Image of red lighthouse in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in Winter. Red Lighthouse is in the distance with a snow covered shoreline in the foreground.

18 Boredom-busting Wisconsin Winter Getaway Ideas

Category: Wisconsin

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. 

Below we’ve listed several ideas for winter getaways in each region of the state.

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 tourist destination in the summertime, tends to clear out in the winter. This makes it the perfect time to have Vilas County’s many lakes and trails all to yourself! 

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. 

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 in Vilas County is to check out the sled dog races in February

Door County: Catch the Best Sunsets and Sunrises

View of Cave Point County Park In Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.  The shoreline is covered with ice while the sun shines on it, creating an orange hue

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 fun fact: sunrises and sunsets are even more intense in the winter! Air circulation increases the more 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!

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.

More Door County Winter Fun Ideas: Our Favorite Things to Do in Door County in Winter

Green Bay: Enjoy Packer History and Curling Fun

Image of the outside of Lambeau Field Stadium in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Green Bay, Wisconsin, has more to it than just the Packers. With that said, it’s still hard to separate Green Bay from their 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. 

For the uninitiated, curling is one of the weirder Olympic sports: 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 towards 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.

Northwest Wisconsin Winter Getaways

Bayfield: Go on a Dog Sledding Adventure

Image of a dog sled following a trail through tall pine trees and snow-covered ground

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.

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.

Kubb, pronounced “Koob,” is a lawn game that involves throwing wooden sticks to knock down wooden blocks. Also called “Viking Chess,” the Kubb World Championship takes place 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!

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. There are several bike trail systems in the area, 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 are available at many places, including New Moon Ski in Hayward, WI. You can wind down after your adventure with an old-fashioned from any of Hayward’s supper clubs… a true Wisconsin tradition.

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. First responders get 50% off on Fridays.

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. And check out the music calendar to see if there is a show while you are in town. 

And don’t miss out on heading to the Pinewood Supper Club in Mosinee. It’s one of the best supper clubs in the state

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 in 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.

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 that include choices like 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. 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
  • Jewelry
  • 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. 

Southwest Wisconsin Winter Getaways

Sparta, WI: Cozy up at the Justin Trails Resort 

If you want to enjoy a Bed and breakfast with a ton of winter fun right on site, Justin Trails Resort in Sparta has got you. 

On your trip, some activities to look forward to including 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. 

La Crosse: Brighten Your Spirits with the Rotary Holiday Lights 

Showcasing 3 million lights, the La Crosse Rotary Holiday Lights are not to be missed. This event has been put on for nearly 30 years and is free, though food and cash donations are requested. 

In addition to the lights, visitors can skate on the ice rink with free skate rentals. You can also make free smores at the firepits or ride a carriage. Santa and his reindeer will be making visits.

An All Abilities Night features gentler music and lights.

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.
  • 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.

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 in 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 the Edgewater 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.

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.

When you get hungry, stop at any local restaurants serving European fares like Wienerschnitzel and bratwurst. It’s great fun trying to pronounce 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

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 Company 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.

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. But Alex Jordan built the massive structure on a chimney of rock 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.

Now, 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 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. 

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. 

Lake Geneva also has some fantastic restaurants and drink options. 

Milwaukee: History, Brewing, and Museums

Milwaukee is a great place to visit in winter. With plenty of things to do 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. 

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.

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: The Pfister Hotel

For more info on visiting Milwaukee, check out our favorite things to do in Milwaukee here: Things to Do in Milwaukee