Our research is editorially independent but we may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Top 18 Winter Beach Escapes in the U.S.

Many of America’s best beaches aren’t just summer vacation destinations, they’re also a fantastic option for a wintertime escape. From the tropical shores of Hawaii to The Sunshine State and the most picturesque islands in the country, you’re spoiled for choice with coastal gems to explore. If you’d like to enjoy a getaway that involves a gorgeous stretch of sand, consider heading to one of these great places where no passport is required.

St Pete Beach, Florida St. Pete Beach, Florida
Credit: St. Pete Beach, Florida by © Artiom Storojenco | Dreamstime.com

St Pete Beach, Florida

Even during the dreariest months of the year, the sun is usually shining here on this island off the Florida coast west of St. Petersburg. Here, you can enjoy lounging on the soft, powdery white sand beaches as well as dipping your toes in the shallow Gulf of Mexico waters. If you want to try your hand at surfing, the mellow swells are ideal for beginners. Or, take out a beach cruiser to ride along the shady bike trails. Shell Key Preserve, an undeveloped barrier island just 15 minutes away by ferry, is a great place for fishing, snorkeling, and swimming.

Orange Beach, Alabama Orange Beach, Alabama
Credit: Orange Beach, Alabama by © George Dodd | Dreamstime.com

Orange Beach, Alabama

Home to some of the prettiest white sand beaches in the United States, Southern Alabama’s Orange Beach offers a spring-like feel with average highs in the low 60s. While the water isn’t warm enough for swimming, you can still enjoy lots of other fun outdoor activities like parasailing, boating, fishing, and walking nature trails. Plus, the beaches here are absolutely gorgeous, with the sands made up mostly of quartz, resulting in pristine white sand that sparkles in the sunshine. Sitting at the edge of waters that are bluer than blue, the contrast is absolutely mesmerizing. With nine miles of beach here, you’ll have plenty of room to spread out your beach blanket and soak up those rays. If you’ve always wanted to see dolphins in the wild, this is the place – there are so many in the waters here that you’re guaranteed a sighting with Dolphin Cruises Aboard the Cold Mil Fleet.

Kauai, Hawaii Poipu Beach on Kauai, Hawaii
Credit: Poipu Beach on Kauai, Hawaii by © Jeff Whyte | Dreamstime.com

Kauai, Hawaii

Winter temperatures in Kauai are in the upper 70s, and you can even enjoy swimming at places like the beautiful and secluded Hanalei Bay. Or, watch the monster six-foot or higher waves that hit the North Shore during the season. If you’re a very strong, experienced surfer, you can even take advantage of them by getting out on a board. Poipu Beach on the southside is a lot more tranquil and is a great place for snorkeling, where you’ll view everything from colorful tropical fish to vibrant coral reefs. Hikers won’t want to miss exploring the Na Pali cliffs with the area’s jaw-dropping coastline views. When winter rains hit, you can make an escape to Kauai Museum in downtown Lihue, which features two floors of exhibits documenting Kauai’s heritage, from the times of the Native Hawaiians to the island’s plantation days, in addition to a wide array of historical and contemporary art by regional artists.

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands St. Croix, Virgin Islands
Credit: St. Croix, Virgin Islands by © Linda Morland | Dreamstime.com

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Croix is America’s easternmost point in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and it enjoys temperatures of 82 degrees all year round. This tiny island packs a huge punch when it comes to scenery and outdoor recreational opportunities. It’s one of the top Caribbean destinations for diving and boasts so many fascinating wrecks, reefs, and wall dives it would take a lifetime to see them all. Sponges, sea fans, and corals grow along the wall, and marine life like sea horses, lobster, turtles, and an endless array of fish all make their home here. Great snorkeling can be found at almost every beach on the island, and many hotels rent or lend out snorkel gear to guests. On land, enjoy horseback rides through the rainforest and on the beach, great golf at one of three scenic courses, tours and tastings at two rum distilleries, and even gambling at the island’s casino.

Laguna Beach, California Laguna Beach, California
Credit: Laguna Beach, California by © Falcon1708 | Dreamstime.com

Laguna Beach, California

While the temperatures in Southern California may not be as warm as in Florida or Hawaii, they’re certainly pleasant, with average highs in the upper 60s in the winter. This laid-back beach town offers seven miles of classic California coastline, and while the summer months bring out the crowds, in the winter, they’re fabulously crowd-free. The waves are ideal for boogie boarding, and the views are to die for. If you‘re a wine enthusiast, you can also enjoy tasting award-winning wines at Laguna Canyon Winery in the cozy barrel room. Laguna Beach also has galleries galore, excellent eateries, and a number of romantic hotels.

Key West, Florida Fort Zachary Taylor Park, Key West
Credit: Fort Zachary Taylor Park, Key West by © SimonDannhauer | Dreamstime.com

Key West, Florida

Key West is one of the best destinations for those wanting to experience the Caribbean without leaving the United States. Here, you’ll enjoy a similar tropical climate with bright blue skies, palm trees, lots of sun, picturesque beaches, and a laid-back island vibe. Key West definitely won’t disappoint partiers, with its hopping nightlife going all year long. But it also offers plenty for everyone else, including art galleries, shops, and beautiful palm-lined streets with gingerbread mansions and tin-roofed conch houses that were once home to Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, Tennessee Williams, and Jimmy Buffet. Hemingway’s house is a designated literary landmark and museum. Activities like golf, fishing, diving, and other watersports are popular during the day, as well as the sunset celebration held every evening in Mallory Square, where jugglers, animal acts, and tightrope walkers perform just before the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico.

Grand Isle, Louisiana Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana
Credit: Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana by © Marynag | Dreamstime.com

Grand Isle, Louisiana

Located about a two-hour drive from New Orleans, Grand Isle is a small beach town in Louisiana that is home to only about 1,600 residents, but at its peak during the summer, the population swells to around 14,000. You’ll have it practically all to yourself in the winter while enjoying comfortable temperatures and even the chance to sunbathe on seven miles of white sand beaches. Enjoy bird watching along the Grand Isle Nature Trail with five bird-watching spots, including the best remaining tracks of oak-hackberry forests on the isle, or if you’re into beautiful, colorful winged insects, visit the Butterfly Dome, which features native butterflies as well as plants. The fishing is great too, with over 280 species in the surrounding waters, and Grand Isle State Park is an ideal spot to cast your line.

South Beach - Miami, Florida South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida
Credit: South Beach, Miami Beach, Florida by © Sergey Chernyaev | Dreamstime.com

South Beach - Miami, Florida

Miami is home to one of the world’s most famous beaches, which enjoys a spectacular backdrop of the largest collection of 1930s Art Deco buildings on the planet. Today, they’re all filled with stylish hotels, eateries, jazz joints, and swanky nightclubs packed with beautiful people where things don’t really get started until after midnight – and don’t stop until dawn. Miniscule is an understatement when it comes to sunbathing down on the beach. Rent a lounge chair and check out the action, or take a stroll down Ocean Drive for a close-up look at the Art Deco buildings you’ve probably seen on TV and in films so many times. And, of course, any time of the year, you won’t want to miss stopping in at Joe’s Stone Crab for some of the best stone crabs in the world.

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands Caneel Bay, St. John
Credit: Caneel Bay, St. John by caneelbay.com

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Winter temperatures on St. John average an idyllic 77 degrees, and enjoy sunny skies year-round. The islands tend to get quite a bit of precipitation during hurricane season, which is June through November, while December through March is usually perfect, with warm but not scorching weather, while the surrounding waters are refreshingly cool but not chilly. If you’d like to do more than lounge on the sand, head to Honeymoon Beach, where you can enjoy outstanding snorkeling and an in-depth look at the two coral reefs. Or, rent a kayak and paddle through beautiful Caneel Bay. You can rent just about any type of watercraft and enjoy nearly every kind of water sport here too – and when you’re ready for a break just stake out a spot on the picture-perfect white sand beach. If you want to explore inland, take a hike on the Cinnamon Bay Beach trail for a look at archeological excavations that take place on the beach.

San Diego, California San Diego, California
Credit: San Diego, California by © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

San Diego, California

Many San Diego locals say that winter is the best season of the year. Popular attractions and the beaches aren’t crowded, the weather is mild, with high temperatures averaging in the upper 60s, and there’s more of a laid-back vibe with plenty of beautiful beachfront hotels. This is also a great time for whale watching, with more than 20,000 gray whales heading through the waters, making their 10,000-mile round-trip journey from Alaska to the lagoons in Baja California. You’ll find lots to do indoors and out, from museums, festivals, and the theater to golfing, biking, and surfing. One of the most popular activities is riding a beach cruiser along the three-and-a-half-mile path from Pacific Beach to South Mission Beach, where you’ll enjoy some of the best people-watching on the planet as well as fabulous views along the way.

Santa Cruz, California Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Credit: Santa Cruz Boardwalk by © Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com

Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz enjoys mild temperatures year-round, and many feel that the winter is one of the best times to visit, where you can enjoy plenty of attractions and activities without battling the crowds or paying exorbitant prices for a hotel room. In January and February, the rides at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk are open on the weekend, and you won’t have to spend most of your time waiting in line for thrill rides like the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster. Enjoy watching sea lions frolic in the water at the Santa Cruz Wharf and dining on amazing, fresh seafood at any one of a number of eateries while taking in gorgeous ocean views. Other options include hiking through the redwoods, exploring tide pools, and going wine tasting, with numerous wineries nearby.

Rincon, Puerto Rico Rincon, Puerto Rico
Credit: Rincon, Puerto Rico by © Ramon Morales | Dreamstime.com

Rincon, Puerto Rico

Even in the middle of winter, temperatures rarely dip below 83 degrees in Puerto Rico. And, on the west coast, Rincon’s beaches are the surfing community’s best-kept secret. In fact, some refer to this area as the Surfing Capital of the Caribbean. Some of the best surfing beaches include Antonio’s Beach, Sandy Beach, Domes, and Gas Chambers. There are also lots of amazing non-surfing beaches too, like Pool’s Beach, named for its naturally warm, shallow pools and calm waves. If you like to dive or snorkel, some say the protected island of Desecheo, just off the coast, offers the very best in all of Puerto Rico.

Fernandina Beach - Amelia Island, Florida Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
Credit: Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island by Madison Y Photo/shutterstock.com

Fernandina Beach - Amelia Island, Florida

Fernandina Beach is a small town on Amelia Island. The barrier island is located off the northern coast of Florida and has been charming visitors for nearly 500 years. The isle’s 12 miles of beaches are mostly deserted throughout the winter, so it’s easy to find your perfect spot on the sand. Amelia is also home to Fort Clinch State Park, the largest natural shoreline area on the island. If history is your thing, don’t miss exploring the nooks and crannies of the brick fortress, one of the best-preserved 19th-century forts in the nation. Visitors can stand on its outer walls and take in more breathtaking views overlooking Cumberland Sound and the Atlantic shoreline. The dunes are ideal for taking a stroll, and you’ll also find a half-mile-long pier for fishing and more spectacular views. Horseback riding across the sand is another favorite off-season activity.

South Padre Island, Texas Blanca County Park on South Padre Island
Credit: Blanca County Park on South Padre Island by bigstock.com

South Padre Island, Texas

South Padre Island is located on the tropical tip of Texas, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre Bay, offering a wealth of fun in the sun on its beautiful beaches and the warm waters of the Gulf. Winter temperatures hover around the upper 60s to the mid-70s in the winter. Plus, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere of a more laid-back, sleepy beach town before spring breakers arrive. If the water is a bit too chilly for your liking, take a stroll on the Laguna Madre Nature Trail, a dolphin cruise, or enjoy a picnic in Isle Blanca Park. The beaches on South Padre Island are perfect for walking and collecting shells, fishing, or just setting up a chair and watching the waves roll in.

Oxnard, California Ocean Beach in Oxnard
Credit: Ocean Beach in Oxnard by © Eutoch | Dreamstime.com

Oxnard, California

Oxnard sits between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles on a beautiful stretch of coastline and enjoys average highs in the winter of about 70 degrees. The weather is ideal for a sunset stroll on Mandalay Beach kayaking in the Channel Islands Harbor or pedaling along a coastal bike path. If you’re a surfing enthusiast, beaches like Hollywood, Hueneme, and Silver Strand offer some of the most consistent and best surf in Southern California – and the surf is at its best in the winter. Wine lovers can enjoy tasting and tours at a number of local wineries too. If you’re up for a boat trip, take an excursion to the Channel Islands National Park and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, one of the most popular attractions in the region.

Long Key, Florida Long Key State Park
Credit: Long Key State Park by faungg's photos via Flickr

Long Key, Florida

If the Florida Keys sound fabulous, but you prefer a destination that’s more peaceful than Key West, try Long Key, located in the heart of the Keys. The tiny, two-mile-long island offers a quiet escape, made up almost entirely of Long Key State Park, with its one-mile beach ideal for tent camping. Or, you can stay in a nearby resort and visit the park to enjoy its picturesque sands, hike scenic trails, or even paddle a canoe through the series of lagoons. Birding is popular along the 1.1-mile Golden Orb Trail, which leads through five natural communities. There is also a boardwalk through the mangroves, an abundance of animal and plant life, as well as an observation tower. As the island is so small, there is very little in the way of restaurants, but Islamorada Fish Company is a local favorite just a 15-minute drive away.

Cannon Beach, Oregon Ecola State Park Overlook, Cannon Beach
Credit: Ecola State Park Overlook, Cannon Beach by bigstock.com

Cannon Beach, Oregon

If you like your beaches, wild, rugged, and scenic, and aren’t too concerned about cooler weather (high temps average in the upper 50s), Cannon Beach, set along the north end of the breathtaking Oregon coast, is at its best in the wintertime. Stay in a resort like the Hallmark Resort & Spa Cannon Beach overlooking the Pacific. In town, you’ll find lots to do, including browsing world-class art galleries and unique shops and enjoying fine dining with ocean views. If the sun breaks out, or you don’t mind the rain, which is usually more of a mist anyway, take a walk on the trails that wind through the ancient, old-growth forest at the edge of the ocean in Ecola State Park or explore tide pools that are home to all sorts of interesting sea life, like starfish and hermit crabs.

Maui, Hawaii Little Beach, Hawaii
Credit: Little Beach, Hawaii by © Mike7777777 | Dreamstime.com

Maui, Hawaii

If you’re up for a flight, why not go to Maui to enjoy the ultimate tropical paradise? Even in the chilliest winter months, you can enjoy the warm Hawaiian sun and average temperatures of 80 degrees. Here, you’ll find some of the world’s most scenic drives and beautiful beaches as well as lush rainforests and waterfalls. Plus, wintertime is the best time to see humpback whales – these massive, majestic creatures are between 40 and 52 feet long, which means there’s a good chance you’ll see one breach offshore. By going snorkeling, you may even enjoy the chance to hear a whale song- their haunting melodies can be heard underwater from up to 12 miles away.

Travel Deals

Air & 9-Day South Africa Tour | Buy One Get One Free


7-Day Italy Guided Tour: Rome, Spoleto & Florence


Air & 8-Day Great Lakes Voyage | 50% Off


20% Off + Drink Credit | 5-Nt Riviera Maya Luxury Cruise


7-Day Italy Tour | Save $500


Air & 9-Day Scotland Guided Tour w/ Excursion Options


Air & 12-Day Europe River Cruise | 50% Off


United Business Class Roundtrip Flights


Air & 10-Day Majestic India Tour | Buy One Get One Free


8-Day Switzerland Tour | Save $500


Spain | 9-Day Guided Tour from Madrid to Malaga


4-Day Exclusive | Norwegian Cruises: Drinks, Air, More


50% Off | Air & 9-Day South Africa Guided Tour


Airfare Sale | Unwrap Fiji Airways Christmas Delights


Air & 9-Day Scotland & Norway Cruise | 50% Off