With holiday greenery, twinkling lights, and outdoor fun like ice skating, winter can be a magical season. And whether you're looking to embrace the elements by skiing or snowboarding in the mountains of Vermont, or you're hoping to escape to warmer climes in Miami, there's an option for every kind of traveler—even those who only want to curl up by the fire with a good book. Here are the top East Coast winter destinations, just a short flight or drive away.
For the perfect mountain vacation, opt for Stowe, Vermont. Known as the Ski Capital of the East, this tiny New England town is where the Von Trapp family—of Sound of Music fame—settled after their escape from Austria.
Head to the Stowe Mountain Resort on Mount Mansfield, the state's highest peak, for over 116 skiing trails as well as other winter activities like dog sledding, ice skating, sleigh rides, and snowshoe tours. You can also opt for a gondola or cable car ride to the peak before dining on award-winning American cuisine with a view at Cliff House or indulging in a massage, facial, or mineral bath at the Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa.
Take a break from the slopes and head to town for sweet treats at Stowe Bee Bakery & Cafe, tavern fare at Harrison's Restaurant, or local beer at breweries like Idletyme. Need a souvenir? Stop into Stowe Maple Products for local maple syrup.
With dreamy, oak-covered public squares, historic homes, and moderate year-round temperatures, this coastal Georgia city is the perfect winter getaway. Savannah's airport offers regular nonstop flights from New York City and Philadelphia, and the city is within driving distance of Atlanta.
Walk around the Historic District's 22 public squares, including Forsyth Park, which features 30 acres of greenery, walking paths, and a distinctive Parisian-inspired central fountain. Other points of interest in the city include the 100-acre Victorian-era Bonaventure Cemetery; the birthplace of Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low; and the Telfair Museum, the Southeast's oldest public art museum.
The city is also a top destination for foodies. Stop by the James Beard award-winning The Grey for seasonal, regional fare in a 1930s Art Deco Greyhound bus terminal; Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room for Southern favorites like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese; or the Fox and Fig Cafe for creative, vegan-friendly salads and bowls.
A well-known summer destination, Kennebunkport is not to be missed in winter, either. Just a short drive or train ride away from Boston, this southern Maine town is ideal for a romantic or adventure-packed weekend getaway.
In December, the town hosts an 11-day Christmas Prelude celebration, complete with a holiday tree made entirely of lobster traps, sleigh rides, home tours, craft fairs, and light displays. Throughout winter, visitors can snowshoe or cross country ski at the 600-acre Harris Farms or hike the 7-mile trail network through dense forests and alongside beach dunes at Wells Preserve at Laudholm Farms.
Want a break from the cold? Indulge in a hot stone massage at the Breakwater Inn & Spa, pour your own candles at Sea Love Candles and Co., browse the vintage car collection at the Maine Classic Auto Museum, or visit the Portland Museum of Art.
Looking for an urban beach getaway? Head to Miami, where the temperatures are balmy and the city offers everything from sandy beaches to eye-popping architecture. Soak up the sun or stroll through the Art Deco-inspired homes along South Beach before heading to the Miami Design District, brimming with high-end shops, galleries, and Instagram-worthy buildings and sculptures. Other arts-centric city spots include the Perez Art Museum Miami downtown and Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum dedicated to graffiti and street art.
Nature lovers will want to visit the nearby 1.5.-million-acre Everglades National Park, the country's largest subtropical nature area. Hike, walk, or paddle through mangroves to spot local wildlife like manatees, dolphins, herons, and alligators.
At night, visit some of the city's standout bars like Sweet Liberty and The Broken Shaker, then rest up for another day at one of Miami's most decadent hotels, such as the Kimpton Surfcomber, Faena, or Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne.
Newport, Rhode Island
From eclectic antique shops and snow-covered mansions to seaside parks and picturesque trails, the "City by the Sea" is a lovely winter getaway. Hike or take a guided bird tour at the 325-acre Norman Bird Sanctuary; tour the city's famed "summer cottages" like The Breakers; and wander through the ocean-side Ballard Park, which has an illuminated garden display throughout the month of February.
Shop for everything from vintage jewelry to mid-century furniture at Newport Marketplace & Antiques, then warm up with libations from the chocolate bar at the mansion-turned-hotel The Chanler at Cliff Walk. Or enjoy themed outdoor igloos with custom games, cocktails, and music at Gurney's Newport Resort and Marina.
The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Long a go-to destination in the summer, the Berkshires are just as idyllic in the winter. This stretch of small towns in western Massachusetts is home to half of the state's ski resorts, plus world-class art museums, antique shops, and top-notch spas and restaurants.
For outdoor fun, head to the Berkshire East Mountain Resort for 45 miles of trails dedicated to skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing, as well as an adventure park with one of the world's longest mountain coasters. Or opt for a stay at the Blantyre Hotel in Lenox, whose 110-acre property includes ice skating, cross country skiing, and one of the region's best spas.
Just a four-hour drive from Miami, this low-key island offers warm temperatures, recreational activities, and quirky bars. Rent a bike to pedal past historic, pastel-hued homes and sandy beaches; kayak or paddle through mangroves; or dive or snorkel through tropical fish, turtles, and other sea creatures at the Key West Bank Reef.
Other can't miss attractions include the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum (and its legendary cats), the Key West City Cemetery, Harry Truman's Little White House, and Papa's Pillar Rum distillery. Wind down from the day's adventures with a trip to Duval Street's iconic restaurants and bars, like Irish Kevin's or Sloppy Joe's. Afterwards, stay the night at the historic Marquesa Hotel, which features lush gardens and three separate pools.
Asheville, North Carolina
Located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this quirky mountain town is a haven for outdoor adventure seekers, art lovers, and food and beer enthusiasts alike. Drive along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, or hike one of the area's scenic trails.
Don't miss the city's famed breweries, including Catawba Brewing, Burial Beer Co., and the Wicked Weed Funkatorium in South Slope. Follow a brewery visit with a meal at one of Asheville's celebrated restaurants, like Cúrate for Spanish-style tapas, Buxton Hall Barbecue for whole hog 'cue, or Benne on Eagle for Appalachian soul food.
And no trip to the city is complete without visiting the sprawling Biltmore Estate, George W. Vanderbilt’s former winter home. Tour the residence, stroll the expansive gardens, and taste samples at the on-site winery.
Host of the 1931 and 1980 Winter Olympics, this quaint village in the Adirondack Mountains is still a hub for winter sports.
Ski the slopes of nearby Whiteface Mountain, which also boasts a speed-skating Oval, an Olympic bobsled and luge track, and a public toboggan run. For a more laid-back activity, visitors can ride a gondola to an observation desk at the top.
Check out the Lake Placid Olympic Museum to marvel at photographs, medals, and other artifacts from the city's games. Enjoy dinner with a view of the lake at the Top of the Park, which serves small plates as well as main dishes like a pan-seared Kobe beef flat iron steak.
From ice skating beneath the towering Rockefeller Christmas tree to holiday markets and iconic department store window displays, there's no place like New York City in December. But the city is just as magical in January and February, when the crowds disperse, flights are cheaper, and hotel rates hit rock bottom.
Sled, snowboard, or ice skate during January's annual Central Park Winter Jam, or try your hand at curling or free ice skating at Bryant Park's annual Winter Village. Need to warm up? Head to the Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History, which features more than 500 butterflies and tropical plants, all in a controlled environment heated to a balmy 80 degrees! You also can't go wrong with visits to the Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Guggenheim.
Cap your evening with literary-inspired cocktails on the roof of the Bookmarks Lounge, located on the 14th floor of the Library Hotel, which offers some of the city's best views.