What's On in California in February

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    What to Do in California in February

    Modernism Week Poolside Cocktail Party
    Charley Gallay/Getty Images

    In February, California's winter starts winding down. It's a good month to celebrate Chinese New Year and find a romantic place to go for Valentine's Day.

    February's Big Holiday: Valentine's Day

    If you and your honey want to run away together for the weekend, try some of these ideas for a romantic California weekend getaway.

    Top Picks for February in California

    If your writer hasn't done it, it isn't on this list; it's down below instead. This section is for things that have experienced and enjoyed.

    Blossom Trail, Fresno: Much of the country's stone fruit (peaches, apricots, nectarines and their relatives) grows in California central valley near Fresno. Take a drive on the blossom trail through miles of orchards filled with pink and white blooms, and you won't soon forget it.

    Chinese New Year Parade, San Francisco: Chinese New Year is a lunar holiday that occurs in late January or early February. San Francisco holds the most extravagant celebration of it in the state, or maybe in the entire U.S.—and the big parade is always on the weekend (and occasionally doesn't happen until early March).

    In Los Angeles, the Edwardian Ball is the perfect thing to do if you and your honey like to get dressed up in costumes and go to a fun party.

    Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose: Cinequest is the first big film festival after the Academy Awards and one of the best film fests in the state. They host an impressive number of movies and get some excellent guests, too. It starts in February and usually extends into early March.

    Elephant Seals, Ano Nuevo State Reserve: Male elephant seals fight for dominance while newborn babies grow at an astounding rate, making the elephant seal birthing and breeding season an unforgettable spectacle. You can also see the elephant seals at Piedras Blancas near Hearst Castle.

    Monarch Butterflies, Pacific Grove: The orange-and-black monarch butterflies spend their winters in the trees around town, sleeping in big clumps to keep warm. When they wake up in the morning and start flying, it's a sight you might think happens only in the movies.

    Modernism Week, Palm Springs: The annual mid-century extravaganza includes a few tours that get you inside some of Palm Springs' modernist icons. See all the things to do while at modernism week in this guide (besides going to the official events).

    Things That Look Like Fun to Do in February

    These events look like fun, but they haven't been tried yet

    Date Festival, Indio: You wouldn't believe all the kinds of dates they grow and display during this county fair. And the events are fun, too—from camel races to big-name headliner music acts performing on stage.

    Mavericks Invitational: The world's top surfers head for Half Moon Bay anytime between November and March, as soon as the waves are big enough. It's not easy to watch in person, but you can get all the details in Mavericks guide, and also find out when it's happening.

    Whale Watching in February: February is the month to see gray whales and fin whales in California.

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    Things to Do in February That You Must Plan Ahead For

    Fruit Trees on the Fresno Blossom Trail
    Catherine Lacey Photography/Getty Images

    If you want to camp at a California state park in February, make your reservations six months ahead of time in August. The system is complicated, and it's hard to get it right, but everything you need to know about California State Park camping reservations is here.

    Instead of planning far ahead for the Fresno Blossom Trail, you need to be prepared to go when the conditions are right. Start checking in early February for peak bloom time.

    You can't plan ahead for the Mavericks Invitational surfing contest either. Not even the participants know the exact date until a few days ahead of time. Sign up for their alerts and be ready to act quickly.

    If you want to go to Modernism Week in Palm Springs, make hotel reservations far ahead of time and be ready to snag those hard-to-get tour tickets the minute they go on sale.

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    More About California in February

    Los Angeles through rainy window
    Jan Stromme/Getty Images

    It Might Rain... It might put a damper on your travel plans, but we can't control what Mother Nature does. Just in case your vacation plans are sinking faster than the Titanic, here are some ideas for things to do on a rainy day in California:

    Or It Might Snow... Tioga Pass between Yosemite and the Eastern Sierras closes when it gets so much snow that they can't get rid of it and it won't re-open until well after the spring thaw.

    If you plan to travel anywhere above sea level, you should know the requirements for snow chains. They apply to personal and rented vehicles—and the guide has some ideas about what to do if you need them for your rented vehicle.

    Or Even Have a Sandstorm... While February may seem like the perfect time to go to Palm Springs, timing can be tricky. The Date Festival, Modernism Week and the Presidents Day long weekend sometimes happen all at once, driving hotel prices toward the stratosphere. And then there’s the dirty little secret no one in town likes to talk about: The Coachella Valley is prone to windstorms in February, which can blow so much dust around that you may feel like you’re being sandblasted. And even worse, roads can be closed because of the blowing sand.

    More California by Month

    If you're just starting to plan your California trip and want to know what it's like year round and not only in January, you can get a look at every month of the year using these guides: California in the Winter is excellent for skiing and snow play and all the events you'll find in the guides to California in December and January. It's also a great time for a winter weekend getaway.

    Spring gets going in March and April, and clear skies will continue at the coast into the month of May. Get an overview of Things to Do in California in the Spring and try some of these California Spring Getaway Ideas.

    Summer holiday season starts in June and continues through July and August. It's the busiest tourist season and some parts of the state get almost unbearably hot, but it's a great time for mountain hiking. Start exploring Things to Do in the Summer and get busy planning your Summer California Getaway.

    Fall is a great time to visit California. You'll see why in this Guide to California in the Fall. Weather is beautiful in September and October. By November, winter rains may have set in—or not. Start thinking about your California Fall Getaway now.