Midwest winter getaways to warm your spirits

The Midwest offers plenty of family and outdoor recreation - even in the winter - to keep you smiling all the way into spring.

The Midwest offers plenty of family and outdoor recreation – even in the winter – to keep you smiling all the way into spring.

If the idea of 6 more weeks of winter has you feeling blue, here are 6 of our favorite Midwest driving getaways to help you warm your spirits until spring arrives:

    • Ski and snowshoe on the St. Croix River: Looking for somewhere new to ski or snowshoe? Check out the St. Croix River in Minnesota’s St. Croix State Park. The park has 11 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and 80 miles of snowmobile trails that connect to state forests. Two modern guesthouses are a great deal for groups. One sleeps 12 and one sleeps 15, and each has a full kitchen and two bathrooms. Learn more about St. Croix and nearby state parks.
    • Step back in time with the Bridges of Parke County, IN: Although not quite the setting for the infamous book or movie, Parke County is an ideal destination if you’re seeking a weekend of historic bridges. This time of year, you’ll have the picturesque bridges of Indiana’s covered bridge country to yourself, making it easy to imagine you’ve stepped back in time. Maps are available the visitor’s center, and make time to stop by for the flaky biscuits at the Clabber Girl Museum in Terre Haute, IN.
    • Warm up in Omaha, NE: With the 2014 opening of the Lauritzen Gardens’ $21 million conservatory, there’s one more attraction in Omaha to step inside and ward off the winter chill. At the Marjorie K. Daugherty Conservatory, take in the Tropical House, Temperate House and seasonal displays. Then head to the Henry Doorly Zoo, where you can explore the Desert Dome, see the rainforest at the indoor Lied Jungle or check out colorful creatures at the aquarium. See more information at visitomaha.com.
    • Quality Family Time in Ely, MN: The YMCA Camp du Nord offers winter camps for families just off the Echo Trail and just north of Ely, MN. Plan now for the Winter Wonderland Family Camp Feb. 26-March 1 or the Cabin Fever Family Camp March 19-22. There are 21 heated cabins, some with gas fireplaces, in three villages. Some are rustic, but most are quite luxurious.
For a stunning scene like this, plan a trip to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Northern Wisconsin.

For a stunning scene like this, plan a trip to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Northern Wisconsin.

  • Celebrate Frozen Wonders at the Ice caves of the Apostles: At the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, most residents and visitors anxiously await a deep winter freeze. Only when temperatures stay low for a long time will the edges of Lake Superior freeze enough for people to walk out to the mainland ice caves, whose beauty is renowned. Full details on this natural wonder are available from the National Park Service.
  • Snowmobile, cross-country ski or snowshow in Eagle River, WI: Although some consider it the snowmobiling capital of the state, there are also a ton of great places to cross-country ski and snowshoe in the surrounding Nicolet National Forest. Looking for something different to do this Valentine’s Day weekend? Trees for Tomorrow environmental learning center is offering a Wolf Ecology Workshop Feb. 14-15, including a wolf-tracking field trip. Cost is $130-$140, including lodging and four meals.
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