As the dreaded polar vortex promises record-breaking low temperatures across the Midwest this week, the dream of warmer climates takes hold. It’s summer somewhere, right? (Even without the frigid cold, nearly two out of three Americans say they regret not taking a warm-weather vacation last year, according to Airbnb).

Here is a list of recently published travel stories about warm-weather destinations and activities. Whether hiking in the desert or surfing in the Pacific Ocean, leave your cold-weather gear behind. Or at least dream about it.

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The vast McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which keeps much of North Scottsdale wild and undeveloped, offers a variety of hikes on over 200 miles of trail, including the 5.1-mile round-trip Tom’s Thumb Trail.CreditJohn Burcham for The New York Times

Scottsdale, which runs 31 miles south to north, has plenty of golf and spa resorts that make it a popular snowbird destination. But for those visitors also seeking communion with nature and stimulating culture, the rangy city has much to offer, including new art and design attractions, in addition to warming doses of Arizona sunlight.

The Omnia Dayclub of the Vidanta Los Cabos, which is just one of the aesthetically minded resorts to pop up in the region. CreditGraham Walzer for The New York Times

This sea-flanked strip of Mexico on the southern tip of the Baja peninsula has always been about more than bachelor parties and spring-break debauchery, but recently, a variety of high-end destinations have emerged in Los Cabos to cater to the type of crowd who appreciates modern design, farm-to-table meals and sipping drinks as opposed to drinking shots.

Ehu and Kai Adventures offers rental kayaks in Kealakekua Bay, a dozen miles south of Kailua-Kona. Lucky paddlers may see spinner dolphins and humpback whales splashing in the distance.CreditMichelle Mishina-Kunz for The New York Times

Long a favorite of package tourists and budget travelers, Kailua-Kona may not have the lush landscapes of other Hawaiian hot spots. But, beneath a slightly dated exterior, it has plenty to offer. Hawaii’s trademark charms — beaches, wildlife, fresh cuisine, gorgeous sunsets and a volcano or two — are all within striking distance for those equipped with a rental car and a little research.

A coach and a student going over the finer points of mastering a surfboard. CreditBrett Gundlock for The New York Times

Housed in an intimate, minimalist building tucked under the jungle canopy, and just a short distance from Playa Guiones, a four-mile span of white-sand beach featuring some of the most consistent surf in the world, Surf Simply in Nosara, Costa Rica, has become a premier surf destination. What sets it apart from other surf camps is the extreme specificity of technical instruction, complete with personal video clips and skill-building lessons that are customized for each surfer.

The remoteness of Cabo Polonio is treasured by its handful of year-round inhabitants. There’s virtually no Wi-Fi and electricity is minimal. CreditTali Kimelman for The New York Times

What’s most striking about Uruguay’s coastal towns is what they don’t have: high-rises (except in Punta), chain restaurants and hotels, overdeveloped beaches. If you want to truly get off the grid, Cabo Polonio is perhaps the country’s most desirable spot. The hard-to-reach village sits within an undeveloped national park, and it can still feel wild, particularly in the off-season.

Beach at Luquillo, Puerto Rico.CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

Our annual list combines destinations that are aspirational, newly intriguing and perhaps threatened, and Puerto Rico earned the No. 1 spot to visit this year. Hurricane Maria slammed into this United States territory and other Caribbean islands with devastating force a year and a half ago, but the island is on the rebound. Visit for its lively arts scene and warm sandy beaches; by now, many major attractions are open or partly open.