February might be the optimal time of year to hibernate at home for some, and for the rest of us, that means smaller crowds, snowy adventures, and/or warm escapes.
There are plenty of destinations that are ideal for wintertime travel in case you decide to explore, and we’ve got the best for February right here for you. Who knows, some of these destinations might be right on your doorstep!
1. Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend National Park rarely gets even close to being as crowded as other more popular national parks even during peak season in March and April. February is a fabulous time to check out this underrated gem because there’s a great chance you’ll get all those wide open spaces to yourself. Big Bend is home to sprawling valleys, impressive rock formations, and miles and miles of hiking trails to enjoy.
February’s generally clear night skies in West Texas make for some top-tier stargazing. Since temperatures in the region don’t dip below the 40s at night, you can camp in Big Bend and take in the nighttime views. Then, spend warm afternoons exploring the hiking trails.
2. Hilo, Big Island, Hawai’i
It’s no secret that BMTM is a huge fan of the Big Island in Hawai’i any time of year. However, February is an especially ideal time to visit. Crowds are sparse, rainfall is low, and temperatures are mild. Sure, the Hawai’i heat may be a welcome change if you’re coming from a cold climate, but even “cool” temperatures in the tropics feel pretty warm.
Although the town has a laid back atmosphere and there’s more to do in Hilo than you might think. From chasing waterfalls to checking out caves, Hilo has much more than just beautiful beaches. Plus, February is low season and you have a good chance of snagging a deal on accommodations and flights.
3. Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky is a destination fit for skiers of all levels, boasting more than 5,800 acres of skiable terrain and 85 miles of trails. While skiing is the main attraction, there’s plenty of variety including ice skating, hiking and sightseeing around the 4 mountains in the area.
You can even make Big Sky a stop on your winter road trip to Yellowstone as the park is just an hour away!
4. Lake Tahoe
If you are looking for an all-in-one adventure, Lake Tahoe is the perfect winter wonderland for you!
While best-known for having some of the most famous ski resorts in the world, you can also snowshoe, dog sled, bird watch, and so much more. Check out BMTM’s 12 Things To Do in Lake Tahoe This Winter for more inspo!
5. St. John, US Virgin Islands
Looking to escape the cold this February? St. John is known as the most untouched of the Virgin Islands–so small, it doesn’t have an airport!
Ferry over to the island from nearby St. Thomas and enjoy the beauty of the lush Virgin Islands National Park, which occupies more of the island than the resorts do. Hike, kayak, and explore while soaking up the warmth and sunshine of the Caribbean.
6. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
February is the ideal time to visit the ice caves at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. These breathtaking ice formations appear around mid-December as water seeps from the sandstone cliffs, creating curtains and columns of white, yellow, and blue ice. While you hike around the escarpment to see the ice caves, you can also enjoy cross country skiing and ice climbing.
Located on the shore of Lake Superior, the National Lakeshore is part of Lake Superior Protected Areas, making it home to breathtaking views, adventurous outdoor activities, and lots of wildlife!
7. Apostle Islands Sea Caves
Similarly to Pictured Rocks, the Apostle Islands Sea Caves are a delight in February as the entire landscape transforms into an icy wonderland. This destination is perfect for an adventurous soul, as reaching the ice caves requires a 1-mile hike on the frozen Lake Superior.
Make sure to check out any safety announcements on the National Park Service website before visiting as the weather conditions can cause the park to close on occasion.
8. Upper Mississippi River Towns, Illinois and Iowa
If you’ve ever traveled through Illinois and Iowa, you probably remember the hundreds of miles of cornfields outstretched in every direction. While this area of the Midwest is known for its farmland, there are pockets of nature and quaint small towns that are worth a visit.
January and February are the best time for bald eagle watching as these majestic birds flock to the wooded bluffs along the Mississippi River to nest for the winter. After you catch a glimpse of America’s national bird, go for a hike or snowshoe on one of the many trails in the area.
9. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
You may have heard about Death Valley’s scorching temperatures in the spring and summer months. After all, there’s a reason why it’s called “Death Valley.” That’s exactly why February is the perfect time to visit!
With the average daytime temps around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, hiking trails that are dangerous in the summertime become accessible in the winter. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see amazing salt formations and colorful scenic drives during this time of year!
10. Magic Mountain Ski Area, Vermont
Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vermont is a paradise for skiers of all levels with 50 trails to choose from and plenty of snow to enjoy! This winter wonderland has been skied for over 50 years and offers a more quaint, relaxed experience in comparison to the larger ski resorts in the area.
Lift tickets are more affordable than the norm in New England, making it a great option for skiers on a budget!
11. Santa Fe, New Mexico
February is a quiet and tranquil time to visit this artsy Southwestern city. Santa Fe boasts 325 sunny days per year, making it a great place to soak up the sun, even in the winter.
Not only is Santa Fe famous for its delicious cuisine (hello chocolate and chillies!), it is also a cultural hub which has a vibrant art scene with over 250 art galleries within its downtown area. Definitely consider joining a walking tour to take it all in. If you’re looking to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, there are a variety of activities to choose from, including biking and hiking to San Antonio Hot Springs.
12. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Don’t be scared of February’s low temperatures in Milwaukee! While it may be cold during this time of year, there is still so much to enjoy about this Midwestern gem. Get outside and try one of the many winter sports in and around the city. From snowshoeing to curling, you can do it all within the Milwaukee Metropolitan Area.
If you’re feeling daring, you can even surf on Lake Michigan at Bradford Beach! After a full day of winter sports and hiking, head downtown to enjoy a warm meal and some of the best craft beer in the country. Don’t skip out on the famous fried cheese curds!
13. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon is home to the largest concentration of Hoodoos (irregular rock columns) in the world. The hiking alone is enough to fill any weekend itinerary, with breathtaking locations like Bryce Amphitheater which are even more stunning in winter.
After all, there’s a reason why this destination made BMTM’s list of the 15 Best National Parks to Visit in Winter! February is prime time to catch the best stargazing of the year. The clear winter skies lend to spectacular nighttime views.
14. Alabama Hills, California
The Alabama Hills get hot in the summertime, making winter a fantastic time to visit.
The hiking trails lead to some of the most photogenic landscapes as the park is well known for its unique arches and rock formations. Check out our guide for more ideas on how best to enjoy Alabama Hills in the winter!
15. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is most popular during the spring and summer months, but this coastal location is just as exciting in the winter!
While you might not be feeling a dip in the chilly ocean, you can still enjoy the sea while you ride on horseback along the coast from Myrtle Beach to Garden City Beach. There are also plenty of trails to explore at Myrtle Beach State Park to hike, bike and explore.
16. Jekyll Island, Georgia
Off the shore of Georgia lies the picturesque Jekyll Island, a sunny beach getaway for adventurers and animal lovers alike. The island is home to Georgia’s only sea turtle education and rehabilitation facility. Here guests can catch a Turtles at Twilight tour and learn more about the sea turtles and other wildlife on the island.
With temperatures in the 60s during the day, the weather is ideal for a beach stroll at Driftwood Beach Park. Have a picnic, enjoy the driftwood monuments, or catch one of the island’s famous sunsets. February is also the best time to visit because the island puts on an event called Island Treasures which is a hide-and-seek game where players search for glass globes that can be exchanged for handcrafted glass floats. How fun!
17. Minneapolis, Minnesota
I know what you’re thinking– Why would anyone want to go where it’s freezing cold in February?! Hear me out. Minnesotans are masters at braving the cold, and their largest city has a lot to show for it. Every year at the end of January, The Great Northern festival hosts a variety of outdoor and indoor events which entice the senses, including this year’s Dream the Combine: Experimental Walking event. The event highlights the city’s art and architecture through a series of walks.
18. Austin, Texas
Austin is also home to some of Texas’s best urban hiking trails. It truly is a great mix of indoor and outdoor fun.
19. Washington, D.C.
Whether you’re looking to get outside this February or stay indoors, Washington, D.C. offers up both. The vast array of museums in D.C. are enough to keep anyone entertained for weeks. The fun doesn’t stop there, though.
Check out the Viking Village where you can curl up next to the fire while you enjoy a Viking inspired meal and sip your drink in specialty Viking drinkware. Another fun culinary adventure is The Watergate’s Winter Igloos which are ideal for small groups, up to 8 people. A stroll through The Hirshorn’s sculpture garden followed by a stop at the pop-up beer and wine garden at Victura Park makes for a relaxing afternoon exploring the city.
20. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
Surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest, Hot Springs National Park is the oldest park within the National Park System, making it one of the most beloved and protected lands in the United States. February is prime time to visit, as the water levels are just right and the park is less crowded.
While the thermal water baths are undoubtedly the area’s most famous attraction, there are plenty of other activities. Enjoy a spa treatment at Bathhouse Row or catch the amazing view at the Hot Springs Mountain Tower before heading to your cabin in the woods to cozy up for the night.
21. The Florida Keys
People from all over the United States flock to Florida in the winter months to enjoy the warm, sunny weather. Not only can you road trip through the 113-mile stretch of road through the Keys, but you can also do so responsibly, thanks to the eco-tourism options there.
As you drive through, enjoy the epic views of mangroves and topaz waters. Don’t forget to make a pit-stop at the Dolphin Research Center or The Turtle Hospital. Snorkeling and scuba diving are the most popular outdoor activities throughout the Keys, but you can kayak through the mangroves if being submerged isn’t your thing.
The winter can be a wonderful time to travel in the USA. Whether you’re looking to skip the crowds at the popular summer attractions, want some warmth, or want to enjoy winter festivals, February is a great time to travel. I hope this list helped you find some places to visit that you hadn’t thought of before. Happy exploring !