7 Great Winter Weekend Getaways in the U.S., Whether You’re After Sun or Snow

Whether you’re craving winter sun or a snowy wonderland, these spots are ideal for a short break.

View down main street of Park City in winter, with mountain in background

No matter what kind of winter you prefer (Florida’s sunshine or Park City’s snow), there’s a perfect weekend getaway.

Photo by Johnny Adolphson/Shutterstock

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 cold; 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.

Thankfully, the U.S. offers such a wealth of winter weekend getaways from coast to coast that you don’t have to choose. You could do both if time and money allow. The hardest part is deciding where to go. We’ve rounded up seven winter weekend getaway ideas around the country that are easy to get to and promise to deliver the quick escape you are looking for.

Aerial view of coast at Palm Beach, with city at left

Palm Beach turns to balmy beach in the winter months.

Photo by pisaphotography/Shutterstock

1. Palm Beach, Florida

Temperatures dip to the mid-70s in south Florida during the winter months, making it a perfect time to visit. Head there in December for the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival or in January for Art Palm Beach, a citywide celebration of modern art. The fantastic Norton Museum of Art is worth a trip in any month; this season sees exhibitions on impressionism, through February 18, and another on the symbolism of Chinese animal paintings, through February 4.

Where to stay: White Elephant Palm Beach

Retire to 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.

Adobe house in snowy scene, with mountains in distance

Santa Fe, in a state whose motto is the “Land of Enchantment,” gets even more enchanting when covered in a blanket of snow.

Photo by Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock

2. Santa Fe, New Mexico

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 streets during the holidays, and the intense mountain sun warming the days. That New Mexico “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 District 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 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.

Where to stay: Bishop’s Lodge Auberge Resorts Collection

The Bishop’s Lodge is a beloved historic landmark. (Willa Cather’s novel Death Comes for the Archbishop was inspired by 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.

3. Austin, Texas

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. The James Beard Award–winning chef Mashama Bailey—whose Savannah restaurants the Grey and Grey Market lure eaters to that Southern port city—opened two restaurants at the hotel Thompson Austin in 2022. The Grey Market and the Diner Bar have more space than their Savannah cousins, and the chef explores native Texas ingredients with the same attention and invention she shows those of Lowcountry Georgia.

Where to stay: The Thompson Austin

The Thompson Austin offers 212 guest rooms, an infinity pool (with poolside dining), and a billiard room, right in the middle of Austin’s entertainment district.

Mountains with various snowy ski slopes among trees

Deer Valley offers serious skiing, but the Park City area has plenty of off-slope entertainment too, including the Sundance Film Festival and Olympic-sport activities.

Photo by Johnny Adolphson/Shutterstock

4. Park City, Utah

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. The Winter Olympic Games were held in Park City in 2002, 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.

In January, the eyes of the entertainment world turn to Park City for the Sundance Festival. 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 top-notch 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).

Where to stay: The Pendry Park City

The Pendry Park City is the newish cool kid in town. The hotel, with 153 guest rooms, features 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

There are a dozen good reasons everybody loves Charleston: the rich history, the mild coastal winter, the architecture, the walkability. Don’t miss the Charleston Wine + Food festival. Running during the first week of March, 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.

The Lowcountry Oyster Festival, meanwhile, returns on February 6, 2024. And from mid-March to mid-April, the Charleston Festival celebrates its 77th year, with concerts, exhibitions, and more. Spring starts early here so even in March, the color and perfume of the gardens will not disappoint.

Where to stay: The Loutrel

The 50-room Loutrel in the historic French Quarter promises a stylish and luxurious stay. This city loves a roof deck, and the Loutrel’s terrace offers killer views of downtown’s steeples and harbor.

6. Nantucket, Massachusetts

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.

Where to stay: Greydon House

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.

7. Los Angeles, California

The alfresco L.A. life really shines when winter kicks in. Patio brunches are served to diners clad in T-shirts, beaches fill with people taking a stroll instead of swimmers, and the nearby mountain trails beckon. (Snowy adventures, meanwhile, are only a few hours away in the likes of Big Bear or Mammoth.) Destination Crenshaw, the largest public art project devoted to Black artists in the country, will open this year—one of many reasons Los Angeles was included in AFAR’s Where to Go 2024 list.

Where to stay: Proper Hotel

The Proper in downtown L.A. used to be a YWCA but is now an upscale art deco retreat with that requisite rooftop pool.

This article originally appeared in November 2021. It was updated on November 29, 2023.

In these quiet days leading up to her Powerball win, Ann works as a freelance travel editor and writer. A fan of literature, museums, history, high-minded cinema, and bad television, Ann lives in New York with her husband and two teenaged children. She likes road trips, local bars, getting lost, and laughing, so Ireland ranks high on her list of favorite places.
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