The weather outside may be frightful and the fire inside delightful, but the kids are driving you nuts and it’s two weeks until school starts again. What’s a parent to do?
The solution? A road trip. Fortunately, Wisconsin is blessed with a bounty of options for even the most cabin-fevered.
The largest ski hill outside of the Porcupine Mountains in Upper Michigan is Granite Peak. Located at Rib Mountain State Park on the southwest side of Wausau, Granite Peak offers 75 runs, 202 skiable acres, a vertical height of 700 feet and high-speed lifts. Accessible for beginners, challenging enough for intermediate skiers and supportive of snowboarders, it’s an affordable option to skiing the West.
If schussing down the side of a hill isn’t your thing, the city of Eagle River is officially recognized as the “Snowmobile Capital of World.” When you visit, stop by the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame, the Antique Snowmobile Club of America’s Snowmobile Museum and the World Snowmobile Championship Derby Hall of Fame.
While you’re there, take in a few snowmobile races or try out a machine on one of the many groomed trails.
Minocqua Winter Park
If silent sports are your thing, there’s the Minocqua Winter Park. With some 50 miles of groomed trails that are great for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, it’s a chance to experience the “quiet season” while getting a workout. Kids can take a lift to the 600-foot high Squirrel Hill Snow Tubing runs or glide across the groomed skating pond. Rent or buy your equipment on site. A heated chalet will let you thaw out between activities.
If the cold has you down, Wisconsin Dells has indoor activities for the entire family. Billed as the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” the Dells holds that honor even during the cold months. While some of the outdoor attractions are shuttered, 10 of the resorts and hotels have installed indoor amenities. For example, the Kahalari Resort Indoor Waterpark has an indoor wave pool, Sahara Sidewinders indoor looping waterslides and a lazy river as well as other watery options for an afternoon of fun. There’s also an arcade and an indoor theme park.
The Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort features four indoor waterpark areas that include 180-foot body slides and two 500-foot, five-story tube rides. A raft ride, indoor wave pool and lazy rivers will entertain the entire family. Cubby’s Cove for the littlest ones includes a lily pad rope challenge, zero-depth “spray and play” feature, and even an indoor/outdoor hot spa for the adults.
While the kids are getting their fill of fun, adults can seek a little pampering at various day spas.
Madison Children’s Museum
The Madison Children’s Museum mixes in a little learning with the fun. Located at 100 N. Hamilton St. just off the Square in downtown Madison, the space features changing exhibits as well as permanent installations. Let the kids create a masterpiece in the Bakke Art Studio. Wander through the series of “activity huts” in the Wildernest. Children can cuddle in a reading nest, play with water in the water dome, create music or rock a babydoll to sleep.
Explore various exhibits and public art displays in the museum’s Community Concourse. The museum currently features a vintage hardware department, miniatures and dolls in its Get Small exhibit, and the Glow Show, which brings University of Wisconsin-Madison glass students in to create neon pieces based on children’s drawings.
Before heading home, visit Ella’s Deli for a meal. Located at 2902 E. Washington Avenue, some 2 ½ miles from the Square, the kosher deli is a feast for both the stomach and the eyes. Dozens of handcrafted figures fly above diners’ heads on wires. A model train runs around the interior perimeter. Unfortunately, the working, full-size carousel is closed for the winter.