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Sanibel and its smaller sister island, Captiva, both located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, are perfect options for a tropical getaway that isn’t the Caribbean. These often-overlooked islands are kid-friendly and easily accessible. Sanibel is the more rustic of the two--no high-rise hotels here, and everyone gets around by bike. Captiva is more upscale, with sprawling waterfront houses available for rent.
Where to Stay: South Seas Island Resort (from about $360 per night)
In the Land Down Under, late February is the tail end of summer, meaning sunshine, declining crowds and cheaper hotel rates. The urban city of Auckland--known for its craft beer, fashion and world-class food scene--deserves a visit before you head to Wellington, on the picturesque North Island. There you’ll find volcanic plateaus, rolling farmland and sprawling beaches. (Lord of the Rings, anybody?)
Where to Stay: In Auckland, Mollies (from $450 per night); in Wellington, Rydges (from $180 per night)
If you live on the East Coast, you don’t have to trek far for great winter skiing. Stowe, located between Burlington and Montpelier, has a wide appeal whether you’re a seasoned skier or total newbie. The folksy downtown is filled with lively après-ski bars and awesome restaurants. Plus, since it’s never too cold for ice cream, we should probably mention that it’s also home to the Ben & Jerry’s factory.
Where to Stay: Stowe Mountain Lodge (from $300 per night)
February is the peak of Costa Rica’s dry season, making it the perfect time to explore the country’s lush rainforests. Start in La Fortuna near Arenal Volcano National Park, where you can hit up natural hot springs and zip-line through the forest. Then head about three hours west and spend a few nights in Tamarindo, the bohemian surf and beach town on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula.
Where to Stay: Arenal Springs Resort (from $200 per night)
You’ll find few tourists but plenty of charm in Santa Fe in winter. Most days, temperatures are in the high 40s, making it ideal for skiing in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, but not too cold for folks with other things--like art or antiquing--on their agenda. You won’t have a problem landing a table at the city’s finest restaurants like Geronimo or The Compound, but don’t miss the authentic New Mexican, off-the-beaten-path La Choza, where you can chow down on frito pie and green chile stew.
Where to Stay: Inn on the Alameda (from $170 per night)
Summer in Morocco--despite the blistering heat--is when all the tourists descend. February, on the other hand, is known for pleasant, warm days and fewer crowds. Explore Arabic-style gardens, local art galleries and Moorish culture. But do bring a jacket--temps can drop into the 40s at night.
Where to Stay: Dar Seven (from $150 per night)
Wine lovers, rejoice. Argentina’s equivalent of Napa Valley comes alive in February (but isn’t as crowded as Buenos Aires). Taste the fantastic Malbec, go horseback riding through the foothills and watch the locals tango in the city’s outdoor plazas.
Where to Stay: Casa Lila Bed & Breakfast (from about $140).
Just want to sit on a beach? Head to St. John, arguably the most accessible and affordable Caribbean island. (You don’t even need a passport.) Sprawling beaches and a veritable melting pot of American, African, European and East Indian influences abound. We’re relaxing just thinking about it.
Where to Stay: The Westin at St. John (from $450 per night)
Maybe you didn’t get away for the December holidays. Maybe you’re fed up with dreary winter. Maybe you just really need an effing vacation. Here are eight great places to go in February, from the beaches to the slopes.
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