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14 Best East Coast Winter Vacations

A vacation on the U.S. east coast during the chillier months of the year can mean anything from an epic ski getaway to spending time at a beautiful beach, enjoying a lakeside getaway, or visiting a charming Christmas town. Whether you’re looking to escape the cold or delve into it, you’ve got plenty of options. From Maine to Florida, choose a favorite and start booking for an unforgettable escape this winter.

New York City, New York Rockefeller Center in New York City, NY
Credit: Rockefeller Center in New York City, NY by © June M Sobrito | Dreamstime.com

New York City, New York

There are plenty of activities to enjoy in New York City, indoors or out. It’s beautiful here in the winter with fresh powder in the streets. Strap on a pair of ice skates with numerous rinks, including a rooftop rink at The William Vale in Brooklyn with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, or bundle up and hitch a ride on a horse-and-buggy through Central Park. If it’s too chilly out, there’s always a museum, like the world-renowned Met, the Museum of the City of New York, or the Guggenheim, along with countless shopping and dining opportunities that can be enjoyed before an evening of theater.

Boston, Massachusetts Boston Old State House
Credit: Boston Old State House by © Sborisov | Dreamstime.com

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston is lots of fun any time of the year but especially atmospheric in the winter. If you visit during the holidays, be sure to check out the SoWa Holiday Market or the Winter Holiday Market. The Boston Pops presents the Holiday Pops concert and the Boston Ballet offers performances of The Nutcracker while Christmas tree lightings illuminate the nights. Of course, there are many world-class museums here, including the USS Constitution Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Boston Children’s Museum. Sports enthusiasts may be able to catch an NHL Bruins game or an NBA Celtics game at TD Garden too.

Savannah, Georgia Oak-lined road at Wormsloe Historic Site
Credit: Oak-lined road at Wormsloe Historic Site by © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah offers beauty, history, and lots of Southern charm, while winter temperatures are mild, typically in the 60s. A top winter vacation in Georgia, you can take walks through the moss-draped oak trees at beautiful Forsyth Park and on Saturdays, explore the Forsyth Farmers’ Market. There are many magnificent mansions to gaze at while wandering the cobbled streets, while the Telfair Museum is a must for art lovers as the Southeast’s oldest public art museum. A stroll through the Coastal George Botanical Gardens is always enjoyable and if you’re here around the holidays, the gardens will be illuminated with around a million sparkling lights.

Baltimore, Maryland Baltimore, Maryland
Credit: Baltimore, Maryland by © Christian Hinkle | Dreamstime.com

Baltimore, Maryland

Don’t let the winter weather deter you from visiting Baltimore. After all, it might be snowing in the middle of the night and by noon, it’s sunny and 70 degrees. While it doesn’t usually snow much here, when it does, sledding is possible at Patterson Park. Just a few of the other possibilities include skating at the Inner Harbor Ice Rink with a fabulous view of the harbor, visiting the National Aquarium, or the city’s art museums like the American Visionary Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and Walter’s Art Museum. If you’re a book lover, be sure to check out the George Peabody Library, one of the world’s most beautiful. Afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the exquisite parlor at the Ivy Hotel and historic Fells Point is a great neighborhood for dining and drinking.

Newport, Rhode Island Newport, Rhode Island
Credit: Newport, Rhode Island by Discover Newport

Newport, Rhode Island

While Newport may be one of the world’s best places for sailing, winter is a great time to visit. On a sunny winter day, a stroll on the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk that traverses the bluffs provides a look into the backyards of the city’s famous Gilded Age Mansions. You’ll want to tour the interiors too, even more stunning when decked out for the holidays. Scenic Ocean Drive, hugging the coastline of Aquidneck island delivers views of gorgeous homes, historic sites, and parks, including historic Fort Adams and Brenton Point State Park. There are spas for pampering treatments, dozens of local venues with live music, and a wide range of fine eateries for candlelit dinners.

Washington, D.C. Capitol building in Washington DC
Credit: Capitol building in Washington DC by © Vitaliy Pozdeev - Dreamstime.com

Washington, D.C.

Avoid the biggest crowds of the year, the heat and humidity with a trip to the capital city during the winter. It’s filled with historic sites and museums, most of which are free to visit, including the renowned Smithsonian Museums, where you’ll stay warm as you marvel at everything from aircraft, rockets, and missiles at the National Air and Space Museum to the famous ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz at the American History Museum. There are high-end shopping districts to explore and many highly acclaimed restaurants too.

Mad River Valley, Vermont Sugarbush Resort, Vermont
Credit: Sugarbush Resort, Vermont by Sugarbush Resort

Mad River Valley, Vermont

When it comes to skiing in the eastern U.S., the Mad River Valley in Vermont is a great pick with two fantastic ski mountains, Mad River with 20 trails for skiing, and Sugar Bush, which offers over 100 trails for skiing and boarding. There’s plenty to do for those who don’t relish gliding down the slopes, with small-town charms found in Fayston, Warren, Waitsfield, and Moretown. Covered bridges and scenic views can be enjoyed throughout, along with farm-to-table dining, cutting-edge craft distilleries, and breweries.

Charleston, South Carolina Charleston, South Carolina
Credit: Charleston, South Carolina by bigstock.com

Charleston, South Carolina

Set along the South Carolina coast, the historic port city of Charleston offers relatively warm temperatures for enjoying the outdoors during a winter getaway. Even January, the coldest month of the year, enjoys temperatures in the high 50s on average. Enjoy strolls on the beautiful beaches by tossing on a sweatshirt, then capture photos of the Battery and magnificent Rainbow Row, explore history at the many museums, shop the Charleston City Market, and dine on mouthwatering Lowcountry cuisine.

Bar Harbor, Maine Bar Harbor - Maine
Credit: Bar Harbor - Maine by © F11photo | Dreamstime.com

Bar Harbor, Maine

While the winter weather along Maine’s coast can vary significantly from season to season, the ocean moderates the climate making it warmer than areas inland. Bar Harbor offers a peaceful winter escape with shops, restaurants, and accommodations open year-round. Acadia National Park is still open too, and when the Park Loop Road closes to motor vehicles, it can still be accessed by cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Snowshoes and cross-country skis are available to rent in town and there are also roads that are open to snowmobiles. Or, relax and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the cliffs and mountain tops, lighthouses, and Somes Sound from above via a scenic air tour. It’s easy to see why this is one of the top-rated east coast getaways year-round.

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida Beach on Amelia Island, Florida
Credit: Beach on Amelia Island, Florida by © Ruth Peterkin | Dreamstime.com

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island is a barrier island off Florida’s northern coast, which fortunately experienced only tree damage, some beach erosion and minor flooding during Hurricane Ian. Its 12 miles of beaches will be mostly deserted in the winter, providing a fabulous place for tranquil strolls on the sand. The small town of Fernandina Beach makes a great base and boasts a historic downtown with 50 blocks of cobbled streets and many Victorian-era buildings with restaurants, antique markets, and local shops. Enjoy a drink in the Palace Saloon, the state’s longest-operating saloon, and visit Fort Clinch State Park, home to one of the country’s most well-preserved 18th-century forts.

Jay, Vermont Jay Peak Resort
Credit: Jay Peak Resort by Jay Peak Resort

Jay, Vermont

Jay is a small and scenic town in northern Vermont bordering Quebec, Canada. It’s especially popular for golfing and skiing. Winter brings many to enjoy the slopes at Jay Peak Resort for skiing and snowboarding, but visitors can also enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing,  and snowmobiling. In fact, Jay Peak gets the most snow of anywhere else in the Northeast. It’s an oasis for year-round water fun too, with the highlight a 65-foot drop called the La Chute, a heart-pounding plunge where the floor disappears beneath riders just before sending them plummeting at an almost free-fall rate and then scaling a large 360-degree turn.

Cape May, New Jersey Cape May, New Jersey
Credit: Cape May, New Jersey by Bigstock.com

Cape May, New Jersey

When you think about a seaside resort town like Cape May, you probably only consider it for a summer vacation, but the winter means no traffic, free and easy parking, and no lines. It can be fabulous during the winter, with long stretches of shoreline for peaceful strolls, birdwatching at the Nature Conversancy with swans, egrets, geese, and many other birds fishing in the lake, along with spectacular views that stretch to the Cape May lighthouse. Trolley and house tours run regularly all year long, and there are plenty of fun shops and enticing eateries to enjoy too.

Lake Placid, New York Ice skating at Lake Placid
Credit: Ice skating at Lake Placid by wikimedia.org

Lake Placid, New York

Home to the Winter Olympics twice, Lake Placid is one of the top spots on the East Coast for winter sports. You can enjoy all of the usual cold weather options and more, including the adrenaline junky’s favorite, the Lake Placid Bobsled Experience for an exciting ride down the tracks. Or head to the Lake Placid Olympic Center to ice skate and check out the Olympic Museum with some of the best artifacts from throughout Olympic history. In town, Main Street offers many tasty eateries and shops for picking up new winter gear.

Massanutten, Virginia Massanutten Resort
Credit: Massanutten Resort by massresort.com

Massanutten, Virginia

Located just 120 miles from Washington, D.C., Massanutten makes for a fun and memorable winter getaway in the eastern U.S. You’ll enjoy access to the many activities at the Massanutten Resort whether you stay there or not, as it’s open to the public. It includes 70 skiable acres and 14 trails for beginner to advanced skiers, an outdoor ice skating rink, and a family adventure park for snow tubing. The indoor water park offers winter swimming and all sorts of thrills with body and tube slides along with features for the little ones like a huge water-powered playhouse and giant tipping bucket.

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