Why it’s perfect to hit the beach during off-season?
First and foremost the cost of beach vacation sinks like an anchor during off-season. But it’s not just about the cost anyway if you are the romantic type that think the best beach vacations are about quiet walks on the sand, intimate dinners and feeling like you have the sea all to yourself, then off-season travel is for you. Visiting a beach town when the tourists are gone lets you absorb and enjoy the local landscape and culture.
Author Megan Soll put together some of the perfect beach resorts to visit during off-season. Here is 8 of our favorite.
1. 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.
2. 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 guestrooms 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.