February is when the winter blues and blahs hit home hard, so there’s no better time to take a trip — especially to locales with higher average temperatures, sunshine and nary a snowflake in sight. Here are five reasons to book a quick vacation this month.
There’s never really a bad time to visit Las Vegas, but February makes for a particularly good month to head out West, especially when you’re looking to escape inclement weather. Need another reason? The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Bellagio will host its first Culinary Classroom of the year on February 12. Executive chef of the luxury resort’s many restaurants, Edmund Wong, will teach Bellagio guests (and any other gastro-curious visitor) how to prepare and cook contemporary Italian dishes from antipasti to lobster and spinach tortellini. After time in the kitchen, you will get to eat the three courses you’ve made with appropriate vino pairings to boot.
There’s something special about dining in a room with a view. But on Valentine’s Day, Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco will take that notion to new heights — literally. Located at the top of the third-tallest building in San Francisco, the property has two towers connected by sky bridges, essentially walkways enclosed in glass that boast spectacular views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond. On February 14, the 46th, 47th and 48th floor bridges will each hold one private table, where three enviable couples will dine on a four-course, wine-paired meal (mains include seared sturgeon, butter-poached filet mignon or roasted duck) prepared by executive chef Adam Mali. Aside from the impressive views, expect flourishes like fresh flowers, romantic lighting and music.
Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a traveler’s unofficial rite of passage. While parades start in early February, the big parties commence the weekend before Fat Tuesday (which falls on February 17 this year). The most colorful parades (or super krewes) include Orpheus, Bacchus and Endymion, so find a spot on one of these routes to see the most over-the-top costumes and boisterous bands. Just a few minutes walk from Bourbon Street sits Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. For an all-out luxury Mardi Gras experience, lay out $20,000 for the hotel’s Lundi Gras Ride of a Lifetime package. It includes a four-night stay in the hotel’s Maison Orleans Club suite, a ride in the extravagant Orpheus parade (including costumes), breakfast in bed, a couple’s massage and more.
Eating, drinking and gorgeous ocean views go hand-in-hand at the popular South Beach Wine and Food Festival, now in its 14th year. It’s not hard to see why the gathering is such a crowd-pleaser given the beachy scenery and the bevy of food functions to attend over four days (February 19 through 22). See culinary stars like Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri and choose from more than 75 events, including a poolside paella party hosted by chef José Andrés, wine seminars, a rooftop cupcake celebration and a whole lot more. Book a room for the weekend at Four-Star and official host Loews Miami Beach Hotel, and you’ll give yourself easy access to a February 21 dinner honoring chef Juan Mari Arzak and wine pioneer Ted Baseler at the hotel’s Americana Ballroom.
Pebble Beach, California
Celebrities tee off next to golf pros at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a concept started by Bing Crosby in the late 1930s as a way to raise money for charity. Nowadays, the tournament still raises big-time funds (more than $10 million in 2014) while, at the same time, offering golf enthusiasts a chance to see top players such as K.J. Choi and Jim Furyk compete alongside musicians (Huey Lewis), sports heavyweights (San Francisco Giants stud Buster Posey) and Hollywood A-listers (Bill Murray). Book a room at Four-Star The Lodge at Pebble Beach during tournament week (February 9 through 15), and you’ll receive two tickets for every night you stay.