snow-capped picnic table sits on the beach during
sunset at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, Mass.,
in a 2005 file image. While it's technically not
legal, and probably not well advised during winter
months, Herring Cove Beach is well known as a
clothing optional beach.
love Cape Cod, Mass. Hardly a summer goes by that I don’t
brave the traffic backed up at the bridges at least once
to visit the beaches, eat fried clams and explore the
shops lining Provincetown’s Commercial Street.
one of my favorite visits was a weekend I spent at the
Cape in January. Crowds and traffic were gone, beaches
were empty, restaurants were filled with locals, not
jammed with tourists, and a snowstorm over the ocean was a
and, prices were about half of in-season rates.
plenty of good reasons to go to New England coastal
destinations in winter," says Kim Knox Beckius, New
England travel expert for About.com. "Not only are
you going to save money, but you’re going to be able to
experience your favorite summer spots in a whole different
driving some of New England’s most beautiful shore
routes at your own speed. Route 6A on Cape Cod, which
winds through Bourne, Sandwich, Barnstable, Yarmouth and
other picturesque towns, offers views of Cape Cod bay on
one side and charming villages and greens on the other.
Spot a beautiful vista or overlook and you can pull over
to appreciate it without invoking the wrath of harried
motorists behind you.
Route 1, with its views of Maine’s rocky coast, is
another great off-season drive. Pack your binoculars for
up-close views of seals and other marine life, and your
camera, for shots of lighthouses and breathtaking scenery.
some summer spots still roll up the sidewalks in
off-season, more and more inns, restaurants and shops in
places such as Newport, R.I.; Kennebunkport, Maine; and
Cape Cod are open year-round.
for example, is really an all-season destination,"
says Beckius. "Three of the mansions are open, and
Cliff Walk in winter, with its beautiful views, is
Newport before the summer crowds arrive and you won’t
have to crop all those tourists in Hawaiian shirts from
your vacation pictures. You’ll also get first shot at
some great inside photos as well.
this month, Newport’s Preservation Society announced
that, for the first time, it will allow interior photos to
be taken at The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House.
(Photos can be taken with smartphones only; no flash,
tripods or selfie sticks allowed.)
it comes to dining, the bad news is that your favorite
clam shack may be closed. The good news is that a lobster
dinner might not break the bank, since upscale restaurants
often offer off-season specials that are far more
affordable than summer menus.
the plus side, parking is likely to be free, shops will be
discounting last season’s merchandise and you’re less
likely to get a sunburn.
shoreline destinations offer special winter deals to draw
visitors off season.
holds a "Paint the Town Red" promotion during
February with dining, shopping and accommodation discounts
throughout the month. (Information:
you are heading to a coastal destination in winter, you’ll
need to do some research. Some tourist attractions may be
closed or have limited hours in the off-season, so call
ahead or check websites before you go. Ferry schedules are
limited as well, so be sure to confirm times.
sure to keep an eye on the weather. Driving unfamiliar
back roads in a storm can take the fun out of travel. Pack
wisely. As the saying goes, "There’s no bad
weather, only bad clothing." Bring plenty of warm
clothing, including gloves, scarves and hats and boots.
Unless you’re heading to an inn with a hot tub or indoor
pool (or doing a polar bear plunge), leave swimwear at
is a great time to go to a New England beach," says
Beckius. "Just not in your bathing suit."