives of Orange County" and "The O.C." You can scream your head off at Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm, or howl in the Pacific Ocean waves that splash onto such Ocean County towns as Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, surfing havens both. In addition, the county isn't called the Golf Coast for its putt-putt; hit some tees at more than 40 championship courses, including the one (Dad Miller Golf Course) where a high schooler named Tiger sharpened his swing. When it's time to shop and eat, keep your sun visor on for the Shops at Anaheim GardenWalk, an outdoor retail complex. And to meet others who understand the importance of escaping the cold, take a whale-watching tour from Dana Point, where you may spot gray whales that wisely winter in the warmer climes.

Average high last February: 66

Today's temperature: 62

Sample airfare: $235 round trip from Reagan National to John Wayne Orange County Airport, on American Airlines.

Information: Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, 714-765-8888, http://www.anaheimoc.org

Ocean Springs, Miss.

Just across the bay from Biloxi is a thriving arts community in the small Mississippi Gulf Coast city of Ocean Springs. Known as the City of Discovery because the French established a settlement there in 1699, it has a historic, tree-filled downtown area that's home to scads of art galleries, arts and crafts shops, ethnic restaurants and historic churches dating back to the 1800s. There's also a load of natural beauty to enjoy, and you can go fishing, camping, swimming, hiking, biking and birding in the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which stretches to Florida. Finally, should you have a hankering to hit the casinos, just follow the flashy lights to Biloxi.

Average high last February: 58

Today's temperature: 62

Sample airfare: $226 round trip from Baltimore Washington International to Biloxi, on Delta.

Info: Ocean Springs Mississippi Chamber of Commerce Mainstreet Tourism Bureau, 228-875-4424, http://www.oceanspringschamber.com;


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