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Best Places to Visit in February
Considering a couples trip for Valentine's Day or a group getaway for Presidents Day weekend? Factoring in sights, weather, traveler sentiment and annual events, U.S. News determined where to travel during the shortest month of the year. From mountain towns to beach retreats, these are the best places to visit in February. Want to weigh in? Cast your vote below to help us create next year's list.
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Two words: Mardi Gras. February is one of the best months to visit this Southern city thanks to the raucous but revered celebration. Keep in mind, room rates and flights won't be cheap this time of year, but a February trip to the Big Easy has a few advantages. You can enjoy mild weather in the upper 40s to mid-60s, see the parades, soak up the atmosphere on lively Bourbon and Frenchmen streets and sample the city's famous beignets.
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Zihuatanejo#2 in Best Places to Visit in February
This Pacific Coast beach town is one of Mexico's best kept secrets. Travelers can explore the cobblestone streets of the downtown area one day and relax on the white sands the next. The beautiful beaches and scenic swimming spots are the main draw for Zihua visitors, but the authentic food scene stands out as well. Sample fresh seafood, local mezcal and anything with mango – mango farms surround the seaside city.
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Enjoy world-class skiing before the temperatures rise in Whistler, British Columbia. Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America, with nearly 8,200 acres and more than 200 trails. For those who aren't interested in skiing or just want some variety, the town offers other things to do. Adventurous travelers can go zip lining, bungee jumping, ice cave exploring or axe throwing, while art and history lovers should check out the Audain Art Museum and the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre.
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Like most great beach towns, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, boasts gorgeous white sand and clear blue water, but it also features some more unique offerings. Known as one of the best diving destinations in the world, Playa is home to several must-see aquatic attractions, including Río Secreto (an underground river and cavern) and Xel-Há (a prime spot for swimming and snorkeling with fish). Keep in mind that the city's comfortable winter temperatures also make it appealing to tourists in February, so book your flights and accommodations several months in advance to secure lower rates.
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This best place to travel in February is an excellent destination to ring in the New Year – the Lunar New Year, that is. Although February is one of Bangkok's cooler months, it's still quite warm thanks to average temperatures hovering between the mid-70s and low 90s. The superb weather makes this month a terrific time to take in the city's old and new sights, explore its bustling markets and dine on its delectable street food.
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Travel to Park City, Utah, in February to enjoy its small-town charm and ample winter sports activities. Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling are all popular pursuits during snowy February. What's more, you can shop and gallery hop in Historic Park City, learn more about the town's role in the 2002 Winter Olympics at Utah Olympic Park and enjoy the budding restaurant scene. After a day on the slopes, wind down with an après-ski cocktail or two.
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Telluride, Colorado, beckons to tourists looking for an exciting winter vacation. Telluride Ski Resort's 148 trails and 2,000-plus acres of snowy terrain make it one of the best ski destinations in the country. Travelers can also stroll through Mountain Village, grab a bite to eat at Alpino Vino (the highest elevation fine dining restaurant in North America) or relax at The Spa at The Peaks Resort (the largest spa in Colorado). Lucky visitors might also spot a famous face or two while in town, as celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Ralph Lauren own homes here.
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Banff, Alberta's scenic mountain views and long ski season make it one of the best places to visit in February, especially if you love spending time outdoors. Its location in the Canadian Rockies within Banff National Park, Canada's first national park, means it offers plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing. You'll find 50-plus mammal species and more than 260 kinds of birds here. When you're ready to hit the slopes, head to Banff Sunshine Village, Mount Norquay or the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Then, warm up in the famous Banff Upper Hot Springs.
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The Marvelous City, as Rio is often called, truly comes alive in February (a summer month in the Southern Hemisphere) for one reason: Carnival. This five-day celebration leading up to Lent is one of the biggest parties in the world. Expect lots of samba music, dancing and parades with costumed performers. February is also a terrific time to catch some rays on Rio's gorgeous white sand beaches. But if the heat becomes too much to handle, cool off in one of the city's museums, cultural centers or cafes.
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Escape chilly winter weather during a February visit to the Turks and Caicos Islands. When February rolls around, this group of Caribbean islands offers mild daytime temps in the 80s. Plus, the month sits outside of the Atlantic hurricane season, meaning you'll likely encounter mostly clear skies when snorkeling, whale watching, horseback riding and lounging on the islands' white sand beaches. But February's superb weather comes at a cost: Prices here are high in winter, so you'll want to book flights and rooms well in advance.
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If you're looking for a quiet beach getaway in February, South Padre Island is the place to go. While this Texas destination overlooking the Gulf of Mexico may be a bit too chilly for swimming in February, it is still warm enough for strolls on its highly regarded stretch of sand. Take a horseback ride along the shore, or go on a dolphin-watching cruise. Then, try some of the island's fresh seafood at one of its beachfront restaurants.
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Swiss Alps#12 in Best Places to Visit in February
For an authentic European skiing experience, travel to the Swiss Alps in February. Spread throughout three-fifths of Switzerland, this stunning mountain range is home to some of the best ski resort towns in Europe. Luxurious St. Moritz is a favorite among the rich and famous and has hosted two Winter Olympics. Meanwhile, Zermatt is where you'll find the Matterhorn, one of the most recognizable peaks in the Alps. After a busy day on the slopes, warm up with authentic Swiss treats like hot chocolate or cheese fondue.
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Fiordland National Park#13 in Best Places to Visit in February
Fiordland National Park on New Zealand's South Island is an excellent place to visit in February because it offers ideal conditions (think: average highs in the 60s) for viewing incredible flora and fauna. Admire the park's beautiful mountains, forests and waterfalls while hiking one of three Fiordland Great Walk trails. Also save time for gazing at its namesake fjords, including Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, the park's deepest fjord. As you kayak or dive in the fjords, keep an eye out for aquatic animals like fur seals and penguins.
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Everglades National Park#14 in Best Places to Visit in February
Alligators, roseate spoonbills, manatees and many other animals call Florida's Everglades National Park home. February falls within the area's dry season, when wildlife viewing is excellent due to fewer mosquitos and lower humidity. To see some of the 1.5 million acres that comprise this park, visitors can sign up for an airboat tour, participate in a ranger-led outing or take advantage of facilities like walking trails and an observation tower. Other popular activities here include biking, fishing and camping.
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Tromso#15 in Best Places to Visit in February
The largest city in northern Norway is filled with everything you need to have a memorable winter vacation. One of the main reasons why you should visit Tromso in February is because it offers ideal conditions and a perfect location for seeing the northern lights. The city's nights are long during this time of year. Plus, it sits in the heart of the Northern Lights Oval, where you'll have the best chance of spotting the natural phenomenon. When you need a break from gazing at the sky, check out the unique Tromso Ice Domes.
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