Winter weekend getaways on the East Coast, USA

Pauline

09 October 2020

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Winter weekend getaways on the East Coast, USA

Are you looking for awesome winter weekend getaways on the East Coast of the USA? You’ve come to the perfect place!

 

Whether you want to find a warm winter destination or a snowy city, we’ve got you covered.

 

The East Coast of the USA offers a plethora of destinations for winter lovers.

 

If you’d like to discover amazing Christmas markets, snowy landscapes, the Northern part will be perfect for you.

 

If, on the contrary, you want to escape the cold and spend some time on the beach, Florida will be perfect for you!

 

So, are you ready? Let’s discover the best winter weekend getaways on the East Coast!

 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!

 

winter weekend getaways on the east coast

Map of the best winter weekend getaways on the East Coast of the United States

 

Lincoln, New Hampshire

 

Submitted by Melissa from Parenthood and Passports

 

Lincoln, New Hampshire is an idyllic winter destination for those looking for a snowy getaway on the East Coast. Within a 2-hour drive from Boston, Lincoln is a quick weekend escape from the city and a great place to escape and enjoy the outdoors in winter. The town itself is quaint and has a dreamy, small town feel that instantly puts you at ease.

 

Ice castles in Lincoln NH

 

The scenic town not only boasts one of the most popular ski resorts on the east coast, but it is also home to one of the only Ice Castles in the United States. Spend a day skiing at Loon Mountain Resort. With 61 named runs and 370 acres of skiable terrain, Loon Mountain is a small but fun ski resort for families. At night, head to Ice Castles in nearby North Woodstock.

 

This acre-sized winter wonderland is made entirely from ice. With slides, caves, tunnels, crawl spaces and fountains all carved from ice, the Instagrammable experience is one of the more unique winter attractions in the world. At night, the attraction is illuminated with colour-changing LED lights, which create a beautiful contrasting glow against the night sky.

 

If spending a weekend in Lincoln, be sure to grab lunch at the Gypsy Cafe. This eclectic restaurant in the heart of the town offers great food and fun vibes.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN LINCOLN: Directly across the street from the Gypsy Cafe, RiverWalk Resort is a great place to stay for a luxurious and relaxing getaway. Photos and prices here.

 

Mad River Valley, Vermont

 

Recommended by Caitlin from The Country Jumper

 

The Mad River Valley, in Vermont, is home to not one, but two world-renowned ski mountains. Sugarbush – recently acquired by Alterra Mountain Company (adding it to their portfolio of 15 resorts in U.S. and Canada) – where you can ski and snowboard on any of their more than 100 trails (you can also stay at the base resort). And Mad River – cooperatively owned – where you can ski (no snowboarding permitted) on any of their 20 trails.

 

Mad River Valley in Vermont Winter

 

If you don’t ski – or don’t downhill ski – there is plenty else to do in the area. The Mad River Valley is made up of Moretown, Waitsfield, Warren, and Fayston. Across the four towns, there is a total population of just under 6,500 people. The whole area screams small town and simply cruising around the dirt roads and checking out the many covered bridges and views, is a good way to spend a few hours. Do follow the speed limits – don’t speed down the gorgeous roads where families live and children play, but also don’t creep along at 5mph and not let the locals who need to get places pass you.

 

You can also go x-country skiing at Ole’s in Warren, or ice skating in Waitsfield. You can eat tacos at The Mad Taco or drink beer at Lawsons. Buy nifty trinkets at All Things Bright and Beautiful or local artisan ware at Artisans’ Gallery – both on Bridge Street (in front of the covered bridge). And, the best restaurant in the valley (as it’s called by locals) is undoubtedly Flatbreads, where you’ll want to arrive early to get your name down for a seating.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN MAD VALLEY RIVER:  The White Horse Inn in Waitsfield is a very cute place to stay at. Their breakfast is awesome! Click here to see the latest prices.

 

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

 

Recommended by Anjali from Cheerful Trails

 

Portsmouth is a very popular winter destination in the United States. It is best known for hosting leisurely activities during the winters at various spots.

 

portsmouth old town in winter

 

Enjoy the fire and ice festival held in the downtown area of Portsmouth. It features glittering events lined up amongst ice bars, ice sculptures, fire pits and musical bands. Warm up your winters while skating on the ice rink in Strawberry Banke. Sip on a hot chocolate, soup or savour on some baked goods at the Strawbery Banke museum located next to the ice rink.

 

Portsmouth, being one of the oldest cities in the United States, has a great historic centre with beautiful ancient architectures, buildings, museums, churches and colourful houses for its visitors to explore.

 

For an adventure seeker, hiking the beautiful trails in Odiorne State Park for some breathtaking panoramic views of the city is a must-do in Portsmouth. If you would like to stay indoors on a chilly day, you can still enjoy Portsmouth in winter and stay warm by visiting the city’s indoor attractions that include many museums, live show theatres and cultural institutions.

 

Venturing onto the brick-paved streets of the vibrant Market Square would take you through a scenic waterfront along the Portsmouth Harbor Trail which connects about 70 historical sites, performance venues and attractions of the city.

 

Do book a ticket to one of the events at the Music Hall located in the downtown. It is popular for hosting world-class musical, comedy and theatrical shows.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN PORTSMOUTH: While there are many places to stay in Portsmouth, the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel is a fun and convenient place to stay at. The hotel offers best views of the gorgeous Portsmouth harbour, cosy rooms and is at close proximity from all the main attractions of the city. Click here to see prices and photos.

 

Boston, Massachusetts

 

Recommend by Kelly from Fit Fashion Traveler

 

Boston is a city made for the winter. Sitting on the Eastern seaboard, it often gets the brunt of Nor’easter blizzards (including over eight feet of snow in 2015!). As a result, Boston has fashioned itself as a city perfect to visit as the temperature drops. If walking around in the cold isn’t your thing, there are many indoor activities available too!

 

Boston in winter

 

There are a plethora of winter activities in Boston. If you visit during the holiday season, check out the new Winter Holiday Market in Government Center or the SoWa Holiday Market in South Boston. Take in a performance of The Nutcracker at the Boston Ballet, or opt for a highly-entertaining Holiday Pops concert by the Boston Pops. Spend the evening taking a horse-drawn carriage over to historic Beacon Hill for a guided candlelit stroll, then walk over to Faneuil Hall for the Blink! Christmas Tree light shows each night.

 

If sports are more your thing, you can catch a Celtics NBA game or a Bruins NHL game at TD Garden most winter days. Depending on what weekend you visit, you could even watch an outdoor professional or college hockey game at Fenway Park during the Frozen Fenway series. A visit during February will give you the opportunity to watch the annual Beanpot college hockey tournament among four of the top schools in the country: Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, and Northeastern University. Would you rather be on the ice yourself? Check out the outdoor skating rinks at Frog Pond and in the Seaport.

 

For those extremely cold days, Boston has a number of museums to visit open year-round. World-famous art installations are always on display at the Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum of Science has hands-on exhibits of interest to children and adults alike. History buffs can head towards the south of the city to the JFK Presidential Library.

 

Boston has many great restaurants to choose from. If you’re in the North End, you can’t go wrong with any of the options on Hanover Street like Ristorante Fiore and Nico. For equally-as-good but less crowded options, head one block over to Salem Street and check out La Famiglia Giorgio’s.

 

The Back Bay area and neighbouring South End feature many cosy restaurants popular with the locals, including Sonsie, The Beehive, and Boston Chops. Recent growth in the Seaport area includes the addition of numerous swanky dining locations like Committee, Empire, and Mastro’s Ocean Club. For city and harbour views in enclosed rooftop lounges, head to Legal Harborside, Yotel’s lounge, or the Envoy hotel’s Lookout rooftop and bar.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN BOSTON: Staying anywhere within city limits will serve you well. Modern hotel chains like the Westin, Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt have accommodations throughout downtown, as well as on the outskirts near public transportation for budget-friendly travellers. Click here to see the hotels downtown.

 

For a more unique experience, consider one of two historical-building-turned-hotel options: The Liberty Hotel, which used to be a jail, and the old Boston Custom House turned into a hotel by Marriott.

 

New York City, NY

 

Recommended by Sean from Living Out Lau

 

When it comes to winter destinations in the United States, the first city that comes to your mind should be New York City.

 

Nicknamed the “City That Never Sleeps”, New York City is bustling more than ever in winter, in contrast with the majority of the United States in hibernation. As the city prepares for winter celebrations such as Christmas and New Year, it revitalises the glory that it once had in the summer – flooding the streets with locals and tourists.

 

Winter markets start spawning up in famous attractions such as Union Square on 14th Street and Columbus Circle on 59th Street in Manhattan. The local favourite Bryant Park on 42nd Street transforms from a relaxing big lawn to a huge ice skating rink, perfect for anyone travelling NYC with kids.

 

The most famous winter attraction in NYC has to be the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. It is best to see this Christmas tree well before or after Christmas, as it gets overwhelmingly crowded the closer you approach Christmas.

 

Though there is a multitude of winter activities in NYC, what makes it such a great winter destination is simply the atmosphere. No one has a dull time in New York City, even if you are about to freeze your fingers off!

 

WHERE TO STAY IN NEW YORK CITY: To secure your accommodation in NYC for the winter, we recommend you to book in advance. Most people visiting NYC will want to stay in Manhattan because that is where all the action is, but that comes with a hefty price.

 

While it might be an unusual thing to do in NYC to stay in New Jersey, it is a great option to save money. Places like Brooklyn will offer accommodations at a similar price but places in New Jersey such as Jersey City and Hoboken are actually much closer to Manhattan!

 

Click here to see the hotels in New York City.

 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

 

Recommended by Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting

 

Planning a winter getaway in the United States? One of the best east coast destinations for a weekend getaway is Philadelphia. The exciting city is conveniently located near other major cities, Washington D.C. and New York City. You can easily get there by air, rail, bus or road trip and navigating the city is simple by public transportation and Uber.

 

winter in Philadelphia USA

 

Philadelphia foods are another delicious reason to visit the city. Philly is home to some of the best regional foods, like the cheesesteak and soft pretzel as well as fabulous east coast restaurants. Check out the 13th Street Corridor for renowned eateries like Sampan, El Vez, Bud & Marilyn’s and Double Knot.

 

Philadelphia also has great winter activities like the Olympic-sized, outdoor ice skating rink overlooking the Delaware River, Blue Cross Riverrink. It’s a fantastic winter activity and the site has an outdoor area with fire pits and a chalet-style refreshment area for drinks and snacks after skating.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN PHILADELPHIA: Philadelphia centre city is the best place to stay and the Gayborhood/Midtown neighbourhood is the ideal area to reach historical attractions, museums, activities and restaurants. A great hotel is the Doubletree on Broad Street which is central and a block from the subway. Click here to see photos and the latest prices.

 

Atlantic City, New Jersey

 

Located on the coast of New Jersey, Atlantic City is best known for its casinos and nightclub.

 

It’s a popular destination for bachelor parties and friends weekend getaways.

 

If you are looking for a winter weekend getaway near New York City, Atlantic City can be a great option.

 

Of course, you can go to the casino and party all night but it’s also a good place to enjoy a spa weekend.

 

There are loads of spas with indoor pools and wellness services. If you book a spa resort, you might even want to stay in all weekend!

 

Atlantic City is also a great place to go shopping. If you need to buy some Christmas gift, it will be a good place to do so. The Walk is home to amazing shops. Go check it out!

 

Atlantic City is also famous for its restaurants! You will find all sorts of cuisine. From Mexican to French or Italian!

 

Unlike you may think, Atlantic City is not just about gambling. It’s also a place where you can truly relax and get pampered!

 

WHERE TO STAY IN ATLANTIC CITY: If you truly want to enjoy your winter weekend getaway in Atlantic City, booking a spa resort is a must-do! The Ocean Casino Resort is a great choice. Click here to see the latest prices and photos.

 

Baltimore, Maryland

 

Recommended by Rai from Rai of Light

 

Baltimore, the largest city in Maryland with a long history as an important seaport and as the birthplace of the U.S. national anthem, is a melting pot of cultures and events. Located on the Chesapeake Bay, the city offers a fun waterfront, world-class art museums and street murals, and proud locals readily willing to share their city’s history.

 

Baltimore in winter

 

Winter in Baltimore comes with tolerable daytimes and chilly nights with snowfall a regular occurrence. Top sights include the National Aquarium, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Fort McHenry National Monument.

 

Winter specific activities consist of a visit to Everyman Theatre, to Port Discovery, the Spaghetti Disco, and the Civil War-era warship the USS Constellation. The city also has a thriving dining scene, said to have some of the best seafood in the world, and is world-famous for its crab houses. You cannot visit without trying its delicious crabs and crab cakes with old bay seasoning.

 

Other foods worth trying include pit beef, oysters, and Berger cookies. Baltimore is well worth the time and effort required to visit and should be on everyone’s USA bucket list.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN BALTIMORE: Hotel Indigo, located on W Franklin Street, is a great place to stay at in downtown Baltimore. Click here to see the latest prices.

 

Washington DC

 

Recommended by Alanna Koritzke from Periodic Adventures

 

The capitol of the United States, Washington DC makes for the perfect winter getaway with plenty to do for history buffs, art and science lovers, and foodies!

 

Washington DC winter weekend getaway

 

Many of the most popular things to do are near the National Mall, a 2-mile long expanse of museums and monuments from the U.S. Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. Be sure to visit the many Smithsonian museums including the National Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum, American History Museum, African American History and Culture Museum, and the American Indian Museum.

 

Additionally, visit the free U.S. Botanic Garden and the National Gallery of Art on the National Mall. Visit the U.S. Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, WWII Memorial, and the Washington Monument. The best part? Each of these is free!

 

While it may sound overwhelming to walk the National Mall in the winter, potentially with snow on the ground, seeing the monuments blanketed in snow is special. Plus, you might even stumble on a city-wide snowball fight!

 

For foodies, try the tapas at Oyamel Cocina Mexicana and the famous oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill!

 

WHERE TO STAY IN WASHINGTON DC: There are numerous places to stay near the National Mall including highly rated, inexpensive hotels like the Grand Hyatt Washington rated 4.4/5 stars by almost 4,000 people! Click here to see the latest prices.

 

For an even more budget-friendly option, check out the Comfort Inn Downtown for less than $100 a night, located just a few blocks from the Convention Center and a quick Uber ride to the National Mall.

 

Wilmington, North Carolina

 

Recommended by MacKenzie from Rainbow Travel Life

 

Wilmington, North Carolina is an oft-overlooked area on the coast. It may also seem like an odd winter destination too, since it is the beach! But there are tons of things to do in winter here, and fewer people visit since it is the off season, which makes it a perfect getaway. Believe it or not, this list is only a fraction of fun places in Wilmington! Even better, temperatures average out in the 50s F (10°C)  in winter, so the beach is still an option for those of you that are adventurous.

 

winter in wilmington carolina beach

 

Wilmington, North Carolina is an oft-overlooked area on the coast. Winter at the beach may sound like a strange idea, but there are tons of things to do in the winter, starting with its historic district – it’s the largest in the state! You can either go the inexpensive route and drive through the downtown area to see old homes or take a tour of Antebellum-era Bellamy Mansion.

 

For fans of shopping, The Cotton Exchange is full of unique boutique shops. At the turn of the century, cotton was king in terms of crops and the Cotton Exchange is full of history from that time. It’s nestled in the heart of downtown, which is also teeming with unique shops, like Gems4U, a local (and affordable!) gemstone and jewellery store.

 

If you want to continue your history tour of Wilmington, the Cape Fear Museum is the oldest in the state, and it’s full of history and information about the region. The Battleship North Carolina is also a fun and informative stop for kids (of all ages!) to walk through the crew’s quarters, galley, sickbay, gun turrets, engine room, and more.

 

If museums, but not history, are your jam the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher is a popular spot. It’s a bit of a drive, but people typically don’t mind making the drive. If you venture the 30 minutes south, make a stop at The Veggie Wagon for local, homemade products like salsas, candles, and more.

 

For garden fans, Airlie Gardens has a special event in the winter known as Enchanted Airlie. The gardens are 67 acres of beauty, but during select days in winter, it comes alive further with holiday lights and music. Tickets sell out quickly, so plan in advance!

 

For another holiday themed activity, time your trip to see the annual North Carolina Holiday Flotilla. Boats of all shapes and sizes “dress up” in holiday lights and parade through the water on Wrightsville Beach. Technically, this isn’t in Wilmington, but it’s less than 10 minutes away – and the beach you are most likely to visit when going to Wilmington anyway!

 

For fans of the outside, consider taking a hike at Poplar Grove or Carolina Beach State Park – just make sure to wear some warmer clothes because you’ll be near the water! If you are lucky, you might choose a gorgeous day like me and capture an amazing sunset.

 

WHERE TO EAT: My two favourites are SeaLevel City for the lentil burger and Panacea Brewing Company. A restaurant Wilmington is famous for is Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn – you’ll see stickers all over from here.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN WILMINGTON: Located in the Historic District, Hampton Inn Wilmington Downtown is a great place to stay at. Click here to see the latest prices.

 

Charleston, South Carolina

 

Recommended by Kate from Our Escape Clause

 

Located on the coast of South Carolina and dotted with both colourful buildings and palm trees, the historic port city of Charleston is the perfect east coast winter getaway for travellers hoping for a bit of sun and (relatively) warm air.

 

Winter in Charleston

 

Since the coldest month of the year, January, still sees average high temperatures of 57°F, (14°C) the best things to do when spending a weekend in Charleston are roughly the same in winter as during the summer, including eating plenty of delicious Lowcountry food (Husk, Magnolia’s, FIG, and Slightly North of Broad are all great options for special occasions), snapping photos at the Battery and beautiful Rainbow Row, shopping for souvenirs at the Charleston City Market, and grappling with complicated history at Charleston’s many museums.

 

While visiting Charleston in winter isn’t the best time to hit the city’s beautiful beaches, on a beautiful day, it’s still worth bundling up and admiring the view (generally without the heavy crowds that take over the beaches during the summer).

 

If your winter trip to Charleston happens to coincide with the Christmas season, you’ll find plenty of fun holiday events around town, including the Parade of Boats, the City of Charleston Parade, and the much-loved annual Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN CHARLESTON: The Belmond Charleston Place is an absolutely stunning hotel, located in the historic district. Perfect for a romantic weekend getaway on the East Coast! Click here to see the latest prices and photos.

 

Best winter destinations in Florida

 

If you are looking for a warm winter weekend getaways on the East Coast, Florida is the obvious choice!

 

Winter is the best time of the year to visit the sunshine state and here are some recommendations!

 

St Petersburg, FL

 

Located near Tampa, St Petersburg is one of the trendiest winter destinations in Florida. There is so much to do in St Pete, you will never be bored!

 

treasure island st Pete Florida

 

Firstly, head to downtown St Pete. You will find loads of street art and insanely cute cafes! If you fancy trying something a bit different, stop at Kava Cafe and try one of their famous kava drinks (or coffee if you don’t want to adventure yourself too much). You can go upstairs on the terrace to drink it and enjoy the views of central avenue.

 

St Pete is also known for its artists and museums. The Dali Museum features the biggest collection of Dali’s artwork outside of Spain. A must-do for all culture lovers! If you are into history, the Holocaust museum will be perfect for you!

 

Street art in St Petersburg Florida

In the evening, you can go to Park and Rec to play life-size beer pong and games. After that, make sure to head to Jannus Live. This fantastic outdoor venue always has gigs on!

 

St Petersburg is also home to some of the best beaches in the USA. If you want to enjoy some relaxing beach days and work on your tan in winter, head to St Pete Beach or Clearwater Beach.

 

If you are looking for more of a hidden gem, head to Honeymoon Island. The beach is beautiful and quiet and there are loads of walks!

 

WHERE TO STAY IN ST PETE: The best places to stay in St Pete are downtown, St Pete Beach and Treasure Island.

 

Hyatt Place is a great hotel downtown. It’s only 2 blocks away from central avenue. Click here to see the latest prices.

 

FUSION Resort Two Bedroom Suites is perfect with you want to be near the beach. Click here to see prices and photos.

 

 

Key West, Florida

 

If you are looking for a winter sun destination on the East Coast, Key West will be your paradise!

 

Located in the beautiful Florida Keys, Key West is definitely one of the most unique towns in the world! You can easily get there from Miami. It takes about 3 hours and the drive is fabulous. You will go through all the keys, on the 7-mile bridge, up until you reach the last one: Key West.

 

 

Key West is a very relaxed place and a bit of a melting pot. The main strip, Duval Street is full of cute bars and restaurants. Texan saloon, irish pubs… everything you can think of is there! It’s a very lively place, perfect to grab a drink and listen to music!

 

In the evening, head to Mallory Square for the sunset celebration! Try to get there early as it can get a bit busy. You can walk around with your drinks anywhere in Key West so no matter where you are, you can just grab your glass and go!

 

The other popular attractions in Key West are Duval Street, Mallory Square, Ernest Hemingway Home and Southernmost Point Buoy.

 

If you like spooky things, then you are in for a treat! There are amazing ghost tours running every day! Prices here.

 

Finally, you can go on a day trip to one of the most underrated National Parks in the USA: Dry Tortugas. Info and prices here.

 

WHERE TO STAY IN KEY WEST: If you can, book a hotel on Duval Street. That way, you will be close to everything. Click here to see all hotels and B&Bs on Duval Street.

 

Alternatively, you can opt for a glamping experience and book a houseboat! Prices here.

 

Orlando, Florida

 

If you love theme parks and roller coasters, going to Orlando in winter is the ideal weekend getaway on the East Coast. There are loads of affordable flights to Orlando International, making it super easy to get there. Check rates here.

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Orlando is home to the best theme parks in the world. Disney World, Universal, Wizarding World of Harry Potter… you name it!

 

Cinderella Castle magic kingdom Disney World Orlando

 

Winter is the best time of the year to visit the theme parks in Florida. Why, you ask? Because the weather is perfect for it! Winter is the dry season in Florida. It’s warm and can get a bit hot but it will never get so hot and humid that you start to suffocate. When spending a day at Disney or any of the other parks, you will be outside a lot so dry and warm weather is perfect!

 

That having been said, it’s not the only thing you can do in Orlando. Downtown Orlando has also loads to offer and there are many day trips options!

 

WHERE TO STAY IN ORLANDO: If you are visiting the theme parks, you can stay at a Disney or Universal Resort.

 

A cheaper alternative would be to stay in Orlando Downtown. See prices here.

 

Finally, if you are a Potterhead, make sure to check out these awesome Harry Potter Airbnbs!

 

So, are you ready to pack your bag and go on an awesome weekend getaway this weekend?

 

You may also be interested in: 

Glamping in Florida

The most beautiful beaches in Florida

Best theme parks in Florida

 

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best winter getaways on the east coast of usa

 

winter weekend getaways east coast united states

About me

 

breakaways coober pedy SA

 

Hi! I’m Pauline, a French expat in the UK!

 

I’ve lived in several countries and travelled around Australia for a year!

 

Now I’m sharing all my travel tips and cultural facts with you!