20 Southern Destinations For Your Next Long Winter Weekend

Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

As another year draws to a close, you'll likely notice a few familiar patterns beginning to take shape. Your social calendar fills with holiday fetes, Friendsgivings, and cookie swaps galore. The days until Christmas seem to slip away faster than you can click "add to cart". And the pressure of seeing every last great aunt and twice-removed cousin over the holidays begins to mount. With all the added pandemonium that the most wonderful time of the year can bring, slipping away for a couple days may be just the thing you need to reset before the new year. And those couple extra vacation days you never quite got around to using are all the time you need to plan a memorable weekend away. Whether you want to cozy up with your honey in a mountainside cabin or take the whole family on an adventure-filled ski trip, these 20 Southern destinations are ideal for a long weekend away this winter.

01 of 20

Asheville, North Carolina

asheville, north carolina
Getty Images

See and hike the snow-capped Blue Ridge Mountains on a trip to this well-known western North Carolina city. Winter trips should always include a tour of the Biltmore Estate to see it all dressed up for the holidays. Other must-dos are a stop at the Omni Grove Park Inn to check out the gingerbread house competition finalists, and an evening of hot chocolate sipping at French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

02 of 20

Alexandria, Virginia

Walking on King Street Alexandria, VA during Christmas
Cedric Angeles

Less than 10 miles south of D.C., Alexandria has everything you need for a charming winter wonderland weekend. Bundle up for a stroll along King Street, where you'll see lively window displays from local boutiques and shops. Take a history-focused walking tour of town and stop at Gadsby's Tavern, a favorite haunt of Founding Fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams, that's now a museum, restaurant, and event space.

03 of 20

Blue Ridge, Georgia

Blue Ridge, Georgia
Courtesy of Georgia Department of Economic Development

An easy two-hour drive north from Atlanta is the quiet mountain town of Blue Ridge. Check out the craft breweries and creative eateries downtown and hop aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway to see the surrounding beauty from a different vantage point.

04 of 20

Orlando, Florida

Christmas at Universal Studios theme park
Paula Montenegro/Alamy

We'd be remiss to make a list of winter vacation destinations and not mention this Florida hub. Of course, you can head to Disney to take in the million twinkling lights and all-out Christmas parades. But you can also kayak a crystal-clear spring, skim along a swamp in an airboat, and get a taste of the globe at any of the city's many wonderful international restaurants. Korean hot pot, anyone?

05 of 20

Banner Elk, North Carolina

Banner Elk, NC
Tom Doane / Getty Images

A hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts, Banner Elk is a great home base from which to explore the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. Hike at Grandfather Mountain State Park, do a wine tasting at Banner Elk Winery & Villa, and wake up to a delicious breakfast at Perry House Bed & Breakfast.

06 of 20

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Danita Delimont/Getty Images

For the quintessential winter escape, follow in the footsteps of generations of Southerners and spend a weekend in Gatlinburg. The Great Smoky Mountains are a sight to behold during this time of year, and downtown Gatlinburg is a great place to walk, shop, and warm up with spirits at Ole Smoky Moonshine or Sugarlands Distilling Company.

07 of 20

Dahlonega, Georgia

Dahlonega General Store Decorated for Christmas
Robbie Caponetto

Step straight onto the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie in this north Georgia town that's known for three things: wine, waterfalls, and gold. The old-fashioned Square gets all gussied up for the season with lights and garland a plenty, plus a 12-foot Christmas tree. Take a tour of North Georgia Wine Country at six nearby wineries and pick up a few extra bottles to take to the many holiday parties in your future.

08 of 20

New Orleans, Louisiana

Hotel Moteleone in New Orleans, LA
James Shaw

Have a very merry Cajun Christmas in Louisiana's capital city and the oft-described Food Capital of the South. Boasting year-round mild temperatures, you'll hardly need a jacket for the comfortable 60-degree weather. Book a stay at a chic hotel like the historic Hotel Monteleone, tasteful Peter & Paul, or glitzy Four Seasons. Then, treat yourself to a multicourse dinner at Herbsaint or GW Fin's.

09 of 20

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas
Al Rendon

If you're not in the mood to be bothered by the winter chill, hightail it to the Lone Star State for a weekend in San Antonio. This historic city is ideal for an end-of-year girl's trip, where shopping and snacking are both high-priority. You'll be sure to find a sense of wonder in the thousands of multicolored string lights adorning the scenic Riverwalk.

10 of 20

Gulf Shores, Alabama

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

You may not get snow, but you can find a different kind of white Christmas on the white sand shores of this Southern beach town. We can't imagine anything more perfect than a sunset picnic on the quiet beaches here in the off season.

11 of 20

Highlands, North Carolina

Old Edwards Inn and Spa
Peter Frank Edwards

When it comes to magical mountain towns, Highlands is at the top of the list. Situated high within the Nantahala National Forest, this winter retreat is known for its enchanting inns, luxurious spas, and write-home-about fine dining.

12 of 20

Frostburg, Maryland

Frostburg, MD Main Street
Ryan Brenneman

The quaint brick-lined downtown, rolling hills, and quiet charm of this historic Southern town make it ideal for a long winter weekend. Around the holidays, the town cashes in on its festive name with storybook special events like Christmas movies at the Palace Theater, Elf Olympics, and seasonal drink specials at local coffee shops.

13 of 20

Dallas, Texas

galleria dallas texas mall largest indoor christmas tree ice skating rink

For all the glitz and glamor of the holidays in the big city—without having to fight the crowds in New York City—Dallas is your spot. The Dallas Arboretum hosts an annual 12 Days of Christmas light display, and if that's not enough, you can visit restaurants like Mercat Bistro and Hudson House for a special meal with even more gorgeous décor.

14 of 20

Charleston, South Carolina

Try a Southern Delicacy
Peter Frank Edwards/Redux

While most people associate South Carolina with seafood-scarfing, sandy-toed summer vacations, it's also a great place to visit in colder months. Average temperatures hover around 60 degrees, so you'll be perfectly comfortable as you tour through town stopping into specialty stores and swooning over the rows and rows of adorable pastel-colored homes.

15 of 20

Savannah, Georgia

Historic Savannah brick home decorated for Christmas with greenery and blue ribbons
Alison Gootee; Styling: Elizabeth Demos

Enjoy the cinematic charm of Savannah, minus the high-season crowds, by visiting the Hostess City of the South during winter. On top of great weather and plenty of strollable streets, you can also visit for the Mountainfilm Festival and Savannah Book Festival in January and February.

16 of 20

Bardstown, Kentucky

Kentucky: Bardstown
Robbie Caponetto

When the weather gets nippy, warm up with spirits in Bardstown, part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. In addition to six distilleries, the town is known for its rolling green pastureland, inviting bed and breakfasts, and colorful art galleries.

17 of 20

Lexington, Virginia

lexington, virginia
Getty Images

Cozy up to a long weekend at The Georges, a luxurious boutique hotel with 21 custom rooms, two signature dining options, and everything you need for a relaxing weekend away in the heart of downtown Lexington. When you're not snuggling up in a plush robe with a cup of coffee in hand, you can exercise some retail therapy at Lexington's many boutiques and galleries, or get in touch with nature in the nearby Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains.

18 of 20

Helen, Georgia

helen georgia Christmas tree
Alpine Helen-White County Convention and Visitors Bureau

Take a trip to Europe without leaving the States in this Bavarian-inspired North Georgia town. Among the gingerbread-style homes with their steeply pitched roofs and lovely cross-gables, you'll find plenty of restaurants serving up bratwursts, schnitzel, and plenty of sudsy brews. For lovers of vino, there are plenty of nearby wineries. Then, rest your head for the night at The Castle Inn, Valhalla Resort Hotel, or Mountain Laurel Farm.

19 of 20

Snowshoe, West Virginia

Snowshoe, West Virginia
Courtesy Snowshoe Mountain Resort

Flying out west to Colorado or Utah isn't the only way to have an action-packed ski vacation. Head to Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort, where you can practice your turns on the slopes and participate in several other winter activities like snowmobile tours, tubing, and even a spa day once you've had your fill of outdoor adventure.

20 of 20

Williamsburg, Virginia

Colonial Williamsburg
Getty Images / L. Toshio Kishiyama

The holidays are synonymous with nostalgia, and there's no better place to find that sentimental feeling than Williamsburg. Head to Colonial Williamsburg to learn about colonial winter traditions, then bring the whole family to enjoy the tree lighting ceremony, boat parade, Christmas market, and ice skating rink.

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