Featured Destination:

St. Croix

Trade winter for white sand in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Consider this holiday gift for the family: a long walk on the beach in St. Croix, in winter. Its powdery beaches invite deep relaxation, oceanfront playtime and romantic sunset rendezvous. Christopher Columbus didn't plant roots in St. Croix after landing here in 1493 -- but you might be tempted.

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Join locals for the island's biggest winter festival.

The Crucian Christmas Festival (Dec. 27 - Jan. 6) is the most colorful time to be on the island. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, it's a Carnival-inspired blend of pageantry, parades, music, dancing and plenty of Crucian rum. So go ahead, don that green feather boa. Come to the island in early December to witness the rehearsals and costume making.

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Relax on an island not crowded by mega-resorts.

Feel like a local in the Danish-influenced towns of Christiansted (left) and Frederiksted (where cruises dock). Tourism isn't an in-your-face industry on St. Croix. In fact, the 23-mile-long island is home to just a few dozen hotels. This fosters a less commercialized and less congested island paradise, relative to other Caribbean islands.

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Plunge into a 19,000-acre underwater sanctuary.

The "three S's" are big in St. Croix: sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving. Do all three off Buck Island, an idyllic setting that so enchanted President John F. Kennedy, he established it as an underwater national monument in 1961. Its coral grottoes, 250 species of fish and crystal-clear waters make this spot a favorite with snorkelers.

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Explore the island's well-preserved forts.

Oh, if these walls could talk. Wander Fort Christiansvaern, built in the mid-1700s to protect the colony from pirates, hurricanes and slave revolts. Boasting dungeons, galleys and cannons -- and lemon-colored bricks from Denmark -- it’s one of several well-preserved buildings highlighting the island's Danish influence.

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