Travel and Leisure — December 17, 2014 at 5:00 am

10 Reasons to Take Your Beach Vacation in Winter

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©istockphoto/momcilog

©istockphoto/momcilog

If you take an an annual trip to the beach in summer, you may be missing the best coastal towns have to offer. Here are 10 reasons to embrace the seaside in winter:

Deserted Beaches
Sure, beaches are fun when it’s warm and sunny, but they’re also crowded. The water may be cold in winter, but below North Carolina it’s usually warm enough to read, walk and hang out on the beach year-round. Deserted beaches are devastatingly beautiful in winter—and you won’t have to fight for parking or share your shells with anyone else.

Deals Abound
Off season many hotels, rentals and B&Bs are deeply discounted. You’ll either be able to save half off your hotel budget, or stay twice as long.

They’ll Think You’re a Local
Many beachside locals work hard through the season then relax through the winter. Visit your favorite seaside haunt in winter and you’ll likely wind up taking part in locals-only activities such as backyard oyster roasts and community fund raisers.

It’s Quiet
Most people look forward to a beach vacation as time to recharge—then get swept up in crowds and activities and do anything but that. Visit beach towns in winter and you’ll find total quiet, a much slower pace and plenty of time to read, nap and relax.

It’s Wacky
All beach towns have a secret side that can only be experienced off season. Visit a beach town and take part in their version of winter fun. You may find yourself taking part in a costumed beach run, a ridiculously warm Polar Bear Swim, or a holiday boat float parade.

It’s More Romantic. Way More Romantic.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway—plan it for winter. For example, you can ride around Charleston or Savannah in a horse and buggy with thousands of other tourists in the summer, or you can experience the gas-lit cobblestone streets snuggled under a blanket with hot chocolate and have the city all to yourself in winter. Take your anniversary trip in winter and you’ll likely have the whole inn, beach, restaurant and city to yourself.

Walk-in Seating
Many seaside towns either have reservation-impossible world-class restaurants or popular seafood dives with lines out the door. In winter, locals walk right in to the best restaurants and local favorites. Same goes for museums and local attractions.

More Opportunities
The truth is, locals are more relaxed in the winter. Visit the a seaside town in winter and you may find yourself having dinner in someone’s home or cocktails on their boat. Act like a local in winter and you’ll likely find locals-only opportunities opening up.

Return to Simplicity
In summer, retailers compete fiercely for their share of your vacation dollars. The result can be a lot of noise and distraction. Winter peels decades off of seaside towns. Visit the beach in winter and you’ll find the hawkers and cheap tourist shops closed up, leaving authentic mom and pop restaurants, local artists and plenty of natural beauty.

New Culinary Experiences
If you’ve visited the beach in summer you’ve only experienced that region’s summer food. Visit in winter and you’ll experience a new world of local cuisine, and plenty of new favorite dishes.

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