Great Winter Escapes
Coastal Living vacations to enjoy in any temperature
Winter visitors to tiny Lanai find both lush landscapes and luxury accommodations. Book a guide and head out in a four-wheel-drive to Garden of the Gods, a mysterious display of rocks and boulders in all shapes and sizes. For more adventure, follow the Munro Trail, a 12-mile drive through rain forests to mountain summits. After a long day on Lanai's unpaved terrain, you can indulge in a spa treatment at the Lodge at Koele or the Manele Bay Hotel, both Four Seasons Resorts with spectacular Pacific views. Call 808/565-4000 or fourseasons.com/lanai.
While cold weather might limit long afternoons outside, the rolling dunes near this Cape Cod town do offer breathtaking views. For a guided tour, try Art's Dune Tours, a company in business since 1946. Back in the village, spend a few nights at Provincetown's Crowne Pointe Historic Inn and Spa. Everything you'll want to see is within walking distance, though you may not want to leave the cozy warmth of your room's fireplace; 877/276-9631 or crownepointe.com for reservations.
Take advantage of mild year-round weather to experience Alabama's Gulf Coast. For views of Mobile's growing skyline, take a cruise around Mobile Bay aboard the schooner Joshua. Then stroll through historic districts before spending the night at the 19th-century Malaga Inn. Make sure to try the pecan waffles at Spot of Tea. You might even run into a celebrity or two; 251/443-9463 for Joshua; 251/438-4701 for reservations at Malaga.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
Frigid temperatures and icy terrain may not seem like typical vacation fare, but for an adventure-filled holiday, northern Minnesota offers the perfect destination. Where else can you guide a dog team along the North Shore of Lake Superior? Let Arleigh Jorgenson Sled Dog Adventures set you up for a half-day or full day of mushing through wooded paths. For a similar―but less exhausting―experience, ride along with a veteran musher. Hot chocolate and cider await upon your return; 800/884-5463 or dogmushing.com.
Ranguana Cay, Belize
It's easy to pretend you're on a deserted island on Ranguana Cay, a 2-acre speck of land 18 miles off the coast of Central America. The island's accommodations are few―just a couple of shacks amid coconut trees―but the crystal-clear water and comfy hammocks leave you no reason to complain. And if you want more activity, you can explore the world's second-largest reef; 800/565-9757 or robertsgrove.com.
What better way to battle the winter blues than to cruise down a mountain? For a slope experience like no other, Camden Snow Bowl offers views of the Atlantic as you schuss and carve through the runs on 1,300-foot-tall Ragged Mountain. And if skiing isn't your thing, the toboggan shoot provides the same adrenaline rush with significantly less work. After a day on the slopes, take the 20-minute drive to Camden Harbor for dinner and shopping. Save this vacation for after Christmas since the slopes don't open until mid-December; 207/236-3438 or visit camdensnowbowl.com.
Olympic Peninsula, Washington
The Pacific Northwest is famous for its winter storms, and the Olympic Peninsula may be the best place to watch them. Guests of Kalaloch Lodge, on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, can catch views of crashing waves on jagged rocks below, from the safety of their room. Since most visitors come during the summer, you'll have the seven surrounding beaches mostly to yourself. Each has its own unique landscape, and each deserves attention, even if you just spend an afternoon walking along the shore. Once you've worked up an appetite, enjoy Northwestern-style seafood at the lodge restaurant; call 866/525-2562 or visitkalaloch.com.