February Family Travel Guide

Lodge in Snowy Mountains of Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort
Lodge in Snowy Mountains of Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort (AbleStock.com)

Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, British Columbia
Consistently rated one of the top ski resorts in North America by Ski Magazine, British Columbia's Whistler Blackcomb features 200-plus trails on more than 8,000 acres of terrain. Try your luck on the back bowls of the Symphony Amphitheatre, which is surrounded on three sides by Garibaldi Provincial Park, with mountains, glaciers, and turquoise lakes. Afterwards, retreat to the Four Seasons. Its Kidding Around program includes dinner, arts and crafts, movies, games, and stories. An added bonus is the hot chocolate shots and brownies at the pool.

Arizona's Cactus League
February and March is a fine time to meet professional baseball players in their gregarious pre-season state, signing autographs and greeting fans before and after the games. In Arizona's Cactus League, twelve professional teams practice within an hour's drive from your hotel room in Mesa. Stay where the Cubs players reside, at the Best Western Dobson Ranch Inn. Next door is Golfland, a family theme park with three miniature golf courses, a 15,000-square foot castle, an arcade, bumper boats, laser tag, and go-karts.

Billie Swamp Safari in the Florida Everglades
At Billie Swamp Safari, an eco-heritage wildlife park in the Florida Everglades, you can glide through a river filled with alligators on an airboat or take a swamp-buggy ride into the land where the Seminole Tribe lived. Every February, the tribe hosts the Big Cypress Shootout, which reenacts a battle from the Second Seminole War. Enjoy Seminole food, alligator wrestling, an archery competition, and tomahawk throws.

U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix at Mountain Creek, NJ
One of the best snowboard events of the winter happens right outside New York City, at Mountain Creek, New Jersey. Each February, the U.S. Snowboard Grand Prix welcomes the stars of snowboarding, including Olympic gold medalist in the halfpipe, Shaun White, and silver medalist in the snowboardcross, Lyndsay Jacobellis. Be there or be square.

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is gaining in popularity because of the increasing number of cheap, direct flights from the U.S. Spend a day in Old San Juan, the walled-in section of the capital known for its handsomely restored centuries-old buildings. Then take the family on one of the island's ecotours—sea kayaking around Bioluminescent Bay, hiking underground in the massive caves of Rio Camuy Cave Park, or trekking in the lush El Yunque Rainforest. Colorful orchids line the trails, leading to a refreshing dip under a waterfall.

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
For years, lounging on the white beaches of Cabo San Lucas and staring out at the Sea of Cortez was the only desire of families vacationing in Baja. Yet, lately couples have been eager to venture into the warm waters to sea kayak in protected coves and get up close and personal with dolphins and whales. Or go deep sea fishing for blue marlin, wahoo, and tuna. Lavish resorts are also starting to pop up in Loreto, the hub of these outdoor adventures, 360 miles north of Cabo.

Springfield, IL
In 1837, Abe Lincoln packed all of his belongings in a saddlebag and left for Springfield, Illinois, his home for the next 24 years. Celebrate this legend by following in his footsteps, for a vacation, that is. Stop on the corner of Eighth and Jackson to visit the only house Lincoln owned. Then visit the domed Old State Capitol, built in the Greek Revival style, where Lincoln worked as a lawyer and earned his reputation as a raconteur. End your tour of Lincoln's hometown at his final resting spot, the Oak Ridge Cemetery.

San Diego, CA
If you'd like to have dinner with a live orca whale doing a back flip not more than ten feet away, than you'll enjoy the Dine with Shamu venue at San Diego's Sea World. Across town, at the San Diego Zoo, the latest member of the panda family, Zhen Zhen, wows the crowds high atop the bamboo tree. And 30 miles north, the often overlooked Wild Animal Park offers hot air balloon rides, giving guests a bird's eye view of the lions, giraffes, wildebeests, rhinos, and other animals in safari style.

Mobile, AL
Sure, New Orleans might know a thing or two about throwing a party, but Mobile, Alabama, was home to the first Mardi Gras celebration in the United States. Now dubbed America's Family Mardi Gras, the two-week celebration leading up to Fat Tuesday is filled with marching bands and floats as parade after parade strolls by. And they have beads too, along with moon pies and candy for the kids.

Wickenburg, AZ
Happening on the second full weekend of February is Wickenburg, Arizona’s annual Gold Rush Days. The festivities begin with a shootout on Frontier Street and continue with a rodeo, parade, carnival, gold panning, and square dancing. It's a yippie-ya-yeah good time.

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

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