The 5 Best Places to Travel in February
While you might think February is the time to curl up in bed with a never-ending stream of Netflix, the shortest month of the year actually packs lots of travel opportunities for skiers and snow enthusiasts, romantics and anyone looking to get a little much-needed vitamin D (not this year, seasonal affective disorder!). Behold, the five best places to travel this month, even if it means you’ll probably be flying out during a polar vortex.
RELATED: Nicaragua Is *The* Warm-Weather Winter Travel Destination of 2020
1. Big Sky, Montana
For skiers and snowboarders, Big Sky Resort is the reliable mountain that keeps on giving. Short lines on the snazzy lifts—many with bubbles and heated seats to keep you warm—are an easy draw, but the true highlight for Alpine enthusiasts is Big Sky’s varied terrain spread across some 5,850 skiable acres. Seriously, even after three days of skiing, you’ll feel like there are still parts of the mountain to discover, which is why it’s great that the resort also offers guided headlamp night skiing so you can really maximize your time on the slopes.
Even if you don’t try the epic (and challenging) Lone Peak runs, Big Sky offers plenty of opportunities to get outdoors in the winter and enjoy the splendid scenery of snow-dusted trees and peaks and valleys for as far as the eye can see. Dog sledding, cross-country skiing and sleigh rides are just a few of the activities offered to visitors; one of aforementioned that is truly special is the sleigh ride dinner at Lone Mountain Ranch, a property as popular for its luxe private cabins as it is for horseback riding and fly-fishing. During this unique experience, you’ll take a horse-drawn sleigh up a hill on the ranch’s property to enjoy a dinner cooked on a 100-year-old wood-fired stove inside a historic kerosene-lit cabin. Prime rib, mashed potatoes, veggies and a superb turkey potpie are just a few of the items on the menu, as is cowboy entertainment. As an authentic Marlboro Man serenades you with songs that recount our country’s beauty, you’ll be served a huckleberry cobbler à la mode and some of the strongest coffee out there. It’s the kind of experience that will have you singing along to “Home on the Range” in no time.
The restaurant and saloon at Lone Mountain Ranch, Horn & Cantle, is also an experience in its own right should you want to have a quality meal in a shorter amount of time. One of our favorite things to experience here is a house-made cinnamon whiskey shooter, served in a shot glass shaped like a ski boot and even bound into a decorative ski when you order a round for the table. On the grub front, you can also head into town for finger-licking-good spring rolls, drunken noodles and a selection of tasty sakes at Lotus Pad, a Pan-Asian restaurant that’s a local favorite.
Where to stay: Young, handsome and friendly cowboys greet you when you check in at the ski-in/ski-out Summit Hotel, as does a double-sided fireplace and a lobby filled with oversized leather and animal-skin couches, which make for cozy reading nooks to curl up in. Scenes of pastime on Montana’s famed ranches can be felt throughout the property, and the guest rooms here have very welcomed jetted soaking tubs—big enough for two people—that make a world of difference for post-ski muscle recovery. The hotel also boasts a gigantic year-round, indoor-outdoor hot tub so you can sit outside with warm water massaging your back as the snow falls on your face.
What to pack for Big Sky:
2. HUDSON VALLEY, NEW YORK
Spoiled with picturesque hiking spots, historical sights, unique shopping and lots of yummy farm-to-table food and markets that highlight the region’s local produce, New York’s Hudson Valley has become a popular destination for long weekends and last-minute getaways no matter the time of year. Winter offers the cozy, snowed-in solitude you might be yearning for this time of year, and there’s still plenty to do despite heaps of fluffy white snow everywhere you look.
History buffs seeking indoor activities can see one of the region’s popular tourist attractions, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home and estate as well as the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library; both are open to the public for a $20 admission fee. The popular town of Rhinebeck also has presidential ties, being the place where Chelsea Clinton tied the knot in 2010. It’s home to some of the Hudson Valley’s finest restaurants, home decor and antique shops, and even a charming bookstore.
The city of Beacon in the Hudson Valley is a desirable destination for artists and musicians, brimming with music venues, breweries and galleries. Many make the trip here to visit Dia:Beacon, a former printing plant packed with modern art focused on the ’60s and ’70s. Just across the bridge, you can visit George Washington’s headquarters for the Continental Army in the up-and-coming town of Newburgh. It’s also home to Newburgh Vintage Emporium, where some of the region’s highest-quality antiques and vintage goods can all be found in a well-curated store that’s sure to produce your next treasure.
If you enjoy cooking, do not leave this area without booking time at the Culinary Institute of America’s 170-acre campus in Hyde Park, which offers hands-on cooking classes.
For more grub, travelers in the Hudson Valley will find plenty of family-owned options in Rhinebeck, but one of note includes Terrapin, located in a converted church that now serves up farm-to-table New American fare in both a casual bistro and more formal dining-room setting. On the casual side is Phoenicia Diner, the retro-style, middle-of-nowhere, always-packed diner of your dreams that has hipster vibes and some of the best lunch food up in the Hudson Valley (read: Catskills po’boys made with cornmeal-crusted trout). Nearby, breakfast and lunch spot Sweet Sue’s has a huge pancake-led menu, making it a necessary stop for sharing something sweet.
Where to stay: The highly anticipated Mirbeau Inn & Spa Rhinebeck opened late last year and is reason enough to book a trip. Reminiscent of a chic, historic Parisian hotel with lots of charm, this 50-room property is home to the 12,000-square-foot (!) Spa Mirbeau. Just ten miles north in the tiny town of Tivoli, Hotel Tivoli is a charming bed-and-breakfast with a contemporary spin. Set on three levels of a stately historic building, the hotel has 11 rooms that are completely unique and big on design and art, with some gawk-worthy rugs and lighting fixtures, if you’re into that stuff. The property boasts farm-to-table restaurant The Corner, and the hospitality at both will leave any visitor smiling. If you’re looking for the ultimate in privacy and luxury, singles and couples alike can check in to The Villa at Saugerties, a design-focused Mediterranean-style villa that offers some of the region’s most cozy-chic winter accommodations to hibernate in.
What to pack for Hudson Valley:
3. MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA
Could there be a more glorious time to visit sun-drenched Florida than February, when the average temp is 74 degrees? We’re not sure why (especially when you consider that the Super Bowl will be taking over Miami in early February), but according to SkyScanner, there are round-trip fares under $70 this month from multiple U.S. cities.
February in Miami is all about romance and food. There’s the annual South Beach Wine & Food Festival happening February 19 to 23. You can enjoy events taking place on the actual beach (our favorite: Burger Bash, hosted this year by Rachael Ray); there’s also a drag brunch hosted by Carson Kressley happening in neighboring Fort Lauderdale, should you be inclined to make the drive to dine amongst some pretty epic queens. The glorious weather also makes perfect sense for biking the bustling streets of South Beach, exploring Little Havana or getting cultured at the jaw-droppingly beautiful Pérez Art Museum. Afterward, consider snapping a pic in front of Miami’s first Champagne vending machine—and putting it to good use too. Located at the Lennox Miami Beach hotel, it’s stocked with bubbly so you can easily have a cold glass of champers waiting for you 24/7.
Toward the end of the month, Winter Party—one of the largest LGBTQ festivals in the U.S.—takes over with some epic themed parties. But no matter when you visit in February, you should check out Orilla Bar & Grill, a recently-opened Miami outpost of a popular Buenos Aires restaurant.
Where to stay: The Loews Miami Beach Hotel has long been a staple in SoBe, and following a $50 million renovation, it’s actually better than ever. You’ll appreciate the service and little luxuries, sure, but the location is really why there’s no better spot to park it at the beach. In February, the foodie-centric hotel will host a Super Bowl tailgate party at Bar Collins so you can watch the big game in style. If you happen to be in town for the South Beach Wine & Food festivities instead, Loews is the host hotel, so you’ll be at the center of all the action.
What to pack for Miami Beach :
4. UVITA, COSTA RICA
Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse destinations in the world, where untouched beaches, exotic animals and lush jungles meet to make your trip part relaxing and part exhilarating. Can you imagine waking up to a white-faced monkey during your vacay? Yep, that’ll happen. Or spotting a sloth *attempting* to cross the road as traffic comes to a standstill? Yep, that’ll likely happen too. In the tiny beachside village of Uvita, you can spend time at one of the area’s many natural waterfalls—which happens to double as the best waterslide ever. Sit in the water of La Catarata Uvita and ride the 35-foot drop down the slippery rock into the water below. February is Costa Rica’s dry season, meaning you’ll enjoy some of its best weather all year, with temps in the South Pacific ranging from the high 80s to low 90s.
Where to stay: Vista Celestial, a small boutique hotel made up of five private villas—each with its own hot tub and terrace—located in the jungle with views of the Pacific Ocean.
What to pack for Uvita:
5. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
New Orleans means a weekend (or week) full of eating and drinking any time of the year, but if you’ve never been for Mardi Gras, you truly haven’t seen it. The Fat Tuesday celebration (February 25 this year) is a cultural institution in NOLA—so yeah, it’s bound to be a party. When you’re not throwing beads or sipping on a Voodoo Daiquiri from America’s purported oldest bar, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, you’ll want to spend the rest of your time getting immersed in the Big Easy’s incredible food scene. Whether it’s the contemporary and cool French/Caribbean fare at Compère Lapin, fine Southern dining and charm at La Petite Grocery or the iconic brunch (with balloons!) at Commander’s Palace, your tummy won’t be disappointed. Plus, it’s a time of year when NOLA isn’t oppressively hot, and there’s a lot going on pre–Mardi Gras (which means pre–Mardi Gras prices to boot).
Where to stay: Hotel Monteleone seems to have been around as long as the city itself. With its location in the French Quarter, you’ll be steps from the city’s most adorable and ’Gram-worthy neighborhood, and you can meet in the lobby on a nightly basis to take a spin at the Carousel Bar, where the bar actually moves like a carousel as you sit and enjoy your libation.