When winters get pretty cold in the northern US, taking a trip down south can be the perfect way to avoid the winter blues. February is a great time to travel, with less crowds and lower prices. But where are the best places to visit?
These are the results from our survey where we asked our visitors for the top 3 best US winter sun destinations in February.
The best US winter sun destination in February is Tucson, Arizona. In addition to the annual Tucson Rodeo Parade, there is a wide variety of cultural and artistic experiences. New Orleans, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas also have moderate temperatures and rich histories to explore.
Read on to learn more about February in Tucson, New Orleans, and Houston.
Tucson is in the southeastern part of Arizona. The city has been influenced by its position in the Sonoran Desert and its long history as home to Native American tribes. In February, temperatures range from 40-69°F (5-20°C) with very little rainfall.
Tucson is located in the Sonoran Desert. This desert stretches all the way into California and Mexico. While some people think of deserts as empty areas, the Sonoran Desert is a thriving ecosystem.
There are many varieties of fauna, the most famous being the assortment of cacti. The desert is also home to many unique desert-dwelling animals including roadrunners, tortoises, and adorable kangaroo rats.
February is a great time to explore the desert without the oppressive heat of summer. If you want to go exploring on your own, take the time to learn about which animals are friendly and which you should avoid.
Without a doubt, the most famous natural marvel in Arizona is the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon National Park is a six to seven-hour drive north of Tucson. If you have never been, it is worth taking a long weekend if you have the time.
From museums to festivals and parades, there are so many cultural experiences available in Tucson. Some of the most popular cultural experiences include:
- Every year in late February, Tucson holds the Tucson Rodeo and Parade. From traditional rodeo events such as bull riding and barrel racing to more modern additions like local marching bands, you are sure to have a great time! You can purchase seats in the main grandstand section, or find a spot along the route for free.
- The Titan Missile Museum is built on an old cold war missile site. History buffs will enjoy the tour, mission control simulation, and getting up close to a real Titan II missile.
- The Arizona Renaissance Festival is open every year in February and March. The festival is about two hours from Tucson, so it makes a good day trip.
- The Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum, a part of the University of Arizona, has an impressive collection from all over the world. Some of the pieces are impressive in their size and others are the size of a thumbnail.
- The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is part museum and part garden. The museum aims to give visitors a better understanding of the complex ecosystem of the desert. There are lots of animals native to the Tucson area, as well as many different species of cacti.
- Biosphere 2 is a research laboratory like no other. Run by the University of Arizona, the 3-acre building is home to a variety of different habitats, from desert to rainforest. You can tour the facility, that the university uses for ecological research. Pressurized rooms simulate living conditions in space, and allow for research and testing of new technology before sending it up to space.
- The University of Arizona’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research is one of the most surprising finds in Tucson. Even the most skeptical of visitors are amazed by the exhibits and informational tours. Who knew tree rings could be so much fun?
If you enjoy art, you are sure to appreciate the wide variety in Tucson, from glass and sculptures to paintings and traditional Native American textiles. Enjoy works by your favorite artists, or discover something new at one of the many art museums and studios in the city.
Here are some of the most popular art attractions in Tucson:
- The Arizona State Museum traces the history of Arizona going back 13,000 years. From archaeological relics and maps to art and fossils, the museum creates a full picture of what the lives of the earliest residents may have been like.
- The DeGrazia in the Sun Museum showcases the work of Arizona native Ettore DeGrazia. The building itself is impressive and was designed by DeGrazia, who worked on canvas in sculpture, ceramics, and architecture.
- Broadway in Tuscon is a performing arts company that puts on popular Broadway shows in Centennial Hall. There are many productions that rotate throughout the year, and most shows last several weeks.
- Visiting the Sonoran Glass School is a great way to learn all about the different kinds of glass art. Whether you want to try it yourself, watch the masters, or just browse the displays and gift shop, Sonoran is worth a visit!
- The Tucson Desert Art Museum highlights Native American art including paintings, textiles, sculpture, and photography. The exhibits teach visitors about Native American history and culture, and many exhibits highlight female artists.
- The Garden of Gethsemane is a sculpture garden created by Feliz Lucero. This religious garden depicts Jesus at different stages of his life.
Tucson has all of the traditional accommodations that you are familiar with. From hotels and resorts to condos and apartments, you can find the right place for your trip length and budget.
Tucson also has an option that can’t be found in most cities: guest ranches. Stay on a working ranch in the middle of the action. These ranches also offer activities such as bonfires and informative tours that show you what it is like to be a rancher in Arizona.
Mardis Gras is held on Fat Tuesday, or the day before Lent every year, typically in February, though some years it falls in early March. The celebrations and parades last over a month, long before the official day. If your trip overlaps with the week of the large celebration, an apartment or condo would be a less expensive option.
New Orleans has a lot more to offer than just Mardis Gras. Here are some of the best attractions in New Orleans:
- There are many fantastic exhibits that make up the National WWII Museum. You can stand on a train platform as so many soldiers did as they left for war and watch a short film produced by Tom Hanks. This museum honors the lives lost in the war and celebrates the American spirit and tenacity.
- You will fall in love with the cuisine of New Orleans, and the New Orleans School of Cooking gives you the tools to recreate it back at home. The menus are planned months in advance, you can find a class focusing on your favorite dish. Whether you want to watch a demonstration or cook alongside the master chefs, you will learn new recipes and skills for your own kitchen!
- The New Orleans Museum of Art has an enormous collection of paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, and more from all over the world. It is easy to spend the entire day at the museum, and the on-site restaurant is a great place to grab lunch.
- New Orleans is rich with legends of vampires, ghosts, and magic. Though the Anne Rice stories may be fictitious, the city has some beautiful marble cemeteries. You can explore the sites on your own, or take a look at the Gators and Ghosts tour company.
- The New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrates jazz music, which originated in Louisiana. In addition to lots of exhibits, there are also many live performances held throughout the week.
Houston is a lively city in southeast Texas. Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and profusion of Asian immigrants have helped to shape its culture. In February, temperatures range from 44 to 67°F (6.6 to 19.4°C), and there is moderate rainfall.
Here are some of the best things to see in Houston:
- The Texas Lunar Festival is held in February every year to celebrate the Asian lunar new year. This festival reflects the large population of Asian immigrants in Houston and is educational as well as a lot of fun.
- February is basketball season, and the Houston Rockets are the pride of the city. You can attend a game at the Toyota Center downtown. The schedule is available on the NBA website.
- Space Center Houston is an amazing museum that puts you in the shoes of NASA astronauts. Learn about previous missions, current projects, and even climb inside a space shuttle. Purchasing tickets online in advance saves money.
- The Holocaust Museum Houston is a beautiful memorial and museum dedicated to community education. There are many permanent exhibits, and special exhibits cycle through throughout the year.
- Houston has dozens of theatres and performing arts centers, including the Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and Houston Symphony. Book your tickets early to ensure you get the best seats in the house!
How this Top 3 list was made
The top 3 list was derived from a survey where we asked about their top destination for a particular month and region. From these results, we made each month a top 3 for North America, the Caribbean, Middle/South America, Europe, and Asia (including the Middle East). Sometimes, we have combined several individual destinations from a single country into the country itself.