By Shelby Deering
Even though COVID-19 has definitely slowed life down, our state is still brimming with safe and fun activities and in-state getaways this winter. All of these frosty locales are within a day’s drive, taking plenty of pandemic-related precautions or allowing for abundant social distancing — just check before you go to confirm they’re open and their hours of operation.
Where to Stay: With Northwoods-inspired, rustic touches in all the guest rooms, Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center provides warm ambiance with a side of family fun experienced at the indoor pool.
What to Do: Mount La Crosse offers downhill skiers a chance to hit the slopes, while cross-country skiers can try a number of trails in the area, such as the La Crosse River State Trail. If you like to try regional brews, the Coulee Region Craft Beverage Trail is right up your alley. (Be sure to bring your mask and check ahead that any breweries or wineries you want to visit are open).
Where to Eat: Dine in or pick up curbside Irish fare from Dublin Square. The adults will love the Guinness drinks and the kiddos will enjoy their own tasty dishes from the “Wee Ones” menu.
Where to Stay: Stewart Inn is a central-Wisconsin mainstay. Originally built in 1906, this downtown boutique hotel is known for luxury, with its steam showers, sumptuous linens, gourmet breakfasts and beautiful historic décor.
What to Do: Outfitted with the tallest hill in Wisconsin, you and your little daredevils will love skiing at Granite Peak. For slower-paced winter fun, head to nearby Rib Mountain State Park for 1,528 acres of trails and stunning views.
Where to Eat: Open Wednesday through Saturday and providing takeout and curbside pick-up, Thrive Foodery is a favorite for its modern American, locally-sourced cuisine. Don’t miss the spicy Hot Jamn Burger or the Loaded Mac.
Where to Stay: Who knew that the original Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery could make for such a stylish hotel? The Brewhouse Inn & Suites (right) showcases many of the building’s original features, including copper brewing kettles.
What to Do: Ice Skating at Red Arrow Park is a storied Milwaukee wintertime tradition complete with Starbucks coffee in the warming house.
Where to Eat: Café Benelux offers Belgian comfort food via curbside pick-up and carryout. They famously set up their Lux Domes on the roof for winter, too — check the website for 2020-2021 dates.
Where to Stay: If you’re looking for skiing, wood-burning fireplaces, delicious eats, an indoor waterpark and restorative spa treatments all in one place, look no further than Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, readied with its CleanCare Pledge to keep your family safe.
What to Do: Walking the Geneva Lake Shore Path is a treasured past time — even in the winter! The 26-mile path rings the entire lake and offers you views of historic lakeshore mansions. (Be sure to wear sturdy shoes or boots). And, the cross-country skiers in your family will revel in the trails at Big Foot Beach State Park.
Where to Eat: You haven’t really had breakfast until you savor the omelets, pancakes and benedicts at Egg Harbor Café.
Where to Stay: Wisconsin Dells never has a shortage of indoor diversions during winter, making Chula Vista Resort, Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari Resort the perfect places to stay. These resorts, from the indoor waterparks to the arcades, all have good safety measures in place.
What to Do: Hit the slopes at Christmas Mountain Village, or to truly experience wintertime in all its snowy glory, go for an enchanted hike in Devil’s Lake State Park along pine tree-lined trails.
Where to Eat: There’s something for the whole family at Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co. Sip a seasonal microbrew or gobble up thick-crust pizza, which can also be delivered right to your hotel room.
COZY UP IN A NORTHWOODS CABIN
Renting a cabin Up North during winter is about as hygge as it comes. Luckily, there are lots of websites where you can sift through available cabins in areas like Manitowish Waters, Tomahawk and Minocqua, and book one where you and your family can hunker down — and feel safe. For example, all the cabins affiliated with North Country Vacation Rentals are being cleaned according to the Bayfield County Health Department recommendations. Get out the snowmobiles or hit up the cross-country ski trails for a wintry trip away. Start by searching these handy online destinations.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2021 issue of BRAVA Magazine, another publication by Nei-Turner Media Group. Details and information printed in this article may have changed since it was published; please check with the local businesses for up-to-date offers, hours of operation and information.