With the excitement (and chaos) of holiday travel behind us and spring break and summer still a ways off, February might not seem like the most exciting time to travel. However, this can be a great time of year to enjoy lower hotel and travel costs as well as smaller crowds. Here are five fun events and places to add to your February plans this year.
The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival began as an integral part of Saranac Lake’s history as a renowned health resort. In order to break winter’s chill and to promote outdoor sports and games, the Pontiac Club was formed in November 1896, and a few months later, they sponsored a one-day fancy dress winter carnival in 1897, which was expanded into the Pontiac Club Carnival in 1898. It is the longest-running event of its kind in the eastern US, and has grown into a 10-day festival that includes sports, performances, two parades and three sets of spectacular fireworks.
This year’s carnival takes place February 3rd through 12th, and includes two parades, multiple fireworks displays, and events such as arctic golf, snow rugby, an ice palace fun run, a woodsmen’s exhibition, an icicle contest, and races in skiing, tubing, and snowshoeing. The centerpiece of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the Ice Palace, built by volunteers on the shore of Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay at the state boat launch.
For more details on activities, see the schedule here and find out more on how to plan your visit.
Weather permitting (that’s certainly an important factor in western South Dakota) Mount Rushmore is open every day of February. Completed in 1941, Mount Rushmore is undoubtedly one of the most recognized memorials in South Dakota, and in the US. Each year, more than 3 million visitors come face-to-face with the likeness of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Each year, Ice Castles brings fairy tales to life for hundreds of thousands of families across North America. Currently, there are five locations across the US—in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Utah, and Wisconsin. Squeeze through passageways just large enough for children and adults who are adventurous enough to crawl, or explore ice caverns and get lost in a frozen maze where wonder awaits around every corner.
- In Minnesota, enjoy the classic thrill of cruising down a tubing hill on a snow path groomed for safety, speed, and fun. Tubes provided free of charge! Surrounded by thousands of lights, your magical journey continues along our Lantern Passage after you exit the frozen wonderland.
- In New Hampshire, magic abounds in the Winter Fairy Forest. Along this short loop near the Mystic Forest Light Walk, you’ll be immersed in a fairy tale world where winter fairies live and play. Belly up to a frosty ice bar, the Polar Pub, and order a winter-themed alcoholic beverage that you can enjoy while you chill out in the coolest place in town.
- In Utah, meet real reindeer nestled away inside the Reindeer Room or squeal with delight as you race down one of our exhilarating ice slides designed for people of all ages.
Several locations also feature sleigh rides, ice sculpture displays, and “Arctic Alcoves” available for booking special events like proposals. For tickets and more info, visit icecastles.com.
Visit Panama City Beach invites visitors and residents to celebrate Mardi Gras “Real.Fun.Beach” style at the annual Panama City Beach Mardi Gras and Music Festival, taking place February 3-4, 2023 at Pier Park. Combining the excitement of an authentic Mardi Gras celebration with spectacular views of sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-green waters, the fun-filled festival offers entertainment for the whole family.
“The annual Mardi Gras and Music Festival in Panama City Beach is one of our most festive and exciting events,” says Visit Panama City Beach President and CEO Dan Rowe. “Each year, we look forward to welcoming locals and visitors for an unforgettable Mardi Gras celebration just steps away from our beautiful beaches.”
In conjunction with the Krewe of Dominique Youx’s great Mardi Gras at the Beach parade, the two-day festival features a jam-packed schedule of entertainment for all ages, including live music, a kids fun zone and festival village, a 5k run, fireworks and more. Enjoy this year’s music headliner, Sawyer Brown, as well as other notable acts like Waylon Thibodeaux, dubbed “Louisiana’s Rockin’ Fiddler,” The Frontmen and Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band at the Celebration Stage in Pier Park.
Besides the festival, what’s better than a mid-winter beach escape? For more information about the Mardi Gras festival’s schedule and events, click here.
Visitors will come face-to-face with live animals and engage in fun winter activities during Chicago’s annual Polar Adventure Days. This year, Polar Adventure Days will take place on January 21 and February 25 from noon to 3pm. The free winter series will treat visitors to a number of fun-filled activities that are both educational and fun for all ages. Participants will tour Northerly Island’s Natural Area, either on foot or in snowshoes depending on weather, and learn about winter animals including Siberian huskies, raptors, and birds of prey. Visitors will enjoy interacting with the incredibly creative Jabberwocky Marionettes (a local puppet theater producer), using their imaginative skills to carve recycled Christmas trees with our nature experts in the Nature Play Space, and listening to stories around the campfire with Al Eastman. Additionally, the Chicago Park District Naturalists will lead a winter craft activity in simple bird feeder making.
“Polar Adventure Days has become a signature winter tradition for Chicagoans and visitors alike for almost two decades,” said Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “Connecting with nature and wildlife in an urban setting is an experience unlike any other during the colder months in Chicago’s premiere downtown nature oasis.” Participants should dress warmly. Activities are subject to change based on weather.