If you’re looking for a fun escape from the city during winter, there are a lot more options than just ski trips near NYC or fleeing to Florida. These unexpected winter getaways will have you living like a snow queen on the cheap and are perfect for either day trips or longer vacations. Best of all, you won’t have to fight your way through those daunting summer crowds.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to weekend getaways
Summer towns to visit in winter
3 hours from NYC
Where to stay: Revel in the jaw-dropping ocean views from the tastefully appointed nautical-themed rooms at Gurney’s (pictured, $230–$348/night) for hundreds of dollars less than the going summer rates. It’s the sole year-round oceanfront resort in Montauk, so if you want to relive the wintry beach scenes from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, this is your best bet.
What to do: Go on a Seal Walk at Montauk Point State Park ( $4) to observe up to four species of the wintering animals along the rocky coast, and then hightail it to check out Camp Hero, a mysterious, abandoned military installation that inspired Stranger Things.
Asbury Park, NJ
1hr 30 mins from NYC
Where to stay: This popular shore town and live-music mecca doesn’t stop partying when the beach set leaves. Nowhere is that more apparent than at the Asbury Hotel ($125–$195/night) and its lively lobby bar, Soundbooth. With most rooms running about $150 cheaper per night during the winter season, you’ll have more cash to burn at the hotel’s pop-up ice rink and warm-tipples bar, The Rink (open through March).
What to do: Unleash your inner pinball wizard at the Silverball Museum (pictured, $10–$25), which has a giant collection of vintage pinball games (more than 150!) for you to play, including a racy, old-school Playboy number. Then rock out all night to a concert at—where else?—the legendary venue (and “The Boss” fave) The Stone Pony.
Livingston Manor, NY
3 hours from NYC
Where to stay: Chic and cozy, the Arnold House ($189–$399/night) really rocks that cabin vibe you seek in a winter getaway, and has an awesome deal through spring; a second weekday night is just $20.18. If you grow tired of lazing in front of the fire, staring out at the snow and regretting that you once read The Shining: The Arnold’s staff can help with a personalized itinerary, which may include activities like snowshoeing on nearby trails and ice fishing at Shandalee Lake.
What to do: Looking for more of an indoor buzz? One of the most environmentally friendly breweries in the country, Catskill Brewery (pictured), is just a 10-minute drive away. The rustic facility slings out fresh ales and lagers made with all-natural ingredients, and has a full lineup of tasty seasonal options like the Winter Warmer, which uses ancient Lithuanian farmhouse yeast. Stop by the taproom for tastings and pick up a growler to go.
Cape May, NJ
3 hours from NYC
Where to stay: Debutante on a budget? The opulent Southern Mansion (pictured, $149–$239/night) slashes 20 percent off all rooms for weekend stays in February and March. The painstakingly restored decor (there’s no shortage of ornately carved mantelpieces or lavish rugs) teeters on the edge of a Victorian fever dream, but the flat-screen TVs and evening turndown service make the experience more “peak vacay” and less Crimson Peak.
What to do: The nearby Willow Creek Winery has fun Fire Pit Fridays with sangria and live tunes. To check out another luxurious, old-timey retreat, take a tour of the Emlen Physick Estate ($12), a historic home that looks like someone assembled a dollhouse on hallucinogens, replete with upside-down chimneys and oversize features.
6 hrs from NYC
Where to stay: Anyone who’s been to P-town in the summer knows the LGBTQ-friendly Cape Cod beach community can be one crowded clusterfuck. To stroll down the refreshingly empty, centuries-old streets on a sunny February day is like being in a completely different town. Score major savings at the luxurious Crowne Pointe ($174–$217/night), a former captain’s house with ocean-inspired rooms that go for about half of summer rates.
What to do: After spending a long day out in the crisp, cold air, relax at the Shui Spa with a soothing mineral-therapy bath or some time in the steam room, both complimentary with treatment.
2 hours from NYC
Where to stay: The most exciting new spot in perpetually buzzy Hudson is The Wick ($179–$200/night), a glam boutique hotel combining the cool, industrial look of large windows and copper light fixtures with the warm light-brown-and-gold aesthetic of Hudson Valley romanticism. You can book a room for up to 20 percent off to celebrate its grand opening.
What to do: Check out Olana State Historic Site ($9), the iconic artist Frederic Edwin Church’s onetime home and a major inspiration for his romantic landscape paintings. Wind down with a cocktail and a good read at The Spotty Dog (pictured), a combination bar and bookstore.