Thinking about a February getaway but not sure where to go? These destinations are particularly ideal, offering something for just about everyone, from romance-seekers looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day to nature lovers and snow sports enthusiasts.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans in February means Mardi Gras, making it an ideal destination for travelers looking to party. The over-the-top festivities are a bit like Carnival in Italy, with lots of masks and music, albeit an even wilder time. While you’re here, you can also enjoy its grand European-style architecture, mouth-watering Creole cuisine and legendary music. Everything from Zydeco, indie rock, jazz and blues can be found oozing from nearly every corner.
February is arguably the very best month to visit Costa Rica, a slice of Central American paradise. This is the dry season, and it also falls in-between higher peak season rates, just after the Christmas and New Years holidays, and before Easter and Spring Break. Enjoy the idyllic weather, watching all sorts of wildlife soaking up the sun, hiking through lush rainforest and taking dips in tranquil pools that lie underneath hidden waterfalls which are still going at full force following the end of the monsoon season.
Baja California, Mexico
February is peak whale-watching time in Baja. While you can spot everything from singing humpback whales off its southern tip to blue whales, orcas and Bryde’s whales in the Sea of Cortez, it’s the “friendlies” that often provide the most fascinating experience of all. The friendly grey whales use the protected lagoons of San Ignacio, Scammon’s and Magdalena Bay for mating and birthing. The government strictly regulates access to the lagoons through organized tours to ensure that any human activities do not affect the whales that are here before embarking on their annual migration to Alaska and back. Many of these magnificent creatures actually seek out human contact in the lagoons, coming alongside and surfing near boats so that visitors can touch them. Some of the mother whales even allow their curious babies to spend time with tourists – and, occasionally, a mom will even encourage the behavior by lifting her calf up for humans to touch.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
No matter what time of year you visit, Steamboat Springs is deal for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers, but in the winter, this snowy wonderland is especially breathtaking. February brings the chance for world-class skiing and boarding as well as snowshoeing and snowmobiling. And, after a long day at play, you’ll be able to unwind and soothe those sore muscles at hot springs, located both in town and just outside of town at Strawberry Hot Springs Park. Enjoying the warm waters surrounded by snow is hard to beat.
Montreal seems as if it was designed for winter. While it may be zero degrees outside, those cobbled streets and gabled roofs of Old Montreal are best seen under a glistening coat of white. The city is truly a winter wonderland, often livelier in February than many places are in the summer months. That winter chill just adds to the atmosphere, and there are plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops to warm up in too. It’s also a great destination for cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice fishing, all of which can be enjoyed within the city limits.
In Tasmania, February falls in the middle of summer, which means you can enjoy the warm weather of the southern hemisphere along with the delights of one of the world’s top island destinations. Australia’s smallest state offers everything from dramatic mountains and spectacular beaches to an abundance of wildlife. Its capital city of Hobart is buzzing with art and nurtures an exciting foodie scene, but its the island’s clean, fresh air and pristine wilderness that you’ll really want to delve into. The Tarkine Rainforest, often referred to as the “forgotten wilderness,” is a spectacular wonderland of hidden waterfalls, giant tree ferns, wild rivers, sand dunes, caves, rare birds like the threatened orange-bellied parrot, and the famous, nearly-extinct Tasmanian devil.
Big Sur, California
If you’re dreaming of Italy but it’s just not in the cards, perhaps California’s own Italian Riviera will do. The Big Sur Coast is an epic Mediterranean-style stretch of coastline that also enjoys a similar Mediterranean climate, with the sun frequently making an appearance in February. Even if it’s chilly out, the scenic drive alone makes it worth visiting, traveling down Highway One, the views just keeping getting better, with the Santa Lucia Mountains rising alongside the dramatic coast on one side, and breathtakingly wild, rugged beaches on the other. At Pfeiffer State Beach, you can even walk one of the world’s rare purple sand beaches, and there are a number of luxurious, oceanfront properties for a romantic stay, like Post Ranch Inn, which sits on a cliff 1,200 feet above the Pacific.
While you might think that Iceland would be far too chilly for a February visit, winter temperatures actually average right around freezing, often warmer than major cities in America’s northeast region. The season is also the best time of the year to view the northern lights. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the mystical phenomena colorfully dancing through the dark skies on a cold, clear night. You may even be able to watch from the comfort of your hotel, particularly, if it’s far away from the city lights, or while soaking in one of the country’s many geothermal pools.
There are many other activities that can be enjoyed in February too, including riding Icelandic horses through fresh powder, exploring ice caves and even whale watching. In fact, winter is the best time to see the orcas that follow herring in the waters that surround the Snaefellsness Peninsula.