Best Places to Travel in February
Related: See the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2020
In February, Rio de Janeiro has sunny beaches and the excitement of Carnival, one of the world’s most extravagant festivals. Madrid also recognizes the festival season with parades and balls, but the weather is chilly there, making indoor activities more desirable — visiting the city’s museums without the crowds of summer is an ideal way to warm up from the chill. Island escapes to Puerto Rico and Saint Lucia will also get you away from the cold weather for tropical relaxation.
For winter sports fans, we have Lake Placid in New York’s Adirondacks and Telluride in Colorado, both quaint towns with stunning mountains. Perth, Australia is in the midst of summer in February, so the beaches are warm and ready for visitors. On the other side of the world, Kuala Lumpur is balmy and exciting, with plenty to offer foodies looking for something a little different. Palm Springs attracts visitors in February with Modernism Week, warm weather, spas, and a variety of interesting places to stay. For the ultimate wellness experience in luxury surroundings, Lanai’s new all-inclusive retreat will help you get your New Year’s resolutions back on track.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Year-round breathtaking views mean there’s never a bad time to visit this captivating city. Average daytime temperatures in the mid 80’s and evenings in the mid 70’s make February ideal for basking in the sunshine at one of Rio’s many exquisite beaches. Legendary Ipanema Beach, with its white sand, mountain views, and beautiful people is well worth a visit. Copacabana Beach is a lively destination with sidewalk restaurants and bars lining the surrounding streets. For a quieter experience, follow a “secret” trail to Praia do Secreto, known for its naturally-occuring, crystal-clear pools of water surrounded by large stones. An abundance of appealing beaches, including surfer’s-favorite Prainha Beach and swimsuit-optional Abrico, are found in this seaside Brazilian city. February hosts the renowned Carnival, everyone’s favorite festival. From February 21-29 in 2020, this weeklong celebration, referred to as “the Greatest Show on Earth,” includes parades, live music, street parties, performances, dancing, floats, and colorful costumes. Carnival balls are held at various venues; the most extravagant (and possibly the most entertaining) is the Gay Costume Ball held on the last night of Carnival. The Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel, a blend of old world and modern elegance overlooking Copacabana Beach, hosts the most glamorous Carnival ball. Their luxurious spa offers a huge variety of services including a couples massage—a great way to relax pre- and post-Carnival!
Lake Placid, New York
In New York’s Adirondack region, Lake Placid is best known for having hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games. The ski jumping complex, bobsled run, and ice skating rinks are still open to visitors, and a training ground for athletes operates there. The famous “Miracle on Ice” of February 22, 1980, when the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team defeated the four-time world champion Soviet Union team, will mark its 40th anniversary at the complex with activities from February 13-23. Festivities will include a torch run, themed parties, fireworks, museum exhibits, and showing of Disney’s “Miracle” movie based on the famous gold medal-winning hockey game. A popular winter sports area, visitors flock to Lake Placid for downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling through the wilderness on groomed trails along the lake. A summer destination as well, Lake Placid boasts hiking trails, camping, water sports, and an annual Ironman race. This romantic winter spot in the Adirondacks could be the perfect Valentine’s Day getaway. The Lake Placid Lodge’s nightly bonfire at the lake with hot chocolate and s’mores is fun, or you could stay inside and keep warm by your own fireplace. Stay in the main lodge or in private lakeside cabin, and bring your pooch along if you like. The Whiteface Lodge, with cozy Adirondack-style furnishings, spacious suites, fireplaces, and private balconies offers a range of year-round activities as well as a full-service spa.
This quaint town is the place for skiers and winter sports fans in February. Expert skiers and snowboarders will love the challenge of the black diamond, double black diamond, and extreme runs which make up about 40% of the terrain (the resort also has intermediate and beginner runs). It’s not all skiing though. For a change, try riding fat tire bikes, snowshoeing, or Nordic skiing at one of six groomed areas of various lengths and terrains. Guided snowshoe tours are also available. Have fun and explore the area on a snowmobile ride on groomed trails just outside Telluride and Mountain Village. For the adventurous, the San Juan Mountains offer ice climbing opportunities, with the recommendation of experiencing the sport with a local guide. Bridal Veil Falls, one of the most difficult ice climbs in the country, stands 365 feet tall. A stroll along quaint Colorado Avenue, the town’s main street, is a more relaxing and pleasant way to enjoy Telluride. Nearby Mountain Village is connected to Telluride by a free gondola. You’ll feel at home in the luxurious five-room Dunton Town House, welcoming and exquisitely furnished. The Madeline Hotel and Residences offers ski in-ski out convenience as well as guestrooms, suites, and homes.
Palm Springs & Desert Cities
February’s weather is in the perfect mid-70s, so if you’re looking for a romantic spot for Valentine’s Day or an escape from the cold, the desert is the perfect place to be. Modernism Week, the annual celebration of mid-century modern design, architecture, art, fashion, and culture will take place from February 13-23 with home tours, lectures, films, and more. The Annenberg Estate at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage offers tours of the historic home and gardens. Art Palm Springs, presenting post-war and contemporary art, will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center, coinciding with Modernism Week. About 24 miles east in Indio, the first county fair of the year, the 74th Annual Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival, will happen from February 14-23, featuring rides, games, demonstrations, shows, and food, including locally grown dates. With so many options, you can find the perfect place to stay in the desert. In lively downtown Palm Springs, the stylish Kimpton Rowan boasts a rooftop pool and 4Saints restaurant. A bit further east, the Villa Royale is an adults-only hideaway of artfully-restored rooms and suites. The classic LaQuinta Resort & Club, set on 45 acres near the Santa Rosa Mountains in LaQuinta, offers casitas, suites, villas, and seven restaurants. The newly opened Dive in Palm Springs will take you to 1960’s San Tropez without getting on a plane.
Perth, Western Australia
It’s summer in Australia, Travel + Leisure’s 2020 Destination of the Year, and it's warm in Perth, with temperatures reaching the high 80s. You’ll be tempted to head for the beach, with its white sandy shores and waves perfect for swimming and surfing, but there’s lots going on in town as well. The annual Perth Festival from February 7-March 1 is a multi-arts festival with music, film, dance, literature, and performance art at venues throughout the city. The Fringe World Festival runs from January 17-February 16, featuring street performances, visual arts, circus, comedy, dance, film, and children’s entertainment. Before you venture out of Perth to enjoy the beaches and adorable quokka marsupials of Rottnest Island or the wineries of the Margaret River region, be sure to explore Kings Park and Botanic Garden, one of the world’s largest city parks. Take in the view from the DNA Tower, the park’s highest point, and get a workout at the same time by climbing the 101 steps. Stay at the newly opened Ritz-Carlton, Perth, overlooking the Swan River, skyline, and city parks. The hotel boasts a river-view infinity pool, luxury spa, rooftop lounge, and restaurant menus that highlight local ingredients.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
If you’re looking for a place to get warm, eat fabulous food, shop for bargains, and take advantage of off-season hotel rates, consider Kuala Lumpur. The Petronas Twin Towers were once the tallest buildings in the world, and they’re still among the most beautiful. The 86th floor observation deck provides stunning views of the city, and the Skybridge connecting the towers is the world’s highest two-story bridge. Tun Abdul Razak Heritage Park, known as Lake Gardens, is the largest green space in “KL,” as the locals refer to their city. Bird Park, with more than 3,000 birds, offers bird shows and feeding demonstrations. Deer Park and Butterfly Park are also located within Lake Gardens, making nature a prime attraction there. The Islamic Arts Museum, which displays more than 7,000 artifacts in a stunning facility with a huge turquoise dome and glass walls, is also in Lake Gardens. KL’s Chinatown is the place for street food, market stalls, and bargains, especially if your haggling skills are sharp. Public transportation is reliable and includes buses, monorails, and the metro. Stay at the luxurious and conveniently-located Mandarin Oriental or the Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur. You may want to extend your trip to Southeast Asia with a visit to Singapore, located only about two hundred miles away.
Located in the eastern Caribbean not far from Barbados, Saint Lucia is warm all year, with February temperatures in the 80s. Small and diverse, St. Lucia offers white sand beaches, a rainforest, sulfurous mud pools, waterfalls, world-class diving, and the Pitons, two volcanic peaks named Gros Piton and Petit Piton. February 22 is Independence Day in Saint Lucia, celebrated with parades, festivities, and the island’s national dish, “green figs and salt fish.” The figs are actually unripe bananas, and the dish also includes herbs, spices, and flaked cod. You’ll find abundant seafood, pork, chicken, and the island’s staple breadfruit on most menus. Saint Lucia produces cacao in its mountainous terrain, so you’ll have the opportunity to discover the island’s chocolate heritage when you visit. With so many lodging options, you’ll find the perfect place for your Saint Lucia visit. Sugar Beach, set within the rainforest with views of the Pitons and the sea, offers guests a variety of rooms, cottages, bungalows, and villas (as well as new beachfront homes). Marigot Bay, with two infinity pools, a spa, beach, and marina offers guestrooms, suites, and penthouse accommodations. Consider Jade Mountain Resort on the island’s southwestern coastline, with its striking architecture and luxury. The Harbor Club on Rodney Bay is set among shopping, entertainment, and restaurants.
The capital of Spain is chilly in February, but this is the perfect time to take advantage of hotel deals and fewer crowds in the city’s museums, restaurants, and popular sites. The famed Prado Museum, founded in 1819, houses masterpieces of Goya and Velasquez as well as Italian and Flemish artworks. Nearby on the Paseo del Arte, the Thyssen-Bornemisza and Reina Sofia museums celebrate artistic achievement through the 20th century. Known for fabulous food and late night dining, Madrid is the place for tapas, or small plates, typically eaten along with beer, wine, or vermouth. The Gastronomy Festival will be held from February 7-23, recognizing professional chefs and their creations with workshops, exhibitions, and special restaurant menus. This year’s Carnival, a celebration before the Lenten season, will take place from February 21-26 with a parade, masquerade balls, parties, and festivities. The traditional burial of the sardine signals the end of the parties after a procession and bonfire. The official dessert of Carnival is a chocolate sardine, a solid candy in the shape of a fish. When in Madrid, be sure to experience flamenco, the traditional dance and music of Spain, whether in a theater performance or at a flamenco bar. The historic Westin Palace Hotel near the Paseo del Arte is perfect for an elegant and comfortable stay, and the Hotel Orfila, which was once a palace, retains its period look and feel without sacrificing modern comforts.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s capital is one of the most popular Caribbean destinations, and once you visit, you'll see why. Its history, culture, people, food, beaches, and resorts offer everything a visitor could want. Well-recovered from the devastating 2017 hurricanes, Puerto Rico is welcoming tourists with renovated hotels and restaurants along with its traditional attractions. Old San Juan’s cobblestone streets date back around 500 years, and historic churches, homes, forts, museums, and cafes testify to its history. A free trolley makes exploring convenient. El Yunque, Puerto Rico’s tropical rainforest (located about an hour from San Juan), is the place for hiking, bathing in natural pools, or just enjoying the scenery and wildlife. Puerto Rico’s beaches are ideal for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and surfing. The fun doesn’t end at sunset; some would say that’s when it begins, with bars, lounges, restaurants, and clubs serving dinner and the national cocktail — the pina colada. Now open again after an extensive renovation, the InterContinental San Juan overlooks Isla Verde beach and boasts a lagoon-style pool, spa, and four restaurants. The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf and Beach Resort offers golf, a casino, a spa, and beachfront pools. Other popular hotels to consider for your visit are the new Serafina Beach Hotel, Condado Vanderbilt, and Old San Juan’s Hotel El Convento.
Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island, Lanai, combines ultra-luxury, rugged countryside, secluded beaches, and fascinating wildlife. From November through May, humpback whales visit Lanai’s warm waters to breed and nurse their young before returning to Alaska. The whales can often be seen from shore, and tour companies offer excursions to see the huge marine mammals and spinner dolphins. Temperatures in the mid-70’s make all types of outdoor activities comfortable — from golf to water sports to off-road exploring. You can enjoy the countryside and look for secluded sandy beaches, accessible only via dirt roads. Snorkeling, diving, or relaxing poolside are popular activities as well. Visit Lanai City for its galleries, shops, and restaurants, and learn about Lanai’s history at the Lanai Culture and Heritage Center. Just opened in November 2019, the Four Seasons Lanai at Koele is an all-inclusive wellness retreat set among pine trees and lush foliage. Spa treatments, fitness classes, yoga, meditation, meals, and beverages are included with your stay. Along with the oceanfront Four Seasons Resort Lanai and its spa, golf course, and ocean views, visitors have the choice of two luxurious experiences on the island.