Best Presidents’ Week Destinations (2021)

Hot Air Balloons Winter Carnival-Photo Credit Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa
(Photo: Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa)

Does cabin fever have you and the kids climbing the walls?  Presidents’ Week presents an opportunity to hit the road at long last. You didn’t take much in the way of a summer vacation and maybe you stayed put during the holidays. You’ve decided it’s time to travel, at least a short distance, again. You’re prepared to do it safely, with all the protective gear, sanitizer, wipes and everything you could possibly need

Despite pandemic fatigue, you and your family vow to adhere to COVID-19 protocols throughout your vacay.  All you need now is the ideal destination to spend all or part of the week of February 15th. We’ve got that covered. Here are some of the best places to enjoy Presidents’ Day and week.

Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, Galena, Illinois

Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa’s annual Winter Carnival is February 12-15. Visitors enjoy fire and ice shows, ice turkey bowling, s’mores making, ice carving stations, ice bar featuring marshmallow shots, indoor activities like swimming in the pool and using the golf simulator by Trackman. Throughout the festival and beyond, the resort will be abiding by its extensive COVID-19 safety protocols, and offers plenty of outdoor fun. You can rent from Eagle Ridge’s Nordic Center equipment for snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding, ice fishing, skiing and more.

Relax any achy muscles and boost winter weary spirits at the resort’s Stonedrift Spa.  If Mother Nature cooperates, you can hike, bike, hop on a horse at the Shenandoah Riding Center, bird watch, or soar in a hot air balloon. Accommodations range from inn rooms to villas and homes, which may be of particular interest to those wanting to maximize social distancing.

Jekyll Island, Georgia

You don’t have to worry about crowds on Jekyll Island, Georgia. This 5,500-acre barrier island is all about pristine beaches, salt marshes, and maritime forests.  There are 10 miles of beautiful shoreline and just 35% of the island is developed. The land is owned and protected by the State of Georgia. The vibe is chill. There are no traffic signals.  Head here for a night, a long weekend, rent a bike, and explore the 20-plus miles of bike paths and trails.

You can also take an open-air trolley tour of the National Historic Landmark District, where many mansion-sized “cottages” remain from Jekyll Island’s heyday as a winter retreat for the nation’s wealthiest folks back in the 1700s.  No trip to Jekyll Island is complete without a visit to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the new Mosaic, Jekyll Island Museum.

Copper Mountain, Colorado

With more than 2,500 acres of naturally divided terrain, there is plenty of room to enjoy the slopes. Although some operations have been modified to keep everyone safe, Copper continues to offer a variety of activities for the whole family, including skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, tubing, the Rocky Mountain Coaster, and indoor Woodward Barn sessions.  Take advantage of accommodations that are ideal for families like multi-bedroom condos with full kitchens.

Greater Williamsburg, Virginia

Winter in Greater Williamsburg might mean a light dusting of snow reflecting the flickering lamps on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg‘s historic area, or the warm rays of a sunny day in the 60s on a walk through the Yorktown Battlefield. No matter the weather, there’s plenty to do on your vacay.  Ice skate at Liberty Ice Pavilion. For the hearty, feel-no-pain types, there are three- or five-mile bike rides on the Historic Jamestowne Bike Trail and Freedom Park’s 20 miles of mountain bike trails.  Year-round you’ll find golf courses open, as well as Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown Battlefield. 

If the chilly air is too much, heat up at the Muscarelle Museum of Art or The Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown. There will be special programming at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg for Presidents’ Weekend. Sip on wine at the Williamsburg Winery, or if mead is your thing, make your way to Silver Hand Meadery. There are also craft breweries and distilleries in the area. Shoppers will get their fill at Williamsburg Premium Outlets, Yankee Candle Village, or the boutiques along Merchants Square.

Relax, refresh, and recharge with a visit to the four-star, Spa of Colonial Williamsburg, featuring 17th- and 18th-century colonial wellness experiences, or at the Williamsburg Salt Spa, with its salt cave.  Many hotels have indoor pools, and the Great Wolf Lodge will wow your kids with its indoor water park.

YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, Colorado

This family resort is celebrating Presidents’ Day with a Mountaineering Weekend from February 12 to 15. The scenery is of mountain views and plentiful wildlife. You’ll lose count of the number of elk, deer, and other animals you spot. Another plus, YMCA of the Rockies is adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park

You’re not likely to spend much time in your lodge room or cabin, even though it has a full kitchen, fireplace, and wrap-around porch. The great outdoors calls. Play in a snow cave, ice skate, curl, sled, or take a guided snowshoe hike. If you’re looking for something less boisterous, there’s snowflake hunting, snow painting, a winter photography class, and other activities.

Lake Placid, New York

The Adirondacks in upstate New York are renowned for winter frolicking. Go ahead and enjoy that fresh air and the wide-open spaces.  At the Lake Placid Olympic Sites you can experience the thrill of what it was like to be an Olympic Bobsledder during the 1980 Winter Games on the new Cliffside Mountain Coaster at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the longest year-round mountain coaster in the United States.

Other attractions and recent upgrades to the Olympic Sites include new Nordic trails, the Sky Flyer Zipline, the SkyRide Experience, an 8-person gondola that brings guests from the Olympic Jumping Complex’s base lodge to the 90-meter and 120-meter ski jump towers, a glass-enclosed elevator ride to the top of the ski jumps for a panoramic vista of the Adirondack High Peaks, and more.

Also in Lake Placid, Mirror Lake has ice skating, cross country skiing, toboggan rides, dog sledding, and skating on the Olympic Oval, just as the Olympians did. When you’re ready to call it a day, choose from lodgings including B&Bs, family friendly resorts, and luxurious retreats.

Sheridan, Wyoming

Sheridan is between Yellowstone National Park and Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, and less than two hours away from the year-round outdoor recreational destinations of Antelope Butte and Bighorn. It’s in northern Wyoming just south of the city of Billings, Montana, and is a must visit for the outdoorsy and wildlife lovers. You’ll get your fill of fishing, horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and camping.

There’s another side to Sheridan, with its more than 40 buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places. Historic Downtown is where you’ll find shops, restaurants, galleries and cafes, and some of the Mountain West’s legendary watering holes. There’s buzz about the newly opened Welcome Market Hall, an 8,000 square-foot renovated food hall space in what was a 1912-era railroad station. Here you can feast on a curated mix of food and beverages.  Artwork from local artists adds to the ambience.

North Conway, New Hampshire

You may not have heard of North Conway, but it’s been recognized by National Geographic as one of the top 25 ski towns in the world. Another plus: It’s budget-friendly when it comes to hotels, though you just might blow your savings shopping the nearby outlet stores. North Conway is at the center of Mt. Washington Valley, home to several ski resorts, all roughly 30 to 45 minutes from town. Within the Mt. Washington Valley region and inside North Conway, you can make a day trip of sleigh rides, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice skating, sledding, fat biking, snowshoeing, hiking, ice climbing, and more.

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Sheryl Nance Nash
Sheryl Nance-Nash is a freelance writer, specializing in travel/lifestyle, personal finance and business. Her travel articles have appeared on CNTraveler, Newsweek.com, Fodors, Afar, RD.com, The Daily Beast, Culture Trip, Shermans Travel, Orbitz, among others. She is based in New York.

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