- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- Exciting Cities
- Food And Drink
- Outdoor Adventures
- Where To Stay
- Skip to right header navigation
- Skip to main content
- Skip to primary sidebar
Learn how to easily plan your dream trip to the Midwest!
15 Best Things To do In Wisconsin In Winter
September 20, 2022 by // by Midwest Explored Leave a Comment
Are you looking for fun things to do in Wisconsin in Winter?
If the answer is yes, then this article is perfect for you. We have mentioned some of the best winter events in Wisconsin that you simply cannot miss out on.
Wisconsin is a popular destination to visit in the Midwest and while winter in Wisconsin can be extremely cold, there are a lot of fun things to do here.
From enjoying the decorations to watching holiday shows, to participating in snow games, there are a lot of amazing things to do in Wisconsin in winter.
There are many fun winter getaways for you to explore and things to do in Wisconsin.
You can explore ice castles, experience winter in Lake Geneva, go snow tubing, and do much more in this amazing state.
If you are looking for amazing places to visit in Wisconsin or winter events in Wisconsin, then this guide is for you.
Below, we have listed the 15 best things to do in Wisconsin in winter to make the most of your vacation here!
15 Best Things To do in Wisconsin in Winter
Explore milwaukee during wisconsin in winter.
Are you looking to spend some time in Wisconsin? If yes, then one of the best cities to visit in Wisconsin in winter is Milwaukee.
Milwaukee in winter looks absolutely magical and offers lots of fun activities to visitors.
This is one of the largest cities in Wisconsin and is home to lots of amazing restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy delicious food while staying warm and dry.
This city is known for its cheese and dairy products so, one of the best ways to experience winter in Milwaukee is by trying the specialties here like cheese curd.
Apart from food, this Wisconsin winter getaway also received plenty of snow which makes it great for several winter activities like ice skating, cross-country skiing, and more.
So, whether you want to relax and stay warm in winter or indulge in fun snow activities, there is no shortage of epic things to do in Milwaukee .
Ice Skating In Lake Geneva
Another great Wisconsin winter attraction to check out is Lake Geneva which is famous for luxury resorts and fun winter activities.
On your Lake Geneva winter trip, you can indulge in fun Wisconsin winter activities such as snow sculpting, skiing, and ice skating.
Later, you can cozy up beside a fireplace or enjoy a spa experience in one of the gorgeous resorts here.
One of the top things to do in Wisconsin in winter is ice skating in Lake Geneva.
You can find numerous resorts with ice skating rinks here, making it the ideal winter getaway spot in Wisconsin.
If you are looking for things to do in Lake Geneva , then ice skating at these resorts is a must. After the activity, you can enjoy a hot cup of cocoa and watch some amazing movies by the fire.
Celebrate Christmas In Madison
Another great place for a winter getaway in Wisconsin is the capital city of the state, Madison.
Many people avoid visiting Madison WI in winter but that’s a mistake as it makes for an amazing day trip from Milwaukee too.
The city offers both indoor and outdoor activities to visitors and you cannot miss out on a visit to the Chazen Museum of Art which features a beautiful art collection.
One of the best things to do in winter in Madison Wisconsin is to celebrate the Christmas season.
The Capitol Christmas Tree in Madison is the perfect way to channel your Christmas spirits as it is beautifully lit up and decorated with ornaments made by students from all over the state.
This is definitely one of the top things to do in Madison in winter that you simply cannot miss out on.
Apart from Christmas, there are many other fun winter activities to indulge in here such as sledding, snow carving, ice hockey, and more.
Participate In The Polar Bear Plunge
If you wish to try something unique this winter in Wisconsin, then you should participate in the Polar Bear Plunge. It is an annual winter event in Wisconsin and other parts of the United States.
This Wisconsin winter event takes place in Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach and is a free non-sponsored event where anyone can participate.
In this Wisconsin winter activity, participants race into the freezing Lake Michigan in minimum clothes which is both exciting and terrifying.
You can choose to join this famous winter activity in Wisconsin or just watch it from the sideline on January 1st of every year.
If you do participate, make sure that you can handle the cold and be quick to change into dry and warm clothes once you have taken the plunge.
Overall, this is one of the most adventurous ways to enjoy winter in Milwaukee with your family.
Enjoy Indoor Water Parks In Wisconsin Dells
One of the top Wisconsin winter destinations, there are so many things to do in the Wisconsin Dells.
There are numerous Wisconsin Dells winter activities to enjoy.
Examples are watching musicals, theatre plays, horseback riding, skiing, hot tub baths, etc., it is an ideal destination to enjoy winters in Wisconsin.
The best thing to do in Wisconsin in winter with family is to visit the numerous indoor water parks in Wisconsin Dells .
In fact, it is known as the ‘Water Capital Park of the World’ due to the multiple water parks available here.
From Chula Vista to Mt. Olympus, you have no shortage of indoor water parks to choose from.
So, if you are looking for a place where your family can enjoy in winter, then Wisconsin Dells is a good choice.
Attend Winterfest In Lake Geneva
Are you looking for epic Wisconsin winter events to attend? If yes, then you should explore Winterfest in Lake Geneva.
This Lake Geneva winter event features lots of fun contests such as the US National Snow Sculpting Competition, Human Dog Sled Races, etc., a few of which last for two weeks in the state.
At this Wisconsin event, you can indulge in several other events like a chili cook-off, a cocoa crawl, an ice bar, and helicopter rides.
These events take place in different parts of Lake Geneva and Winterfest is truly the best way to enjoy winter in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
With so many shops and restaurants in Lake Geneva, this is one of the best winter getaways in Wisconsin.
Explore Ice Castles In Wisconsin
One of the most unique experiences to enjoy the winter in Wisconsin is visiting the famous Ice Castles.
These winter attractions in Wisconsin are weather-dependent but if the weather is good, then you can indulge in lots of fun activities and explorations.
The Ice Castles are built by placing thousands of icicles manually by professional ice artists and feature beautiful LED-lit sculptures, ice-carved tunnel slides, frozen thrones, and more.
Previously, these Ice Castles first appeared in Wisconsin Dells and are now in Lake Geneva.
You need to buy tickets to visit the Ice Castle which is generally available 10 days before the opening date. Usually in January.
Trust me, if you are looking for unique winter activities in Wisconsin, then there is nothing better than exploring Ice Castles here.
There are so many resorts in Wisconsin to discover when visiting in the winter!
Go Skiing At Granite Peak Ski Area
For skiing enthusiasts, the top place to visit in Wisconsin is the Granite Peak Ski Area.
It is Wisconsin’s biggest vertical drop at 700 feet and makes for the best skiing spot in the state. This hill is located outside Wasau and is great for enjoying this winter activity in Wisconsin.
The hill features 68 runs, out of which the longest is a mile long.
There are 4 terrain parks available here with seven lifts that include three high-speed lifts as well. If you are a beginner, you can even learn how to ski on this mountain.
Most importantly, plan your visit to Granite Peak Ski Area at the end of the season to attend the annual Spring Fling.
In this event, you will see costumed skiers skimming over a small pool of water on this ski hill.
If you love skiing, then Granite Peak Ski Area is the best place to visit in Wisconsin in winter.
And, there are so many excellent ski resorts in Wisconsin!
Visit Ice Caves At Apostle Island National Lakeshore
If you wish to witness the best winter attraction in Wisconsin, then don’t forget to include Apostle Island National Lakeshore in your winter itinerary.
This Wisconsin winter getaway receives over 135,000 people every year due to the gorgeous ice caves that you can find here.
This natural attraction is formed by the water freezing in icy formations along the caves and the sandstone cliffs of the Apostle Island National Lakeshore.
These ice caves are not accessible until Lake Superior freezes completely so that it is safe to walk to the mainland caves.
This is why visiting these ice caves in Wisconsin is such an amazing experience as it doesn’t happen often. But when it does, it is completely worth it.
Trust me, this is one epic Wisconsin winter attraction that you cannot afford to miss.
Experience A Scenic Ride On A Wisconsin Snow Train
One of the coolest things to do in Wisconsin in winter is going on one of the Wisconsin Snow Trains.
Perfect for romantic couples or families, a Wisconsin Snow Train will take you through the most gorgeous winter landscapes and will give you a glimpse of the magical Wisconsin snow.
One of the most famous trains to enjoy a ride on is the Great Northern Railroad which is over 100 years old now.
You have both vintage car and bed-and-breakfast car options available in this Wisconsin Snow train.
A few other snow trains that you can choose from are East Troy Electric Railroad and the Mid-Continent Railway Snow Train.
So, choose the route or the experience that you want and go on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure with your family.
Plan A Winter Vacation To Door County
One of the most magical winter attractions in Wisconsin, Door County is perfect for a cozy and romantic winter vacation.
There are lots of interesting things to do in winter in Door Count, making it the perfect Wisconsin winter getaway.
From dining options to festivals, to entertainment, there is a lot to do in Door County during winter vacations.
Visitors can enjoy the Winter Wonderland Tour on the Door County Trolley which will take you for wine tasting through some of the best wineries in Wisconsin .
That can be followed by a sleigh ride through the region’s best snowy landscapes.
For families with kids, sleigh rides and carriage rides are the best way to enjoy Door County in winter.
You can attend the annual Door County Pond Hockey tournament, explore the scenery on a snowmobile, and enjoy a stay in a romantic cabin.
So, if you are looking for the best winter getaways in Wisconsin, then Door County tops the list.
Attending The Madison Winter Festival Is One Of The Best Things To Celebrate Winter In Wisconsin
If you are visiting Madison WI in winter, then you cannot miss out on attending the annual Madison Winter Festival.
This is a popular winter event in Wisconsin that features lots of outdoor sports, delicious food, and winter art.
In this Wisconsin winter event, you can indulge in fun winter activities such as snow sculpting, ice skating, sledding, candlelight skiing, far biking, and more.
That’s not all, the festival also features live music and many winter games that guests can participate in.
To top it all, they also serve delicious hot chocolate and smores at the festival, making it the perfect winter event for the entire family to enjoy.
Go Snow Tubing At Cascade Mountain
The best place to visit in Wisconsin for fun winter activities is Cascade Mountain.
Located 25 minutes from Wisconsin Dells, Cascade features the best snow in Wisconsin and has close to 800 slopes that are perfect for snow tubing.
That’s not all, there are trails for skiing and snowboarding available here as well.
Visitors can reach the top of the mountain quickly with the help of the 11 lifts installed at the mountain that offer stunning scenic views of the winter landscape as well.
If you are an adventurer, then Cascade is perfect for you.
They have different terrain parks that cater to beginners to experts in the winter activities. So, for some amazing snow tubing experience with family, you should definitely check out Cascade.
Experience Jamboree In Waukesha During Winter In Wisconsin
One of the top Wisconsin winter events for all ages, the Waukesha Jamboree is a city-wide festival that is held in late January.
This winter festival was first started in 1985 by three women of the Waukesha community who wanted their families to go out and enjoy the winters.
Since then, this is exactly what is done in this winter festival.
This is one of the best winter events in Wisconsin that features events for both adults and kids.
Ice sculpting contests, 5K racing, ice fishing, and snow sliding are a few fun outdoor activities to enjoy here.
Apart from that, they also have many indoor events for those who wish to stay warm in the winter.
If you are looking for family-friendly winter festivals in Wisconsin, then Jamboree is definitely a good choice.
Enjoy Winter Adventure Activities In The Nine Mile Forest One Of The Best Things In Winter In Wisconsin
If you are looking for an adventurous Wisconsin winter activity to enjoy, then indulging in the snow activities in the Nine Mile Forest of Wasau is the perfect way to do that.
Nine Mile Forest is one of the best places to see snow in Wisconsin and offers trails for several activities such as cross-country skiing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
If you wish to make the most of the winter in Wisconsin, then Nine Mile Forest is the perfect attraction to visit.
There are 6.7 miles of snowshoe trails that don’t overlap with the 20 miles of cross-country skiing trails. Plus, several outdoor chalets where you can relax and stay during your visit to this forest.
For those who want Wisconsin winter adventures, Nine Mile Forest is one of the top places to visit in Wisconsin .
Packing List For Visiting Wisconsin In winter
If you are searching, here are some tips on how to pack lightly when packing when heading to Wisconsin.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when attending winter festivities in Wisconsin..
It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.
This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.
You can place it under your clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.
If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery .
This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.
My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and is so easy to use.
It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking Insta-worthy selfies during all the winter activities in Wisconsin you do.
I never much believed in using packing cubes when traveling. That is until I tried them. Now I am hooked. These are the exact cubes I use to stay organized when I pack for a trip!
You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.
I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle . The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for your adventures and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.
Perhaps you are traveling a long distance and packing space is a premium in your suitcase, or in your car. Then this collapsible silicone foldable water bottle would work well for you. Would not take up much space at all.
You will want a backpack or daypack with you to store snacks, your water bottle, phone, extra clothes, etc.. . No matter the time of day or evening.
This foldable water-resistant backpack would be great. And it comes in many different colors!
As you can see there are so many things to do in Wisconsin in winter.
And it is certainly one of the best places to visit in the Midwest in winter.
In this article, I have covered some of the best things to do in winter with your friends, but of course, there are many more.
Leave a reply cancel reply.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
18 Boredom-busting Wisconsin Winter Getaway Ideas
This post may include affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I (The Winding Road Tripper) earn from qualifying purchases. Read more .
Post Summary: A guide created by a lifelong Wisconsin resident to help you find your perfect Wisconsin Winter Getaway. Options include both indoor and outdoor activities.
Don’t let winter stop you from taking that Wisconsin weekend getaway!
Wisconsin is a beautiful state during all months. But it’s easy to forget that there are fun things you can do inside and out throughout the state’s winter months.
After living in Wisconsin our entire lives, we’ve learned a thing or two about surviving the winter blues. And for us, that’s getting out there and enjoying the beauty that winter has to offer.
Below, we’ve listed several ideas for winter getaways in each state region. This will help you choose the best getaway for how far you want to drive from your home base.
Let’s find your perfect Wisconsin Winter getaway to help you get through those winter blues.
Northeast Wisconsin Winter Getaways
Vilas county: explore a winter wonderland.
Vilas County, Wisconsin, a popular summer tourist destination, tends to clear out in the winter. This makes it the perfect time to explore the area minus the crowds.
Book a cabin, cozy up at the fireplace, and enjoy the winter wonderland around you.
The area is perfect for many outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
Our favorite thing to do in the area is hike in the winter. The trail around Fallison Lake is stunning in winter.
Are you interested in ice fishing? Hire a guide if you’re new to the sport, and start hauling in the area’s walleye, bass, panfish, and northern pike. For advanced ice fishers, consider entering Vilas County’s fishing tournaments.
Another fun and unique thing to do near Vilas County is to check out the sled dog races in February in Land O’ Lakes.
Where to Stay in Vilas County
The area of Boulder Junction is a great place to stay for a Northern Wisconsin winter adventure. The Acorn Lodge is centrally located and a great base for exploring the area.
Where to Eat in Vilas County
We are Wisconsin Supper Club fans, and one of our favorites is McGregor’s Blink Bonnie in St. Germain. And eating here in Winter is great as the lines aren’t as long as they would be in the warmer months.
Gooch’s A- One is also a great bar with food. Here, you’ll see all of the snowmobilers taking a break from the trails.
Door County: Catch the Best Sunsets and Sunrises
If you’ve been to Door County in the summer, you already know it’s a great place to view stunning sunsets along Lake Michigan. But here’s a fun fact: Sunrises and sunsets are even more intense in the winter! Air circulation increases as temperatures drop, revealing brighter colors than you see during warmer months.
To catch the sunrise, visit the east-facing lakeside of the peninsula. Cave Point in Sturgeon Bay or Newport State Park offers great sunrise views.
Door County sunsets are best viewed from the west-facing Green Bay side of the peninsula. Try a spot like Sunset Beach Park in Fish Creek or Waterfront Park in Sister Bay .
Door County is also great for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or wine-tasting! Our favorite snowshoeing or winter hiking places are Peninsula State Park and The Ridges Sanctuary . Peninsula also has some of the best cross-country ski trails in Wisconsin.
In February, Door County hosts Winterfest in Fish Creek. Typically, the first weekend of February, this event is full of food, drinks, an annual “Fruit Loop Fun Run” and a Stumpf Fiddle Contest.
Where to Stay in Door County
Book a stay at Glidden Lodge on the shores of Lake Michigan and enjoy the many things to do in Sturgeon Bay . And don’t miss out on a delicious dinner at one of the best Wisconsin supper clubs , Donnie’s Glidden Lodge.
My parents stay here almost every year for their anniversary in February.
If you want to be closer to the Door County winter action, pick a place around Fish Creek, like the White Gull Inn . It’s a great central location for exploring all the winter fun in Door County.
Where to Eat in Door County
There are plenty of places open in the winter to experience some of the great food and drink Door County has to offer.
Grab dinner at Wickman House (reservations recommended), and be ready to excite your tastebuds. This restaurant is one of our favorites in Wisconsin.
The White Gull Inn in Fish Creek has a delicious brunch. Get the Cherry Stuffed French Toast, and your tummy will be happy.
Most of the wineries are open in winter as well. And doing a wine tasting is a great way to spend a few hours on a winter day. Island Orchard Cider in Ellison Bay is also one of our favorite stops in Door County. They have some of our favorite ciders.
More Door County Winter Fun Ideas: Our Favorite Things to Do in Door County in Winter
Green Bay: Enjoy Packer History and Curling Fun
Green Bay , Wisconsin, has more to it than just the Packers. With that said, it’s still hard to separate Green Bay from its legendary football team.
Spend a day touring Lambeau Field , and after your tour, take advantage of the addition of ice skating and sledding outside the stadium.
And if you want to immerse yourself in Wisconsin culture further, try out the winter sport of curling.
Curling is one of the weirder Olympic sports for the uninitiated: competing teams slide a large stone down a runway of ice, sweeping the ice ahead of it with a broom to either speed or slow the stone’s trajectory toward a goal. It’s weirdly addicting.
In addition to its many leagues, Green Bay Curling Club offers “Learn 2 Curl” clinics and rentals for private events.
Where to Stay in Green Bay
My parents love to stay at St. Brendon’s Inn when they venture to Green Bay for a getaway. St. Brendon’s Inn is a quant Irish Pub and Inn where you’ll feel right at home. Room rates are reasonable, and you’ll feel like family.
Where to Eat in Green Bay
Green Bay isn’t a big city, but it does have some great restaurants to fuel your adventure. Some favorites include Stella’s for dishes created with local ingredients or Vintage Cantina for some delicious tacos.
Northwest Wisconsin Winter Getaways
Bayfield: go on a dog sledding adventure.
Dog lovers, this one’s for you!
Located in the hills of Bayfield overlooking Lake Superior, Wolfsong Adventures in Mushing lets you get your Iditarod on.
Don’t worry, Wolfsong’s guides will teach you! You’ll get a hands-on experience that includes feeding and petting the dogs, harnessing them, and driving the dog sled yourself. But you can also ride as a passenger with one of the guides.
Depending on the package you book, a hot meal is served out on the trail. Tours last roughly 3 hours but vary by package. Book solo or with a small group.
There are also plenty of other things to do in Bayfield in the Winter, such as hiking along the Lake Superior shoreline .
Where to Stay in Bayfield
The Old Rittenhouse Inn is an outstanding Bed and Breakfast in the area with stunning rooms. They also have a wonderful restaurant onsite. Another bed and breakfast option is Queen’s View .
Where to Eat in Bayfield
For casual fare, check our Manypenny Bistro . And if you are in the Washburn area just south of Bayfield, check out The Fat Radish or Dalou’s Bistro for pizza.
Eau Claire: Explore Breweries and Get Your Game On
Eau Claire , Wisconsin, AKA the “Kubb Capital of North America,” is a great destination to try some off-the-beaten-path gaming or just explore the area in winter.
Kubb, pronounced “Koob,” is a lawn game involving wooden sticks to knock down wooden blocks. Also called “Viking Chess,” the Kubb World Championship occurs annually on an island in Sweden. The U.S. National Kubb Championships bring competitors from all over the country to Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
You can play Kubb at several places throughout Eau Claire, including one of the best breweries in Wisconsin , The Brewing Projekt .
The area is also known for the sport of “Crokicurl.” Crokicurl combines the Canadian board game, “Crokinole” and curling. You can find a Crokicurl rink just a few miles from downtown Eau Claire at River Prairie Park in Altoona, Wisconsin.
The U.S. Crokicurl Championships take place here in January!
Where to Stay in Eau Claire
We love a cute Bed and Breakfast, and Otter Creek fits that bill. Near Altoona, this quaint Bed and Breakfast offers rooms with jacuzzi tubs perfect for warming up in winter.
Where to Eat in Eau Claire
For a mouthwatering brunch, check out The Nucleus Cafe . It was a great place to start our Eau Claire adventure. And for dinner, we enjoyed The Informalist .
One of our favorite things to do in Eau Claire (and we stop every time we drive through the area), is to hang out at The Brewing Projekt . So try it even if you don’t go there to play games.
Hayward: Try Out Fat Tire Winter Biking
Fat tire biking, or fat biking, is cycling through snowy trails on a mountain bike with, you guessed it, fat tires. The sport has become extremely popular in Northern Wisconsin. The area has several bike trail systems, including the CAMBA trail .
For an epic experience, check out Up North Guided Tours . They will provide you with everything you need for a fun outdoor winter adventure.
If you head to Hayward later in Winter, the Birkie Trail is the route used for the Fat Bike Birkie , the country’s premier snow bike race. You can watch the March race or check out the trail anytime for fun.
Fat tire bike rentals, including New Moon Ski in Hayward, WI, are available everywhere. You can wind down after your adventure with an old-fashioned from any of Hayward’s supper clubs … a true Wisconsin tradition.
Where to Stay in Hayward
There are plenty of vacation rentals in Hayward, but one that stands out is Lakeside Lily Pad . It’s a tiny cabin perfect for a cozy stay for two people.
Another stunning option would be McCormick House Inn . They have gorgeous rooms and a lovely restaurant on-site.
Where to Eat in Hayward
The Tavern at White Stag Farm is a local favorite that offers anything from delicious burgers to larger entrees. Check out The Robin Nest Cafe for classic diner breakfast food for breakfast.
Central Wisconsin Winter Getaways
Wausau: ski your stress away.
Wisconsin has many great ski destinations, but Granite Peak in Wausau is the granddaddy. Granite Peak features 60 runs for skiers, snowboarders and the Midwest’s fastest lift system.
Rentals and lessons are available for all levels. And if downhill skiing isn’t for you, Wausau is home to some of Wisconsin’s best cross-country ski trails. Nine Mile Forest has 18.3 miles of trails that run from beginner to advanced.
Wausau itself is worth a visit. When you need a break from shredding, check out Wausau’s many museums, including the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum .
For a midday drink, stop by White Water Music Hall . They have coffee, beer, and a full menu. Check out the music calendar to see if there is a show while you are in town.
Where to Stay in Wausau
We’ve been dying to stay at The Stewart Inn in Wausau for some time now. This luxurious but quaint hotel has won awards like top hotel in Wisconsin. It looks so cute, and it’s a perfect location in Wausau.
Another option is a sister property of The Stewart Inn that is a bit more outside of the city, called Owl Ridge Cabin . This property is stunning, with its large windows overlooking a beautiful landscape.
These places book up quickly, so another option is the Inn at the River . This is a cute B&B located right outside of Wausau.
Where to Eat in Wausau
Don’t miss out on heading to the Pinewood Supper Club in Mosinee. It’s one of the best supper clubs in the state .
But if Supper Clubs aren’t your thing, The 319 Bistro is a perfect place for lunch. With belly-warming soups and sandwiches, you can’t go wrong.
Green Lake: Warm Up at Craft Breweries and Wineries
There are plenty of outdoorsy things to do in and around Green Lake , including ice skating, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.
The Green Lakes Visitors Center has miles of trails for skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking.
And if the lake ice conditions are right, you can check out the ice boaters . A sport where boats sail along the ice.
And while you are here, why not warm up afterward with a nice adult beverage? There are great options in the Green Lake area.
- Knuth Brewing Company : This brewery features a variety of craft beers, and some nights feature live music.
- Town Square Tap : This brewpub serves as the taproom for Fox Tale Brewing’s genuine craft ginger beer. Try it on its own or have it in a mixed drink.
- Vines & Rushes Winery : Wisconsin isn’t the easiest place to grow grapes, so many Wisconsin wineries import from out of state. But Vines & Rushes Winery goes the extra mile to provide its customers with wines from actual Wisconsin-grown grapes.
- Lunch Creek Vineyards & Winery : This winery prides itself on its family-friendly vibes and the fruit they grow to incorporate into their wines, including apples, cherries, blueberries, rhubarb, and more.
- Rushford Meadery & Winery : This winery was recognized as a 2019 Discover Wisconsin Choice Destination. They produce their mead and wine as well as cider.
Where to Stay in Green Lake
Green Lake has beautiful bed and breakfast options, making it a great option for a cozy winter getaway. But if you are looking for a hotel, neighboring Ripon has plenty of options for you to choose from.
The McConnell Inn is an affordable Bed and Breakfast with options for jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces. Another option is the Greenway House , which boasts delightfully decorated rooms and is located in a perfect place for walkability around Green Lake. The Miller’s Daughter is also in a great location, just a few blocks from downtown. We haven’t stayed here, but the reviews all point to wonderful hosts and relaxing stays.
Where to Eat in Green Lake
For your morning coffee, check out Sassafras Specialties . They have coffee, tea, and smoothies if you need some substance to get you through your morning. I know this recommendation will sound a little unusual, but don’t miss out on trying Walk the Dog . This Wisconsin gem serves up hot dogs with toppings you’ve never dreamed of. And they also have delicious gluten-free buns!
For more of a fine dining experience, check out Chops for dinner.
More Wisconsin Content: Best Places to View Fall Colors in Wisconsin Weekend Getaway Ideas from Milwaukee Affordable Getaways in Wisconsin
East Central Wisconsin Winter Getaways
Kohler: treat yourself with a spa trip.
Book a trip to Kohler Waters Spa at The American Club and enjoy classic spa options such as massages, body wraps, facials, scalp and hair treatments, eyelash treatments, and nail services.
They also feature spa treatments on the unique end, such as:
- Hydrotherapy Treatments : Opt from several packages, including body scrubs, ice massages, and moisturizing treatments.
- Kohler Bathing : These bathing packages offer soothing elements for the senses, such as music, relaxing vibrations, colored light, fog, and aromas.
- Energy therapies : Kohler offers Reiki and Craniosacral treatment.
- Holistic Treatments : Vibrational sound treatment, cupping facials and massages, acupuncture, and Gua Sha.
While staying at the American Club, you will have a world-class experience. The Immigrant Restaurant is one of the finest in the area. And if a fancy dinner isn’t what you are looking for, there are several other dining options in the resort.
Elkhart Lake: Explore a Little Bit of Everything
The Elkhart Lake area has it all for a winter getaway.
For outdoor lovers, there are plenty of snowshoe and cross-country ski trails. There is also ice skating and hiking along the Ice Age Trail.
Stay at the Osthoff Resort and get ready to be pampered at the Apsira Spa. And if you stay during early December, check out the Old World Christmas Market.
This 20-year-old Christmas tradition at the Osthoff Resort won USA Today’s Readers’ Choice #1 Best Holiday Market in 2018 and still maintains a top status in 2023. Held outdoors in a grand heated tent, you can find European-style Christmas treasures and goodies such as
- Roasted almonds
- Christmas ornaments
- Hand-carved nutcrackers
- Fine chocolates
- Fresh Christmas wreaths
- Fine apparel
- Local and international specialty products
There’s also plenty of traditional German food to feast on, like gluvein (mulled mine), schnitzel, potato pancakes, and apple strudel.
Where to Stay in Elkhart Lake
If the Osthoff Hotel isn’t up your alley, here are some other places we would recommend for your Elkhart Lake home base.
Siebkens Resort is a classic resort with an old-time feel that you will love for your Wisconsin winter getaway.
Where to Eat in Elkhart Lake
It’s hard to pick where to eat in Elkhart Lake as there are many options.
For breakfast and lunch, try Off the Rail for breakfast options and salads and sandwiches for lunch. Or, for a Mexican twist, try Amasa .
And for dinner options, it’s hard to choose. If you want a cozy Wisconsin supper club atmosphere, try Throwback Supper Club. For a more upscale option, try the Paddock Club. And for something in between, try Lake Street Cafe .
Southwest Wisconsin Winter Getaways
Sparta, wi: cozy up at the justin trails resort .
If you want to enjoy a bed and breakfast with some winter fun right on-site, Justin Trails Resort in Sparta has got you.
Some activities to look forward to on your trip include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding.
There is a 4-mile network of historic trails across the property. Rent snowshoes or cross-country skis from the resort and explore away!
You’ll also enjoy this destination for its bird-watching, woodland, ponds, and organic farmland. Open to sledders day and night, make sure you try out the snow tubing hill. Relax afterward at one of their cozy bonfires.
And make some time for Dusty and Rusty, Justin Trails Resort’s resident llamas. Protip: they love to be fed.
Where to Eat in Sparta
A great lunch spot is Ginny’s Cupboard . It’s a cute spot with delicious sandwiches. And for dinner, please check out Matsumoto Ramen . It is surprisingly good for a small-town ramen restaurant. You’ll think you are in a big city!
South Central Wisconsin Winter Getaways
Wisconsin dells: experience a whole other side of the dells.
America’s water park capital doesn’t sound as appealing in subzero temperatures, but don’t be fooled; there’s a ton to do in the Wisconsin Dells during winter.
- Snowmobiling : Wisconsin Dells is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the region. There’s a 25,000-mile system of snowmobile trails to explore.
- Ziplining : Remains open year-round in the Dells. Vertical Illusions even offers a snowshoe zip-line package.
- Horseback riding : Wisconsin Dells has multiple stables that allow riders to go on trail rides, take lessons, or go on covered wagon rides.
- Wizard Quest : Solve puzzles and collect prizes in this indoor maze. It’s a blast and feels like you are in a live video game.
- Margarita’s Indoor Swim-up Bar : Winter’s indoor waterparks are enormous in the Dells. Try out this indoor swim-up bar for an adults-only experience.
Where to Stay in Wisconsin Dells
There are so many options for lodging in Wisconsin Dells that you’ll be sure to find something that suits your exact needs. For a cabin stay, try Cedar Lodge . They have reasonably priced cabins with a location near many attractions.
Sundara Inn and Spa is an upscale resort with private pools and gorgeous rooms for a relaxing and romantic getaway.
And if you are looking for a waterpark resort, the Kalahari and Wilderness are great for adults.
Where to Eat in Wisconsin Dells
We are always searching out Wisconsin Supper Clubs on our adventures around the state.. So if you love supper clubs, then check out Del Bar. It’s one of the best ones we’ve been to in Wisconsin. For a non-supper club option, take a drive to Baraboo and enjoy whiskey and food at Driftless Glen .
Madison: High-Class Holiday at the Edgewater
Sparing no detail for their holiday decorations, The Edgewater Hotel is one of the prettiest places in Wisconsin. We’re talking ice sculptures, fresh pine boughs, and a 40-foot-tall Christmas tree.
This historic hotel downtown sits on the edge of Lake Mendota and has hosted the likes of Elvis Presley, Elton John, Bob Hope, Bob Marley, and the Dalai Lama.
Accommodations are offered in various room styles, from luxury to reasonably priced options.
Whether or not you’re a guest at the hotel, you have to go to the Edgewater, which features a beautiful ice skating rink overlooking Lake Mendota and firepits to rent.
There are also multiple restaurants and other food options on the premises. You can enjoy fine dining overlooking the lake from The Statehouse or grab a hot cocoa or apple cider after skating from The Icehouse .
And if it’s really cold, you can walk out on frozen Lake Mendota, a favorite pastime of UW-Madison students, to an at-scale replica of Lady Liberty’s head and torch peek out from the frozen lake each winter.
Where to Stay in Madison
If you don’t want to stay at The Edgewater, you’ll have plenty of other options for accommodations in the Madison area.
The Hotel Ruby Marie is located just off Capital Square and is a perfect home base for your Madison getaway. It’s also reasonably priced. Other amazing options for lodging are The Buckingham Inn and The Mansion Hill Inn .
Where to Eat in Madison
With so many options, it’s hard to suggest only a few places to eat in Madison.
For brunch, Marigold Kitchen off of Capital Square has nourished diners since I was in college 20 years ago.
Natt Spil is a hidden gem for global-inspired small plates (cash only). A Plaza burger with cheese at The Plaza Tavern will hit the spot for lunch. And Sardine is the perfect option for a delicious upscale but approachable meal.
New Glarus: Make an Escape to Europe
Swiss immigrants founded New Glarus in 1845; by the looks of it, not much has changed.
Pay a visit to the Swiss Historical Village & Museum to learn more about the culture. Of course, you can also just walk around town. Take in delightful European architecture as you pop in and out of the many shops selling European goods, such as the imported Polish pottery and bakeware at The Bramble Patch or the Edelweiss Cheese Shop .
Of course, if you’ve ever been to Wisconsin, New Glarus will be familiar to you for its famous brewery, home of the favorite local ale, Spotted Cow. New Glarus Brewing Compan y is worth a trip for its tours, gift shop full of Spotted Cow swag, and the tasting area in the woods, designed to resemble a Bavarian village.
The nearby town of Paoli is also a great stop for some shopping and food.
Where to Stay in New Glarus
New Glarus is a small town with only a few options for lodging. The Chalet Landhaus is in the middle of town and will definitely give you that European village feel.
Where to Eat in New Glarus
Stop at any local restaurant serving European fare like Wienerschnitzel and Bratwurst when you get hungry. It’s great fun pronouncing their German names, like Glarner Stube and Puempel’s Olde Tavern .
If you need a break from European fare, check out Suger River Pizza Company .
Spring Green: Explore Oddities and Architecture
If you could use an indoor adventure, House on the Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin, is one of the more unique experiences.
It’s easy to see why this architectural gem is often mistaken for the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. However, Alex Jordan built the massive structure on a rock chimney in 1945 and opened it up to the public to enjoy in 1960.
House on the Rock features attractions and oddities like the tribute to nostalgia, elaborate self-playing organs, dollhouses, and massive carousels.
If you’re brave, walk out into the “infinity room.” The room is like a glass hallway that juts 218 feet over the valley. Once inside, you can feel the room swaying in the breeze.
For a different take on architecture, a tour of Taliesin cannot be missed if you are in the Spring Green area.
Taliesin, the former estate of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is a marvel of architecture and gives you a fascinating insight into Wright’s life. Today, Taliesin is a museum and tourist attraction, one of the main reasons people visit Spring Green.
Snowshoeing at Governor Dodge State Park is an excellent option for outdoor activities.
Where to Stay in Spring Green
We loved the Silver Star Bed and Breakfast when we did a summer Spring Green trip. The owners were delightful, the rooms were cozy, and the breakfast was delicious. And the location is stunning. And for a quirky stay, check out Steampunk Manor Bed and Breakfast . It’s a stay you won’t forget.
Where to Eat around Spring Green
Reunion is an absolutely stunning restaurant in the heart of Spring Green. Don’t miss out on trying this relatively new restaurant.
Bob’s Bitching BBQ around Dodgeville is a great stop for lunch.
Southeast Wisconsin Winter Getaways
Lake geneva: explore ice castles.
Located at the Geneva National Resort & Club , do not miss the magical Lake Geneva Ice Castles . You’ll find frozen wonders such as ice sculptures, an ice maze, ice slides, frozen crawl tunnels, caverns, and archways to explore. Elsa would approve!
Up the magic and go on a horse-drawn sleigh ride while you’re there.
You can typically visit from January through late February or early March, though operation dates depend on weather conditions. You’ll want to stay tuned for when they announce their opening date each year and book your tickets in advance.
In addition to the ice castles, there are two downhill ski resorts, cross-country skiing in Big Foot State Park , and ice skating at several places around town.
For some indoor fun, check out the world’s largest refractor telescope at Yerkes Observatory. Visiting this observatory is a must-do for any star lover or anyone interested in the world above Earth.
Where to Stay in Lake Geneva
You can’t go wrong with the many lodging options in Lake Geneva.
Seven Oaks Inn is the perfect Bed and Breakfast for those looking for a romantic winter getaway. The Lazy Cloud Inn is another fantastic option for romance.
For a bit more upscale, Maxwell Mansion is a cute boutique hotel in the center of Lake Geneva.
Where to Eat in Lake Geneva
For breakfast, the Simple Cafe is a cozy cafe with delicious breakfast and lunch fare. There is also a bakery for some grab-n-go items. Joni’s Diner is also great for your classic diner vibe and fare.
Flat Iron Tap is the go-to place for a great burger in Lake Geneva. They also have a great beer tap list.
Milwaukee: History, Brewing, and Museums
Milwaukee is a great place to visit in winter. With plenty of things to do in winter and places to hang out, a weekend in Milwaukee will help the winter fly by.
Your days will be filled with many adventures between the museums, breweries, and restaurants. We even have suggestions for one or two days in Milwaukee to check out.
The Harley Davidson Museum is fascinating, even if you aren’t into bikes. And if you are more into art, the Milwaukee Art Museum along Lake Michigan is gorgeous. And if it’s around the holidays, don’t miss out on checking out the decorated Old Streets of Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Public Museum .
For those who love checking out breweries, there are currently 28 Milwaukee breweries .
Eagle Park , Indeed , and Central Waters are among our favorite breweries in Milwaukee . But for a taste of one of the oldest craft breweries in Milwaukee, don’t miss out on the Lakefront Brewery Tour and Friday Fish Fry.
If a cocktail or wine is more your thing, check out The Outsider on the 9th floor of The Journeyman Hotel or Voyager Wine Bar in the trendy Bay View neighborhood.
Where to Stay in Milwaukee
For a truly Milwaukee experience, stay at The Pfister Hotel . It’s a historic hotel with unbelievable architecture. Our favorite recommendation is County Clare Irish Inn and Pub for a more cozy stay. For more of our favorites, check out Where to Stay in Milwaukee .
Where to Eat in Milwaukee
With Milwaukee being our hometown, we could go on and on about where to eat in the city.
For brunch, our favorites are Uncle Wolfies and Engine Company #3 . You can’t go wrong with either of those options.
For dinner, we love Odd Duck . And if you don’t have a reservation, there is bar seating that is relatively easy to get if you are willing to wait a bit.
10 Unforgettable Places In Wisconsin That Everyone Must Visit This Winter
The Midwest is the best.
More by this Author
Winter in Wisconsin can be bone-chillingly cold. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to stay indoors all season long. In fact, there are some attractions in the Badger State that are all the more enchanting come wintertime. Whether you’re looking for adventure, entertainment, or perhaps a new cozy place to visit with friends, you’re bound to find it on our list of the best winter day trips in Wisconsin. So, without further ado, here are some of the best places to visit in Wisconsin in winter.
You'll Want To Spend All Winter At The Most Epic Sledding Spot In All of Wisconsin
16 Winter Festivals In Wisconsin That Are Simply Unforgettable
7 Snow Tubing Hills In Wisconsin That Belong On Your Winter Bucket List
What are some of your favorite winter day trips in Wisconsin? Be sure to share them with us in the comments below — we’d love to hear from you!
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Want more Wisconsin in your inbox?
Get the latest on things to see, do, and eat around Wisconsin!
Thank you! You'll receive your first newsletter soon!
An error occured.
More to Explore
Winter day trips in wisconsin.
Are there any good winter hikes in Wisconsin?
There are some great winter hikes in Wisconsin! There's so much to see and do in the Badger State this time of year. In fact, there are even some hiking trails that are even lovelier during the wintertime. Here are some of the best hikes to check out:
- One of our favorite wintertime trails is Palfrey's Glen in Merrimac. Considered to be the first designated natural area in Wisconsin, this trail is a lovely place for solitude and reflection.
- Another area to explore this season is Lapham Peak in the Kettle Moraine South Unit. During the winter season, the park lights the 2.5-mile loop for added visibility.
Some other winter hiking destinations in Wisconsin that belong on your radar are:
- Indian Lake County Park in Cross Plains
- Whitetail Meadows Trail in Wyalusing State Park
- Chippewa Ice Age Trail in New Auburn
- Vilas Park in Madison
- Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo
- Chequamegon National Forest in Rhinelander
- Mirror Lake State Park in Baraboo
- Interstate State Park in St. Croix Falls
- Kangaroo Lake State Natural Area in Bailey's Harbor
- Peninsula State Park in Door County
- Blue Mound State Park in Blue Mounds
- Lake Superior Ice Caves in Bayfield
Curious to learn more? Check out our previous article: 15 Picturesque Trails In Wisconsin That Are Perfect For Winter Hiking .
What's the snowiest town in Wisconsin?
Most of Wisconsin experiences snow during the winter season, but there are some destinations that get more than their fair share. One prime example would be the small town of Hurley. Some fun facts about Hurley?
- This winter-friendly town holds the record for the largest seasonal snowfall in Wisconsin.
- During the winter of 1996-1997, Hurley received nearly 278 inches of snow.
- On average, Hurley receives 162" of snow...per year.
- Expect around 185 days per year to be below freezing.
Learn more about what life is like inside Wisconsin's snowiest town .
- This Indoor Beach In Wisconsin Is The Best Place To Go This Winter
- In 1979, Wisconsin Plunged Into An Arctic Freeze That Makes This Year's Winter Look Downright Mild
- This Winter, Drive Across Frozen Lake Superior By Taking The Famous Ice Road In Wisconsin
- 13 Things No One Tells You About Surviving A Wisconsin Winter
- Experience The Magic Of Winter On These 9 Wisconsin Sleigh Rides
- The Christmas Town In Wisconsin That Becomes Even More Magical Year After Year
- The Amazing Natural Ice Skating Rink In Wisconsin You'll Want To Visit
- There's Nothing More Special Than An Evening On This Natural Ice Skating Rink In Wisconsin
10 family-friendly winter weekend getaways in the US
When I'm looking for a surefire way to beat the post-holiday blues, I plan a winter weekend getaway for the family. With a couple of long weekends on the calendar in the first quarter of the year, plus the ability to create your own whenever works for you, winter is an ideal time to get a fun trip on the schedule.
Whether you want to play in the snow or escape the cold for a balmier location, there’s a winter weekend trip within an easy drive or flight from where you live. Here are 10 of my favorite ideas for a memorable and fun-filled, family-friendly long weekend trip.
WHERE TO GO: 25 best family vacation spots in the U.S.A.
1. Nashville, Tennessee
I took my teenage daughter on a winter getaway to Nashville, and it was a perfect destination for a not-too-cold long weekend. Each morning began with our own DIY coffee shop-boutique hotel tour, starting the day with breakfast, a cup of coffee, and a stroll through the lobbies at the Fairlane Hotel, Bobby Hotel, and Noelle Nashville.
Learn more: Best travel insurance
BEST TRIP EVER: 50 best family vacation ideas for all ages
Then we set off on foot (and one day by trolley) to experience Music City at spots like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Ryman Auditorium, and the highly impressive and interactive National Museum of African American Music.
Food’s a big draw here, and we tried as much as we could by taking a food tour with Walk Eat Nashville and eating at Assembly Food Hall, which offers food and drink from more than 30 mostly local eateries and bars.
Where to Stay in Nashville: The Countrypolitan Nashville is a stylish and well-situated home base for exploring downtown Nashville, and you just might hear the next big thing performing at the hotel’s restaurant in the evening.
2. Crystal River, Florida
Winter is an ideal time to visit this city on the west coast of Florida, about an hour north of Tampa and less than two hours west of Orlando. That’s because winter is known as Manatee Season. Between November and March, hundreds of West Indian manatees head to the warmer spring-fed waters in these parts once the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico drops.
OCEANSIDE FUN: 10 best family beach resorts in Florida
The “Manatee Capital of the World” is the only place in the U.S. where you can legally observe manatees while swimming alongside them (accompanied by local guides who make sure everyone behaves properly).
If you don’t want to get in the water, you can spot the gentle creatures on a boat tour or at places like Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge , the only refuge in the U.S. specifically created to protect habitats for manatees.
Where to Stay in Crystal River: There's nothing particularly fancy about the King's Bay Lodge , but its roomy suites sleep four comfortably, its spring-fed pool is a kid favorite, and its proximity to everything you'd want to do in Crystal River is unbeatable.
3. Long Beach Peninsula, Washington
Want to make a dramatic getaway? Head to Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula during the winter. Not far from Portland or Seattle, the area rates as a great place for storm watching during winter, thanks to the combination of seasonal king tides, stormy weather at this time of year, and the rushing water from the Columbia River.
COAST TO COAST: 7 charming coastal towns in the U.S. perfect for a family vacation
Bring your camera to capture the moody scenery, and take it with you when you wander the area’s seven state parks and five wildlife/conservation areas, where you might spot loons, chickadees, sparrows, and hawks during the colder months.
The region also sits along the state’s Cranberry Coast, and the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation Museum offers a self-guided tour of its cranberry bogs year-round. Winter is also a great time for oysters on the Long Beach Peninsula, which you can enjoy at restaurants like Shoalwater Seafood and The Depot.
Where to Stay on Long Beach Peninsula: Book a room at the pet-friendly Oceanview Inn at the Arch and you’ll be within walking distance of the beach and downtown Long Beach and well situated for enjoying all that the area has to offer.
4. Montgomery, Alabama
With winter weather that’s typically on the mild side, Montgomery offers a long weekend escape with lots of options. Outdoor fun can be found at spots like the Alabama Safari Park, Montgomery Zoo, and the Lagoon Park Trail.
GO SOMEWHERE WARM: 10 tropical destinations you can visit without a US passport
This is an amazing place for the family to learn about the city’s important role in Black history and the American Civil Rights Movement at sites like The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Civil Rights Memorial Center, and Freedom Rides Museum . Annual events on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day include a parade down historic Dexter Avenue, where you can find the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where King led the congregation from 1954 to 1960.
Refuel along the way at Chris’ Famous Hotdogs, where everyone from Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dr. King to Elvis Presley has eaten.
Where to Stay in Montgomery: Occupying a century-old building, the newish SpringHill Suites Montgomery Downtown offers suites well-suited for family getaways and a downtown location that makes it easy to explore the city.
5. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
This northwest Idaho city not far from Spokane, Washington, boasts 109 miles of lake shoreline and snowy scenic vistas during the winter. Take a Scenic Hot Cocoa Cruise with Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises, and you might spot bald eagles swooping overhead while sipping your sweet treat (they congregate around Lake Coeur d’Alene every year from November through February).
SUN AND SAND: 12 best beach resorts in the U.S. for families
Three ski resorts located within an hour of Coeur d’Alene are an easy day trip from town and offer trails and terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, while Raptor Reef Indoor Water Park provides thrills of a different kind. An annual mac and cheese festival takes place in January, serving up comfort food just right for the season, and the Winter Lights outdoor art experience illuminates downtown Coeur d’Alene every evening from January 26 through February 4.
Where to Stay: Set on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Resort offers spacious rooms and suites (many with amazing views) plus amenities like a spa, fitness center, and indoor pool.
6. San Luis Obispo, California
Located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo (or SLO, pronounced "slow," as it’s known) offers a weekend getaway with a sustainable side. Many of its wineries are SIP-certified (sustainable in practice), and the city even uses herds of goats to clear out brush along its hillsides. Check out the area’s natural beauty while pedaling the city’s bike trails, hiking at spots like Irish Hills Natural Reserve and Reservoir Canyon, or strolling the area’s beaches.
WORLD’S BEST: 10 best all-inclusive beach resorts in the world
Head downtown for shops and restaurants, catch a flick at the Palm Theatre (the first solar-powered theater in the U.S.), and taste local produce and foods at the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market that takes place every Thursday. And the kids will get a kick out of adding their own contribution to the quirky Bubblegum Alley.
Where to Stay in SLO: Tweens and teens will love the retro-modern, collegiate vibes and the on-site burger joint at The Wayfarer San Luis Obispo , located near the campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
7. Scottsdale, Arizona
Plan your escape to Scottsdale, where the sun is shining almost every day of the year and winter temperatures tend to be in the 60s and 70s. That means the weather is ideal for strolling through Old Town Scottsdale, exploring the Sonoran Desert at places like McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Pinnacle Peak Park, and frolicking at the kids’ splash pad and play area at the recently revitalized Scottsdale Civic Center.
GO WEST: 7 West Coast vacations with something for everyone in the family
There’s always an interesting exhibit or programming to enjoy at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, and the kids will appreciate riding the train and carousel at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park and enjoying something sweet at the 1950s-era Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant.
Where to Stay in Scottsdale: The kids will be fans of the Sonoran Splash pool at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess , which features two waterslides and a zero-entry; the grownups will enjoy making use of the kids' club to hit the links or squeeze in a spa treatment.
8. Boston, Massachusetts
Bundle up and spend a winter weekend wandering around Boston, which is road trip distance from much of the Northeast. It’s an ideal time of year to visit the city’s many excellent museums, like the Boston Children’s Museum, Museum of Science, and Museum of Fine Arts art museum. Glide around the Frog Pond Ice Skating Rink or sled down Flagstaff Hill at Boston Common (the oldest public park in the United States), then warm up over a plate of pasta in the city’s North End.
ATLANTIC COAST: 11 best seaside villages and coastal towns in New England
After strolling picturesque (and potentially snow-covered) neighborhoods like Beacon Hill and the Back Bay, head indoors to browse and taste your way through spots like Boston Public Market, High Street Place, Hub Hall Boston, and the much-visited Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market.
Where to Stay in Boston: Choose the Boston Marriott Long Wharf for your long weekend stay and you’ll enjoy views of Boston Harbor and be within walking distance of sites like the New England Aquarium, Faneuil Hall, and portions of the Freedom Trail.
9. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Make the most of the winter weather in Lake Geneva, which is within easy driving distance of cities like Chicago and Milwaukee. Head to spots like The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva Resort, Big Foot Beach State Park, and The Ridge Hotel for skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, hiking, and ice skating, or kick things up a notch with a winter ziplining and ropes course adventure or some ice fishing. There’s an annual snow sculpting event during the winter months, and the Winter Realms experience includes ice slides, ice sculptures, and other chilly fun.
BRING THE KIDS: 10 best Caribbean family resorts
Where to Stay in Lake Geneva: Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark serves as a great all-in-one location for families, where suites offer lots of room for the whole crew and amenities include an indoor water park, mini bowling, and an arcade.
10. Washington, DC
Plan a low-cost, museum-filled winter getaway to Washington, DC. Admission is free at the city’s Smithsonian Institution museums, where the family can explore the history of flight at the National Air and Space Museum, the African American experience at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the natural world at the National Museum of Natural History.
Head outdoors to admire the city’s many monuments and memorials like the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (all free to visit), and take a spin around the ice skating rinks at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden or at The Wharf. Then warm up over dinner at family-friendly restaurants like Old Ebbitt Grill, Boardwalk Bar & Arcade, and Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy. FOR OLDER KIDS: 10 best family resorts with teen clubs and activities
Where to Stay in DC: Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC caters to families with amenities like baby gear and strollers; games, books, and sports equipment for use; an indoor pool; and sightseeing guides geared toward children.
10 family-friendly winter weekend getaways in the US originally appeared on FamilyVacationist.com .
More from FamilyVacationist:
- 12 Best Hotel Booking Sites for Cheap Prices
- 10 Best Vacation Ideas for Families with Teenagers
- 10 Best All-Inclusive Beach Resorts in the World
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY. FamilyVacationist.com and TourScoop.com are owned and operated by Vacationist Media LLC. Using the FamilyVacationist travel recommendation methodology , we review and select family vacation ideas , family vacation spots , all-inclusive family resorts , and classic family vacations for all ages. TourScoop covers guided group tours and tour operators , tour operator reviews , tour itinerary reviews and travel gear recommendations .
This will almost certainly be the warmest winter ever in Wisconsin's recorded history
We are well on our way to what will almost certainly be Wisconsin's warmest winter in recorded history.
The National Weather Service defines winter as the months of December, January and February. Wisconsin's two-month average of temperatures from December 2023 and January 2024 was 11.1 degrees above average, said local NWS meteorologist Andy Boxell, which already puts this winter "pretty far ahead" of all others on record.
The next-warmest winter was 2001-2002, which was 10.4 degrees above average by the end of January. This is followed by the winter of 1931-1932, which was 8.7 degrees above average by the same point in the year.
At 10.9 degrees above normal, December 2023 was Wisconsin's warmest last month of the year on record, according to the State Climatology Office.
Additionally, this month, we've seen the warmest start to February on record in Milwaukee, with high temps in at least the upper 30s (and some days as high as the 50s ) each day since the month began. For context, normal high temperatures this time of year are between 31 and 33 degrees.
"With how warm we're starting out February, it's fair to say that this will likely be the state's warmest December-January-February of all time," Boxell said.
"11.1 versus 10.4 doesn't seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but that's a pretty big difference to have 0.7 degrees. And now, we're halfway through the month of February, and we're well above average for February, so far. So, it's pretty likely that we're going to finish the winter as the warmest on average for the state."
Despite the cold snap, 2024 saw one of Wisconsin's warmest Januarys of all time
It turns out, every month this winter has been record-setting.
NWS announced Monday that January 2024 was Wisconsin's 10th-warmest January on record, according to records dating all the way back to 1871. The month was 8.5 degrees warmer, on average, than normal. This record was set despite nine days of well-below-normal temperatures during mid-January's frigid cold snap .
Only one state, Minnesota, had a warmer January. For our neighbors to the northwest, the month was 9.2 degrees warmer, on average.
Without the cold snap, January no doubt would have finished higher in the top 10 for Wisconsin, Boxell said.
According to data from the State Climatology Office, temperatures in Milwaukee were above normal Jan. 1 through 13, and then again Jan. 22 through 31. Jan. 24 and 25 even set records for the highest daily low temperatures on record ― 36 and 37 degrees, respectively.
What were the top 10 warmest Januarys in Wisconsin history?
According to NWS data, Wisconsin's warmest January occurred in 2006. It was 15.3 degrees warmer than normal, on average. This is followed by January 1990, which was 11.7 degrees warmer than normal.
Here are Wisconsin's top 10 warmest Januarys on record, according to NWS records dating back to 1871:
Why has this been the warmest winter in Wisconsin history?
The primary culprit behind Wisconsin's unseasonably warm winter is a weather phenomenon known as El Niño .
An El Niño event is caused when sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean warm to above average for several months. During an El Niño, the polar jet stream is shifted northward, which limits cold air intrusions from the north, NWS explains .
In general, El Niño brings above-average temperatures to the northern United States, which often result in below-average snowfall in moderate-to-strong El Niño years.
Last year, local NWS said this winter's El Niño was on track to be one of the strongest on record.
According to the weather service, during the past seven winters with strong El Niño effects, temperatures across southern Wisconsin were "near average to 6 degrees above average." Additionally, snowfall has been as much as 18 inches below average in southern Wisconsin during strong El Niño winters.
This winter, from Dec. 1 through Feb. 12, Milwaukee has received 16.2 inches of snow, Boxell said. Average winter snowfall by this time of year is nearly double that, 30.5 inches, meaning we're at a deficit of 14.3 inches.
It is important to remember that El Niño conditions ― warmer-than-average temps and below-average snowfall ― apply to the winter season average. Individual days can still see lots of snow, as Milwaukee saw in early January , or below-normal temperatures, as we saw in the middle of last month.
More: Wisconsin is experiencing a historic lack of snow this month
More: El Niño looks strong this year. That could mean a warmer, and wetter, Wisconsin winter.
Fast-moving winter storm creates slick roads in Michigan, heavy snowfall accumulations in Minnesota
This storm first impacted portions of the northern plains and upper midwest, including minneapolis, on wednesday. the twin cities picked up nearly as much snow on valentine's day as they had previously received all winter..
Watch: Snow plow involved in crash on slick roadway in Michigan
A pickup truck lost control in snow and got hit by plow on I-75 in Michigan on Thursday.
DETROIT – A quick-moving storm system produced some of the heaviest snowfall of the season for some communities in the Upper Midwest, with some locales reported more than half a foot of new powder.
The wintry precipitation also caused travel problems on roadways, with a dashcam aboard a snowplow catching video of a collision along Interstate 75 northwest of Detroit .
The clipper system first impacted portions of the northern Plains and Upper Midwest , including Minneapolis , on Wednesday.
In fact, Minneapolis picked up 6.9 inches of snow on Wednesday, which broke its old daily record of 6.4 inches set back in 1950.
‘STOP HITTING OUR PLOWS:’ OHIO AMONG SEVERAL STATES REPORTING SNOWPLOW-INVOLVED CRASHES THIS WINTER
Until the snowstorm on Valentine’s Day, Minneapolis had only received 7.3 inches of snow for the entire winter .
Before the system, Minneapolis was experiencing its least-snowiest winter to date but has since jumped to the 14th-least snowy winter because of the accumulating snow on Wednesday.
The metro area is still 20.3 inches below the average snow to date of 34.5 inches.
The heaviest snowfall occurred in Huron, South Dakota, where 8.8" of new powder fell.
Snowfall accumulations from a clipper system
DOWNLOAD THE FREE FOX WEATHER APP
Only a few inches of snow fell in parts Vermont , New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as the system lacked organization and moisture to become a significant entity.
The FOX Forecast Center was expecting wind gusts of 40-50 mph around the eastern Great Lakes and extending into upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania . Wind Advisories were issued in New York state, including Buffalo , Syracuse , Albany and Binghamton, as the system moved through.
HOW MANY CALORIES DOES SHOVELING SNOW BURN?
New England can also expect lingering snow showers on Friday, but those will gradually dissipate as the storm system moves out of the region.
DRIVING ON THE ICE AND DRIVING IN THE SNOW: WEATHER DRIVING TIPS FOR DRIVING IN INCLEMENT WEATHER
Second storm enters the picture
As that first storm exits the U.S. , a second storm will push out of the Rockies and into the Plains.
The FOX Forecast Center said it will dump more snow on South Dakota , which picked up as much as 8 inches from the first storm system.
Total snow accumulations between the two storms could be around a foot, with some locally higher amounts.
As the storm dives south, snow is expected in cities such as Omaha in Nebraska , Kansas City and St. Louis in Missouri , Indianapolis and Louisville in Kentucky through Friday.
SNOW SHOVELING SAFETY: THE EASIEST AND SAFEST WAY TO CLEAR THAT DRIVEWAY AFTER A SNOWSTORM
NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC) said that by Friday night, the storm will restrengthen as it reaches the mid-Atlantic , with areas of moderate to heavy snow bringing light snowfall accumulations to the Ohio Valley on Friday evening, then over the northern mid-Atlantic states from Friday night into Saturday morning.
The WPC said the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia and Allegheny Mountains from western Maryland to south-central Pennsylvania will have the greatest chance of seeing snowfall totals over 4 inches Friday night.
However, the WPC said anywhere from 1-3 inches of snow is possible from the mid- Mississippi Valley on Friday and the Ohio Valley on Friday evening to the Washington and Baltimore areas northward to Philadelphia early Saturday morning.
HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY DIG YOUR CAR OUT FROM THE SNOW, AFTER YOU FIND IT
Because of the winter weather threat, Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories have been issued in the Northeast and New England.
The Winter Storm Warnings are in effect for northern portions of central and upstate New York, including Watertown , Oswego and Indian Lake . The Winter Weather Advisories are in effect for most of Vermont, including Montpelier , northern New Hampshire, including Berlin , and central Maine.
Travel there is expected to be hazardous in parts of the region on any roads that have not been treated from Friday night into Saturday morning.
- Weather News
- Winter Weather
- New England
- South Dakota
- New Hampshire
- Washington DC
8 Fun Winter Events in Wisconsin
By Author Paulina
Posted on Published: September 25, 2023 - Last updated: December 21, 2023
Guide to the top Wisconsin winter events, including the best winter festivals in December and January
With scenic landscape and numerous fun winter events in Wisconsin , the Badger State is worth visiting during the colder season.
Lake Winnebago is known as one of the best places for ice fishing in the USA, and many other places in Wisconsin offer various winter sports activities that can enhance your winter vacation.
Whether you’re planning a trip to Wisconsin for the holiday season or considering visiting the state for a romantic getaway in February, there are plenty of winter festivals in Wisconsin to add to your bucket list!
Are you looking for Wisconsin winter events to attend for your next trip?
In this post, I’ll share some recommendations about what to do in winter as you travel Wisconsin , and how you can make the best out of your stay in the Badger State!
Psssst…!! You can’t get enough of winter in Wisconsin? Have a look at my other posts about Wisconsin in the winter:
- Fun Things to do in the Apostle Islands in Winter
- Cool Things To Do in Winter in Milwaukee
- Best Winter Resorts in Wisconsin
You, dear reader, support this blog. When you purchase through a link, I may earn a small commission. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Table of Contents
Top resources to travel Wisconsin
✎ Plan the ultimate Wisconsin road trip (no backtracking!) with the Perfect Wisconsin Road Trip itinerary – Buy now for less than 12$ ✈ Find the best hotel deals in Wisconsin with Trivago ➳ Book vacation rentals in Wisconsin with VRBO ✔ Book tours in Wisconsin with Viator ☘ Get the best discounted outdoor gear (outlet) at REI.com $ Get Wisconsin hiking guides and maps at REI.com
Overview: Top 3 Winter Events in Wisconsin
- Lake Geneva Winterfest
- Old World Christmas Market
- Scandihoovian Winter Festival
1. Lake Geneva Winterfest
Where: Lake Geneva, WI
When: End of January/beginning of February
While Lake Geneva is one of the state’s most popular destinations for the summer, it’s also home to many Lake Geneva winter events.
This makes it one of the best places for winter getaways in Wisconsin , including romantic getaways. It’s also one of the best day trips from Milwaukee in winter .
The festival is especially ideal for winter trips as the Lake Geneva Winterfest as one of the most popular Wisconsin winter festivals.
It is also considered one of the best things to do in Wisconsin in February and people come from all over to attend.
Held annually on the first week of February, Lake Geneva in winter can be a great choice as it offers many fun activities that can warm you up during the cold season.
As the host of the National Snow Sculpting Championship, you can enjoy the magnificent snow sculptures made by various artists from different states to compete for the title.
Stroll through the downtown ice sculpture walk to enjoy the masterpieces, or indulge in the bonfires on the beach to keep you warm!
It won’t take long for you to see why this is one of the best places to visit in Wisconsin in winter !
The festivities last for a while, so you have plenty of time to enjoy all the fun things to do in Lake Geneva .
Book the best accommodation in Lake Geneva
2. Wisconsin State Ice Fishing Contest
Where: Cumberland, WI
Known as the land of 10,000 lakes, it’s no surprise that Wisconsin hosts many ice fishing competitions around the state.
If you’re planning for winter vacations in Wisconsin, you can sign up for the Wisconsin State Ice Fishing Contest.
Open to all participants of all ages, you can participate in this annual ice fishing competition.
Hosted by Cumberland Chamber of Commerce, the competition is usually held on Beaver Dam Lake where you enjoy a day out fishing in the cold with a chance to win various door prizes!
Ice fishing is one of my favorite winter activities in Wisconsin, so this is always great fun to watch.
Buy the best road trip itinerary for Wisconsin
WANT TO SEE THE BEST OF WISCONSIN IN WINTER?
Get ready with this free, exclusive itinerary!
❄️ Discover most charming winter towns
⛷️ Best outdoor activities
🏡 Money-saving tips
Check your inbox to download your free Brussels checklist! Don’t forget to check your Spam too 🙂
3. Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival
Where: Madison, WI
When: First week of February
So, are you heading to Madison, WI? Winter events like the Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival should be on the list of things to do in winter in Wisconsin !
Organized by the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD), the University of Wisconsin in Madison campus has been the venue of its annual Winter Carnival event for many decades.
The event is not only popular with UOW’s students and staff but it is also considered one of the largest events during winter in Madison, WI .
Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival is a 7-day event that offers various outdoor and indoor winter activities in Wisconsin.
Considered one of the most lively winter events in Wisconsin, the carnival is open to the public and you can choose a range of activities.
Attendees can enjoy everything from signing up for a maple taffy workshop to watching some hockey tournaments.
The event is typically held at the beginning of the New Year, making it one of the Wisconsin January events worth checking out.
However, sometimes it is hosted later, so be sure to check dates before heading over and exploring all the fun things to do in Madison, WI .
Book the best accommodation in Madison, WI
4. Hudson Hot Air Affair
Where: Hudson, WI
Hudson Hot Air Rally and Festival is one of the must-visit winter events in Wisconsin, as you can spend the first full weekend in February enjoying the beautiful scenery with colorful hot air balloons in the sky.
Although the hot air balloon flights are weather-dependent, you can still do many other activities when visiting the winter festival in Wisconsin.
This winter festival in Hudson regularly invites more than 20 balloonists across the country, so you can check out numerous hot air balloons in different shapes and sizes.
There are various shops and food stalls in this 3-day winter event in Wisconsin, so you can check them out and support the local businesses in the area.
5. Nights of Lights
Where: Wisconsin Dells, WI
When: Starts the day After Thanksgiving and runs through the First Week of January every year
Are you looking for Wisconsin Dells’ activities in December? Mount Olympus Theme Park is home to one of the best winter events in Wisconsin: Nights of Lights!
You can stroll through the delightful Christmas light display around the theme park from the day after Thanksgiving to the first week of January in the upcoming year.
When looking for Wisconsin events, December is the perfect time to visit as you can immerse in the holiday’s festivity at its finest.
But if you want the Christmas vibes to last a little longer, this is one of the best things to do in Wisconsin Dells in January .
As a destination known for its various tourist attractions and theme parks, Wisconsin Dells winter events are worth checking out especially if you plan to visit with your family!
Wisconsin Dells in winter is one of my favorite times of year, so be sure to enjoy all the amazing things to do in Wisconsin Dells while you’re here.
Book the best vacation rentals in Wisconsin Dells
6. Scandihoovian Winter Festival
Where: Mount Horeb, WI
When: Second weekend of February
When it comes to winter festivals, Wisconsin has so many fun options. Really, you never need to wonder what to do in Wisconsin in winter.
Among them is Scandihoovian Winter Festival, the quirky annual event held in Mount Horeb with its signature red pointy hats to celebrate the town’s Scandinavian ancestry.
Scandihoovian Winter Festival is one of the best winter events in Wisconsin, as you can participate in quirky competitions like the fat tire bike race or frozen turkey bowling.
Alternatively, you can also show off your big vocabulary by signing up for their spelling bee competition!
Book the best vacation rentals near Madison, WI
7. Jack Frost Fest
Where: Spooner, WI
When: January or February
When it comes to winter festivals, Wisconsin is usually pretty busy after New Year as the state hosts numerous events to celebrate the colder season at the peak of the winter.
Jack Frost Fest is one of the annual winter events in Wisconsin, which you can visit in Spooner, WI.
Jack Frost Festival offers various fun winter activities; from ice hockey tournaments to winter scavenger hunts that you can participate in with your family.
The winter festival is typically held in January or February, so make sure to keep yourself updated for the upcoming Jack Frost Festival!
8. Old World Christmas Market
Where: Elkhart Lake, WI
When: December 1 – 10, 2023
Celebrating the winter holiday here isn’t complete without checking out one of the magical Christmas markets in Wisconsin .
And that’s why you should add the Old World Christmas Market in Elkhart Lake to the list of Wisconsin December events.
The idea of the Old World Christmas Market is to bring the classic Christkindlesmarkt of Nuremberg in Germany annually to Wisconsin.
Hosted by the Osthoff Resort, Old World Christmas Market is one of the best December events in Wisconsin. It’s one of the best Christmas markets to visit in the USA!
With over 40% of Wisconsin’s population claiming to be of German descent, the Old World Christmas Market in Wisconsin is the next best thing to visit if you can’t afford to travel and see the original Christmas Market in Nuremberg.
Whether you want to enjoy the special German bratwurst or check out some items for Christmas gifts to your loved ones, Osthoff Resort’s Old World Christmas Market is where to go!
Book the best vacation rentals in Elkhart Lake
The winter landscape in Wisconsin is delightful to see, whether you prefer to see snow-covered forests or just relax while ice fishing in the frozen lakes.
In addition to all that, many winter events in Wisconsin are worth visiting during the colder season.
Whether you want to unwind and participate in some winter sports and activities or just stroll around the classic Christmas market while enjoying the charming small towns, there are many Wisconsin winter festivals you can check out based on your preference!
Short FAQs About Winter Events in Wisconsin
What is winter in wisconsin known for.
Wisconsin winters are known for being COLD. But they’re also known for fun events, winter sports, and beautiful snowy landscapes.
Is there anything fun to do in Wisconsin in winter?
There are many amazing things to do in Wisconsin during the winter. You’ll find a range of winter festivals and events in Wisconsin to attend like the Lake Geneva WinterFest, as well as winter sports and activities like ice hockey and hiking. There are also traditional Christmas markets and fun year-round activities available.
What are the best winter events in Wisconsin?
There are a lot of amazing winter events in Wisconsin, but my three favorites are: the Lake Geneva Winterfest, Old World Christmas Market, and the Scandihoovian Winter Festival.
What to pack for your Fall or Winter trip
- Warm Clothing: Bring a heavy winter coat , gloves , scarf , hat, thermal socks , and layered clothing .
- Footwear: Wear waterproof and insulated boots with good traction.
- Snow Gear: Pack snow pants or insulated trousers and snowshoes or crampons .
- Winter Driving Essentials: Include an ice scraper , snow brush , and emergency car kit .
- Travel Documents: Don’t forget your passport/ID, travel insurance, itinerary , and maps.
- Electronics: Bring a portable charger and camera for capturing memories. I love my GoPro !
- Health and Safety: Carry prescription meds and a basic first-aid kit .
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket , just in case.
- Travel insurance: If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel is protected against all odds with HeyMondo .
Hola! I am Paulina, a fervent travelette who crossed the Atlantic Ocean by Boat HitchHiking. On my blog, I help you to make the most of your holiday. Get ready to enjoy outdoor and sustainable travel like hiking, cycling or sailing. Let’s hit the road!