What’s Cooler than Cool? Winter Travel

Discover Fun Midwest Destinations During Your Holiday Travel

Looking for somewhere new to travel this holiday season? Just need to get away and experience winter in a different wonderland? Whether you want to stay warm with some cocoa or face the snow head-on by trying a new winter sport, VisitGayUSA has you covered! We recommend these midwestern cities for your upcoming winter travel:

Madison, Wisconsin

122 miles from the hustle and bustle of Chicago, Madison is waiting to welcome you for some winter fun. Sure, Wisconsin is known for its affinity for cheese, beer, and all things related to a good farmer’s market, but there’s a quirky side you won’t want to miss out on. Afterall, who doesn’t want to visit a city who embraces the plastic pink flamingo as their official bird?

  • Get Cozy:
    Book a Bed & Breakfast like The Buckingham Inn or enjoy the tranquility of a country estate at The Speckled Hen Inn. Before checking in, stop by A Room of One’s Own. You’ll find an extensive selection of LGBTQ books to read while snuggled up.
  • Stay Active:
    Feel the rush, excitement, and wind in your hair as you speed down 10 awesome sledding hills. Explore the Arboretum trails on skis or snowshoes, or survey the snowy nature reserve with a winter hike. If you’ve ever wanted to try ice fishing, Madison is the place to learn.
  • Start Shopping:
    Looking for a great gift? In early December, the Fair Trade Holiday Festival brings together over 50 vendors selling homemade goods. Participants share a percentage of their profits with the proceeds benefiting people in developing countries as well as rural Wisconsin.

Dubuque, Iowa

Of course you’ll want to take a selfie at the Field of Dreams, but there’s so much more to feature on your Instagram story while visiting Dubuque, Iowa for your winter vacation. The self-proclaimed place “where Iowa started” is perfect for a no-frills winter escape from the same-old same-old at home. There are plenty of spots for sledding, skiing, and snowshoeing, but let’s look beyond the norm:

  • Spark Creativity:
    If you’re a sucker for street art and don’t mind a chilly walk, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the variety of murals found throughout Dubuque and the public art displays along the riverwalk. For an indoor experience, take in a variety of American art at the Dubuque Museum of Art.
  • Bring the Kids:
    Lifelong learners will love visiting the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium for 4D film experiences, stingray feedings, and interactive exhibits that make education fun. Save some time for ice skating in Allison-Henderson Park—lights are available 4pm to closing time at 9:30pm.

French Lick, Indiana

We could recommend a more obvious choice for holiday travel in Indiana, such as visiting the town of Santa Claus, but we want to be a bit more creative. A relaxing stay at French Lick Resort would be a little less conventional and a lot more rejuvenating during a busy time of year. Check out all the cool things to see and do in the stunningly beautiful French Lick West Baden resort community:

  • Prioritize Pampering:
    When it’s cold outside, a long soak in the renowned Pluto Mineral Bath is the glorious treat that you deserve. The luxurious spas offer a variety of massage and body treatment options. We recommend the Sacred Stone Massage that implements velvety smooth basalt lava stones. 
  • Take a Tour:
    Did you know the creation of tomato juice took place at the French Lick Springs Hotel? In addition to hearing the story behind this fun fact, you’ll explore behind the scenes in two official Historic Hotels of America. We know you can’t wait to discover the secrets of the hotels’ past.
  • Go Gaming:
    Feeling lucky? French Lick Casino has slots, table games, tournaments, and sports betting. Plus, the casino offers a huge non-smoking gaming room to their guests. If you bring the kids along for the trip, you’ll want to stop by the in-resort bowling alley and arcade. Check out the KidsFest program for fun daily activities.

St. Louis, Missouri

Exploring St. Louis, Missouri is a good time year-round, but there’s something special about this particular winter wonderland. We’ve shared The Kentucky Gent’s STL story about where to find delicious, Insta-worthy eats and activities worth checking out, but we want to highlight a few of the best things to do during your winter getaway: 

  • Celebrate the Season:
    Arguably one of the best Hanukkah celebrations around the country has been held in St. Louis the past eight years, and 2019 will be no different. The Brothers Lazaroff Hanukkah Hullabaloo will take place December 14th, and is sure to be an amazing concert event.
  • Carve an Ice Sculpture:
    Winter’s coldest days bring some of the coolest events, like the Ice Carnival in Delmar Loop. Family-friendly activities including carnival rides, ice slides, ice carving, and snowball fights. Adults can enjoy the new “After Dark” portion of the carnival, featuring bar games, drink specials, and an illuminated tour of ice sculptures.
  • Ski, Skate, & Stroll:
    Hidden Valley Ski Resort has lighted trails that are fun for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Head over to Steinberg Skating Rink and enjoy the midwest’s largest rink From November 15th through March 1st. Or, if you want to warm up, Missouri Botanical Gardens Climatron is a green, tropical oasis ready for exploring.

Holiday Events Around the Country

Feeling festive? While winter travel doesn’t necessarily have to include holiday celebrations, we know there are some of you out there who started listening to “Winter Wonderland” November 1st. Check out these awesome events happening around the nation:

  • Altoona, Iowa:
    Ride through 2.5 miles filled with 100 displays of Jolly Holiday Lights. Admission donations support Iowa’s Make-a-Wish Foundation.
  • Atlanta, Georgia:
    Check out the Grand Menorah Lightings and Hanukkah Celebrations throughout the city this December. Don’t miss the kick off party in Decatur Square and the Menorah Car Parade.
  • New Orleans, Louisiana:
    The sixth annual “Latkes with a Twist” event boasts entertainment, food, and beverages that will be a great addition to your Hanukkah celebration.
  • North Pole, Alaska:
    Christmas lights, the world’s largest Santa, ice sculptures and mazes, and more can be found in this aptly named town. 
  • Plymouth, Wisconsin:
    If you’ve never seen an 80 pound lighted wedge of cheese fall from the sky, the Big Cheese Drop is the place to be this New Years Eve.
  • Theodore, Alabama:
    Three million lights and 1,100 set pieces are spread throughout the 65 acre Bellingrath Gardens and Home estate. It’s an Alabama must-see during the month of December.
  • Traverse City, Michigan:
    The Cherry Capital of the country celebrates NYE by setting off fireworks and watching a giant lighted cherry descend at midnight, also known as the CherryT Ball Drop.

Can’t wait for NYE? Learn more about traditions in Mobile, Alabama.