4 Gulf Beaches for Winter Escapes

With the first real snowfall just accumulating in southern New England, and the last few posts about enjoying winter fun, might as well throw a bone to those sun seekers.

For some, winter means hitting the slopes, winter hiking, or ice fishing. To others, winter means time to head south, find a palm tree, warm breeze and pina colada. With the economy still struggling a bit a lot of places are still starving for tourist dollars, so some great deals can be found, even in the US, and especially in some little known places.

From the East Coast of the US, many fantastic beach spots can be reached in under 3 hours, perfect for a long weekend get away.

When the doldrums start hitting come February and March (at least that’s when I feel it), think about heading to some of these beach areas for a bit of rest and relaxation. Bring sunblock, turn off your smartphone, and enjoy the weather at discounted prices.

Photo: KY Cheng - Key West, Casa Marina (Flickr)

Known for its laid back lifestyle, you’ll have as much fun bar hopping as sunbathing or bike riding. Key West has its own (small) airport, but it could be more economical to fly into Miami or Fort Lauderdale and drive. Having done it myself, it is one of the prettiest rides you’ll find. To save even more money, consider camping at one of the sites available on the island.

Photo: ShootsNikon - Clearwater Beach (Flickr)

The Tampa-Saint Petersburg area might be a bit of a hidden enclave in Florida. Right on the Gulf of Mexico, Tampa is typically much cheaper to get to and stay in than Miami, but the area still offers nightlife and great beaches. Beyond the beach sports, it’s also a hot spot for Spring Training in baseball.

Photo: DiamondDuste - Orange Beach, AL (Flickr)

A beach vacation to Alabama? That’s right, smack between the Mobile and Pensacola airports is Orange Beach, Alabama. Ranging in the high 60s to low 70s during February and March, it can be a perfect little getaway, and it’s not too difficult to find a hotel right on the beach for $100 or less a night.

Photo: dog.happy.art - South Padre Island, TX (Flickr)

For aspiring fishermen, South Padre Island in Texas might be a great bet. Texas has miles and miles of coastline on the Gulf, and while not as pretty as Florida’s, they still offer great weather, and less crowded beaches. With temperatures in the 70s, and easily accessible via Southwest Airlines, it could be a good bet.

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  • Tampa is nice in February. This year has been warmer than usual with temperatures in the high 70s during the day. I would recommend St. Pete Beach or Sarasota over Clearwater if you take a short beach trip. I need to go to Key west some day. I have lived in Tampa for 12 years and I’ve never been to the Keys! I always check hotels and they are expensive most of the year. Maybe this year.

  • Well said and reasoned Jack. I will join you in doing everything I can to reverse the tide-for my kids and grandkids.