There are two schools of thought on taking quick breaks in winter: One says to head to a beach or sunny destination to escape; the other says to dive into the season and find the most snow, the best winter activities, and live it up as much as hats and mittens allow. Whether it’s fun in the snow or a destination on the sunny side, we’ve rounded up six winter weekend getaway ideas around the country that are easy to get to and promise to deliver the quick escape you are looking for.
1. Palm Beach, Florida
Where to stay: White Elephant Palm Beach, from $725 per night, expedia.com
The fantastic Norton Museum of Art has just unveiled an exhibition of Mexican artists that will set your hair on fire. Through February 6, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism explores the rich postrevolution period for culture and art in Mexico. The show includes 150 works from Kahlo and Rivera and their creative cohort of artists, thinkers, and activists. And after you’ve extinguished the hair-fire, you can retire to your chic accommodations at the new White Elephant Palm Beach, a hotel from the people who brought you the much-loved White Elephant in Nantucket.
The 32-room hotel has its own impressive art collection and offers guests an elegant old-Florida mood. After a loving modernization from its previous life as a 1924 landmarked Mediterranean-revival resort, it reopened in late 2020. Airy and bright, the hotel melds the casual vibe of Nantucket life with the polished sophistication of Palm Beach. Walls and floors in beachy tones of white and sand provide a backdrop for rattan furniture, bold artwork, and a black-and-white motif that appears in awnings, rugs, and beautiful objects.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Where to stay: Bishop’s Lodge Auberge Resorts Collection, from $649 per night, expedia.com
Sure, Santa Fe is famously charming but winter brings out something altogether magical: the adobe buildings embellished by snow, the scent of cedar piñon wood fires in the air, the nighttime glow of luminarias lining the streets during the holidays, and the intense mountain sun warming the days. That “Land of Enchantment” motto feels like a bull’s-eye this time of year.
A winter visit means time to shop or window-shop the galleries along Canyon Road or around the Plaza (don’t miss the mind-blowing Native American arts at Shiprock). The Railyard Arts Districts offers more cultural diversions, including the never-not-surprising art space, Site Santa Fe. Be sure to set aside an afternoon for Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-style mountain spa that incorporates the scenic New Mexico landscape into its aesthetic. Float the day away in one of the private outdoor hot tubs or Japanese soaking tubs and indulge in a classic shiatsu massage or other spa treatment. When you’re fully blissed out, head back into town for dinner. The fall’s Hatch chile harvest and the cold Santa Fe nights mean it’s prime time for a bowl of green chile stew or some red chile posole at Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, which has been ladling some of the best since the 1950s.
The Bishop’s Lodge is a beloved historic landmark. (You know Willa Cather’s novel, Death Comes for the Archbishop? Her real-life inspiration was Bishop Lamy, the missionary who built the chapel and lodge in the 1860s.) Long favored by family travelers for its large rooms and expansive property, the resort had fallen into disrepair when Auberge Resorts swept in, restored it, and reopened the newly buffed and luxurious resort last summer.
3. Austin, Texas
Where to stay: The Thompson Austin, from $329 per night, expedia.com
In January, when you’ve had enough cold, head to sunny Austin where winter daytime temperatures are in the 60s and it’s officially the dry season. Other seasonal selling points in the Texas capital: taco trucks, live music, hiking without heatstroke, and evenings spent lingering by firepits on brewery patios. January 2022 brings a new thrill to town, too: The James Beard Award–winning chef Mashama Bailey—whose Savannah restaurants the Grey and Grey Market lure eaters to that Southern port city—is opening two restaurants at the new hotel Thompson Austin. The Grey Market and the Diner Bar will have more space than their Savannah cousins, and the chef will be exploring native Texas ingredients with the same attention and invention she shows those of lowcountry Georgia.
The Thompson Austin (opening January 2022) promises to be a sophisticated choice with 212 guest rooms, an infinity pool (with poolside dining), and a billiard room, right in the middle of Austin’s entertainment district.
4. Park City, Utah
Where to stay: The Pendry Park City, from $889 per night, pendry.com
In the mood to zip up your parka and embrace the season (warmly, snugly)? Go to a place where snow is celebrated, Park City. Just a 45-minute drive from the Salt Lake City Airport, this town boasts an annual snowfall that makes it the envy of other ski resorts. Winter 2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the Olympic Games in Park City, and the Olympic Park is open for your own quest for excellence. Head to the Oval for an open ice-skating session or summon your courage for a figure-skating or speed-skating lesson. If you’re really feeling brave, sign up for a really, really fast and thrilling ride down the bobsled track with a professional bobsled pilot. From January 20–30, the eyes of the entertainment world turn to Park City for the Sundance Festival, in person this year. It’s undeniably fun to see celebrities tromping around town in their après-ski togs. Which brings us to Park City’s main draw. The town is home to two ski resorts: Deer Valley (a luxury option with a serious ski school, lots of meticulously groomed slopes, and really nice off-slope dining options) and Park City Mountain (a sprawling 7,300 acres of slopes accessed via lifts right from Main Street in town or from Canyons Village where most of the hotels are).
The Pendry Park City, opening this winter, is the new cool kid. The hotel, with 153 guest rooms, lots of dining options including a pizza place, and the town’s only rooftop pool and bar with a view of the slopes.
5. Charleston, South Carolina
Where to stay: The Loutrel, from $319 per night, expedia.com
There are a dozen good reasons everybody loves Charleston: the rich history, the mild coastal winter, the architecture, the walkability. In 2022, one of the city’s biggest annual draws, the Charleston Wine + Food festival is slated to make a triumphant return after last year’s pandemic cancellation. Running from March 2 to 6, it will see an impressive roster of chefs, bartenders, brewers, musicians, artists, and makers gather in town to talk, eat, show off, and host a joyous event that celebrates Charleston’s contribution to food culture. If you want to get more granular with your food event attendance, the Lowcountry Oyster Festival is also returning after pandemic-hiatus on Sunday, February 6. Later in the winter, this year’s Historic Charleston Foundation’s Festival of Houses and Gardens (March 16–April 9) marks the Foundation’s 75th anniversary. A ticket gets you inside access to many of the city’s most remarkable historic houses as well as their private gardens and outbuildings. Spring starts early here so even in March, the color and perfume of the gardens will not disappoint.
The 50-room Loutrel, which recently opened in the historic French Quarter, promises a stylish and luxurious stay. This city loves a roofdeck, and the Loutrel’s terrace will have killer views of downtown’s steeples and harbor.
6. Nantucket, Massachusetts
Where to stay: Greydon House, from $215 per night, expedia.com
An Atlantic island may seem like a chilly choice for a winter getaway, but pack the right clothes and you’ll feel like you’ve uncovered a closely guarded secret. In early December, the Christmas Stroll, a weeklong affair, means browsing local stores, sipping mulled cider, and side-stepping carolers on cobbled streets where houses are garlanded and wreathed and twinkle-lit to perfection. Beyond that busy week, the rest of winter seems notably quieter and peaceful. The only other people you’ll see will be locals, something that no visitor during the booming summer season can claim. Bring a book (or buy one at Nantucket Bookworks), rent a bike and ride to the lighthouses, take walks on the moody, spectacular beaches, and enjoy the serene and sparkling winter weather. Island favorite Cisco Brewers is open all year, keeps a busy food-truck schedule, and runs a free shuttle to town.
Many island hotels close up tight over the winter but Greydon House stays open. The fully renovated 1850 sea captain’s house is cozy and stylish (the Roman + Williams design respectfully incorporates elements of the island’s maritime culture). The 17 guest rooms are bright and spare but comfortable, and the hotel’s lounge area is perfect for settling in with a book and a drink.
>> Next: 10 Best Places to Go in January