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
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.
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!
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.
Where to Stay in Bayfield
Where to Eat in Bayfield
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.
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
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
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.
East Central Wisconsin Winter Getaways
Kohler: Treat Yourself with a Spa Trip
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.