A winter getaway can be just the thing to lift those seasonal blues or shake up your routine. Just having something exciting to look forward to can do a world of good. Some winter travelers will be looking to embrace the cold and snowy weather. Others will simply put up with the chill for the sake of quieter crowds. But regardless of what kind of cold-weather traveler you are, there are some great winter getaways on the East Coast.
The key to winter travel is to be prepared. Check the weather and embrace whatever Mother Nature has planned. Pack a hat and boots just in case of unseasonably cold air or snow make an unexpected appearance. As you explore, consider some hot beverages as an excuse to get to know a local cafe or shopping area. You will be more likely to live like a local traveling this way. At least for a brief time!
A manageable drive from the northeastern US, Montreal is a bit of a winter dreamland. Indeed, the French-speaking Canadian city can feel like a real adventure that’s perfect for winter weekend getaways.
Canadians know how to get around when the landscape is covered in a beautiful layer of fresh fluffy white snow. Embrace it! Check out the Underground City, which will allow you to walk blocks without ever seeing a flake of snow or the sun.
Montreal is rich in culture with a number of museums, including several art museums and notable churches. Down along the Old Port of Montreal (also known locally as the Vieux-Port de Montréal) is a Ferris wheel with enclosed gondolas. Warm up with a ride while soaking up the spectacular views over the St. Lawrence River and the city itself. And don’t forget to stroll the streets of the Old Town which looks that much more charming in the winter.
If you’re really feeling adventurous, head a few hours north. In Quebec City, they know how to celebrate winter. Experience an ice hotel, a winter carnival, a toboggan run, and more!
Ice skate in the shadow of City Hall or along the banks of the Delaware River. Then enjoy hot chocolate and cuddle with someone special in ski chalet-inspired cottages. The winter events in Philadelphia embrace the cold weather. (Then again, there really isn’t any other choice.)
While the City of Brotherly Love gets roughly two feet of snow a year on average, it can be difficult to predict when — and whether it will all arrive at once.
History buffs will love that Old City is far less crowded. You can take your time admiring the Liberty Bell or touring Independence Hall while examining the Declaration of Independence. Or, head to the western part of the city to enjoy some art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation. Then warm up at some of the region’s best tea spots.
Snow bunnies eager to embrace the white stuff during their winter getaways can head to the nearby mountains, including the Poconos, for skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing.
New York City
In some ways, New York City is the same no matter what time of the year you visit. You can enjoy some culture along the Upper East Side’s Museum Mile or go for a stroll through Central Park or along the High Line. There is a predictable list of free things to do in New York City no matter the season. There are special seasonal spots to enjoy. Go ice skating at Bryant Park’s Winter Village.
But the real appeal of NYC in the winter is the potential for smaller crowds and deals to be found. Restaurant week, hotel week, and other promotions run throughout the less busy months.
Head to the city for a leisurely trip of shopping or soaking up some culture. And use the chilly weather as an excuse to enjoy some special restaurants and coffee shops. My favorite spot to warm up is Iron Chef Morimoto’s Momosan for piping hot ramen.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May is probably one of the most relaxing and quiet winter getaways on the East Coast. While some flock to the beach during the hottest days of the year, some of us prefer the beach during the off-season. What’s better than having the entire beach to yourself? Just be sure to bundle up!
Cape May is known for its historic Victorian architecture. During the off-season, you can enjoy much that the area has to offer but with fewer crowds. It’s important to note that some restaurants and shops do close for the winter. But if you aren’t bothered by a slower pace, this is the time to visit. Head over to the lighthouse with a picnic lunch or a hot beverage.
Another great benefit of enjoying the beach in Cape May during the off-season is that it’s dog-friendly. You can bring the whole family and enjoy long walks on the beach, the boardwalk, or in town.
Coney Island brings to mind packed beaches and Independence Day eating contests. During the winter, the amusement parks and souvenir shops are shuttered. But the beach, the boardwalk, and the pier are still open.
The Brooklyn seaside spot certainly still has life even during the colder months for winter getaways. You’ll find locals strolling along the boardwalk or even musicians busking. But with nearly three miles of boardwalk to enjoy and plenty of benches. Just a block off the oceanfront are shops, restaurants, and a subway stop. It’s hard to remember that this tranquil setting is only a subway ride away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan.
Like Cape May, Coney Island is also dog-friendly in the off-season. And with wide beaches, your furry friend will love getting some exercise or some playtime with you.
All photos and opinions are my own.