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RISMEDIA, January 21, 2011—(MCT)—If the cold temperatures and dreary weather have left you with a case of cabin fever, now’s the time to take a weekend or even a few days to explore a new city or the countryside. Here are five ideas to get your family out of the house for a quick getaway.

1. Ride the rails in California. Capture views of the beautiful California coast from the comfort of a seat aboard the Pacific Surfliner. The train’s travel time between San Luis Obispo and San Diego is about nine hours. Ride the route in a day, or take a long weekend and pop on and off the train to explore sites on foot. Bring a bike on board, then cycle at stops to nearby attractions. Consider taking a shuttle connection to Disneyland when the Surfliner rolls into Anaheim. Kids will love the train experience and the views of beaches, farm fields, cliffs and cities. Children ages two to 15 ride for half price when traveling with an adult paying a regular fare.

2. Visit St. Louis. The iconic Gateway Arch is the nation’s tallest, man-made monument and is the centerpiece of a riverfront recreation area. Take a tram ride to the top for a panoramic view, then visit the Museum of Westward Expansion on site. Don’t miss Magic House, the city’s 30-year-old children’s museum with its hands-on creative and educational exhibits. Visit the St. Louis Art Museum, zoo, Ulysses S. Grant Farm and Missouri History Museum for free.

3. Camp at Lake Powell. This visually stunning lake at Page, Arizona, on the Arizona-Utah border, was created in 1963 when the Glen Canyon Dam was built to hold back the waters of the Colorado River. Today, Powell is the nation’s second-largest man-made lake, and its beauty and potential for adventures delight visitors of all ages. Along its 2,000-mile shoreline are sandstone cliffs, more than 90 canyons, and rock outcroppings that offer hiking and climbing opportunities. Rent a kayak or power boat and explore the hundreds of nooks and crannies that make the lake a favorite for family vacations.

4. Visit Boston. Get the big picture aboard the city’s Duck Tour during warm months. Kids will love hearing about local history from the “conDUCKtor” and will enjoy the grand finale: The amphibious-landing vehicle plunks into the Charles River. Don’t miss the Freedom Trail, which provides a 2.5-mile, red-brick pathway to 16 historic sites, including Paul Revere’s house and the warship USS Constitution. Grab lunch from food stalls in Faneuil Marketplace and enjoy street performers. Young sports fans won’t want to miss Fenway Park.

5. See your own state (or the one next door). Pull out the map, find a city, town or recreation area you’ve always wanted to explore and plan a family getaway. Weekends are likely to offer festivals, art shows, theater performances and other events nearby. Check your state’s tourism website for ideas, an events calendar and even last-minute deals at resorts, hotels and parks. Many states offer scenic driving tour routes and free travel guides.

(c) 2011, The Dallas Morning News.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.