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Favorite winter getaways from Northern Virginia offer relaxing stays, indoor fun, and a change of scenery while avoiding long drives. Whether you prefer a city escape for a girlfriends getaway, a romantic destination where you can snuggle up, or a warm beach for family fun, we’ve got ideas for you.
Read on for winter getaways from Northern Virginia that you can reach by plane, train, and automobile. We’ve included tips on how to reach your bliss, plus what to do and where to stay once you arrive.
Some of the destinations on our list are cold weather spots. Other winter getaways from Northern Virginia involve a flight to fully escape the cold and maybe hit the beach. We like to write about places we have visited and stayed, so this list is based on our personal travels. We’d love to hear your getaway suggestions in the comments below.
Winter Getaways from Northern Virginia That Still Have a Chill
If you want a change of scenery and don’t mind the cold, there are plenty of winter escapes that are a short drive or train ride away. These winter getaways from Northern Virginia won’t get you out of the cold (unless we have a lucky heat wave) but they will give you a nice dose of fun.
National Harbor, Maryland
Why: National Harbor is right next to Washington DC so you won’t spend much time on travel. There are restaurants, bars, shops, and some unusual activities to keep you entertained.
How: Drive. National Harbor is just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, about 30 minutes from Fairfax. You could also arrive by water taxi from the Alexandria waterfront.
What to do: National Harbor has some unique shops, including a Peeps store, plus lots of restaurants and bars. If shopping is your thing, they also offer a free shuttle to the nearby Tanger Outlets. When you’re ready for some unique fun, take a ride on the Capital Wheel. The cars are fully enclosed and heated, so you can even ride on chilly winter days. If the weather is on the warm side, walk along the waterfront and get some pictures with The Awakening, a giant emerging from the sand.
Stay: We recommend the AC Hotel for a comfortable stay with a European vibe. Request a room facing the wheel and you may catch nice sunset views. The Gaylord National Resort is another lodging favorite, especially during the annual Christmas On the Potomac and ICE! celebration.
Why: Philadelphia’s historic downtown is compact and easy to explore on foot, and there are loads of options for foodies and city fun.
How: Take the train. DC Union Station to Philadelphia 30th Street Station is a relaxing two-hour trip on Amtrak’s Northeastern Regional; 90 minutes on the more expensive Acela.
What to do: Eat a meal and shop at Reading Terminal Market, a huge historic cornucopia of food stalls, crafts, specialty products, and restaurants. Explore American history at Independence National Historic Park, which includes Independce Hall and the Liberty Bell Center. If the weather cooperates, take a walk by the Delaware River and go ice skating at Penn’s Landing.
Stay: Kimpton Hotel Monaco has an ideal location in the heart of the historic area. Ask for a room with views of Independence Hall (like the one pictured above).
Why: A compact downtown with great shopping and foodie finds plus Colonial, Civil War, and presidential history.
How: Drive. Gettysburg is an easy 90 minute drive from Northern Virginia, as long as you avoid rush hour and snow storms.
What to do: Visit the eclectic shops around Lincoln Square in downtown Gettysburg. This area also has an excellent small theater, restaurants, pubs, and the home where Abraham Lincoln stayed before delivering the Gettysburg Address. Historic Gettysburg sites including the National Battlefield, Eisenhower Estate, and Shriver House Museum are all close to the Lincoln Square area. More excellent restaurants and cideries are a short drive away, making Gettysburg a fun foodie getaway.
New York City, New York
Why: The city that never sleeps is action-packed all year long. There are plenty of museums, theaters, and shops to avoid the cold, or opt outside for ice skating and neighborhood walks.
How: Take the train. New York City’s Penn Station is a 3.5 hour ride on Amtrak’s Northeastern Regional from DC’s Union Station. Shave an hour off travel time on the more expensive Acela.
What to do: Hit the theater for one or more shows on or off Broadway. Many theaters offer last minute discount tickets so stop by a day ahead, or wait for same day tickets in the often chilly TKTS line. There are too many restaurant options to count, but one popular option is a meal at Eataly, the ode to all things Italian. The FlatIron Building and Washington Square Park offer great photo opps right across the street. Honor the sacrifice of first responders and civilians at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Be sure to visit the stunning Oculus, the new World Trade Center transportation hub. If the weather cooperates, take a walk on the High Line, our favorite urban park, and go ice skating at Bryant Park.
Hop on A Plane for Warm Winter Getaways from Northern Virginia
Sometimes we’ve all had enough of freezing temperatures and icy roads. Not to worry. A winter escape is not so far away and not too hard to reach if you focus on non-stop flights. You can reach these winter getaways from Northern Virginia in under 3 hours on a nonstop flight. Book the first flight of the day and you can be wearing shorts by lunch time.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Why: If beach time is your priority, Fort Lauderdale is the destination for you.
How: Fly. Non-stop flights from all three Washington area airports take under 3 hours, and the beach is just 20 minutes from Fort Lauderdale Airport.
What to do: Head to the beach for fun in the sun. A broad sandy expanse dotted with palms offers plenty of room to spread out and relax at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. To the south, Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park is a long and quiet strip of protected sandy beach with picnic facilities and a nature trail. When you need a break from the sun, nearby Las Olas Boulevard is lined with trendy shops and restaurants. Check out the incredible mansions and yachts that populate prime waterfront real estate on a sightseeing tour with Carry B. Harbor Tours. Airboat tours of the Everglades are another fun option. We enjoyed a ride with Everglades Tours at Sawgrass Recreation Park, about a 45 minute drive from the beach.
Stay: Check in to one of the beautiful, beachy rooms at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach and you may never want to leave. Learn more about the relaxed luxury at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina is a few blocks from the beach, but offers nice canal views. For a shot of classic Florida luxury, stay a little further north at the Boca Raton Resort and Club.
>> Explore more Relaxed Luxury Resorts in Florida now!
Why: Tampa is a hip city with a fun riverfront, great restaurants, and interesting history. Tampa is perfect for winter getaways from Northern Virginia that aren’t focused on the beach.
How: Fly. There are non-stop flights from all three Washington area airports, all about 2.5 hours long. Downtown Tampa is 30 minutes from the airport.
What to do: Bike, walk, and paddle through the heart of the city on the Tampa Riverwalk, along the Hillsborough River. The 2-mile paved trail is lined with restaurants, museums, parks, and nice places to relax. Foodies will love winter escapes to Tampa, because the restaurant and drink scene is popping. Head to Ybor City for a shot of history and Cuban culture. If you just have to see the sea, Clearwater Beach is an hour’s drive west.
Stay: Stay at the hip Epicurean Hotel for easy access to foodie favorites like Bern’s steakhouse. There are several hotels along the riverfront if you prefer a downtown location.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
Why: Anna Maria Island is a cool, laid back, funky beach town without the crowds of other Florida Gulf coast destinations.
How: Fly. Take one of the daily 2.5 hour non-stops from Reagan National to Sarasota airport and your toes can be in the sand 45 minutes from when you land. The small airport is 35 minutes from Anna Maria Island. Or choose one of the frequent non-stops to Tampa, which is about a 75 minute drive from Anna Maria Island.
What to do: Frequent beach walks on the super lush sugar sand and water sport activities will help you relax and recharge on Anna Maria Island. For a turbo-charged adventure, try Flyboarding on Palma Sola Bay, a 10 minute drive from AMI. Anna Maria Island dining options center on fresh seafood and include one of Zagat’s highest rated restaurants, Beach Bistro. The tastiest local dish, however, might be just be the magnificent blackened grouper off-island, at the Old Florida seafood shack Star Fish in Cortez.
>> Read more Things to Do in Anna Maria Island now!
Stay: For the ideal Anna Maria Island experience, rent a waterfront beach house—with or without family or friends. Oh, and definitely visit Ginny’s and Jane E’s Bakery, at least once!
Kissimmee and Orlando, Florida
Why: Kissimmee and Orlando offer easy access to classic Florida fun and major theme parks.
How: Non-stop flights to Orlando from all three Washington area airports are about 2.5 hours long, and Kissimmee is just 25 minutes from the airport.
What to do: Yes, the big theme parks are close by, but why not start your visit with some classic Florida fun. Head to Gatorland for up-close encounters with Florida’s favorite reptiles. You’ll find plenty of alligators, from babies to giants to rare white gators, along with fun rides and activities (anyone want to zipline over a gator pond?). You’ll encounter gators in the wild on a trip through the wetlands with Boggy Creek Airboat Rides. They also have a Native American village, panning for gems and minerals, a bbq restaurant, and other activities. Forever Florida is old school Florida with modern fun. Try one of the 3 ziplines (the roller coaster looks like a blast), go horseback riding, or sign up for the authentic ranch experience of Cowboy for a Day. When you’re ready for an evening out, head to Disney Springs for dining, bars, shopping, and live entertainment. We had a delicious dinner on the terrace at Morimoto Asia, overlooking the happy crowds.
Stay: Gaylord Palms Resort is an excellent base for your visit to the Kissimmee / Orlando area. The resort includes a huge family pool area with giant slides and a wave-rider so kids will be happy even if you never leave your hotel.
Why: Cobblestoned streets and leafy squares combine with excellent dining in this romantic city on the Savannah River.
How: Non-stop fights from all three Washington area airports arrive in under two hours, and the historic downtown is just 20 minutes away.
What to do: Spend a quiet weekend wandering the streets and squares of the historic downtown. Shops and restaurants line the Savannah River on Factors Walk. Savannah has a great foodie scene. Dine and sip at The Grey, a hot retro spot in a renovated bus station. The motto at nearby Trayler Park is “Quality over Quantity,” and the Shrimp and Grits Tacos are delicious. Take a tour or wander on your own in Bonaventure Cemetery the somewhat spooky cemetery made famous in the Savannah classic, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Haunted tours are a popular evening pastime.
Stay: The Holiday Inn Express Savannah Historic District is conveniently located and very comfortable. Amp up the romance at one of the historic B&Bs like The Gastonian, where we spent our 5th anniversary many years ago.
Bonus: Winter Staycation Fun
Winter getaways from Northern Virginia are sometimes difficult to fit into our busy schedules. No worries! You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a break from home. Here are three favorite local Northern Virginia staycations that you can enjoy close to home. Click the links for details.
Whatever winter getaways from Northern Virginia you choose to explore, we wish you happy travels. Just remember, winter cold will fade and beautiful Virginia spring wildflowers will return.
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