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Coast to Coast: U.S. Vacation Spots Where You Can Thaw Out This Winter

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Blizzards, ice storms, and below-freezing temperatures send many of us into daydreams of warm sand between our toes and salted sea mist spraying through the air. Even though it’s only January, it’s never too soon to start planning for a getaway. Whether you are looking to get out of town now, or you can wait for March or April, the U.S. has some top beach destinations that will make you think you are south of the border but without the pricey airfare and overpriced swanky resorts.

"Sunset at Key West" Photo by Antonio Pavon

“Sunset at Key West” Photo by Antonio Pavon

If you can’t wait for spring, Key West and Miami Beach are great options for winter travel. Key West recently made the Travel Channel’s list of top spots for where to travel in January. For some, the annual Key West Food and Wine Festival held every January is enough reason to head south to wine and dine under the warm Florida sun. Miami Beach was also recently recognized, ranked as one of the top 15 best winter vacation spots by U.S. News. Even the hotels in South Beach are worth the trip, like Fountainbleau, a hotel that feels like a tropical resort and includes its very own 30,000-square-foot DJ-driven nightclub.

Laguna_Beach

By User:Infratec (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The West Coast is a year-round option for travel as the weather seems to be almost always warm and sunny in southern California, but there are a few coastal spots that especially shine this time of year. One is Laguna Beach, California. Budget Travel recently featured this paradise in its list of top affordable winter getaways. This famous seven-mile stretch of sand and sea is located in Southern California, in Orange County. And can you really travel all the way to the sunny coast of Southern California without some surfing lessons? Consider taking a few and riding some waves before browsing the eclectic shops and storefronts of Laguna Village. Looking for a place to stay? Check out Pacific Edge Hotel, which is right on the beach and walking distance from Laguna Village.

Virginia Beach

By Rae K. Hauck (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

If you can wait a few months to travel, consider some of the gems of the eastern shoreline, like Virginia Beach, Virginia. Virginia Beach offers a southern coastal getaway experience at the mouth of the famous Chesapeake Bay. It can get fairly cold in the winter months but if you wait for a little thawing out, this coastal attraction is ideal for those looking for more than sea and sand. If you are traveling as a group or perhaps your fellow travelers enjoy a little more than sunning and swimming, Virginia Beach is the perfect spot as it is near some well-known, beautiful areas like Hampton and Norfolk. Virginia Beach hotels are known for their charm and luxurious accommodations. The Cavalier, established in 1927, is one of the best known and established hotels in the area with quaint Southern elegance mixed with state-of-the-art facilities, right on the beach for the perfect coastal view.

Kiawah Island Golf Resort, photo courtesy of Charleston Area Convention & Visitor Bureau

Kiawah Island Golf Resort, photo courtesy of Charleston Area Convention & Visitor Bureau

An excellent eastern shore spring getaway destination just a little further south is Kiawah Island, South Carolina, located just 15 miles south of Charleston. Kiawah Island is best known for its golf courses and spectacular golf resorts, but the private beaches and villas are just as spectacular. The sunsets alone are worth the trip. Another bonus is the proximity to the charming town of Charleston if you need a break from the beach and golfing or if you just want to check out the city and its famous shopping district.

Before choosing your destination, also consider other attractions in the area and check out event calendars that may feature festivals, shows, or concerts. Choosing the time to visit is just as important as the place, especially in the off season. While some of these destinations are more well-known than others, each location offers a unique coastal experience that will get your mind off winter and forward to spring.

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About Alyssa Sellors

Alyssa Sellors is an English and Journalism educator as well as a freelance writer and journalist. She has been teaching for seven years and enjoys the challenges of teaching writing to high school students. She is a regular contributor to a number of publications and speaks at annual conferences on topics regarding scholastic journalism. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband and two chihuahuas.
  • bliffle

    Kiawah and Charleston are both great southeastern US destinations for winter, as is Hilton Head. And if you’re over 40 and starting to question your looks in a swimsuit, they provide wonderful dramatic vistas for walking on the beaches. It’s like Vermont or Maine in summer – sorta. There are many golf courses and quite a few tennis clubs. It’s been a couple years, but I always found the winter accommodations very cheap. The people you see will be more ‘normal’ and like your friends, as the super-wealthy baby-faced billionaires stay home up north and you will have access to all their fun things. You can also visit Savannah, a fabulous place, although, to get the full American southern experience you must visit Charleston and Savannah sometime in the summer when the humidity is ultra-high, the air is fragrant with the perfume of southern flora, and it’s impossible to hurry.