Midwest winters are blustery and blizzardy, cantankerous and cold, but that’s no reason to hole up inside until spring. The proper winter attire makes the cold barely noticeable and opens you up to all kinds of cold-weather adventures. So pull on those thermals, zip up your coat, slip on your hat and gloves, and head out into these snow-carpeted Midwest landscapes for some brrr-isk fun.
Winter wanderlust in the Midwest
Gorgeous natural caves, cascading waterfalls, and sandstone outcroppings make Hocking Hills State Park one of the most scenic spots in Ohio. Miles and miles of hiking trails crisscross through the park, which is transformed by snow in the winter. From the easy, 1/4-mile Ash Cave Gorge Trail to the 2.5-mile moderately difficult Conkle’s Hollow Rim Trail, you’ll find a trail for the hiking fix you desperately need.
Where: 19852 State Route 664 S, Logan, OH
Home to five state parks, 10 lighthouses, and scores of trails, Door County, WI is a peaceful place to enjoy some winter solitude. Hike along the shore of Lake Michigan, go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing through the countryside, or make it easy on yourself and enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride. Warm up in a cozy coffee shop with a steaming latte, or find a bite to eat at one of Door County’s many acclaimed restaurants.
Where: Door County, WI
A weekend on Crystal Mountain is just what the doctor ordered. This resort features 58 downhill slopes, almost 20 miles of cross-country trails, and a luxurious spa, among other amenities. After a day of skiing or snowboarding, treat yourself to a pedi or a Swedish massage before snuggling up to the fireplace with a specialty hot cocktail at one of the many on-site bars and restaurants.
Where: 12500 Crystal Mountain Dr, Thompsonville, MI
One of the Midwest’s top-rated ski resorts, 220-acre Chestnut Mountain Resort features 19 slopes with 3,500-foot-long runs and a 475-foot drop. Far Side Terrain, the area’s largest snow-covered terrain park, offers over 25 unique rails and sculpted features. Come for the day, or stay all weekend at the resort, which offers the usual fabulous amenities.
Where: 8700 W. Chestnut Mountain Rd, Galena, IL
Devil’s Head Resort is Southern Wisconsin’s largest ski area and features 30 ski trails with a drop of 500 feet. The terrain park offers 35 features and five jumps, and a cross-country loop takes you around the scenic, hilly golf course. If you’re staying the night, enjoy some live entertainment and cocktails at the cozy Devil’s Den Bar or the Avalanche Bar & Grill, featuring pool tables and darts for some apres-ski fun.
Where: S6330 Bluff Road, Merrimac, WI
Fifteen ski trails and two terrain parks offer diverse skiing and snowboarding at Paoli Peaks, but it’s the state-of-the-art snow tubing facility that really takes the cake. It features 2,400 square feet of day-lodge space and ten 700-foot lanes that accommodate specially constructed innertubes. A 400-foot surface carpet gets you back to the top so you can spend most of your time flying downhill.
When: Mon – Thu, 12pm – 9pm; Fri, 12pm – 3am; Sat, 9am – 3pm; Sun, 9am – 9pm
Where: 2798 West County Road 25 South, Paoli, IN
Next to the Great Lakes, Lake of the Woods is the largest inland freshwater lake in the U.S. Here, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to go ice fishing. With over 50 resorts and numerous ice fishing outfitters to choose from, you can cobble together your perfect ice fishing adventure, whether that involves just a few hours on the lake or an overnight sleeper shack adventure.
Where: State Hwy 11, Baudette, MN
Take an Outward Bound dogsledding trip this winter to build self-confidence, self-reliance, and get your fill of magical Minnesota scenery. Eight- and 15-day trips are available and will take you across frozen lakes and rivers and through snow-blanketed forests. Learn essential winter outdoor survival skills as you navigate the landscape and care for the dogs by day and sleep under the stars at night.
When: Dec 27 – Jan 10; Dec 28 – Jan 4
Where: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN
Keweenaw Peninsula, located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, features 233 miles of snowmobile trails that lead you through some of the most beautiful scenery the state has to offer, from deep forests to the scenic Lake Superior shoreline. Along the way, you’ll find lodging, restaurants, gas stations, and refreshments, where you can warm your hands and feet and stock up on supplies.
Where: Keweenaw Peninsula, MI
Elkhart Lake is a year-round destination for outdoor adventurers and lovers of creature comforts alike. Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling outfitters and trails abound, and shops, restaurants, spas, and coffee houses offer after-skiing diversions. The village and its resorts offer a number of festive winter activities that’ll get you in the mood for the holidays, including holiday workshops, Santa meet-n-greets, and hayrides.
Where: Elkhart Lake, WI
Don’t let winter pass you by, sitting at home bored and dreaming of summer. Get out and experience it, and enjoy all the fun and frolicking the cold season has to offer.