By mid-February, many of us will have gone stir-crazy being cooped up inside during this brutally cold winter (even Florida has had snow!). Luckily, Presidents’ Day Weekend provides the long weekend needed to get the heck out of Dodge and take a vacation. We’ve rounded up some of the best vacation destinations for the long weekend, whether you’re looking to celebrate our nation’s presidents, embrace the cold, or get as far away from winter as possible.
Celebrate our presidents by visiting the nation’s capital. Aside from the Lincoln Memorial, White House, and Washington Monument, there are plenty of other locales to visit in honor of our leaders. Learn more about our presidents at the American History Museum, or check out impressive paintings of them at the National Portrait Gallery. Head to Alexandria, Virginia, just across the river, for the largest Presidents’ Day Parade in the country. If you’re looking to celebrate George Washington’s birthday in style, there are still tickets available to the annual Birthnight Banquet held at the Gadsby Tavern Museum the Saturday of President’s Day Weekend. The evening includes and 18th-century style banquet with dancing, dessert, and character re-enactors, including George and Martha Washington. During the entire month of February you can take tours of the Tudor Place Historic House, which was built by Martha Washington’s granddaughter and her husband, Thomas Peters. The house remained in the Peters’ family possession for the next six generations and opened to the public in 1988. Drive a little farther south and you’ll come across George Washington’s Mount Vernon, which has wreath layings and dancing demonstrations for Presidents’ Day weekend — and free admission on Monday.
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Fans of NASCAR should head to Daytona Beach, Florida, for the 60th anniversary of the Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., is returning to Daytona this year as the Grand Marshal for the anniversary run. Aside from the race, there are fan zones which include driver and VIP appearances, garage views to watch drivers and crew prepare for the race, autograph stations, and a kids zone with trampolines and face painting for fans under 12. While many experienced Daytona visitors choose to pack up an RV and stay in one of the many campsites in the area, there are plenty of hotels for those looking for a comfier stay. If you’re looking for some activities outside NASCAR, many Daytona Beach restaurants have live music every night, so you can sit back and relax while enjoying great food. And, of course, there’s the beach!
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3. Charlottesville, Virginia
If you’re looking for the history that Washington, D.C., has to offer, but prefer a smaller town feel, check out Charlottesville, Virginia. The homes of our nation’s third, fourth, and fifth presidents are all within a 45-minute drive of the city center and provide a glimpse into the lives of men who shaped the United States. Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, offers daily tours of the house, gardens and plantation. Highland, the home of James Monroe, also offers daily tours. James Madison’s Montpellier will be offering special tours in honor of Presidents’ Day Weekend, including themed ones like “Madison and the Constitution” and “Montpelier’s Enslaved Community.” Once you’ve had your fill of presidential history, there’s plenty more to do. Two national parks, Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains, are close by with beautiful drives that are not to be missed, and there are a plethora of vineyards in the surrounding area. Back in the city there are ton of restaurants and bars, like Mas, which is known for its amazing tapas and wine menus.
What’s Presidents’ Day Weekend without a little skiing and snowboarding? The three-day weekend is one of the most popular times of the year for families to get away, and for those who enjoy a day on the slopes, Colorado is a great place to be. Luckily, being that it is such a popular vacation destination, there are plenty of deals to take advantage of. Beaver Creek, Aspen and Breckenridge all have 25 percent off lodging, while at Telluride you can get the sixth night free (provided you decided to extend the long weekend!). If you’re the only member of your family who isn’t a fan of being on a mountain all day, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Beaver Creek gives out free fresh baked cookies every day at 3 p.m., and in the village, you can meet Helmut Fricker, a jolly, horn-blowing mascot in lederhosen who has been entertaining guests since 1980. At Aspen, you can enjoy a mountainside dinner after the lifts close, riding a snowcat up the slopes. At Breckenridge, try the Gold Runner Alpine Coaster, where you can coast down the mountain through 2,500 feet of twists and turns.
You can also celebrate the long weekend by leaving the country altogether. If you don’t mind the cold, Montreal is a great city for a three-day getaway. Even better, flights can be relatively cheap. Start your visit by checking out Old Montreal, where little has changed despite the city’s rapid growth. Horse-drawn carriages still travel down the cobblestone streets past notable sites such as the Basilique Notre-Dame, which was built in 1824. There is also great shopping, food, and drinks, making it a must-see neighborhood. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has been building its collection for over a century and provides a great shelter from the cold, as does the Museum of Archaeology and History. If you’re tough enough to brave the weather, head to Parc du Mont-Royal, the 761-foot hill from which the city got its name. When the cold becomes too much, check out St. Joseph’s Oratory, a basilica that sits next to the park and is the highest point in Montreal. For those who want to experience nature without freezing, head to the Montreal Biodome, which is housed in former Olympic Bicycle-racing stadium and is home to four distinct ecosystems.
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Another great warm weather option for a long weekend in February is Las Vegas. While Vegas is crowded most three-day weekends, Presidents’ Day Weekend is the least busy, and the cooler winter weather makes exploring the area more enjoyable than the hot summer months. Nearby mountains and canyons are ideal for enjoying the warmish weather, and visitors can take advantage of outdoor activities that are impossible in the summer heat. Adrenaline seekers can take to the desert to ride ATVs or dune buggies — this is great way to capture some of the beautiful landscapes of the American Southwest. If you’re taking extra time off, drive over to the Grand Canyon and spend a couple nights in one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
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