Complete Winter Traveler

Whether you’re traveling across town, journeying over the river and through the woods, or boarding a plane to a far-off destination, this guide will help you make the most of exploring the great outdoors (and the cozy indoors, too!)



Breckenridge, Colorado

The average annual snowfall is around 25 feet at Breckenridge Ski Resort, and the powder is plentiful. Located in the Colorado Rockies, Breck not only offers amazing snow, but wide, well-groomed runs and a variety of terrain spread out across not one but four mountain peaks. Because Breckenridge is a true mountain town (and not just a seasonal resort), there are excellent shopping, dining, and nightlife options. If you’re not into skiing or boarding —or you want a little break from the action—you can go dogsledding, snowmobiling, shopping, fly fishing, or on a gold mine tour 1,000 feet below ground.  

Family on chair life at Granite Peak
Photo courtesy of granite peak

Granite Peak

About a three-hour drive from the Twin Cities in Wausau, Wis., Granite Peak is spread out across 265 skiable acres, with the biggest vertical drop in the region (700 feet). There are 74 runs and 8 lifts, including the fast-paced  “comet.” For those just learning to ski or board, there’s a learn-to-ski area complete with a Sun Kid Wonder Carpet. The snowboard park was named one of the top three parks in the Midwest by TransWorld Snowboarding. The town, set around a natural ice-skating pond at the base of the mountain, boasts a lively art scene, fun festivals, and family-friendly hotels, many of which offer a shuttle service to the ski area.

Wild Mountain

Wild Mountain, located about 50 miles northeast of the Twin Cities in Taylors Falls, was the first ski area to open in North America, opening this year on Oct. 7. “We pride ourselves on being the first [resort] to be 100 percent open each season,” says Amy Frischmon, vice president.
They are also one of the only resorts to offer children’s lessons seven days a week, with “Friends and Family Days” discounts available, and one of the few resorts to offer a separate snowtubing hill, complete with several lanes, and an outdoor fire pit.

Spirit Mountain

Take in dramatic views of Duluth and the Lake Superior harbor while skiing or boarding down the slopes at Spirit Mountain. “What Duluth has to offer is what makes us unique,” says Briana Johnson with Spirit Mountain Recreation Area. “When guests come to Spirit Mountain, it’s much more than a ski trip.” Stay at a B&B with your significant other, go to the ballet, hit a UMD hockey game, or go clubbing with your friends. A year-round Adventure Park offers snowtubing, a zip line, and the only Alpine Coaster in the Midwest.

Lutsen Mountains

Lutsen Mountains in Lutsen, nicknamed the “Vail of the Midwest,” has the most ski acreage in the state, with 1,000 skiable acres, 92 runs, and 986 feet of vertical. Lutsen is such a popular spot that people came from 30 states last year (including Texas, Florida, and New York), but the majority of the 100,000 annual skiers are from the Twin Cities area. Excellent skiing and boarding is just part of the draw. Lutsen offers on-mountain dining and entertainment—providing an aprés-ski experience—along with groomed, tracked trails for Nordic skiing, dog sledding, backcountry snowshoeing, and sleigh rides.


Shooting Star Casino

It’s all about Las Vegas-style gaming in a relaxed, casual atmosphere at Shooting Star Casino, located 240 miles northwest of the Twin Cities in Mahnomen, Minn. The casino features 1,100 state-of-the-art slot machines, a poker room, 12 blackjack tables, and four high-stakes tables with two and six deck shoes, limits up to $1,000, and free drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Enjoy live entertainment while you play. The Shooting Star complex features a hotel with an indoor pool and the full-service luxury Sereniitee spa, four restaurants, and an event center hosting national acts.

Outdoor Adventure

Cable, Wis.

The Cable area in Northern Wisconsin has over 1,200 miles of interconnecting snowmobile trail systems, making it one of the largest trail systems in the U.S.  Uncrowded trails, the solitude of the Chequamegon National Forest, and warm and welcoming Cable hospitality bring snowmobilers back year after year. (Some resorts, like Lakewoods, offer regular snowmobile condition updates online.) The interconnecting trail systems allow riders to travel on the lake and trails without having to trailer their machines. Trail maps are available at many local businesses, as well as the Cable Area Chamber.


According to Cross Country Skier magazine, “Bemidji is one of the most attractive areas to ski in the United States.” Approximately 140 kilometers of cross-country ski trails wind through the scenic North Woods, with pine, spruce, and evergreen trees vividly standing out against the snowy backdrop. One trail, within city limits, is even illuminated for night skiing. A Minnesota Ski Pass is required ($6 day pass, $20 annual). The area is also popular for snowmobiling, with 400 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, and ice fishing in over 400 lakes within a 25-mile radius. The average ice-on date is Dec. 2.  


Whether you’re traveling across town, journeying over the river and through the woods, or boarding a plane to a far-off destination, this guide will help you make the most of exploring the great outdoors (and the cozy indoors, too!)


Indoor Waterpark

Arrowwood Resort

Arrowwood Resort
Photo courtesy of arrowwood resort

When the temperatures drop and the white stuff starts falling, there’s something magical about a trip to an indoor waterpark. Grab your suits and beach towels and head to the massive 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria. Plunge down three four-story slides that twist and turn and twist some more, float down the “Lazy River,” relax in the tropical whirlpool spa, balance across the lily pad water walk, and watch as the kids play in the fort, complete with water blasters, geysers, and the “Calypso Cabana” 500 gallon splash bucket. Afterwards, schedule a spa treatment at the on-site Darling Reflections Spa and dinner at the Lake Café. Rent a snowmobile, go ice fishing, take the kids sledding, or try ice-skating or cross-country skiing (rentals available). Warm up around a bonfire on Friday and Saturday nights.

Out-State Travel

Borton Overseas

When you’re ready to escape the Midwest and journey into Africa, Scandinavia, or take a cruise to either a popular or more remote part of the world, refer to the experts at Borton Overseas. The dedicated, passionate, and professional staff considers themselves lucky to share stories and insight and help clients experience the lands that they love so much. Who better to help you plan an exotic vacation than those who have first-hand experience traveling there, and focus all of their attention on that one particular part of the world?  

Romantic Getaways

Hawks View Cottages

For a peaceful getaway that’s not your typical hotel or lodge experience, reserve a room at Hawks View Cottages in the river town of Fountain City, Wis. Situated on a steep bluff (too steep for motorcycles or heavy SUVs), the cottages are like giant tree houses set amidst the river valley. Not only is the setting romantic and unique—with “bird’s eye” views of the Mississippi River through the trees—but there are no electronic distractions, encouraging you and your loved one to spend time enjoying one another’s company and conversation (maybe while warming up in front of the fireplace?). Breakfast food and a bottle of wine are provided with your stay.   

Canoe Bay

Set on a secluded 280-acre wilderness estate, the charming cabins and cottages of Canoe Bay Relais & Chateaux are ideal for a romantic getaway. Book the Grand Romance Package and receive lodging, roses, and a bottle of champagne. Enjoy dinner at the Inn, prepared with organic produce grown right on the grounds, and selections from an extensive wine list (for a truly special occasion, book a dinner in the private wine cellar). Breakfast is delivered right to your room. Canoe Bay is located in Chetek, Wis., near Rice Lake.

The Lodge on Lake Detroit 

Nestled in a lovely, tree-filled setting on the shores of Big Detroit Lake, The Lodge on Lake Detroit offers a number of ways to escape from the ordinary: relax in the lakefront fireside lobby while a jazz band plays during sunset serenades, unwind with a massage at The Spa Within (a full-service spa), or rejuvenate in a romantic Renewal Spa Suite with a fireplace, private balcony overlooking the lake, and aromatherapy whirlpool tub. Reserve a rose petal turn-down with champagne or wine and a food pairing, to discover in your room upon arrival. The hotel is less than two miles from downtown Detroit Lakes and within driving distance of local restaurants, shops, and attractions.

Cook County

The long winter season is a blessing for outdoor enthusiasts in Cook County. Enjoy cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, dogsledding, and fun winter festivals like the Winter Tracks Festival Feb. 1-10, 2013. Stay in the Lutsen-Tofte area, Grand Marais, along the Gunflint Trail, or in Grand Portage.

Bluefin Bay Family Of Resorts

Bluefin Bay
Photo courtesy of bluefin bay

The Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts—Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior, Surfside, and Temperance Landing—are at the center of winter activities along the North Shore. There are over 250 km of groomed and tracked trails for cross-country skiers and over 100 miles of snowmobile paths throughout the Sawtooth Mountains, Superior National Forest, and along the North Shore.

Guests can go ice skating on the Bluefin Bay Ice Rink, watch outdoor movies (complete with hot chocolate and goodies), or embark on a snowshoeing adventure.  For a unique experience, try a guided moonlight cross-country skiing tour. You can bring your own ski equipment or use complimentary gear, available at the Guest Services Center. If you would rather hit the slopes, Bluefin Bay is within close proximity to Lutsen Mountains. Free daily shuttle bus rides are available. Look for Ski and Stay Packages online.

After a busy day, unwind in a seaside vacation home (the views are incredible) and enjoy one of Bluefin’s many pools or whirlpools, snuggle in front of a cozy wood fire, or book a massage at the Waves of Superior Spa. “For guests who want to play outside all day, we provide extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays for a little ahh-pres ski relaxation and rejuvenation,” says Lori Schaefer, marketing director. “And on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday nights, we also treat guests to live acoustic music from local and regional artists throughout the winter season.”