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10 Best Places to Travel in February

By Mark Ellwood

Jan 20, 2022

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Carnival season is back in Venice this February.

Photo by Simone Padovani/Shutterstock

Carnival season is back in Venice this February.

Looking for some Valentine’s Day trip inspiration? We’ve got you covered.

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February travel doesn’t have to revolve around romance—though Valentine’s Day is the ideal excuse to whisk your beloved off on a surprise trip, or treat yourself to a solo jaunt with the money you save on chocolates and flowers. It’s also the month in 2022 when carnival celebrations take place across almost every continent, which is the perfect time to party in a new place. We’ve got the 10 best destinations for February, whether raucous, romantic, or a little of both. 

Remember, though, that COVID-19-related regulations remain in place in many states and countries, and they are subject to change. Always check updated mandates and requirements before booking any trip.

Pro tip: As with many of these far-flung trips, it helps to have a travel advisor or agent assist with the booking. They know the latest COVID protocols in your destination, and can secure perks on arrival like a bottle of champagne in-room or early check-in. If you plan to DIY, we’ve included booking information as well.

Venice, Italy

February is great for: faded glamour, gilded masks, and the chance to channel your inner Henry James

Venetian Carnival’s start for 2022 is February 12. It’s a particularly evocative time to visit La Serenissima when its mask-making and -wearing tradition comes to the fore. Celebrations crest on the final weekend before Shrove Tuesday—this year, Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 in February—but the city parties all month long. Expect special dinners in local restaurants, and DJ-driven parties taking place with extra gusto after coronavirus restrictions clipped its wings last year.

If you’re looking for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway, consider this, too: In winter, the glamorously decrepit palazzi and canals are more swoon-worthy than in the sultry, often smelly summer; think a scene from a classic Henry James novel through the eyes of Merchant Ivory. You’ll also likely have the chance to splosh through flooded alleyways during acqu’alta, or high water, when the lagoons surge at high tide and the city’s slow sinking becomes more evident. Hotels will provide temporary galoshes, but if you’re staying at an AirBnB or similar, bring boots.

Where to stay: Hyatt Centric

Hole up on the glassmaking island of Murano at the Hyatt Centric, a few steps away from the museum that chronicles one of Venice’s most famous exports.

Book Now: From $128/night; hyatt.com

How to get there 

U.S. fliers can take direct flights to Marco Polo airport from hubs including ATL, JFK, EWR, and PHL.

Witness conservation in action in Rwanda.

Rwanda

February is great for: celebrating Africa’s newest conservation hub

The 61-square-mile gorilla-watching hub of Volcanoes National Park was where the late Dian Fossey conducted her groundbreaking primate work, which has continued for nearly two decades after her death, albeit from a rented property almost 19 miles from the park.

The effort is about to get a boost, though, from none other than Ellen DeGeneres, whose own animal-focused nonprofit is funding a permanent, custom-built home for Fossey’s Karisoke Research Center, which is slated to open with a ribbon cutting on February 2. It’s a transformative upgrade for the center’s team, which will now be able to expand its research, conservation, and educational programs and improve the experience for visitors. An interactive exhibit dives deep into both Fossey’s own story and that of the mountain gorillas here, plus classrooms both indoor and outdoor offer educational programs aimed at all ages.

Where to stay: One&Only Gorilla’s Nest

After a day trekking, there’s only one place to soothe away the aches: One & Only Gorilla’s Nest with its stilted lodges and alfresco showers and bathtubs.

Book Now: From $3,390/night; expedia.com  

How to get there

Delta runs a codeshare to Kigali with KLM from JFK via Amsterdam, or opt for Qatar via Doha to the same destination.

The Museum of Pop Culture is part of February’s returning Museum Month.

Seattle, WA

February is great for: cut-price culture across the city

Think of a trip to the Emerald City this month as bona fide brain food: The city’s celebration of 30 cultural institutions, Museum Month, has restarted after a pandemic-related hiatus last year. Stay at one of the 70 participating hotels (including the Edgewater) any day in February, and you’ll receive a 50 percent off entry pass for up to four people to use at those sites. There are conventional cultural hubs, like the Seattle Art Museum, which will showcase the abstract expressionist–heavy haul of local collectors Jane Lang Davis and Richard E. Lang, as well as quirkier offerings.

Head to the Museum of Pop Culture for a chance to see Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent outfit, among others, at the Disney-supported Heroes and Villains show, or immerse yourself in a tribute to Seattle’s grunge champions, Nirvana. And Seattle is catnip for crystallophiles—anyone with a passion for glass—with not one but two options: Artist Dale Chihuly is celebrated at a namesake garden, and you can learn to blow your own at the Museum of Glass.

Where to stay: Edgewater Hotel

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The Edgewater Hotel on Puget Sound is a city classic, perched on Pier 67 with killer views of the water and with rates from $218 this month.

Book Now: From $218/night; expedia.com

How to get there  

More than 60 percent of all flights to Seattle’s airport are operated by Alaska Airlines, so check options with that carrier first. It’s also a (much smaller) hub for Delta.

Brazil’s beaches are calling . . .

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

February is great for: packing light—just a bikini, some rhinestones, and some swagger

Rio’s five-day Carnival, kicking off this year on February 25, typically attracts millions of Cariocas and hedonism-seeking visitors to samba and sashay through its streets in skimpy, elaborate costumes. Last year, the celebrations were spiked by COVID-19, the first time revelries were canceled since their suspension during both World Wars, so their return is more anticipated than ever. The jolt of income will be all too welcome after the country became a byword for pandemic mismanagement. At the time of publication, vaccination rates were on par with those stateside but cases were rising (anyone concerned can check updates here). Consider booking a package to help navigate this sometimes-overwhelming extravaganza; this one includes daily private samba lessons, a glam squad to prep for the parade, and a perch in the champagne bar with the best view of the procession.

Where to stay: Copacabana Palace

Book Now: From $916/night; expedia.com

It’s all in the name: The Belmond-operated Copacabana Palace sits opposite Rio’s world-famous beach and is hands down the plushest place to stay in the city.

How to get there 

American Airlines flies to Rio’s airport, GIG, from JFK and MIA. United has service from Houston, and Delta is starting a direct flight from ATL this month.

Barranquilla’s carnival kicks off on February 26.

Barranquilla, Colombia

February is great for: the world’s most cultured carnival

It's almost 20 years since UNESCO conferred the status of Masterpiece of Humanity’s Intangible and Oral Heritage on this town at the end of the Magdalena River on Colombia’s north central coast. One of the major contributors to Barranquilla’s top-tier cultural cachet is its carnival, this year running from February 26 through March 1.

Alongside street parties and parades, expect a tonier Mardi Gras than some—this isn’t about stripping for spectators or debauched, half-remembered evenings—even though its motto is Quien lo vive es quien lo goza, or “He who lives it enjoys it.” This city has long been renowned for its arts scene—and Gabriel García Márquez spent some of his childhood here. (Find one of his typewriters, as well as a stash of carnival costumes, in the Museo Romantico.) Music is a big focus for its carnival celebrations, with cumbia, porro, gaita, and more from Colombia comingling with African congo or indigenous mico y micas.

Where to stay: Hotel Faranda

Hotel Faranda in the Prado district is a handy, yet hidden-away, base.

Book Now: From $147/night; expedia.com   

How to get there 

Miami is the best gateway for direct flights to Barranquilla, including Avianca, American, United, and just-added Spirit.

Consider Guadalajara instead of Mexico City this spring.

Guadalajara, Mexico

February is great for: getting animated about contemporary art

Mexico City’s ZonaMaco art fair has become a global byword for the best in art and design since it was founded almost 20 years ago. Its six-year-old feeder fair in Guadalajara, though, is still under the radar overseas: During PreMaco in February, art galleries and artists ramp up their efforts with exhibitions and events, all intended to underscore the city’s reputation as more than a hub of traditional crafts. In recent years, it’s built on that renown (and on the skillset that accompanies it) to broaden beyond classic ceramics or glassblowing.

See the recent opening of nonprofit space Ayer in a former Coca-Cola warehouse, with a mission from its artist cofounders to help boost video and installation art in the city, for instance. Guadalajara-born Oscar magnet Guillermo del Toro partnered with his alma mater, the University of Guadalajara, to create an International Animation Center, too, hoping to help local artists move into indie movies and films (all animated, of course).

Where to stay: Hotel Demetria

Hotel Demetria hosts regular exhibitions at its onsite art gallery; enjoy a drink on the rooftop bar.

 Book Now: From $209/night; expedia.com 

How to get there 

Volaris, American, and United serve this city with direct flights from many cities across the USA, including Las Vegas, Dallas, and Houston.

Get your winter sports fix in the Adirondacks this winter.

Lake Placid, NY

February is great for: the next-best-thing in Olympic spectating

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The Beijing Winter Olympics has its opening ceremony on February 4, but most spectators won’t be able to attend in person thanks to lingering pandemic constraints. If you want to slake a thirst for such sporting prowess, consider a trip closer to home, specifically to upstate New York, and to two-time hosting locale Lake Placid in the Adirondacks. Revel in the feeling of that Scandi-dominated extreme Olympic event, the ski jump, at the SkyRide Experience at the Olympic Jumping Complex in a gondola, or try out bobsledding on the track here. There’s also plenty of skiing and hiking or snowshoeing—1,500 miles of designated walking trails and 11 lifts on Whiteface Mountain, which has the highest vertical drop of any ski resort east of the Rockies.

Where to stay: Whiteface Lodge

The ski-adjacent Whiteface Lodge also packs in plenty of après amenities, from a 56-seat movie theater to a two-lane bowling alley and an on-site skating rink.

Book Now: From $790/night; expedia.com

How to get there 

Cape Air flies four times daily to Adirondack Regional Airport from Boston, although most visitors are likely to drive—it’s five hours from New York City, for example.

Nothing can keep a city like New Orleans down—and carnival season is imminent.

New Orleans, LA

February is great for: an endless parade of parades 

Even New Orleans, that city synonymous with Mardi Gras, was forced to scale back its citywide celebrations as a result of the pandemic last year. It intends to more than make up for it this time with two years’ worth of partying in one (albeit with a reintroduced mask mandate). Although Mardi Gras proper is March 1, this city starts celebrating from Twelfth Night, aka King’s Day, in January with parades taking place regularly across the city, from uptown to the French Quarter. Each is planned and hosted by one of the groups known as Krewes; see what’s planned on each weekend here.

Don’t miss the chance to try a slice of gooey King Cake, the lovechild of a coffee cake and a cinnamon roll that’s doled out slathered in icing and colored gold, green, and purple, like the celebrations. The reason that trio of colors was originally chosen has been lost to history, but their meaning was retconned by the Rex Krewe, one of the city’s fanciest, which conferred a symbolism in the late 19th century that persists today: purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

Where to stay: Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

Try the 527-room Ritz-Carlton on Canal Street on a site anchored by a 1908 Beaux Arts mansion.

Book Now: From $352/night; ritzcarlton.com

How to get there 

Almost every major U.S. city has direct flights here.

Mardi Gras in Missouri might be chillier, but it’s no less fun.

St. Louis, MO

February is great for: an alternative, hopped-up Mardi Gras

Sure, you might have to wear a bobble hat rather than a tank top, but Mardi Gras in St. Louis is just as much riotous fun as it is in Brazil. It’s a nod to the city’s place at the pivot point between north and south, and a reminder of its connection with culture downriver along the Mississippi, a link that’s often undervalued.

The centerpiece of celebrations here is a parade round the brewery-crammed ’hood known as Soulard, which takes place on Saturday February 26. Fittingly, it’s Bud-sponsored this year; turn up early if you want a prime spot to view the 100 or so Krewes that typically join the route. There’s also a pet parade on Sunday February 20 for any costume-prone cats or other animals, as well as Cajun cook-offs and other events throughout the month. Make sure, too, to stop in at All Hands On Deck, where artwork by Damon Davis (on view until late March) powerfully commemorates the shooting of Michael Brown Jr. in Ferguson eight years ago.

Where to stay: Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch

The Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch is exactly what it says: a fancy hotel with consistently killer views of the city’s soaring, Saarinen-designed landmark.

Book Now: From $134/night; hyatt.com

How to get there 

Nearly every carrier serves STL airport, including Spirit from PHL or LAX, and United from JFK.

Champagne Region, France

February is great for: tipsy romantics

If you want to pop the question, why not pop the cork first? Sure, you could fly to Paris and propose on the Lovers’ Bridge this Valentine’s Day—or be a little more original and hop on a train an hour or so into the countryside to the champagne region. There are more than 50 villages dotted with fizz-making vineyards in this area, from well-known brands like Dom Perignon (which claims to have invented champagne, though it’s not that simple) to upstart alternatives trialing biodynamic farming like Leclerc Briant.

Red wine drinkers can now sample coteaux champenois, still vintages traditionally produced there and now undergoing a major revival. Visit the Musée du vin de Champagne, which reopened last summer after being shuttered for more than two decades, or hire a guide like Caroline Brun to find the perfect proposal spot. The romance quota’s upped this month because it’s when the vignerons burn cuttings after pruning the vines, wreathing the wintry countryside in plumes of smoke.

Where to stay: Royal Champagne Hôtel & Spa

The 25-room former coaching inn received a radical, luxury overhaul courtesy of the cashed-up owners of Leclerc Briant when it opened four years ago. Come to sample a vast range of fizz by the glass.

Book now: From $584/night, expedia.com

How to get there

Paris-CDG is served by countless direct flights from the United States, but consider La Compagnie, the bargain-priced, all-business-class airline that shuttles between EWR and Orly, the smaller and much handier secondary airport in the capital.

This article was originally published in November 2019 and was updated in January 2022 with new information.

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