Cool Off-Season Beach Resorts
Travelers practically have the beach to themselves during the off-season. The crashing waves and that chill in the air are the perfect excuse to linger by your room’s fireplace or spend the morning at the spa. Staff often give an especially warm welcome, and some of America’s finest seaside resorts make a point to host special events, whether wine tastings or whale-watching excursions.
Experience a cozy Montauk spot without long lines for the best restaurant in town or packed parking lots just to stroll along the beach. Step out in the sun in SoCal, or watch the sea mists rise in Oregon.
So fend off any winter blues by holing up at one of these cozy beach resorts before the tide turns and spring breakers come rolling in.
Ocean House, Watch Hill, RI
An 1868 grande dame renovated to shipshape form, Ocean House is spectacular in sunshine or snowstorm. The stately veranda overlooks the private white-sand beach—moody and empty in the off-season—as does the spa’s lounge. The 49 light-filled guest rooms and 22 private villas come with oversize soaking tubs, classic preppy patterns, and thoughtful touches. (Each bed is made up with an accent pillow featuring the monogrammed initial of the respective guest’s surname.) Yoga and tai chi are offered daily in winter, as well as cooking demonstrations. Seasonal discount packages include an “epicurean adventure,” with meals included at the farm-to-table on-site restaurant.
Sea Ranch Lodge, CA
Throw on a sweater and head out to explore the wooded parks, preserves, and beaches that distinguish California’s northern coast. From Sea Ranch Lodge, you can admire a panorama of ancient redwoods and rocky shores—until the mist sets in, that is. Whale-watching is at its prime in winter, and there are 50 miles of surrounding hiking trails. Sea Ranch’s 19 renovated rooms come with gas-burning fireplaces, while the ocean-view restaurant follows the seasonal, farm-to-table creed.
Inn at Langley, Whidbey Island, WA
Don’t be deterred by Whidbey Island’s proximity to Seattle; it gets less than half of the rainfall of its drizzly neighbor. So the view is usually clear and serene from the waterfront Inn at Langley, which faces the Cascade Mountains. In winter, it’s easier to score a coveted spot at the inn’s single-seating dinner, where chef Matt Costello scours nearby farmers’ markets to concoct a six-course locavore prix fixe meal. Wildlife-sighting opportunities abound, from whale-watching excursions to birding treks. And after a day out, it’s a pleasure to settle in by the wood-burning fireplace in one of the 24 guest rooms—and treat yourself to a hot-stone massage at the newly renovated spa.
Ocean Isle Inn, Ocean Isle Beach, NC
Off-season rates drop to the $80 range for oceanfront rooms at Ocean Isle Inn, on a private stretch of sand halfway between Wilmington, NC, and Myrtle Beach, SC. Winter temperatures hover in the 50s, but swimming remains a pleasure at the heated indoor pool and Jacuzzi spa. Head to Wilmington and visit Fort Fisher Aquarium, or take a tour of the historic buildings on the waterfront.
The Nantucket Hotel & Resort, MA
The Nantucket Hotel & Resort provides a welcome pop of color and charm during even the grayest of February days. Two-bedroom suites and cottages make it a great choice for families and groups—or couples wanting a wintry getaway with a sea view. It’s within walking distance from Nantucket’s harbor and beaches. For an excursion, consider family-owned Bartlett’s Farm, which hosts one of the largest farmers’ markets in Nantucket. It offers cooking demonstrations, family-style meals, and children’s crafts year-round. Back at the hotel, warm up with steamy lobster bisque or mulled cocktails.
WildSpring, Port Orford, OR
Misty mornings lead to sunny afternoons in Port Orford, along one of America’s most scenic drives. The five cabin suites at secluded WildSpring Guest Habitat feel extra cozy thanks to radiant-heated floors. Dark and stormy forecast? Stay in and watch the clouds roll in over the ocean. The guest hall has floor-to-ceiling windows and snacks like popcorn and chocolates to munch on at any time. Head out for trails to explore Blacklock Point’s dramatic cliffs, or stay in and get an in-cabin massage.
The Ocean Lodge, Cannon Beach, OR
The rocky shores of Cannon Beach were the setting for The Goonies and host the real-life Ocean Lodge, a relaxed retreat steps from Haystack Rock. The hotel’s veranda is the spot to cozy up in an Adirondack chair. Peruse the beach town’s boutiques and art galleries, duck inside Sea Level Bakery and Coffee for a pick-me-up, or head to the wineries at Manzanita or Nehalem Bay to taste California reds. A warm welcome awaits in the main lodge, with its two-story wood-burning fireplace and regular supply of home-baked cookies and coffee.
Gurney’s, Montauk, NY
On summer weekends, hipsters descend on the easternmost end of Long Island, looking for the latest party in Montauk. So the off-season feels like a refreshing throwback to a sleepier era. The scene is out, leaving the pretty seascapes and villages very much in focus. Gurney’s is well prepared for winter; it has plenty of indoor features, including a rock sauna, Roman baths, and the famous indoor heated seawater pool—all in view of the ocean. Bundle up for a sailboat ride or fishing excursion at nearby Sag Harbor; go wine tasting at the Wölffer Estate in Sagaponack; or dine at trendy Swallow East, without worrying about a reservation.
Congress Hall, Cape May, NJ
Congress Hall, one of Cape May’s oldest seaside resorts, hosts events all winter long, including a Sunday concert series featuring choirs and dancers. Rooms overlook colorful Victorian architecture or the Atlantic. There’s a clubhouse for the kids, an ocean-view bar, and multiple restaurant options, from family-style comfort food at the Blue Pig Tavern to farm-to-table fare at the Ebbitt Room. There are museums and a lighthouse for when the weather’s foul—or you can find your bliss at the spa or the Brown Room, which serves cocktails and Cape May salt oysters into the wee morning hours.
King and Prince Resort, St. Simons Island, GA
St. Simons is remote and beautiful enough to feel like a true escape—especially if you check in to the King and Prince Resort, where southern hospitality means private villas and hot tubs. Savor ocean views at ECHO—St. Simons’s only waterfront restaurant—along with classic regional dishes like shrimp and grits and craft cocktails (we’re partial to the honey-apple bourbon toddy). Stop by the Royal Treatment Cottage for massage therapy, or venture out to St. Simons Island lighthouse and Fort Frederica.
Bayshore Resort, Traverse City, MI
The Victorian-style Bayshore Resort pampers guests with fireplaces in the suites and two-person tubs in the spa rooms. It organizes events like the Winter Warm Up, with wine tastings from Old Mission Peninsula wineries. The quaint town of Traverse City also supports a burgeoning craft beer scene, with 13 microbreweries and brewpubs for the sampling. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of America’s prettiest winter seascapes. Or trade the sand for the slopes, spending a day navigating the powdery hills and valleys via snowmobile.
Chatham Bars Inn, Cape Cod, MA
Chatham has that classic New England look and feel—no surprise the T+L community voted it one of America’s favorite beach towns. A seaside fixture since 1914, Chatham Bars Inn offers rooms, suites with gas fireplaces, and cottages. Winter’s chill is all the more reason to spend the morning unwinding in the spa’s sauna or steam showers. Take afternoon tea in the main lounge while watching the winter swells from afar, or set out for a stroll along the inn’s private beach. In town, browse galleries showcasing local talents, and treat yourself to hand-dipped chocolates and homemade fudge at the Chatham Candy Manor.
Hotel Galvez, Galveston, TX
There’s no sign of the area’s rowdy spring-break scene at the Hotel Galvez and Spa, decked out with chandeliers, crown molding, and massive windows. (Still, those aiming for a low-key escape would do well to avoid checking in at Mardi Gras.) Temperatures will be mild—a nice respite from the Texas summer heat—and nearly every major attraction is within walking distance, though the hotel shuttle makes stops at the Strand Historic District and Pier 21.
Blue Lantern Inn, Dana Point, CA
Dana Point goes all out for the winter holidays, so the off-season ushers in a sense of calm. Do your relaxing at Blue Lantern Inn, one of the best affordable beach resorts, mixing a California vibe with New England elegance. The weather will be fine, in typical SoCal fashion—pleasant for hanging out by the water or going on a whale-watching expedition. Spend the evening watching the tide ebb in and out from your balcony as the sun sets over the ocean. Take that, winter blues.