Though the tri-state area seems like it has it all- the top entertainment, food, beaches, mountains (small ones), vibrant cities and bucolic farms, one thing it doesn't have is lots of cheery people from about January through March. And that probably has something to do with all the cold, dark damp days, slushy black snow and traffic.
Believe it or not, even the most hardened souls and snow freaks need a break from this eventually. Sure you can flee to the Caribbean or even just south Florida. But those places are far away, and mean a lot of airport and rental car hassle or so many hours behind the wheel that your butt brings the seat with it when you finally try to peel yourself out of the car. What's the closest place you could get reasonably better weather? I'm talking about someplace drive-able that can fast forward those temperatures to at least April. Sounds pretty good, right? To find enough of a change you'll need to go to the northernmost southern place with enough warmth to heat them bones, which brings us to the area of Charleston SC. Yes, it has beautiful southern charm and palm trees, but this picturesque place on a peninsula by the ocean has what you really need, climate relief. Location is what creates that magic. The coastal setting makes for more moderate winter temperatures that you just won't find further inland. Plus, you get fringe benefits like about 40 more minutes of daylight. At the time of writing, the city is looking at a week averaging almost 62 degrees with temperatures ranging mostly from the 50s-70s. Compare that to an average of 35 and temps from the teens to barely 50 around these greater New York parts. Of course, if you're near a beach you have it easy compared to your cousin in the Catskills, who'll be enjoying those negative lows this week.
The ride isn't exactly a quick trip, clocking in at 11.5 hours without stops, and around $150 in fuel costs depending on your ride, but it's a doable feat for one driver with plenty of the right kinds of power food/energy drinks and copious rest beforehand. With another driver sharing the load, you have a perfectly reasonable day of travel with time for an actual meal outside of the confines of the car. That's a priceless advantage when you're really racking up the miles. Who wouldn't want to grab some real southern BBQ or avoid the typical chains for the local favorite spot?
So what if you just don't want to drive? Sure there's airline travel clocking in at $150 and slightly under 2.5 hours flight time, but once you add up the hours of waiting before and after your departure/arrival, you're looking at closer to 4.5 total. Then there's transportation to and from the airport, which could be another $120 plus, and don't forget those taxis or Ubers once you want to get around there. If you don't mind smaller airplanes, you could hitch a ride and be there in 6 hours in a slower plane. In faster small airplanes, 4.5 or even 3.5 hours is possible. This makes it the best and most convenient travel option overall, but unless you have a wealthy friend who just can't wait to buy a bunch of fuel and shell out for operating costs all for the sheer joy of your company, you'd be looking at a charter in the realm of at least $4000, which gets practically reasonable if you're bringing friends. Then you'd also have to add in that ground transportation once again. If you happen to have or share your own jet, you're probably not even reading this, and you might as well go to the Caribbean. It's worth the extra hour and you can afford the operating costs, landing fees and champagne anyway.
If you prefer to rough it, but aren't the camping type, a Greyhound will get you there in a mere 19.5 hours and two transfers for about $139.
Does flying still seem dangerous to you even though the Wright Brothers figured it out over 100 years ago? It's closer to 20 hours by the romantic clickety clack of the rails. And, you get to seek solace in the fact that we have the best rail system of any third world country. But, at least there's no road mileage or grimy rest stops and if NJTransit, Metro North and LIRR are any indication, train sleep is always good sleep.
I won't cover boating because there are no reasonable options, unless you have about 30 hours and you're willing to buy lots of gas. It's the same for horseback minus the gas, plus the water stops and feed, because they're about the same speed. But if you have about a week, you can cruise there, and to a bunch of other places too, for about $500.
At Tailwind, we usually stick to road travel, so I'm a bit biased. Therefore, I'd recommend driving there, and I know you can do it too. Otherwise, you'd be missing out on key local flavor (aka BBQ and coffee spots). The Charleston area of South Carolina is the closest place you can reasonably drive to for a bona fide taste of Spring temps. Unfortunately we don't get to pick our destinations, but you do, and Charleston sounds pretty good right about now.