February Cultural Travel Guide

Color in Carnival, Trinidad
Color in Carnival, Trinidad (Hemera)

Winter Carnival, Quebec City
If you love Paris in the springtime, then you'll adore Quebec City in the wintertime, when, for 17 days, the city plays host to the continent's largest winter carnival. More than one million people descend upon fortified Quebec City to cheer on Le Grande Virée, a dogsled race that cruises through the heart of the historic Old City, or watch paddlers sprint across the turgid waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Afterwards, spend a memorable night 30 minutes outside of town at North America's only ice hotel, Hotel de Glace. Each year, 36 new rooms are created out of 15,000 tons of snow and 500 tons of ice, along with an Absolut ice bar, Jacuzzis, and a dance club. Bring those long johns, as the temperature inside is a mere 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Carnival, Trinidad
For those of us who like to pull all-nighters, the king of all Caribbean Carnivals takes place in Trinidad. Two days before Ash Wednesday in February, the parades and calypso music start. By nightfall, everyone is dancing in the streets. On Carnival Tuesday, you'll be treated to some of the best calypso and reggae bands in the Caribbean.

Mardi Gras, New Orleans, LA
There's no better way to support New Orleans after Katrina than to visit the city and spend your money. During the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, which is always 47 days before Easter, New Orleans hosts the mother of all parties in the South. So grab your beads, masks, posters, and king cakes and hit the parade route. Everyone in town will thank you.

High Art Museum, Atlanta, GA
The High Museum of Art is the Southeast's premier art museum, with award-winning buildings by architects Richard Meier and Renzo Piano, and renowned collections of classic and contemporary art. When you're done admiring the museum's over 11,000 pieces of art, enjoy a meal at the elegant Table 1280 restaurant on Sifly Piazza adjacent to the High.

Los Angeles Culture, CA
Hollywood might garner most of the press, especially during the Academy Awards each February, but there's a whole lot more than film in L.A. One great and free activity is a day at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu. The classical décor, with patterned mosaic floors and coffered ceilings, is the perfect backdrop to the Greek and Roman antiquities housed inside. In Westwood, you can watch big screen actors display their acting chops on the stage at the Geffen Playhouse. Then there's the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, best known for Seattle's Experience Music Project and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the building rises from the street like a ship of curving steel.

South Beach Wine and Food Festival, FL
Taste some of the country's finest Latin- and Caribbean-inspired cuisine in a perfect locale: South Beach, Miami. Held in February each year, the South Beach Wine and Food Festival features the best food Miami has to offer, all washed down with top-quality wines. A number of celebrity chefs will be on hand, including Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay, along with a cast of dozens of other very accomplished chefs.

Puerto Vallarta Dining, Mexico
If you favor the Pacific over Mexico's Yucatan, consider Puerto Vallarta for its wealth of indigenous art and culinary delights. You can walk on the cobblestone streets into the Plaza de Armas and be serenaded by a 12-piece mariachi band. All around the central square and the Malecon you'll find great shopping for Mexican handicrafts, like pottery, tapestries, and paintings. Afterwards, choose from a variety of restaurants with a view. Chico's Paradise is built into the rocks, near a small waterfall and swimming hole. Vista Grill is also high in the hills, with splendid panoramas of the city. Or you can have a romantic dinner on the beach at La Palapa. No matter which you chose, you can't go wrong.

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at farandaway@comcast.net.

Published: 5 Jan 2007 | Last Updated: 12 Feb 2013
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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