Winter can be a wonderful season, with Christmas greenery, dazzling lights, and outdoor activities like ice skating. And whether you want to embrace the outdoors by skiing or snowboarding in the Vermont highlands, or go to warmer climes in Miami, there’s something for everyone—even those who just want to curl up by the fire with a good book. The best winter resorts on the East Coast are just a short flight or drive away.
Stowe, Vermont is the ideal alpine holiday destination. This tiny New England town, known as the Ski Capital of the East, is where the Von Trapp family of the Sound of Music moved after fleeing Austria.
Over 116 skiing tracks, as well as other winter sports including dog sledding, ice skating, sleigh rides, and snowshoe excursions, are available at the Stowe Mountain Resort atop Mount Mansfield, the state’s highest peak. You may also take a gondola or cable car ride to the top before feasting on award-winning American cuisine with a view at Cliff House or pampering yourself at the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa with a massage, facial, or mineral bath.
Take a break from the slopes and go shopping for sweets in town.Stowe Bee Bakery & Cafe, Harrison’s Restaurant’s tavern cuisine, or Idletyme Brewery’s local beer Souvenirs are available. Local maple syrup is available at Stowe Maple Products.
This coastal Georgia city is the ideal winter vacation, with lovely, oak-covered public squares, historic residences, and mild year-round temps. Savannah’s airport has nonstop flights from New York City and Philadelphia on a regular basis, and the city is close to Atlanta.
Take a stroll around the Historic District’s 22 public squares, including Forsyth Park, which has 30 acres of vegetation, walking paths, and a unique Parisian-inspired central fountain. The 100-acre Victorian-era Bonaventure Cemetery, the birthplace of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, and the Telfair Museum, the Southeast’s oldest public art museum, are among the city’s other attractions.
For foodies, the city is also a must-see. In a 1930s Art Deco Greyhound, stop by the James Beard Award-winning The Grey for seasonal, regional dishes.Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, which serves Southern mainstays like fried chicken and macaroni & cheese, or the Fox and Fig Cafe, which serves imaginative vegan salads and bowls.
Kennebunkport, a popular summer resort, is also worth visiting in the winter. This southern Maine town, just a short drive or train trip from Boston, is ideal for a romantic or action-packed weekend escape.
The town holds an 11-day Christmas Prelude event in December, which includes a holiday tree fashioned entirely of lobster traps, sleigh rides, home tours, craft fairs, and light displays. During the winter, visitors can snowshoe or cross-country ski on the 600-acre Harris Farms, or stroll the 7-mile Wells Preserve at Laudholm Farms trail network through deep woodlands and alongside beach dunes.
Want to get out of the cold? At the Breakwater Inn & Spa, get a hot stone massage, and make your own candles at Sea Love Candles and Co.
Looking for a beach vacation in the city? Travel to Miami, where the weather is warm and the city has everything from sandy beaches to stunning architecture. Before heading to the Miami Design District, which is overflowing with high-end stores, galleries, and Instagram-worthy architecture and sculptures, soak up the sun or wander through the Art Deco-inspired mansions along South Beach. The Perez Art Museum in downtown Miami and Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum dedicated to graffiti and street art, are two more arts-focused metropolitan attractions.
The surrounding 1.5 million-acre Everglades National Park, the country’s largest subtropical natural region, is a must-see for nature lovers. Hike, walk, or paddle through mangroves to see manatees, dolphins, herons, and alligators in their natural habitat.
Newport, Rhode Island
The “City by the Sea” is a delightful winter escape, with unique antique stores and snow-covered homes, as well as seashore parks and scenic walks. Hike or go on a guided bird tour at the 325-acre Norman Bird Sanctuary; see the city’s famous “summer houses,” such as The Breakers; and stroll through the ocean-side Ballard Park, which offers an illuminated flower display throughout February.
At Newport Marketplace & Antiques, you can find everything from vintage jewellery to mid-century furniture, then warm yourself with libations from the chocolate bar at the mansion-turned-hotel The Chanler at Cliff Walk. At Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina, you may enjoy themed outdoor igloos with unique games, beverages, and music.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
The Berkshires have long been a popular summer getaway, but they’re just as lovely in the winter. Half of the state’s ski resorts are located along this stretch of small towns in western Massachusetts, as well as world-class art museums, antique shops, and top-notch spas and restaurants.
Visit the Berkshire East Mountain Resort for 45 miles of skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing routes, as well as an adventure park with one of the world’s longest mountain coasters. Alternatively, stay at the 110-acre Blantyre Hotel in Lenox, which features ice skating, cross-country skiing, and one of the region’s greatest spas.
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, antique shopping along US Route 7, and the Georgia Aquarium are also indoor possibilities.
Key West, Florida
This low-key island, about four hours from Miami, provides mild temps, recreational activities, and unique bars. Rent a bike to ride past pastel-colored residences and sandy beaches; kayak or paddle through mangroves; or dive or snorkel with tropical fish, turtles, and other sea animals at the Key West Bank Reef.
The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum (with its famed cats), the Key West City Cemetery, Harry Truman’s Little White House, and Papa’s Pillar Rum distillery are all must-sees. Relax after a day of excitement by visiting one of Duval Street’s famed restaurants and pubs, such as Irish Kevin’s or Sloppy Joe’s. After that, spend the night at the ancient Marquesa Hotel, which has three pools and gorgeous gardens.
Asheville, North Carolina
This quirky mountain town, nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is a haven for outdoor adventurers, art lovers, and food and beer connoisseurs alike. Hike one of the area’s picturesque trails or drive along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.
Catawba Brewing, Burial Beer Co., and the Wicked Weed Funkatorium on South Slope are among the city’s renowned breweries. After your brewery tour, treat yourself to a dinner at one of Asheville’s renowned restaurants, such as Crate for Spanish-style tapas, Buxton Hall Barbecue for whole hog ‘cue, or Benne on Eagle for Appalachian soul food.
And no vacation to the city is complete without a stop at George W. Vanderbilt’s former winter home, the Biltmore Estate. Tour the mansion, stroll around the large gardens, and sample the cuisine.
Lake Placid, NY
This small community in the Adirondack Mountains, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1931 and 1980, is still a winter sports mecca.
Ski Whiteface Mountain, which also has a speed skating rink, an Olympic bobsled and luge track, and a public toboggan run. Visitors can take a gondola to the summit of the mountain for a more relaxed experience.
Admire images, medals, and other memorabilia from the city’s games at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum. At Top of the Park, which serves small plates as well as major courses like a pan-seared Kobe beef flat iron steak, dine with a view of the lake.
New York City, New York
There’s no place like New York City in December, from ice skating beneath the Rockefeller Christmas tree to holiday markets and classic department store window displays. However, the city is just as enchanting in January and February, when the crowds thin out, flights are less expensive, and hotel prices are at their lowest.
During January’s annual Central Park Winter Jam, sled, snowboard, or ice skate, or try your hand at curling or free ice skating in Bryant Park’s annual Winter Village. Do you need to warm up? Visit the American Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Conservatory, which houses over 500 butterflies and tropical plants in a controlled environment heated to a pleasant 80 degrees! Visits to the Museum are also a good idea.