The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
English author and poet Eden Phillpotts was known for his prolific output of novels, plays, poetry, and short stories. In 1918 he published A Shadow Passes, a collection of reflections and poetry that capture the author’s keen observations about the world around him. In his contemplation of the buckbean plant (aka Menyanthes), Phillpotts marvels at the beauty of its “ragged petals finer than lace.”
This attention to detail serves as a broader contemplation of the natural world emphasizing the innumerable potential wonders that remain unnoticed and unappreciated until our understanding and awareness deepen. Beauty and magic are always present; we need only to keep our minds and hearts open to the possibilities that lie in wait all around us.
Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in January. Also check out my recommendations from February 2023 and March 2023.
1. A history of cowboys, shootouts, and outlaws in the southwest
The rich and illustrious history of Tombstone is well-known by many Western film buffs but few places are as prepared to tell its story as the Tombstone Courthouse. This Arizona State Historic Park is a wealth of knowledge on everything from the founding of the city of Tombstone to the first-hand accounts of those present at the gunfight at O.K. Corral.
Tombstone as a city was established in 1877 when Edward Schieffelin discovered silver mines in the area. Tombstone Courthouse was the center of Cochise Country from 1882 to 1931 when the city seat was moved to Bisbee.
The courthouse was built in the shape of a Roman cross and is 12,000 square feet. The Tombstone Courthouse is the oldest courthouse still standing in Arizona. During its tenure as the county courthouse seven men were sentenced to hang for various crimes—five of which were hung together after a botched robbery left at least four others dead.
2. Best national park to visit in February: Saguaro National Park
Located in southern Arizona, Saguaro National Park is one of the warmest parks to visit in February. Temperatures in the park soar from late spring through early fall making the winter months the best time to visit Saguaro. With an average high of 70°F and a very low chance of rain, this is a great park to visit in February.
Saguaro National Park is named for the Saguaro Cactus which only grows in the Sonoran Desert.
This park is split into two different sections, the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District. You can visit both in one very busy day but you’re best to spread them out over two separate days.
Plan your visit:
- The Best National Parks to Visit in February
- The Ultimate Guide to Saguaro National Park
- Inside the Cartoonish and Majestic Land of Saguaro
- Saguaro National Park: Two Parks in One
- Saguaro National Park: 11 Planning Tips
- Reach for the Sky: Saguaro National Park
3. Temecula Valley wine region
Nearly 50 wineries populate the Temecula Valley and the rolling-hills region: known for award-winning Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir. Think of Temecula as the Napa Valley of southern California being only an hour drive from San Diego and a couple hours from LA.
Just west of the valley wine region, Old Town Temecula is a fantastic place to eat and people watch. However, getting through Old Town involved ten stop signs and ample opportunity for street café onlookers to witness my first gear stall.
Plan your visit:
- Temecula Valley: Historic Old Town, Wine Country and More
- Temecula Valley Wine Country
- Temecula Valley: 50 Years in the Grapes
4. West Texas is mostly flat and desolate, right? Not Quite!
Big Bend National Park is an exception to people’s commonly-percieved notions that West Texas is flat and desolate. Big Bend National Park is the quintessential hidden gem of the state. At 801,000-plus acres, it’s one of the largest national parks in the United States yet it’s also one of the least-visited parks. The low-visit rate might be because the park is nowhere close to a populated city center.
Big Bend National Park is perhaps most appealing in winter when temperatures stay in the 60s during the daytime. This weather is perfect for hiking and biking the 200 miles of trails that the park offers. Big Bend offers the best of both mountain and desert terrain and with the Rio Grande River bordering the park, you can also take part in water activities.
Plan your visit:
- The Complete Guide to the Gorgeous Deserts and Canyons of Big Bend National Park
- The Ultimate Big Bend National Park Road Trip
- Explore the Funky Art Towns and Desert Beauty of West Texas
5. I still dream of Galveston
This exciting old city is located on a barrier island off the Gulf Coast via Highway 45. It’s just 50 miles south of Houston but it leaves the hustle and bustle of the big city behind and slows the pace down to a barefoot beach town.
The Gulf of Mexico laps the sandy beaches that stretch the full length of the island. You can enjoy the relaxing beachfront atmosphere, take a dip in the warm gulf waters, walk along the seawall, or go through the shops in the historic downtown area where cruise ship passengers disembark to get a taste of this historic city that was established in the early 1800s when it was still part of Mexico.
The Spanish influence is evident in much of the old-town architecture. Check out the Bishop’s Palace, historic churches, and the Moody Mansion for examples.
7. A place apart
There’s St. Louis, and then there’s Bay St. Louis which dubs itself a place apart. Just 51 miles away from the one-of-a-kind hub that is New Orleans, Bay St. Louis couldn’t feel further from the hustle and bustle. The town’s prime spot on the Mississippi Sound, an embayment of the Gulf of Mexico provides a glorious stretch of white-sanded beach with virtually no crowds. In fact, this strip of shoreline is known as Mississippi’s Secret Coast.
Just off of Beach Boulevard, you’ll find Old Town Bay St. Louis, a walkable area full of local shops and eateries. Spend an afternoon strolling through Old Town, browsing the beach boutiques and art galleries.
Plan your trip to be in town on the second Saturday of each month when Old Town puts on a giant art walk complete with live music, local merchants, and other special events.
Check this out to learn more: Bay St. Louis: A Place Apart
8. Mardi Gras
Mark Twain once wrote that a traveler “… has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.”
Of the hundreds of Louisiana festivals, none tops Mardi Gras. Spectacular parades, unbelievable costumes, music, dancing, food, drink—take your pick of places to indulge and enjoy.
The biggest celebration occurs in New Orleans but nearly every community in the state has its own version of the annual party. Wherever you go, you can find the style that best suits you including tons of family-friendly celebrations.
Mardi Gras is here and there are so many parades and activities for every member of your family. You’ll find the perfect revelry for every age.
Nothing gets Louisianans together like a good party. And when it comes to Mardi Gras season, you’ll find plenty of ways to celebrate with the kids and grown-ups alike all the way up until Fat Tuesday (February 13, 2024).
- Family-Friendly Mardi Gras Events in Louisiana 2024
- How Louisiana At Large Does Mardi Gras
- 10 Things You Might Not Know About Mardi Gras
- The History of Mardi Gras Traditions
9. Birthplace of Mardi Gras
When you think of Mardi Gras you likely think of New Orleans, beads, and the rowdiness of the French Quarter. The Big Easy has a long and illustrious history with Fat Tuesday, but, believe it or not, it’s not the birthplace of the celebration in America. For that, you have to go about 150 miles east to Mobile, Alabama.
On Mardi Gras, clusters of costumed people travel from the banks of Mobile Bay on Government Street, up old and tightly crowded Dauphin Street, and into the center of the city.
The secret societies that dominate the celebration organize themselves on floats just as their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did before them. Crowds along the street cheer them on and marvel at the costumes catching trinkets and MoonPies thrown from above.
10. A dose of southern hospality
Savannah, Georgia, is a charming historic Southern town on the Atlantic coast, just across the Savannah River from South Carolina. The city is known for its beautiful municipal parks, historical features such as antebellum homes, and the horse-drawn carriages that ferry passengers around the cobblestoned streets of the historic district.
Stroll the ancient oak-lined paths of Forsyth Park and then take a walk through the Juliette Gordon Low Historic District followed by comfort food at a Southern cafe and you’ll never want to leave Savannah. February is the end of Savannah’s low season and a great time to beat the crowds as long as you are willing to don a jacket.
All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.
―Charles M. Schulz