24 Cool Things To Do in Wisconsin in Winter
A Guide on Wisconsin Winter Getaways and fun things to do in Wisconsin during winter
Winters in Wisconsin can be extremely cold. But that doesn’t mean that you have to hide inside all day long! First, there are the street decoration, holiday lights, and classic holiday shows which are creating a magical atmosphere. And then, on top, there are plenty of more things to do in Wisconsin in winter: enjoying the snow, outdoor activities and attending winter light festivals.
This guide will give you all the tips to make your winter in Wisconsin simply unforgettable.
Useful Travel Information for Wisconsin
1. Cozy Winter Afternoons in Milwaukee
As the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, Milwaukee has some pretty amazing things to offer! Whether you’re a winter type of person or not, Milwaukee can make you fall in love with this time of the year.
The chilly winter around here gets much cozier in some local cafe, restaurant or pub. Milwaukee is known for good coffee. S,o if you’re a coffee-lover, the best places to go in Wisconsin are Valentine Coffee Co (as soon as you land at the airport) and Hawthorne Coffee Roasters.
Another old-fashioned way to warm you up is tasty food. Luckily, Milwaukee got you covered here, as well. A wide spectrum of cuisines from Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, Mexico, and India. The choice is yours.
It is well known that Milwaukee is famous for its cheese and dairy products in general. So, don’t forget to try out some specialties such as their Cheese curds (a small, fresh, springy piece of cheese, mild and slightly salty).
And what is winter without snow joys? To complete your Wisconsin winter vacation, Milwaukee has lots of fun on the snow to offer.
Ice skating, cross-country skiing, and something completely different; Polar bear plunge! No, there aren’t any polar bears waiting for you. This has been an annual traditional race for decades.
So, if you are in Milwaukee on January 1st, don’t miss the locals racing into freezing Lake Michigan, wearing nothing but their bathing suits: the legendary Polar bear plunge!
These are definitely some of the best winter activities in Wisconsin when visiting Milwaukee.
2. Christmas Atmosphere in Madison
In the capital of Wisconsin, you’ll never be bored. Winters have a special charm but depending on your mood, you can pick out an indoor or outdoor activity. Here are some things to do in Madison in winter. Either way, there are no mistakes.
The Chazen Museum of Art is my first choice. Why? Above all, Chazen has an amazing art collection that will take your breath away! And besides that, it has a gorgeous view on University Avenue, as well a glass pedestrian walkway which is very photogenic. Did I mention that this museum is for free?!
What is better to make you feel the real holiday spirit than a Christmas tree? The Capitol Christmas Tree in Madison is just that “little” detail. It is beautifully lightened and it stands in the middle of the marble rotunda. This tree is decorated with ornaments made by students all over the state.
It has a special charm and it’s one of the top attractions in the city.
The Madison Farmers’ Market is my next place to go. Here’s why. It gathers the best chefs every week all around the Madison who prepare some delicious breakfast, called “Taste of the market breakfast”. And that’s something available from January until April, on Saturdays at the Madison Senior Center.
One of the best winter activities in Madison is sledding in Elder Park. There is a very steep hill, but maybe for older kids with parents. That is not all. You can try snow carving or ice hockey!
With these fabulous things to do in Madison, WI in winter, you won’t get bored during the cold season this year!
3. Winter Entertainment in Wisconsin Dells
Christmas trees, beautiful ornaments, bows, stockings, and lights, winters in Wisconsin Dells are magical! Everything is a holiday-themed show! There are so many options of things to do in Wisconsin Dells in winter!
You can choose whether you want to watch live theater performances, sing along to Christmas songs at the Crystal Grand Music Theatre or maybe catch a holiday-themed musical in the Palace Theater in the Dells. They are some of the best things to do in Wisconsin Dells.
Wisconsin Dells indoor attractions such as water parks are just perfect for everyone who wants to take a break from chilly outdoors.
Wisconsin Dells winter attractions made the town “Water capital park of the world.” Some of the greatest water parks like Mt. Olympus, Great Wolf Lodge, and Chula Vista resort may have just what you need.
Then, there are great amusement park attractions as well. Wooden constructions of go car racing tracks. Elevated towers that you drive along are a must-do when visiting and your kids will be delighted!
It’s perfect for older kids and teenagers. But that’s not all! There is an amusement for grownups aw well. Another Wisconsin Dells Attractions in winter that you cannot miss is a tour on a horseback and a ride with the Big Foot Zipline Tours.
Steaming hot tubs for perfect relaxation. Wisconsin Dells is so well created that you can have a full day of activities without leaving the resort.
One more suggestion for adults. A nice romantic dinner of wood-fired steaks and fresh seafood as well at the Lodge Wood Fired Grill with a massage afterwards at the Element Spa Salon. Can you think of something better?
4. Enjoy a Spa Getaway in Lake Geneva
Ice fishing on a frozen lake, snow sculpting, skiing down a mountain or getting cozy to an outdoor fireplace are just some of the things that Lake Geneva provides in winter.
Prepare yourself for a new favorite Wisconsin winter weekend getaway!
The Lake Lawn Resort, The Ridge Hotel, The Abbey Resort & Avani Spa, and the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa are the ones I picked out for you. I recommend checking them out in order to spend an unforgettable, cozy winter in Lake Geneva.
5. Ice Skating in Lake Geneva
Numerous resorts of Lake Geneva have ice skating rinks where you can rent ice skates.
After snow activities, these resorts offer hot cocoa by the fire for skaters at the Abbey. The skating rinks are open during the day and evening.
And after ice-skating, make yourself a hot chocolate and watch some of the best movies set in Wisconsin to round up a cozy day.
6. Atten Winterfest, Lake Geneva
Winterfest is the most popular cold-weather event in the Lake Geneva area.
You can have fun with various contests such as the Human Dog Sled Races or maybe the US National Snow Sculping Competition. All these amusing events last for two weeks.
There are an ice bar, cocoa crawl, chili cook-off, helicopter rides and so much more on multiple locations in this area. In downtown Lake Geneva, there are so many places for dining and shopping, as well.
7. Skiing near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Skiing, sledding, and snowboarding are our next suggestions. Where? The mountain top at Grand Geneva and Wilmot Mountain.
Why? This location is simply perfect for skiing and snowboarding and you can take lessons in these sports.
8. Get a Wellness Treatment
After all these outside activities, it is time to warm up and relax. The perfect place to be in the spa. Our recommendation is the Area Resorts and downtown Lake Geneva.
What is better than a hot tub, massage, and a spa treatment of body wraps? If you are wondering where to stay in Lake Geneva, WI for wellness, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
A little bit of pampering is just what you need. Book here your Lake Geneva Spa Resort
9. Get Active in Green Bay in Winter
Wisconsin is known for its low temperatures in the winter. Green Bay as well but the good news is that Green Bay has great places to visit and fun things to do. Green Bay is one of the coolest weekend trips in Wisconsin.
Here are some interesting ideas of things to do in Green Bay in winter. The list of things to do in Wisconsin is getting bigger and bigger as there are plenty of things to do in Green Bay, WI in winter.
10. Have fun in the Green Bay Curling Club
One of the winter’s most unique sports and one of the things you shouldn’t miss is waiting for you on Mike McCarthy Way. Then there’s sledding, tubing, and skating.
The perfect spot for these activities is the sledding hill and sledding pond part of the Titletown field. It is 46 feet tall and 300 feet long from start to finish and it’s across from Lambeau Field.
Then, there is skating pond just a slightly smaller than an Olympic-size hockey rink.
11. Go Cross-country skiing in Wisconsin
The Brown Country Reforestation Camp is one of the most perfect ski resorts in Wisconsin for winter sports. There are groomed cross-country ski trails long for miles and very steep so it’s recommendable for those in good shape.
There are great ski trails at the Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve as well.
12. Visit Green Bay YMCA
If you are looking for a place to celebrate New Year’s Eve, Green Bay YMCA is the spot. West-side, east-side, and downtown are throwing parties for the annual celebration.
This time of the year in Green Bay is reserved for face-painting, balloon drops, bingo and many more.
The Neville Public Museum and The Ferguson Family YMCA prepare horse-drawn wagon rides and for the end of the magnificent evening, when you think it couldn’t get better than that, the fireworks starts in downtown Green Bay!
13. Artsy Appleton in Winter
Appleton is the treasure of the Fox River Valley. Appleton is the perfect place if you are looking for a quiet vacation, want to try out some different sports or maybe explore the Appleton Memorial Park in search of adventure.
Appleton is perfect for children of all ages because of its rich content and things to do with kids such as the Paper Discovery Center where you can see the process of papermaking. Then, there’s the Building for Kids with exhibits designed by kids for kids and many interactive exhibits for children to explore their imagination.
Peabody Park is perfect for sledding. Grownups won’t be disappointed, either. That´s for sure!
Here are a couple more ideas of what to visit in Appleton, Wisconsin. Locals here embrace the winter and it is part of the local culture. Something is always happening, whether it’s a concert, visual arts, music or performing arts.
Cool places to visit in Appleton, Wisconsin are waiting for you at the Trout Museum of Art that has been in the work since the 1960s, and where you can listen to some jazz concerts.
Of course, there are exhibitions as well and you can visit special workshops where you can take part in.
Then, there’s the indoor Farmer market which is well equipped with handcrafted goods and of course delicious food. From specialty foods, organic fruits, and vegetables, to cured meats and certainly the delicious cheeses, for which Wisconsin is famous for.
And for the end, there’s the Appleton Family Ice Center to burn some calories after delicious food!
14. Winter Nature in Door County
Winter gets much cozier when you are in the winter wonderland of Door County. Door County has so much to offer! Dining, recreations, and festivals are just a few things to do on my list. It is thus a great Wisconsin Vacation idea, particularly in winter.
Climb on-board the Door County Trolley for a Winter Wonderland Tour. The trolley will take you to a wine tasting to the award-winning Wineries, followed by a cushy sleigh ride through “The Doors” most snowy landscapes. As a cherry on top, there’s a romantic fireside in The English Inn.
Things to do in Wisconsin with kids like Mayberry’s Carriages are the perfect choice for a fun day trip in a private sleigh or carriage ride. Tours for carriage rides are available for 10, 20 and 30 minutes.
Sleigh rides are at the Lautenbach’s Orchard Country to bundle up the kids and get ready for snow adventure!
There are fun indoor activities in Door County, Wisconsin, like the Hands On Art Studio. There is a friendly and cozy atmosphere and maybe, you’ll discover an artistic side of your personality in activities like wheel throwing, art barn ceramics, art barn mosaics, fused glass or canvas painting.
Or you may fancy discovering peaceful Wisconsin winter getaways and landscapes by snowmobile. Another great idea would be visiting the annual Door County Pond Hockey Tournament in Baileys Harbor.
After all these snow joys, it’s time to take a break in a nationally-acclaimed restaurant, inviting bistro or cozy café and enjoy in local specialties like the Carrington Pub & Grill, Casey’s BBQ & Smokehouse, Door County Candy or Door County Coffee and Tea Co.
And naturally, wrap it all up with relaxation by the fireplace with a cup of coffee or maybe in the bubble bath in one of the best resorts in Door County.
The area is also home to some of the most romantic cabins in Wisconsin, thus you might consider Door County for a couples’ getaway.
15. Enjoy Fun Things To Do in Winter in Northern Wisconsin
If you are fond of snow and cold winter weather, Northern Wisconsin will be the ideal choice for you.
Prepare to be blown away by the beauty of nature!
Whether you are looking for a romantic cabin getaway or endless hikes, there are plenty of options when looking for things to do in Northern Wisconsin.
16. Explore Ice caves in Northern Wisconsin
This amazing wonder of nature will take your breath away! It’s completely clear why more than 135.000 people visit the Apostle Island National Lakeshore each year.
One of the best ways to explore the environment and feel the atmosphere is by snow train. The Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego will drive you through the magical nature and serve you dinner as well.
The Merrill Sled Dog Race is an annual event everybody looks forward to. The Winterfest Sled Dog Race is a cool place to visit in Northern Wisconsin and a fun activity for the whole family. Also, there are skijoring, kiddie and celebrity races. There are over 100 mushers with their dogs rushing by!
17. Go Snowshoe Nine Mile
The Nine Mile Forest in Wausau is the place to be for those with an adventurous spirit. Just put on your snowshoes and hit the road!
18. Enjoy Snow tubing at Cascade
A fun activity for the whole family! Cascade Mountain in Portage has 900 slopes to glide down in a tube. There is a magic carpet ride back to the top, with a tube in a tow!
12. Take photos at the Copper Falls
A waterfall is already spectacular itself, but a frozen waterfall is simply impressive! One of the most amazing frozen waterfalls is at Coppers Falls, located in Mellen.
It is considered one of the best state parks in Wisconsin.
19. Enjoy Things to do in Winter in Southwest Wisconsin
The southern region of Wisconsin is filled with beautiful attractions!
The Tyrol Basin Ski & Snowboard Area, the favorite place of snowboarders and skiers, is located in a picturesque valley 4 miles north of Mount Horeb.
It’s filled with fun things for all ages such as 16 tree-lined trails that extend over 40 acres on the 300-foot vertical hill.
20. Visit Havens Petting Farm
Here’s another family activity. This farm is filled with diverse animals you can cuddle with. From kittens, rabbits and bunnies, ponies, and miniature donkeys, to sheep, lambs, alpaca, and goats.
It’s situated about 1 mile from the Cave of the Mounds which is another fabulous attraction in Southwest Wisconsin.
21. Chasing Trolls in Mount Horeb
Here’s one of the top attractions in Wisconsin. Mount Horeb is a place known for the numerous life-size trolls engraved into tree trunks, along with its main street now named “The Trollway”.
This region has a rich and divergent history that you can discover at the Driftless Historium.
22. Visit the most quirky place in Wisconsin
The House on the Rock is one of the extremely fun and quirky places in Wisconsin. The House on the Rock is visited by a half-million guests a year. It must thus be really exciting, don’t you agree? It’s located in the heart of Southwest Wisconsin, just 30 minutes from the Cave of the Mounds.
Exactly like their catchphrase says “Entertain, astound and amaze!” There is an Infinity room waiting for you for a sense of illusion. Then, there’s the world largest indoor carousel with 269 animals, 20.000 lights and 183 chandeliers.
And finally, the House on the Rock hosts the Heritage of the Sea, an amazing collection with over 200 model ship displays, a Titanic display and a sea creature that is as long as the Statue of Liberty is tall!
23. Enjoy Winter in Central Wisconsin
When you visit Wisconsin, there’s always something fun to do. Whether you look for interesting places in Wisconsin to see or winter Wisconsin points of interest.
Although it’s cold weather, it’s filled with fun attractions including indoor and outdoor activities alike. Hence, it is a great place to vacation in Wisconsin, particularly in winter.
24. Trophy Ice Fish
No matter if you’re a fisherman or you’ve never held the fishing rod, ice fishing is something different from everything you’ve tried so far. Put on your warm clothes and be ready to enjoy the beautiful nature in a very different way.
This interesting sport can be done in the beautiful landscape at Sturgeon Bay, in northern Wisconsin.
If you want to get active, you might want to consider the Alpine Valley Resort. It is the perfect place for skiing. It has a wide range of ski runs and the atmosphere is very pleasant.
As you can see the list goes on. There are plenty of options for winter getaways and beautiful places in Wisconsin for every type of person, every age and every occasion. So, gear up with a smile, warm clothes, and holiday spirit because Wisconsin’s got everything else!
Read more about Wisconsin:
Unique Things To Do in Milwaukee
15 Great Wisconsin Vacation Ideas
Fun Things To Do in Wisconsin Dells
15 Cool Weekend Trips in Wisconsin
Best Day Trips from Milwaukee
Best Fall Activities in Wisconsin
Where to Stay in Milwaukee
Things To Do in Milwaukee in Winter
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport. Buy here your eco-friendly sunscreen + free shipping.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected against all odds with World Nomads.
To make the most of your trip, I recommend Lonely Planet Eastern USA (get -10% off with code “PAULINA10”)