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5 Best Midwest Winter Weekend Getaways: Destinations & Itineraries

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August 27, 2019

Looking for some great family-friendly Midwest winter weekend getaways to help beat the winter blues?

We’ve got you covered in this collaborative post from five fellow travel bloggers who will dish on their favorite places to visit for a Midwest USA winter weekend getaway.

From the ski slopes of Lake Geneva to the sledding hills of Nebraska, we’ll even hook you up with a weekend itinerary to visit the nation’s largest shopping mall and indoor theme park.

Look no further for 5 of the best Midwest winter weekend getaways! Lucky for all of us, they all happen to be affordable weekend getaways too!

Midwest Winter Weekend Getaways: Lake Geneva

Midwest Weekend Getaways: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

If you are looking for a Midwest weekend getaway, then look no further than Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. 

Located just 85 miles north of Chicago, Lake Geneva is easy to get to, and there’s plenty for families to do in the winter.  

Day 1

If you are into outdoor activities, then check out the plethora of winter sports and outdoor winter entertainment. 

For downhill skiing visit the Mountain Top at Grand Geneva.

If you prefer cross-country skiing, there are four locations in and around Lake Geneva as well.

Other outdoor sporting activities include sledding and ice skating. 

Many of the Lake Geneva resorts have small ice skating rinks, and you’ll find sledding in downtown Lake Geneva, at the Mountain Top Resort, or Rudy Lang Sledding Hill in Delavan, WI. 

If you like cold weather but are not into sports then check out Lake Geneva’s annual Winterfest, which takes place at the end of January through the beginning of February. 

Alternatively, visit the elaborate ice castles which are ‘grown’ on the banks of Lake Geneva. The Ice Castles, with their lights, fountains, and icicles are a family favorite.

After a day of winter excitement check out Oakfire Pizza for a Mickey Mouse shaped pizza.    

Day 2

Spend the day indoors.

Both the Abbey Resort and the Grand Geneva have spas, games, and daily activities for kids. 

If you are looking for a little more indoor excitement, then stay at Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark. The Moose Mountain Falls Waterpark located here is awesome!

Guests of the Grand Geneva can purchase day passes for the waterpark here too. 

Booking.com

In the afternoon, check out the Geneva Lake Museum, a great place for little hands as children are not discouraged from touching the artifacts. Alternatively, try out one of the three bowling alleys in and around town. 

Lake Geneva is a charming little town with a bunch of family-friendly activities.  I’ve been there twice during the winter, and I highly recommend it as a place for a winter-weekend family getaway.  

Ariel of Nickelodeon Universe during our Midwest winter weekend getaway

Midwest Weekend Getaways: Bloomington, Minnesota

For one of the best Midwest winter weekend getaways, head to Bloomington, Minnesota!

Although Minnesota is known for its frigidly cold winters, there are some amazing indoor attractions to delight in during the winter months if ‘cold’ just isn’t your thing!

Beat the winter blues and head to Bloomington, MN this winter!

Day 1

Spend the entire day at none other than the Mall of America (MOA)! After all, MOA isn’t just a mall, its an experience!

Mall of America boasts over 500 stores and is the largest shopping mall in the United States. It is home to a vast array of general retail specialty attractions, and more than 50 restaurants.

Not only that, but the Mall of America attractions are off the chart!

Nickelodeon Universe, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, Crayola Experience, and FlyOver America are the top four attractions in the state!

After spending the day indoors, cap off your evening with a magical skating experience at MOA’s free Skate the Star. This custom-built ice rink is located at the North entrance of MOA.

Take note that though you can bring your own skates, the small rental fee of $5 goes directly to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities!

For a complete guide on having a fun-filled day at Nickeloden Universe theme park, the U.S.’s largest (temperature-controlled!) indoor theme park, check out our featured post!

Day 2

Having checked in to the adjacent Great Wolf Lodge (located steps from MOA), spend day 2 right at your own resort!

Swim, splash, and slide in the gigantic water park complete with an indoor body board simulator.

In between water rides, take part in the many other attractions such as a ropes course, climbing wall, arcade, bowling alley, and Magi Quest interactive adventure game.

Find out everything you need to know, as well as get out complete review of Great Wolf Lodge Bloomington here!

Look no further and get 25% off of your stay here today!

Located in nearby Excelsior, MN finishing off the evening by visiting Ice Castles. Just a short 20-minute drive from Bloomington, award-winning Ice Castles features breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and much more.

*Click the following image to get your FREE family vacation packing list that is both customizable and printable!

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Midwest Weekend Getaways: Eugene T. Mahoney State Park, Nebraska

Winters in Nebraska can be BRUTAL.  But, you can also find affordable weekend getaways to really get rid of that cabin fever and embrace the outdoors, rather than grumble about it.

One of these midwest winter weekend gems is Mahoney State Park, located just a quick 30-minutes drive from Omaha.

Despite it’s close proximity to both Omaha and Lincoln, you’ll appreciate the nature you can find at Mahoney, even in the winter months.

And don’t think that just because it’s winter, there is nothing to do.  In fact, quite the contrary!

For instance, the Activity Center is the perfect place to go hang out in the winter.

There is a huge indoor rock climbing wall, amazing giant indoor playground, as well as a romantic and fun outdoor ice skating rink. You can easily spend all day just at the Activity Center alone! 

Of course, there is also the favorite toboggan runs where you can BYOS (yup, that’s Bring Your Own Sled!) or get out for a winter hike, go snowshoeing, or even bring along some cross country skis.

There is actually so much to do at Mahoney in the winter, that it’s also the perfect time to rent out one of the many fully furbished cabins (often at a discounted winter price) and cozy on up with great views of the forest and winter wonderland to stay a night or two

Planning tip: Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is a public recreation area located on the Platte River, off Interstate 80, approximately four miles east of Ashland, Nebraska.

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Midwest Weekend Getaways: Dubuque, Iowa

Another of the best family-friendly Midwest winter weekend getaways is to Dubuque in Iowa, just 3 hours west of Chicago! 

As one of the best day trips from Chicago in winter, Dubuque is a great destination for both skiing and relaxation!

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Day 1

On day 1, head to Sundown Mountain Resort for a spot of skiing!  There are 21 runs and 2 terrain parks in total, with 3 ski lifts and 2 magic carpets. 

If you’re new to skiing, a day pass for the bunny hill ski lift and the magic carpet is cheaper than an all-access day pass.  They also offer group and one-on-one ski and snowboard lessons as well as the equipment rentals.

If you have a season pass for another one of the Midwest ski resorts, you may be entitled to free entry or a discount at Sundown, so it’s worth looking in to!  

If you’re traveling with kids, a good place to stay in Dubuque is the Grand Harbor Resort and Waterpark which overlooks the Mississippi River. 

Guests of the hotel are then free to use the waterpark during their stay.  You’ll find a lazy river, some tube slides, a giant water jungle gym with a dump bucket, a small children’s pool and a couple of hot tubs…which you may need after a day on the slopes! 

There’s a fun arcade too where you can collect and exchange winning tickets for small prizes.

Booking.com

Day 2

Just across from the Grand Harbor, is the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. 

The aquarium is split into two sections. An area about the Mississippi River, where you can see freshwater animals and fish that call the Mississippi River home, and then a saltwater section with species that can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, where the Mississippi River meets the sea! 

The 4D theater here is a fun option too!

If that isn’t quite enough, read here for a list of 35 fun things to do in Dubuque!

Photo courtesy of Visit Grand Forks

Midwest Weekend Getaways: Grand Forks, North Dakota

Our list of Midwest family getaways would not be complete without mention of North Dakota!

Grand Forks, North Dakota is an under-the-radar choice for affordable weekend family fun.

Located 80 miles south of the Canadian border, this friendly college town welcomes visitors from the U.S. and Canada with shopping, food and world-class hockey.

Day 1

Maximize the hours before check-in at Canad Inns Destination Centre Grand Forks, home to the largest indoor waterpark in the state.

The waterslides, lazy river, kids area, adults-only hot tub, and private cabanas offer something for all ages.

Four restaurants, an arcade, boutique, casino, and kids theme rooms with bunk beds and Xbox or Playstation gaming systems make it easy to stay indoors.

Booking.com

No Grand Forks trip is complete without a trip to see the University of North Dakota hockey team in action.

The most passionate Division I fan base in the nation absolutely rocks the Ralph Engelstad Arena.

The energy here is infectious, even for new hockey fans.

Day 2

Line up for breakfast at Darcy’s Café. Cinnamon pancakes, hearty portions, and homemade pie make this small, homey diner a local institution.

Try the sledding hill at Turtle River State Park west of the city, or explore six miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails in Lincoln Park and along the Red River in the heart of Grand Forks.

Alternatively, rent skies at the Ski and Bike Shop or the UND Lifetime Fitness Center.

Doodle on the tablecloth until your pizza (gluten-free or regular) arrives at Rhombus Guys. The meaty T-Rex is a best seller and toppings include everything from pulled pork to tater tots.

Stroll the downtown shops and galleries, stopping for a free sample from Widman’s Candy Shop. Then check out local craft beer, pub grub, and live music at Half Brothers Brewing Company, a family-friendly taproom with a low-key vibe.

Lastly, if you can’t decide between an outdoor adventure and doing a little urban exploring, The Greenway is the perfect solution.

Midwest Winter Weekend Getaways: Other fun ideas

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Despite the frigidly cold Minnesota temperatures, there are so many fun things to do in Minneapolis with kids during the winter months.

A U.S. city known for its cold and snowy winters, Minneapolis is also known for its vibrant and diverse atmosphere, as well as a multitude of things to do.

The many options for year-round fun make Minneapolis an exciting option for a winter getaway with kids!

Our list of the Top 5 fun things to do in Minneapolis with kids will help inspire you and your family to visit this central Minnesota epicenter of fun!

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois is one of the absolute best Midwest travel destinations to visit with kids!

Despite the chilly winter temperatures, there are still dozens of ways to enjoy Chicago during the winter! In fact, of all of the places in the U.S., Chicago holds a special place on our USA bucket list!

From November through December, there is always something, fun, free and festive going on to celebrate Christmas in Chicago.  

From the millions of tiny bright lights, holiday markets and nostalgic ice skating at Millennium Park, the warmth of Christmas prevails over the chilly Chicago air.  

These 11 festive things to do during winter in Chicago that will leave your whole family feeling merry and bright.

Related article: 3 day Chicago itinerary that families will love!


If you enjoyed our article on Midwest winter weekend getaways, click here to check out our Related posts:

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Click here to discover 5 awesome Midwest Winter Weekend Getaways to help beat the winter blues! Top U.S. travel blogs shares detailed itineraries! #midwestweekendgetaway #midewestwinterweekendgetaway #affordableweekendgetaways #Midwestwintergetaways #Midwestfamilyweekendgetaways #thingstodointhewinter #midwestweekends #daytripsfromchicagoinwinter #travelwithaplan
Click here to discover 5 awesome Midwest Winter Weekend Getaways to help beat the winter blues! Top U.S. travel blogs shares detailed itineraries! #midwestweekendgetaway #midwestwinterweekendgetaway #affordableweekendgetaways #Midwestwintergetaways #Midwestfamilyweekendgetaways #thingstodointhewinter #midwestweekendgetaways #midwestweekends #daytripsfromchicagoinwinter #travelwithaplan #midwesttravel
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10 Comments
  1. Reply

    Jeni Hernandez

    October 6, 2019

    This is such a great round-up of winter getaways!

    • Reply

      Jen

      October 6, 2019

      Thanks! Looks like I have a few new places to explore myself!

  2. Reply

    Kylie N

    October 4, 2019

    Thanks for including me! The other getaways sound like fun!

    • Reply

      Jen

      October 6, 2019

      Right? I love rounds-up for all of the great ideas that fellow bloggers share!

  3. Reply

    Jenna

    September 29, 2019

    What a great round up of winter getaways! Pinned this for when we plan our next trip.

    • Reply

      Jen

      October 2, 2019

      Thanks! Hopefully you can use some of the itineraries!

  4. Reply

    Chrysa

    September 4, 2019

    We spend lots of time at the Mall of America in the winter. I think we need to branch out to some of these other places this year!

    • Reply

      Jen

      September 5, 2019

      Me too!

  5. Reply

    Katy F.

    September 4, 2019

    Lake Geneva has been on my travel list for some time now! I will admit that I’m partial to Dubuque though and Bloomington as they are so close to home!

    • Reply

      Jen

      September 29, 2019

      We too like to stay somewhat close to home when driving in the winter! Our Midwest weather is always a factor to consider if where you choose to go 🙂

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    Hi, I’m Jen!  Welcome to Travel With A Plan!

    I’m an avid adventurer who is always planning the next family vacation for my husband and I, and our three boys!

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