The best places to go with kids in February

Bathing Boxes at Brighton Beach, Melbourne
Bathing Boxes at Brighton Beach, Melbourne by Jonathan Lim Flickr CC

With kids officially back in school in Australia, families can grab a bargain with lower airfares and drops in hotel rates. Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia offer consistently good weather in February, perfect to hit the beach or for checking out a twilight game at Rod Laver Arena.

Bathing boxes of Brighton, Melbourne image courtesy Johnathan Lin Flickr CC

It’s as cold as it gets in the Northern Hemisphere, for families it’s a matter of embracing the winter in its entirety, what’s not to love about skiing the French Alps or diving into a messy bowl of Poutine in snow dusted Quebec.

For this issue of the best places go with kids in February, we are doing as the locals do and escaping the freeze for sunnier places like  parts of South East Asia, Africa or the Caribbean which are in their prime in February. With careful consideration here are the best places to go with kids in February:

Best places to go with kids in February for Australia

1. Melbourne, Victoria

Arguably the best city in Australia, the best place to go with kids in February is Melbourne. Pack your most stylish duds, preferably in black and explore the fashion and cultural capital of Australia with the kids. Don’t get caught out and have with you at all times some sunscreen, an umbrella and a jacket in the very likely event that the weather turns.

Flinders Street Station by Eustaquio Santimano, on Flickr CC
Flinders Street Station by Eustaquio Santimano, on Flickr CC

Highlights with kids

Family friendly, world class tennis at the Australian Open

Melbourners love their sport and it’s a family affair when it comes to any sporting event, Grand Slam or not, the Australian Open is no exception.

The Aus Open offers a Kids Day specifically for children with free live entertainment, a family exhibition match with tennis stars playing and chances to meet their favourite player. On any given day during the two week tournament kids can get their face painted, play junior tennis with Hot Shots, experience interactive activities such as testing your speed against a tennis legend, enjoy giveaways or watch Sponge Bob with his friends making an appearance.

With the sun beaming down, blue skies and good vibes, this is Melbourne at its finest. If you’re lucky enough to be in Melbourne in February, be sure to take the family to watch some world class tennis during the two week tournament. Even if your young kids won’t sit still in the show courts to warrant the cost of a ticket, there are great matches played out on the forecourts or pull up a picnic rug on the lawn and watch the live match unfold on the big screen.

Sip a babycino

Another thing that locals know is coffee and only the best bean will do, Melbourne was recently voted as having the best coffee in the world.  With such an accolade comes high standards and you will be hard pressed to find a bad coffee. Enjoy Melbourne’s coffee culture at one of the many family friendly cafes scattered throughout the city. Pay top dollar to enjoy a premium barista brewed latte finished off with milk foam art almost too good to drink. Kids are not forgotten with crayons, gourmet macrons and babycinos.

Eat well

A foodie paradise, there is something for even the fussiest little eaters in Melbourne. Spoilt for choice, with cuisine of every type, style and variety. You can eat your way around the clock when visiting Melbourne. Brunch is big and there are many urban enclaves to enjoy eggs cooked just the way you like it.  The best part of Melbourne is exploring the back streets, from little lane ways to it’s distinctive suburbs, all with a main eating precinct. Melbourne offers food of every ethnicity and families can eat to their heart’s content.

Enjoy the view from the top of the tallest building in the Southern Hemispherel

Take the family up 88 Floors of the Eurkea Towers and enjoy 360 degree views of Melbourne. It’s the only observation tower in Melbourne after Rialto Towers in the CBD closed down. For the braver ones, there is a Skydeck Edge Experience where you step out on a glass bottomed box and mechanically pushed 3 meters out to the side of the building to be suspended 300 meters above the ground.

Go on Safari at Werribee Open Range Zoo

Tanzania’s great migration has begun and it is the best time to go, however kids can still go on safari. Board a comfortable safari bus and see animals of the Savannah Plains including; Giraffes, Rhino, Zebras, Ostriches and Antelope. There’s also a walking trail where kids can see all our favourite Aussie mammals in the open range.

After their safari, kids can check out the Lion, Cheetah and Hippo enclosures as well as interactive kids activities to keep kids entertained.

Checkout a museum

We love a good museum and Melbourne offers some cultural gems which are mostly free for kids. A big hit with the kids is Scienceworks, with plenty of hands on exhibits: race alongside Cathy Freeman or roll your sleeves up and explore the science of living in a city. There is also the planetarium and rotating programs filled with fun interactive learning.

Amongst the permanent fixtures at the Museum of Melbourne is the Children’s Gallery with live animals, replica animals and objects to touch, learn and explore.

Catch some Fairy Penguins coming home

An easy day trip from Melbourne is Phillip Island, home to the cutest bunch of Fairy Penguins. Be sure to rug up as it gets a bit brisk there,  grab a seat at dusk with all the tourists to watch as one by one each penguin comes on shore and waddles past you to bunker down for the night.

Hit the beach

Melbourne is hot, the days long and the waters are warm in February. It’s the perfect time to hit the beaches in and around Melbourne. Take the kids to St Kilda beach for a paddle and a play at Luna Park followed by a meal on Acland street. Another iconic Melbourne beach is Brighton Beach with it’s colourfully painted bathing boxes which makes for a pretty picture as the kids build sandcastles.

As a self declared beach snob, the beaches around Melbourne are OK. The sand is grittier and the waters murkier. Head further afield to Rye or Sorrento for beaches with soft white sand turquoise water.

Ride Puffing Billy

Kids whom loves trains must not miss a ride on Puffing Billy. An original steam train running along it’s original tracks through the scenic Dandenong Ranges. Afterwards treat yourselves to scones with jam before walking through fern gullies in the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

2. Freycinet Peninsula, Tasmania

Freycinet is often reserved for hiking enthusiasts, grey nomads, backpackers or the young romantic couple. The famous Wineglass Bay although stunning is remote and difficult to reach with little kids in tow, requiring long treks with steep inclines through Freycinet National Park. However it is possible to explore the beauty of Freycinet Peninsula and its the best place to go in February with kids in tow.
Wineglass Bay
Wineglass BayWorth it! image courtesy of Wineglass Bay Cruises

Highlights with kids

Take in breathtaking scenery on the drive to Freycinet

Bring your own car across from Melbourne on the Spirit of Tasmania or hire a car from Hobart airport and take a comfortable scenic drive along the east coast of Tasmania. The 2.5 hour drive takes your past rugged coastline, rocky mountains with a uniquely pink tint and white sandy beaches with fresh clear emerald waters lapping at it’s shores.

Check in to the family friendly Saffire Freycinet

Voted the World’s Best Boutique Hotel, Saffire Freycinet offers understated elegance, with well appointed luxurious suites each with a private courtyard. These decadent suite offers floor to ceiling glass with views towards the Hazards. Every modern day convenience has been considered with free WIFI, a flat screen TV with DVD, an iPod music system. Kids can loan board games, puzzles, craft supplies and even a Nintendo Wii u, which make any little kid happy as pie.

From here you can do as much or as little as you want: hop in a complimentary kayak and explore the tranquil waters , fly a kite on a secluded white sandy beach, borrow a bike (kids bikes available) and go for a spin along the many trails around the hotel or swing in a hammock.

Other complimentary activities include: wading out on a working oyster farm to shuck fresh oysters, getting up close to a Tasmanian Devil, going on a guided kid friendly walk to Cape Toureville to admire the panoramic views towards Wineglass Bay.

Cruise to Wineglass Bay

If your family is not up for the intrepid 5 hour return hike with steep inclines to Wineglass Bay, the alternative is to charter a cruise. There are several cruise companies offering itineraries to Wineglass Bay. Spot resident dolphin, birds and flying fish navigating the Tasman Sea before reaching Wineglass Bay. Although you can not dock on the beach, you get very close to it. Pick a calm day as the sea as waters can be quite rough for little ones with delicate tummies.

3. Adelaide, South Australia

The waters of South Australia comes straight off the Antarctic and is chilly, however in February with hot summer days, it’s refreshingly inviting for a dip and the warmest it will ever get.

Adelaide has long been flying under the radar as a great city to visit with kids. The secret’s out with Lonely Planet voting Adelaide one of the Top 10 cities to visit in 2014. With perfect temperatures Adelaide is the best place to go in February with kids and there are good reasons why:

Australia Day – Glenelg jetty jumping competition image courtesy John Goodridge, Flickr CC

Highlights with kids

Feast at Adelaide Central Market
Wonder through Adelaide Central Market  with the family, the gourmet food market is home to providores of wonderful fresh produce, fine foods and local products. This place is a feast for your tastebuds and kids are kept happy with sweet trest at the old Lolly Shop, forzen youghurt, cakes and chocolatier.
Hit Adelaide Zoo

The drawcard of Adelaide Zoo are two resident Giant Pandas Wang Wang and Funi, the only breeding pairs in the Southern Hemisphere. Aside from pandas Adelaide Zoo is home to an impressive collection of animals in a big (2o acre) zoo with over 2,500 animals and 250 species. The most impressive of all is that this is the only Australian zoo that is operated by a not for profit charity.

As well as excellent animal enclosures, the zoo offers interactive programs including, becoming a  junior keeper for the day and other unique animal experiences such as hand feeding a sun bear or prepare a primates morning tea.

Play by the sea at Semaphore

Semaphore is an extremely kid friendly seaside town, take a stroll along the jetty and play in a great little fenced playground along the foreshore. There is also Semaphore Steam Train which picks up passengers from it’s station right by the jetty, chugging alongside the Esplanade to Fort Glanville at Point Malcolm which is 2km away. It only operates on Sundays and public holidays so if you miss this mini steam engine, there is also the amusement park and carousel for kids to go crazy with.

Visit the revamped Adelaide Oval and play in the park

Located right by the River Torrens there’s plenty of open space and parklands for kids to run around. The new footbridge over the river connects Adelaide central to the events held at the revamped Adelaide Oval with new sheltered grand stands increasing capacity to 50,000 seats.

Checkout Chinatown

Chinatown’s are always worth checking out with little ones, each as its own character and offers a feast of the senses. Adelaide is influenced by mainland China and Taiwan as opposed to it’s East Coast cantonese style counterparts, therefore fresh hand-pulled noodles and Xio Long Bao (Shanghai dumplings) are a tasty treat and easy meals with kids.

Splash at Glenelg

Glenelg is Adelaide’s quintessential beachside town. It offers an abundance of shops and eateries, a large wide sandy beach and a beautiful tall pier perfect for a twilight stroll or jumping off.

Visit the South Australian Museum at North Terrace

North Terrace is home to Adelaide’s museums together with historic buildings, war shrines, memorials and the local University of Adelaide. A lovely stroll along North Terrace will take you to the South Australian Museum. Favourites with the kids include the impressive mammal gallery, prehistoric fossils, a great whale skeleton display and the mummies displayed in the Ancient Egypt exhibit.

During school holidays the museum offers a free school holiday program with past acticities including mounting your own butterfly specimen and colourful bubble demonstrations.

For more details check out our Highlights of Souuth Australia and Barossa with Kids post.

Best places to go with kids in February for the rest of the world

1. Thailand

Head to Thailand at the wrong time and you will experience heat and humidity or downpours of rain. The best place to go with kids in February is to Thailand during the “cool season” although temperatures can reach the 30’s it’s milder without the suffocating humidity.

There is just too much to explore of Thailand to narrow it down to just one area, so here are the best things to do in Thailand with kids.

Longtail boat on the shore of Phi Phi Island. Image Diego Delso Wikipedia CC
Longtail boat on the shore of Phi Phi Island. Image Diego Delso Wikipedia CC

Highlights with kids

Explore Bangkok

Step into the Grand Palace dating back to 1782 and admire the intricate golden rooftops atop the glaringly bright white palace buildings once the home to the Kings of Siam. Within the palace complex lies the temple Wat Prah Kaeo, inside is the famous Emerald Buddah. The place is quite expansive with many palace building, temples and courts to explore and plenty of open spaces for kids to run. Afterwards take a canal tour of Bangkok and check out the floating markets.

Chill out in Koh Samui

Oh so family friendly with direct flights into Koh Samui island, it’s a perfect spot to chill beachside. Koh Samui offers luxurious manicured resorts with decadent swimming pools for kids to spend the day soaking in. Most resorts front the long stretch of beautiful sandy beach. The calm waters are ideal for kids to splash in. Although the sun does not set directly on the beach, there are plenty of beach front bars on the northern end of the beach that curve around to see the sun setting on the western part of the island.

Check out elephants and tigers in Chiang Mai

If jungle is more your style then head to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand where you can ride elephants to waterfalls, pet baby tigers or visit Chiang Mai Zoo where you get up close and personal with exotic animals.

Play in Phuket

Phuket gets a bad wrap for being an over developed tourist hub. Whilst it does resemble a tourist trap at times there’s a reason why it’s so popular and populated. The area around Phuket is beautiful. With many luxurious yet affordable family friendly resorts to choose from, Phuket makes for a great holiday. It’s an easy holiday offering all your western amenities, tons of places to eat and plenty of family friendly attractions including water parks, theme parks, water sports and some spectacular beaches.

Board a long tail boat from Krabi to Phi Phi Islands

Another airport on Krabi makes it a easy win for travel with kids. From the populated town of Krabi you can take hire a long tail boat to sail around Phi Phi Leh National Park home to Phi Phi Islands, made famous for the movie The Beach starring Leo Dicaprio.

On Krabi itself there are great resorts and wonderful stretches of clean sandy beaches with azure waters, perfect for a family getaway.

2. Maldives

February is a great time to head to Maldives, in the height of the peak dry season (December to March) yet just after the Christmas holiday rush. February will see hotel rack rates come down a little from extortionate to a little less so. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t crowds, with such a short peak season before the monsoonal period, most of the luxury resorts scattered throughout the small islands that form the Maldives are running at capacity.

A true tropical paradise with sky blue waters and silky soft pure white sand. It’s no longer just for the romantic couple and families are getting in on the action.

Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives by Mac Qin Flickr CC
Constance Halaveli Resort, Maldives by Mac Qin Flickr CC

Highlights with kids

Kids clubs
Free kids clubs are part of most resort accommodation packages. Open from age 3 onwards, expert child minders run plenty of fun activities to keep the kids at bay and allow mum and dad a bit of island time.
Find Nemo
Maldives is great for snorkelling, and most resorts have their own house reefs making snorkeling easy for even the youngest child. Kids can snorkel in the calm waters off the beach or straight from the overwater bungalow, they may even spot Nemo
Charter a yacht and find a deserted island
Charter a yacht complete with personal chef and go island hopping along the atoll. Anchor down at a pristine white sandy beach on a deserted island for a catered lunch. .
Swim swim swim
Give a child a place to swim and they are happy. Take your pick from resort infinity pools, private plunge pools or the or the calm azure waters of the Indian Ocean.
Try your luck at night fishing
Board a traditional fishing boat called a dhoni and try your luck at night fishing from a hand reel. If the kids catch something tasty, they can get the resort chef to cook it up for you.

3. Cruise the Caribbean

Its the perfect time to goto the Caribbean and the easiest way to explore multiple islands is to go cruising with kids.

Cruising is travelling on auto pilot. There’s no meal planning, getting lost or working out what to do. Everything is easy and you get to visit allot of great spots which you can’t do quickly on your own. Do as all the locals are doing in the USA and cruise the Caribbean in February. With different cruise ships catering for different family budgets, duration and itineraries, there’s a cruise perfect for you family.

Liam's first swim at the beach was in Turks and Caicos - he did not enjoy it.
Liam’s first swim at the beach was in Turks and Caicos – he did not enjoy it.

Highlights with kids

Play onboard
Movies under the stars, giant water slides, pools, wave riders, mini golf and splash zones there’s plenty to keep the kids enthralled onboard and during the long days at sea. Some large cruise lines also have themed cruises with Royal Caribbean liners offering DreamWorks experience where kids can meet their favourite characters.
Kids clubs
The kids clubs allows your kids to play and get social with similar aged travellers. They will be occupied with fun events and activities from disco sessions, karaoke night, ice cream playdates and some themed ships offer interactive experiences with their favourite characters. Parents can go lounge or take a quick spa retreat before rejoining the kids for the day.
Eat round the clock
A rotating menu, formal and informal dining provides a constant supply  staples ensures no kid (or adult) has an empty belly during their cruise and best still everything is free.
Family friendly entertainment
There are many family friendly live shows shows to entertain the kids . Depending on your ship there could be the Blue Man Group on the Royal Caribbean or on Disney they throw a Pirates of the Caribbean deck party.
Explore pristine beaches

Not all the fun is had onboard, the islands of the Caribbean are cruise ship islands, and their primary economy is servicing cruise ship passengers. This means everything is jacked up in price but also extremely convenient and most island operators can take you wherever you want to go during your time on the island.

Barter with a local guide and hire a driver to take you around the island for the day, exploring the famous beaches that the Caribbean is famous for. If going slightly off the beaten path isn’t quite your style, there are organised tours provided by the cruise ships which cover all the popular stops.

Where are you headed or planning to visit in February? Have you got a hot tip of best places to go in February with kids? Your comment most welcomed below:

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