When the temperatures get low, head South. The Southeastern and Southwestern U.S. offer a plethora of getaways to keep you warm to beat the winter blues. From the pristine beaches of Alabama to the luxury of the Florida Keys to the history of Charleston. Try these 10 Southern winter getaways to beat the holiday stress or save a buck or two.
1. Florida Keys
Whether you’re looking to have a cocktail or two with friends or enjoy kayaking and art, Key West has plenty to offer for a quick winter getaway. The 8-mile-long barrier island known as Siesta Key is also considered the hidden jewel of Florida’s West Coast and would be a more secluded option.
2. Tybee Island, Georgia
A lighthouse on Tybee Island, Ga., keeps watch over five miles of beach, a nostalgic boardwalk and numerous affordable lodges. And, if you get an itch for bigger city life or amenities Savannah is only 17 miles down the road.
3. St. Augustine, Florida
Take a drive down Scenic A1A, and take in the delights of the nation’s oldest city. Downtown is full of historic buildings and cobblestone streets. Winter is also the time of the city’s “Nights of Lights” celebration where white lights adorn most of the town giving it an ethereal feel.
4. Big Bend National Park, Texas
The breathtaking beauties of Big Bend are on the Texas/Mexico border and offer an outdoor oasis for nature lovers. Winter is a great time to venture to the park for less crowds to enjoy nature in its secluded glory and for lower temps.
5. Beaufort, South Carolina
Venture to South Carolina’s cost to take in historic Beaufort and the nearby St. Helena Island. The island is a 5-mile trip from Beaufort. It’s farms and shrimp docks offer a glimpse into rural Lowcountry life of past and present.
6. Orlando, Florida
Winter can be one of the best times to visit the land of the iconic mouse Mickey. Beat the long lines, heat and humidity of the summer. The best time to visit Orlando is January through April, because the weather is good and more travel prices are relatively cheap.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
The music, the art, the hurricanes (of the drink variety) and the incredibly delicious eats of The Big Easy have appealed to visitors from all over the world. Venture to the city before the Mardi Gras season to take in all the sights and sounds at more affordable prices.
8. Gulf Shores, Alabama
Venture to Alabama’s Southern tip to take in the snow-white beaches of Gulf Shores. You’ll feel right at home in the city’s slow, Southern pace and friendly locals. It’s also a fairly short drive for many major cities in the South.
9. Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is a history buff’s playground with Fort Sumter to the city’s restored historic center. Combine a trip to Kiawah Island’s Beachwater Park for a short beach trip as well, which has landed a place one of the best U.S. beaches.
10. Natchez, Mississippi
For a lesser known Southern getaway, try Natchez, Miss., a town located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. The city was placed on Life magazine’s “100 places to see in your lifetime” and is home to quaint and historic bed and breakfasts that will take you back in time. You’ll also love the plethora of historic Southern homes.