Whether you’re looking for a warm weather escape or an experience that feels a lot like Christmas, America’s Atlantic Coast has many great options for a fun winter getaway. Stretching from Maine in the north to Florida in the south, this diverse, sometimes dramatic, but always scenic stretch of coastline offers no end of opportunities to explore, unwind, and relax.
Find out more about the opportunities that await with this list of the 7 best towns on the Atlantic Coast for a winter getaway.
St. Marys, Georgia
Situated just north of the Florida state line and minutes away from the I-95 highway, St. Marys, Georgia, makes an excellent Atlantic Coast winter getaway. Established in 1787 where St. Mary’s River meets the Atlantic Ocean and popular for its mild winter climate, fun things to do in St. Marys include exploring its rich maritime history with a visit to the St. Mary Submarine Museum. Outdoor enthusiasts will want to check out the 500-acre Crooked State Park for its hiking and biking trails.
Fun tours of the area can be enjoyed aboard the St. Marys Railroad Express, a historic railway that connects the town to nearby Kingsland that’s been in operation since 1865. Great places to stay in St. Marys for your winter getaway include the centrally located SureStay Plus By Best Western St Marys Cumberland and the historic Spencer House Inn.
Despite winter temperatures in Maine being downright chilly, the state has no end of excuses for a fun mid-week or weekend getaway. Our favorite winter destination in Maine is Kennebunkport, a picturesque coastal town that transforms into a winter wonderland that offers plenty of activities for visitors to participate in. Outdoor pursuits include cross-country skiing at Smith Preserve, a popular hiking destination in summer with trails groomed in winter for skiing and snowshoeing.
Horse-drawn sleigh rides are also available courtesy of Rockin’ Horse stables, complete with hot cocoa when you’re done. Looking for a great place to stay with a traditional New England vibe? The Kennebunkport Inn not only offers excellent accommodations but also a unique dining experience inside a heated, bright red gondola that allows you to enjoy great food while thumbing your nose at Old Man Winter.
While not the most northerly of the towns on this list (that title goes to Kennebunkport in Maine), Lewes is a particularly popular winter getaway destination for residents of Washington and New York City. Known as "the first town in the first state" for having been the site of the original European settlement in Delaware in 1631, fun winter outdoor activities include ice skating at Cape Henlopen State Park, where you can also enjoy the annual Winter Wonderfest complete with a charming Christmas village and a drive-through lights show.
Top your Lewes getaway adventure off with a stay at the centrally located Hotel Blue or historic Hotel Rodney.
Cape May, New Jersey
While Cape May is certainly well known as an East Coast summer destination, this New Jersey town is also becoming increasingly popular as a travel destination during the winter months. Outdoor activities include a winter hike through Cape May Point State Park, with a choice of trails offering scenic routes through forests, wetlands, and even along the beachfront, providing opportunities to spot winter wildlife like snowy owls and even seals.
Available up until the end of December, a winter whale-watching tour is also doable, but you’ll need to prepare for last-minute changes to itineraries due to weather conditions. For an authentic Cape May getaway experience, check out the availability in historic B&Bs such as Angel of the Sea and Beauclaires Bed & Breakfast Inn.
Beaufort, South Carolina
Beautiful Beaufort, South Carolina, is another great winter getaway destination for those who enjoy their weather on the milder side. Year-round activities include pleasant hikes or bike rides along the 14-mile-long Spanish Moss Trail, and exploring Hunting Island State Park where you can view the ocean from the historic Hunting Island Lighthouse.
You’ll also want to explore Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park. Benches along the waterfront walkway look out over the water, and the park also features a pirate-themed playground and picnic tables. Accommodation options include the lovely Cuthbert House and the 607 Bay Inn Downtown Beaufort.
Less than a 50-minute drive from Boston, Rockport, Massachusetts, makes for a fun winter getaway destination. The town’s stunning coastal scenery appears even more dramatic during the winter months, with winter storm watching from the comfort of a cozy restaurant or hotel an increasingly popular activity. Indoor pursuits are plentiful. If you prefer to spend your time indoors, do some gallery hopping at any one of the 30 or more art galleries that call Rockport home, an especially fun pastime in the lead-up to the Christmas holiday season.
Looking for cozy places to stay in Rockport? Our favorites include the Bearskin Neck Motor Lodge and the Yankee Clipper Inn.
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Located on Amelia Island just across the rover from St. Marys, Georgia, the town of Fernandina Beach is also worth considering for your Atlantic Coast getaway. While temperatures are cooler than Florida hotpots to the south like Miami and Orlando, you’ll benefit from enjoying a much less crowded Amelia Island experience at this time of year. In addition to relaxing beach walks you’ll enjoy strolls past well-preserved Victorian-era architecture
Amelia Island State Park is fun to explore at this time of year, especially on horseback, with rides being available at dawn and dusk. Come bedtime, options include the classy Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island, to name but two.
The Final Word
Stretching for thousands of miles from Maine all the way down to Florida, the USA’s Atlantic Coast offers no end of possibilities for vacationers. Those seeking a shorter mid-week or weekend break are especially spoiled for choice during the winter months when the destinations on this list share an array of fun seasonal events and experiences. Find out more with our list of the 7 best towns on the Atlantic Coast for a winter getaway.