February got you down?  The holidays are long gone and spring still seems far away.  It’s cold, no one wants to leave the house and, let’s face it, Presidents’ Day doesn’t rank too high up in the holiday hierarchy.

So, how can you beat the winter blues?  You could fork over cash and vacation days and fly away to a warm location, or you could use dining as an escape right in your hometown.

There are plenty of restaurants these days that can make you feel like you are somewhere far more glamorous, tropical or festive than just down the street.  Here are some ideas for warming up your social life and breaking out of your winter couch coma.

1 – Try a Caribbean restaurant.  If you can’t take a cruise right now, do the next best thing: head over to a Caribbean restaurant and pretend!  Colorful decor, festive music and the right photos hung on the wall will help your imagination whisk you away to an oceanfront table and the smell of coconut oil in no time, even if it’s snowing outside.  Boat drinks, anyone?

2 – Vamos a Mexico!  If jerk chicken isn’t your thing, a Mexican restaurant is another good bet to make you feel like you’re somewhere warm.  Mariachi bands and margaritas are a great distraction from the snow and sleet, and some spicy fare will warm you up from the inside out.

3 – Indulge.  Oftentimes, people save their big dining indulgences for vacation, but you don’t need to wait for a trip to enjoy a glamorous meal.  Use a Restaurant.com Gift Certificate to help dissuade the cost of a fancy steak dinner, or go ahead and order the dessert you’d normally pass up.  You’ll feel like you enjoyed a brief vacation from the real world, even if you were only a few miles from home.

4 – Try something new.  One of things that makes vacations so interesting is being forced out of your comfort zone and tasting something unfamiliar.  You can do this at home just by trying a foreign cuisine.  Search for an Ethiopian restaurant and pretend you are visiting Africa, or sample Mediterranean, German, Thai or Korean fare.  An evening of experiencing new dishes, flavors and spices is a fun an easy escape from the winter doldrums that costs a fraction of the price of a plane ticket to an exotic locale.

What other ways do you use dining to shine a little light into the winter months?  Tell us in the comments below.