Sun for my birthday
November 17, 2017 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Every year I get Seasonal Affective Disorder (the appropriately acronymed SAD) in the winter. This year I'd like to get out of Minnesota around my birthday - February 15th - to find the sun and some (relative) warmth. Our requirements are under the fold.

- Herr Vortex does not fly. I know...we're working on it. It will not be resolved by February so this needs to be somewhere we can drive to within, say, two days. I think 20 hours of driving over 2 days would be the absolute limit that we'd be willing to do. We're thinking two days of driving each way with 6-7 days of relaxing in the sun inbetween.

- Dog Friendly, as we'd like to take our 9-year-old GSD mix with us.

- It doesn't need to be tropical, just warm enough to wear a t-shirt. Like, 70's.

- Relaxing. NO MTV Spring Break for us.

- I'm imagining a hip little town where we could poke around in neat shops, catch a movie, test out different coffeeshops and little restaurants, etc. I'm a fan of Woo and Good Vibes and would LOVE to go someplace like Sedona but it's a) Expensive; and b) beyond the very farthest reaches of the limit we want to drive.

- Hiking opportunities. Again, Sedona would be great - the sort of place where we could go for a hike without having to drive miles and miles to get there.

- Although I'm looking forward to some non-screen quiet time, this WOULD be during the Olympics so I'd like to at least have a TV to watch the figure skating, etc.

- We'd prefer a stand-alone cabin with a kitchen/kitchenette to a hotel, just because we'd have the dog and we'd like a bit of space.

Herr Vortex has suggested South Padre Island but that sets off all sorts of MTV SPRING BREAK alarms for me. We'd love to go to Big Bend but there would be restrictions on hiking with the doggo. We're intrigued by the gulf coast of Louisiana/Alabama/Mississippi but neither of us know a thing about that part of the country. We would LOVE to go to Fort Myers for Twins Spring Training but we think it will be way too expensive.

posted by Elly Vortex to Travel & Transportation around Minnesota (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
One little comment--we went to Key West around Feb. 20th last year. More than one local commented that we had made a good choice to come then, a week or two before the college kids have their spring break. So even the more spring-breaky places should be pretty mellow at that time (Except for New Orleans, as Mardi Gras is on Feb. 13th this year).
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:57 AM on November 17, 2017

Assuming you're in the MSP area, Pensacola is 18 hrs and I think(??) February will avoid the spring breakers.

Isle of Palms, SC is gorgeous and a tiny hair over 20 hrs, as is Tybee Island GA or most of the Sea Islands really. However, it may be cloudy or not quite as warm as you'd like - if you held off until March I think you'd have a better chance. We went to Jekyll Island in March and it was magical.

Would you be willing to spend longer than 20 hrs on a train if it meant you didn't have to drive? 20 hrs from MN to Actual Warmth in February is surprisingly hard, as I play with google maps.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:00 AM on November 17, 2017

It looks like Twins spring training tickets are on StubHub for $12-$14 a game - why do you think that would be too expensive? Are you worried about staying there?
posted by notjustthefish at 9:01 AM on November 17, 2017

I fled Chicago in February and ended up in Austin - 75, flowers starting to bloom. I almost didn't even come back for my stuff. Hop on I35 and head south for a couple days, and you're good.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:02 AM on November 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

St Augustine is 21.5 hours otherwise I would say PERFECT.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:03 AM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Flagler Beach. They love dogs and it's a lovely, tiny little town. You can go down to Daytona Beach and up to St. A. for day trips, and you can watch for right whales from the pier.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:23 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hop on I35 and head south for a couple days, and you're good.

Austin may or may not be warm in February (I am a former Austinite).

If you are willing to go to Big Bend I would go for it. There are places fairly close by where you CAN hike with the dog, like Big Bend State Park or Fort Davis. I doubt you'd want to stay up in The Chisos mountains where the Big Bend Park lodge is. At that time of year it would be very cold. I'd look at places in nearby Terrilingua or Marfa instead.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:29 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

One mid February we traveled down to Titusville to see the space shuttle museum, then drove through Orlando and down to Tampa. It was COLD. Titusville (on the Atlantic coast, mid-Florida) had people huddled in their winter coats around fires. Us Minnesotans were wearing jeans and sweatshirts (and sandals). If I were you, I'd aim for more south-and-middle-USA or maybe the Gulf Coast side of Florida if you want more 70s and less 50s and 60s.

Honeymoon Island State Park on the Gulf side of Florida allows dogs for swimming in the ocean. It looks like Dunedin, FL, is about a 23 hour drive from MSP, so just beyond your limit, but not by much. Maybe stay North of there and visit for a day? There's a good map here for dog-friendly hiking in Florida.
posted by jillithd at 9:35 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

In my experience, South Padre Island is only covered in Spring Breakers when Spring Break is actually happening (early to mid-March), with a smaller bump on Easter weekend, and is otherwise pretty empty between about October and April. It's really empty on weekdays between October and April.

This information is somewhat dated (mid and late 1980s), but internet searches appear to back me up, with January and February specifically called out as slow months at one site. Since SPI otherwise seems to meet the requirements (average February high/low 71/55F, per Wikipedia), I'd say you shouldn't cross it off the list.

It's also closeish to the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which checks the hiking box though it's not at SPI proper.* There's also a sea turtle rescue organization on SPI, which gives tours and may or may not be interesting depending on your feelings about turtles.

Don't get your heart set on the stand-alone cabin part. I have no idea about dog-friendly lodging.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:45 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

We are all about taking trains, but I don't think that we can bring the dog on the train.
Our concern about Fort Myers isn't the cost of Twins tickets, it's the cost of lodging itself.

Thanks for the suggestions so far, folks. I foresee lots of daydreaming ahead.
posted by Elly Vortex at 10:28 AM on November 17, 2017

MyGuy drove me & doggo to Ocean Springs on Mississippi Gulf Coast 18hrs. It was hot! We rented a little VRBO house, hung out, hiked between Ocean Springs and Biloxi on an amazing bridge, loved local National Park. Experienced part of Southern culture, which was educational! Dogs were okay almost everywhere. Tourists visit Biloxi's casinos, but otherwise just a regular town with much greenery, birds, ocean, and warm weather. Happy to memail with more details.
posted by Jesse the K at 10:35 AM on November 17, 2017

Dunedin, FL, is also the Spring Training home of the Blue Jays, who play the Twins on March 3rd. It looks like you'd want to hit Florida closer to the end of February than the middle if you want to catch a Twins game.

Have you thought of maybe renting an RV for the trip? It says here that "Every Florida state park that has RV campgrounds allows dogs in the campground." Just a random RV rental place in FL looks like it costs ~$1k for a week in a small class-C RV and they allow dogs with an extra deposit.
posted by jillithd at 10:51 AM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nashville! Our winters are getting warmer and warmer so I wouldn't be surprised if it's close to 75 around then (it's 65 today). There are plenty of little neighborhoods to explore and a million new restaurants plus lots of live music all over the place. There are some nice places to hike within a days drive too.
posted by dawkins_7 at 12:37 PM on November 17, 2017

Yeah, unfortunately it's going to be difficult to find somewhere that is guaranteed, or at the very least highly likely, to have temperatures reasonable enough for 'sitting in the sun' that is less than a 20-hour drive from the Cities.

Years ago some friends of mine and I road-tripped from Bloomington, MN to Mobile, AL for a golf vacation in mid-February. It took us 22 hours of straight-through driving, including stops for gas, meals, stretching, etc. It was certainly not warm, even there on the coast - in fact on at least one occasion our tee time was delayed because everyone had to wait for the frost to melt off of the greens. We had a hotel right on the coast, and I remember being very surprised and disappointed that I did not enjoy a walk on the beach because of the cold(ish) temperatures (and the Jellyfish). It wasn't MN-in-Feb cold, but I was glad I brought my sweatshirts.

Here is a website that will allow you to plot a very rough picture of how far you can drive based on some input parameters. Putting in 20 hours from Minneapolis at 60mph (which is probably on the high end of average speed, given traffic, stops, etc.) doesn't get you to many places that would be reliably warm. Houston and Galveston, TX might be your best bet, but at the very limit of your drivability. Given the Hurricane, I'd first verify what the beach situation is and what to expect weatherwise. Even this week it's going to only be close to 70 all week. Gulf Coast is probably marginally doable, but again not reliably warm. South Florida and SPI, at least according to that website, don't appear reachable in 20 hours.
posted by SquidLips at 9:22 AM on November 18, 2017

Also, here is a website that will show you some helpful graphs of average weather for a given city. I've linked directly to SPI in February but you can enter in any city and any month. Even SPI only pushes 70 in February, on average, though it could easily be warmer - or cooler.
posted by SquidLips at 9:40 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older French Workbook for Reading?   |   Upwork alternatives? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.