February is the peak of winter across the southeast United States, which makes for cooler temperatures and sometimes unpredictable weather. Depending on where you visit, you might encounter ice, snow, sleet, or 70-degree sunny days! While February is also the coldest month for most states and cities, temperatures in the southeast very rarely fall below freezing.
February also brings an array of popular celebrations including Mardi Gras events, Presidents' Day Weekend and Valentine's Day. There are also many wonderful local and regional festivals like the annual Gullah Celebration at Hilton Head, S.C., the annual North Carolina Jazz Festival in Wilmington, N.C., and many others, making February a great month to visit the Southeast U.S. and enjoy one or more of these unique celebrations.
Read on for more information about the weather, what to pack, and what events to check out.
February Weather in the Southeast
February is one of the coldest average months of the year across the United States. During February, average high temperatures can range from just above 40 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) to the over 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius). Some days can even peak above 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), but even the southeast experiences occasional winter ice storms and cold snaps. The diverse temperatures can mean beach weather in some place like Miami, but chilly days in a city like Raleigh.
- Atlanta: 47 F/8 C
- Raleigh, NC: 43 F/6 C
- Charleston, SC: 52 F/11 C
- Memphis: 45 F/7 C
- Miami: 69 F/21 C
- New Orleans: 57 F/14 C
- Hilton Head, SC: 53 F/11 C
In the mountains, February does produce enough snowy days to make area skiers happy. In some years, coastal areas may experience a little bit of snow, but accumulation is normally minimal and short-lived.
What to Pack
Your packing list should vary depending on where in the southeast you're visiting. For example, a Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans will call for different items than a visit to Atlanta's Snow Mountain. Either way, it's always a good idea to pack items that can layer way—even though the Southeast U.S. is warmer than other parts of the country, the region does experience some winter temperatures, which makes a light jacket, raingear, and sturdy shoes wardrobe staples throughout the winter.
Of course, by the same token, if the weather proves to be warmer, sandals, light tops and trousers, and a hat (for sun protection) are must-haves.
February Events in the Southeast
New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebration is certainly one of the most revered events in the southeast in February, but the whole region plays host to other cultural, culinary, and historical attractions that will delight visitors.
- Presidents' Day Weekend Celebrations (mid-February): Virginia, brimming with history, is a wonderful destination for a Presidents' Day weekend getaway. Three standout Presidents' Day celebrations, including events in Old Town Alexandria, Mount Vernon, and Colonial Williamsburg, offer interactive living history fun for families and tours of important historic sites for history buffs. All three celebrations are situated in picturesque and charming settings, adding a touch of romance for couples.
- Carnival Season and Mardi Gras Celebrations (February): While New Orleans is the apex of all Mardi Gras celebration, other cities in the south ring in Fat Tuesday with colorful parades, parties, and other festivities.
- Stone Mountain Park's Snow Mountain (November through February): Transforming the large Laser Lawn into Atlanta's only snow park, Snow Mountain's signature 400-foot long tubing hill features single tubing lanes and Avalanche Alley for family tube rides. A Snow Zone provides play areas and activities, including snowman making, snowball fun and Fort Snow, complete with tunnels mid-sized slides and more. At SnoFire Point, there is a bonfire for warming up and enjoying delicious, gooey s'mores. For maximum play time in the snow, advanced ticket purchase is recommended.
- Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration (January through February): The 18th Annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration showcases the arts, crafts, foods, heritage, and history of the island Gullah culture. Featured events include an Art Show and Sale, an Arts, Crafts and Food Expo on Presidents' Day Weekend, A Taste of Gullah featuring food and entertainment and more.
- Annual North Carolina Jazz Festival (early February): Now in its 34th year, this popular annual jazz festival features all-star musicians and the best of traditional jazz, presented in one venue with cabaret-style seating.
February Travel Tips
- Take a road trip. Public transportation between cities in the southeast isn't strong, so driving yourself is the best way to get around. Take it as an opportunity to go for a road trip! The Southeast is loaded with great towns, food, and quaint scenery.
- Be prepared for unpredictable weather! Sun, snow, sleet, and more—the Southeast has it all. Come prepared for varied temperatures and weather conditions; sometimes even on the same day.