The Best Places to Vacation in January and February

When to Go Where in Winter

Maldives, Rasdhoo Atoll, Kuramathi Island. A couple wait to board a traditional Dhoni on the sandbank at Kuramathi Island Resort. MR.
••• Escape the cold weather on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Maldives. AWL Images/Getty Images

January and February are the coldest months in many locations. Fortunately, you're going to be on a hot honeymoon or romantic vacation when much of the northern hemisphere is shivering—and you've got some delightful choices to make before you pack your bags.

The most popular winter vacation choices are a) heading south to warmer climes (it's high season in the Caribbean and summer south of the Equator) or b) reveling in the cold at ski towns, ice hotels, and places that make a mean cup of hot chocolate.

Definitely discuss beforehand whether a beach scenario is your idea of heaven—or an active vacation in the snow gives you a rush. (Unless you have unlimited time or funds, you'll have to choose between one or the other.)

Sweetheart Deals in Winter

Romantic couples planning to travel in February are particularly in luck because hotels create special Valentine's Day romance packages every year that roll out the red carpet for lovers.

Imagine champagne, strawberries dipped in chocolate and a bed of roses awaiting your arrival. Some hotels and resorts also offer couples a special dinner (candlelight preferred) and spa services for two. Even having a goody like late checkout or free parking can enhance a brief overnight vacation.

Some romance packages are available exclusively for Valentine's weekend; others are good throughout February; and still others remain available for a few months. Check dates before you book and confirm the benefits the package provides.

Keep in mind that the President's Day/school's out/winter break holiday also falls around Valentine's Day. In case you'd rather not spend your romantic holiday around a bunch of kids, choose a hotel that caters exclusively to adults, has a separate wing for couples, maintains a swimming pool for grownups or provides another way to separate romantic and family travelers.

Making a Quick Getaway

If you don't find a romance package on the recommended list that works for you and still want to get away briefly in winter, choose the hotel or resort you want to visit and navigate to the spot on their website that describes their current deals and packages.

Even hotels that don't offer a dedicated honeymoon or romance package often have a bed-and-breakfast deal, spa package for couples or something similar on weekends. (Tip: You can often get a surprisingly good weekend rate by staying at a city-center hotel that typically caters to business travelers by booking a Friday-through-Sunday-morning stay.)

Some of the best places for January and February trips follow. The weather is ideal, businesses are staffed up, and they're putting on their best face for customers. Do keep in mind that because these places become so popular in winter, you can expect to pay top dollar unless you are good at finding bargains or agree that a vacation is no time to scrimp.

Top USA Destinations

Tropical Destinations

South Pacific

Sure Things

  • Year-round, the weather's just about perfect in Hawaii.
  • Somewhere around the world, every month of the year, a cruise ship is sailing some place wonderful.

Beat the Crowds

If you're outfitted with a warm coat and an umbrella, you'll find most cities in Europe cool and uncrowded. Although it's too chilly to swim in the Mediterranean this time of year, it's plenty warm inside the shops, museums, and restaurants of France, Italy, and Great Britain. Be aware that it is prime time for ski areas in France, Italy, and Switzerland, though.

Not the Best Time to Visit

Despite its popularity as a honeymoon haven, Bermuda is no place to visit in the winter. Six hundred miles off the coast of North Carolina, it's cold and windy and there's not much to do until the weather is warm.