As winter approaches, many of us are thinking about a vacation during school breaks. For some, this means the warmth of the sun and sand between our toes. For others, it means one last chance to conquer the slopes. Regardless of which type of February vacation your family selects, you can bet you’ll all return rested and rejuvenated, and with some wonderful memories. These are the best family vacations in February.
1. Lake Placid, NY
Home to the Winter Olympic Games in 1932 and 1980, this charming town in the Adirondacks overflows with a wealth of winter activities for families, regardless of age. In fact, Eileen Gunn of FamiliesGo! says Lake Placid is even fun for those who aren’t super outdoorsy or athletic. For instance, at Whiteface, downhill skiers looking for a challenge will find all they can handle and more. If you prefer cross-country skiing, head to Cascade Ski Center instead. Both properties offer ski lessons, so those who want to learn or improve their skills can do so. Tubing, ice skating and even nature walks are also available throughout town.
Recommended Hotel: The Crowne Plaza Lake Placid
2. The Big Island, HI
This warm-weather destination is ideal for family visits during February, and The Big Island is filled with a lot of natural outdoor attractions kids of all ages will love. For instance, gather up the group and head to Akaka Falls State Park. Here you can set off on a hike that takes you to not one, but two waterfalls: the namesake Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls. At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you’ll find many hiking trails that document the history of the active volcano in the park. At the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, you’ll see orchids, gingers, palms and more throughout the 40-acre property. Of course, depending on your resort, you also can enjoy the beach and possibly even a traditional luau.
Recommended Hotel: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
3. Traverse City, MI
Snow lovers can indulge in their favorite winter weather in this Michigan city, thanks to a plethora of winter sights and attractions. Don your snowshoes and set out on the trails at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons Natural Area. At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, choose from snowshoeing, hiking, sledding or Nordic Skiing for hours of outdoor recreation. If you’re interested in trying something new, make your way to Timber Ridge Resort, where you can rent fat-tire bikes and go biking along the Vasa Pathway. Yes, biking in winter! Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowmobiling and more are also available in and near Traverse City.
Recommended Hotel: Grand Traverse Resort and Spa
4. Daytona Beach, FL
Sitting along Florida’s east coast with 23 miles of beaches, Daytona Beach continues to be a perennial favorite for families looking for a warm-weather winter break destination. The temps usually remain in the comfortable 71-degree range, so playing in the sand is a no-brainer. For some, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean may be on the chilly side, but there’s still plenty of hotel swimming pools to splash in. Of course, February in Daytona also means SpeedWeeks at Daytona International Speedway. The Daytona 500 kicks off NASCAR’s season, but there’s racing and related activities to enjoy in the two weeks leading up to NASCAR’s biggest race of the year. Away from the racetrack and beach, you’ll still find more than enough Daytona attractions and activities to keep you on the go.
Recommended Hotel: The Shores Resort & Spa
5. Montreal, Canada
Just north of the border, Montreal offers quite a lot for families to see and do during a winter vacation. While ice skating is prevalent, there’s much more to choose from beyond the usual winter activities. For instance, in February, Montreal hosts one of its many popular annual festivals: the Montreal Light Festival, or Montréal en Lumière. A combination of art, entertainment and, of course, food, this popular event is a great opportunity to experience a taste of Montreal. Think tobogganing, curling, poutine and all things maple. Gunn also recommends checking out the city’s museums, like the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History at Pointe-A-Calliere, Montreal Science Centre and Biodome. Of course, you also should check out the city’s many markets, where you can sample delectable cheeses, fresh-baked breads and delicious smoked meats.
Recommended Hotel: Hilton Montreal Bonaventure
6. Loreto, Mexico
Located on the east coast of the Baja California Peninsula, this quiet Mexican town harkens back to a simpler time before large resorts and all-inclusive resorts took over the country’s more popular vacation destinations. In Loreto, families can enjoy all things water-related at Loreto Bay National Park, such as kayaking, snorkeling and even whale-watching. Take a tour to one of the Islands of Loreto, and you can swim in the turquoise waters, hike along the footpaths and take in scenic views, plus spot marine life like dolphins and sea lions. Also, as the first Spanish colonial city on the Baja Peninsula, Loreto is home to many historic sites, including the Mission Loreto, which includes a museum.
Recommended Hotel: Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto
7. Steamboat Springs, CO
Always a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders, Steamboat Springs welcomes families to explore this area beyond the slopes. One of the most fun activities is exploring the countryside via snowmobile! If possible, skip the dedicated terrain park venues in favor of the natural trails that, hopefully, are covered in fresh powder. Another fun activity is a visit to Strawberry Springs, one of the area’s popular hot springs that give the city its name. Try the various pools, from polar plunge to the hot tub. Later, set out on a sleigh ride under the stars.
Recommended Hotel: Steamboat Grand Resort & Condominiums
8. San Juan, Puerto Rico
One of our favorite reasons for vacationing in Puerto Rico is that it’s easy and convenient, yet seemingly a world away. This island country does not require a passport, change in currency or learning another language. However, the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of Puerto Rico is invaluable for all visitors. Families can start doing just that at the city’s two forts: Castillo San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) and Castillo San Cristobal. Also not to miss? The country’s natural attractions. Beyond the beach, Kirsten Maxwell of Kids Are A Trip recommends a tour through the El Yunque rainforest, as well as a kayak tour in one of the country’s three bioluminescent bays.
Recommended Hotel: San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino
9. Banff, Canada
Pack your most hardy winter clothes, and you’ll be more than ready for a February escape to this Canadian city with the kids. Of course, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for snow skiing and snowboarding in and around Banff, where you can spend as much time on the slopes as you want. However, this is a great destination for trying something new and different. For example, at Banff National Park, you can try dogsledding. Also at the park, enjoy the warmth of Banff Upper Hot Springs as you soak in the beauty of this area. Of course, no winter vacation is complete without a few hours ice skating in the great outdoors, which families will enjoy at Lake Louise.
Recommended Hotel: Fairmont Banff Springs
10. Tempe, AZ
Just outside of Phoenix, Tempe features plenty of family-friendly entertainment inside and out. Put on your hiking boots and hit the trails at A Mountain, also known as Hayden Butte. Once at the summit, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of downtown Tempe and the airport runway. According to Jill Robbins of Ripped Jeans & Bifocals, the hike is moderate, but has some rough spots, so research it first if you have concerns about accessibility. Or check out the desert flora and fauna at the Desert Botanical Garden, which occupies 55 acres. For fun on the water, rent a pontoon boat and set out on the waters at Tempe Beach Park. When you’re ready for some A/C, head to the Hall of Flame Fire Museum (dedicated to firefighting), or check out marine life at Sea Life Arizona Aquarium.
Recommended Hotel: MOXY Phoenix Tempe
For nearly 20 years, Karon Warren has traveled the globe, searching for adventure, unique personalities, and a new perspective on the world around us. When she has the opportunity, Karon brings her family—husband William and children Elizabeth and David—along for the experience. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and at her blog, This Girl Travels.