Some of the best family vacations in February involve living like a local in a place you may have never even visited before. Renting a place means you can live the way you would if you were a permanent resident, and skip the tourist traps that target people staying in other kinds of lodging. The following is a list of some great places to take your children and have a great time the way the locals do, and they're all a little off the beaten path.
This is the land of dude ranches. Your rental here is far from the big tourist areas but close to wide open spaces. You can take your kids to ride horses while you enjoy spa treatment and golf. Even in February the temperatures are very moderate. Also, every February features Gold Rush Days, where you can pan for gold, square dance, watch a shootout on Frontier Street as well as see a rodeo and parade.
Hit up restaurants like the Le Cochon Dingue ("The Crazy Pig") and watch parades going down streets dating back hundreds of years. Quebec has lots of history, and the Quebec Carnival is a great chance to take your kids to something really different that doesn't involve a lot of traveling.
One of the best family vacations in February is to see the Chinese New Year celebrations unfold. In Seattle's Hing Hay Park in the International Cultural District, you can see dragon dances and have your kids participate in the Children's Costume Parade Contest.
Step out of your rental and onto the slopes. This uncrowded mountain has tons of great skiing and is only about 40 miles from the Salt Lake City airport. Rent a place in Alta or choose one in Salt Lake City and you've got access to all the local culture, too.
The Billie Swamp Safari is a wildlife park where activities and history meet. You can take a swamp buggy ride to where the Seminole Native Americans lived. In February, there's an archery contest, tomahawk throw and alligator wrestling during the Big Cypress Shootout, commemorating the Second Seminole War.
Inexpensive, direct flights make this outside-the-country experience reasonably economical. From your rental, it's a short trip to the Rio Camuy Cave Park and underground walking tours, or a kayaking tour of Bioluminescent Bay.
One of the best family vacations in February is to spend the President's birthday with him. Of course, that's President Abraham Lincoln, and he's only there in spirit. But you can visit his home at 8th and Jackson, and his final resting place at Oak Ridge Cemetery.
At San Diego's SeaWorld, you can dine with Shamu. Eating dinner with a 3-ton orca doing back flips 10 feet away is an experience you can enjoy sharing with your children. You can check out the pandas at the San Diego Zoo across town, as well. If you can't get enough critters, take a hot air balloon ride over the Wild Animal Park.
The Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile has become known as the best family-friendly Mardi Gras in the United States. Packed with parades, beads and marching bands, the two-week celebration leading up to Fat Tuesday is a great reason to rent a place for the entire time. The local atmosphere is just incredible.
One of the best things in Breckenridge, other than the skiing, is the International Snow Sculpture Championship. Artists come out with hand tools only and sculpt 12-foot, 20-ton blocks of snow that remain into February. It's an amazing sight.
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