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Midwestern winters are LOOOOONNNGGGG. While catching up on all your favorite indoor activities is great, you may get the itch to get out of the house. A sandy beach, blue waters and warm temperatures may be tempting, but don’t discount the power of a winter road trip.

Just like the Midwest offers a variety of scenic terrain in the summer, there is also plenty to do in the winter. Here are few top winter travel ideas in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Illinois and Wisconsin Winter Road Trips Ideas

  • Take advantage of igloo season. Consider yourself a foodie and miss patio dining during the winter? You don’t have to wait for warmer weather to enjoy restaurant dining in the great outdoors. Consider a river dome lunch or dinner reservation at Fox River Brewing in Oshkosh to enjoy lounging, drinking and dining in a patio dome with cozy décor and decorative lighting for a unique dining experience. Pier Five Hundred in Hudson also offers outdoor patio dining in the winter in their large and small igloos. As a bonus, both are situated alongside rivers.
  • Soak in some sun and scenery on snowshoes. Whether you are on the lookout for wildlife, want to get some exercise without going to the gym or simply want to try something new, snowshoeing in Wisconsin is a great way to get outside during the winter months. Snowshoe through a vineyard, at Bubolz Nature Preserve in Appleton or one of Wisconsin’s beautiful state parks.
  • Hike on the Ice Age Trail. This 1,000-mile trail is one of only 11 national scenic trails and takes hikers through rocky terrain, open prairies and forests. Go for a quick walk (or jog), or plan a weekend-long adventure along the trail.
  • Travel along the Mississippi. Drive along the Great River Road to take in the magnificent Mississippi River views and explore historic river cities and towns. Visit the village of Stockholm for art, history, bluffs, Lake Pepin and more.
  • Snowmobiling in Eagle River. Did you know Eagle River, Wisconsin is the Snowmobile Capital of the World? Complete with more than 600 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, rentals and a museum, Eagle River has something for snowmobile enthusiasts and newbies alike.
  • Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Michigan’s shoreline is filled with breath-takingly beautiful views from the snow-covered waves to the frozen waterfalls. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan is situated on 42-miles of shoreline and includes plenty of trails, making it ideal for ice climbing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and even winter camping (though there are also plenty of nearby lodges in Munising!).
  • Lake Geneva. Only 90 minutes from Chicago, Lake Geneva in Wisconsin is a popular summer destination and also offers beautiful snow-covered lakefront trails plus a variety of delicious dining options. In February, they host an annual Winterfest with bonfires on the beach, epic ice sculptures and more.
  • Shawnee National Forest. From the Garden of the Gods to the Little Grand Canyon Trail and Shawnee Bluffs Canopy Tour, there’s no shortage of beautiful wintery scenery in Shawnee National Forest. It is well worth the trek to southern Illinois.
  • Galena Country. With skiing and snowboarding on 19 ski trails at Chestnut Mountain Resort, snowshoeing through fields of goats, ice skating, nature preserves and shopping, Galena Country in Illinois has something for the whole family.

Exploring, relaxing or shopping with a local day or weekend trip can help you stay within your budget while still meeting your desire to get out and have an adventure. We hope these winter road trip ideas have inspired you to plan your own winter getaway in Wisconsin or Illinois. Check out our blog for more travel tips.