- Samantha Lee/Business Insider
- We’ve compiled 13 of the best places to visit for your February vacation.
- The destinations include tropical beaches and winter havens around the world.
From extravagant Carnival celebrations in Rio de Janeiro to Chinese New Year in Beijing, February is one of the best months to explore the world. Business Insider looked at airfare trends, climate data, and peak travel times to figure out which vacation spots should be on your radar.
Read on to find 13 destinations you won’t want to skip in February:
New Orleans, Louisiana
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If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit this winter that offers great weather, food, and entertainment, it’s hard to beat New Orleans.
Of course, the main draw for the Big Easy in February is its epic Mardi Gras celebrations. Often called “the greatest free show on Earth,” Mardi Gras draws hundreds of thousands of visitors for days of parades and revelry. The biggest celebrations occur the weekend before Fat Tuesday itself, which falls on Feb. 13 in 2018.
If big crowds aren’t your thing, there are endless things to do in New Orleans. Bars and restaurants on Frenchman Street offer live jazz in a cozier setting, while Jackson Square provides for world-class people-watching. Be sure to grab a poboy and some beignets before you go.
Park City, Utah
There is a reason the United States Ski Team calls Park City, Utah home.
Simply put, Park City is a winter sports lover’s paradise. The town offers more than 400 downhill trails for skiing and snowboarding covering 3,300 acres. It also hosted events in bobsledding, skeleton, and luge during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
After you hit the slopes, you can take a stroll through the quaint, Old West-style Main Street or catch a show at the famous Egyptian Theater, the site of the Sundance Film Festival in January. Conveniently, a town lift can transport you directly from the mountains to the center of town.
- Flickr Creative Commons/Joe Parks
No list of winter travel destinations would be complete without mention of Hawaii, but February is an especially good time of the year to visit the Aloha State.
That’s the cheapest month of the year for airfare to Hawaii, coming off the heels of the holiday travel season, according to the airfare analysis site Hopper. Hotel rates also settle down after the holidays, making a budget vacation within reason.
For nature lovers, February is the peak of humpback whale-watching season. Maui offers its annual Whale Festival from Feb. 10-24, 2018.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
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February seems like the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta, one of Mexico’s premier beach towns. The weather is perfect – mid-70s and 80s on average – and hordes of spring breakers have yet to descend, giving you a little more room to breathe than you’d get in March.
- Wikimedia Commons
Curaçao is a veritable gem of a winter vacation spot, and according to Lonely Planet, it’s one of the most affordable Caribbean destinations.
Apart from having some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean, the island boasts a diverse history that is manifested in its music, food, and arts scene. Willemstad, the capital city, is filled with brightly-colored Dutch colonial buildings and has countless authentic restaurants and bars tucked along winding streets. The town’s floating market is another favorite of locals and visitors alike.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is home to the granddaddy of all Carnival celebrations. More than 1 million tourists flocked to the city in 2017 to take in the samba parades, music, and street parties.
In 2018, Carnival runs from Feb. 9 to Feb. 14. The flagship parades take place at the Sambadrome, where samba schools compete for the championship crown, but you’re likely to find a party no matter which part of the city you end up in.
- Spanish World Gallery
February marks the end of the summertime in the Southern Hemisphere, making it the perfect time to visit the beautiful Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile.
The season is ideal for hiking and trekking through the region’s stunning mountain landscape. Highlights include the town of Bariloche in Argentina and Torre del Paines National Park in Chile. February is also a fine month for kayaking, horseback riding, and camping in Patagonia.
- Visit Abisko
For the traveler with extreme tastes, try a visit to Abisko, Sweden in the dead of winter, where nighttime temperatures often dip below zero.
Situated 150 miles into the Arctic Circle, Abisko is practically the farthest north you can get in Europe. The town is known for its breathtaking views of the Northern Lights, which you’ll have good odds of seeing in the winter, when there are only a few hours of sunlight a day.
When you’re not skygazing in Abisko, you can enjoy the area’s majestic national parks, hike, and even go dogsledding. And if you’re willing to splurge a bit, a stay in the Icehotel provides a truly unique sleeping experience.
- Marco Secchi/Getty Images
Venice is a renowned vacation hotspot in the summer, but travelers say it’s the winter months that showcase the charm, elegance, and serenity of Italy’s Floating City.
Unpredictable spells of rain often leave Venice’s winding canals shrouded in mist, adding a layer of enchantment to the city’s signature mode of transportation. Tourist attractions like Saint Mark’s Basilica often sit “blissfully empty,” as Fodor’s Travel described. And even if it’s below freezing outside, you can warm up with a hot cocoa at Caffè Florian, where the likes of Charles Dickens and Marcel Proust often visited.
For a unique experience, time your visit to coincide with Venice’s Carnevale, which fills the city with music, street performances, and ballgoers in dazzling costumes. Carnevale runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 13 in 2018.
- Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
What better place to bring in the Lunar New Year than China’s capital city? Beijing goes all out for New Year’s celebrations, and visitors can expect plenty of fireworks, food, and entertainment.
The Year of the Dog kicks off on Feb. 16 in 2018, but residents get at least a week off to prepare and enjoy the holiday. The holiday period traditionally ends with the Lantern Festival, slated for March 2.
- Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images
One of the biggest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of China takes place in Singapore. Festivities pour outside of homes and temples and into the streets, where locals throw lavish parades and enjoy breathtaking fireworks displays over the River Hongbao.
During the day, you can take advantage of Singapore’s cultural diversity with strolls through Indian, Malay, and Chinese neighborhoods. Temple-hopping and food sampling are highly encouraged.
For a relaxing escape, try visiting Goa at the tail end of its peak season in February, when crowds start to thin out and tourist prices come down. The state’s pristine beaches and gorgeous weather make for the perfect winter getaway.
For a glimpse of local history, head to the Old Goa district, site of centuries-old Catholic churches from the early days of Portuguese rule.
Cape Town, South Africa
- Travel Cape Town
Cape Town in February is ideal for wine lovers. Enjoy wine tastings or a picnic under the sun in Constantia Valley, the region that’s dotted with wine farms and has oak-lined streets.
The area is also home to some of the best beaches in Africa, where you can surf, sunbathe, and admire the wildlife. At nearby Boulders Beach, you can even get a close-up view of an African penguin colony – its called the shore its home since 1983.