It’s easy to want to cuddle under a blanket or in front of a fire during our long, cold winters and dream of the days when you can get back outside. But there’s so much natural beauty in Wisconsin that’s only enhanced by the cold weather and snow it brings. The beauty isn’t necessarily better – just different. And seeing all these gorgeous places in winter just helps you appreciate how lush they can be in the summer.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Horicon Marsh - Horicon
A winter stopover for Canadian geese, the Marsh should be on your list just to view some of the great winter wildlife. Fresh snow is perfect for seeing new tracks.
2. Wequiock Falls - Green Bay
In the summer the waterfall can be just a slow trickle at times, but in the winter the water freezes and builds up to make gorgeous and ever-changing view. Plus, it's easy to access and near parking and picnic areas.
3. Ellison Bay
This little inlet off Green Bay forms ice fairly early in the winter and it looks like cubes in your drink. The views from what feels like the edge of the world don't hurt, either.
4. Door County
All of Door County transforms in the winter. The warm water meets cool air and forms sea smoke, the water starts to freeze and the trees hold the snow. It feels a little otherworldly and worth the trip.
5. Grandad Bluff - LaCrosse
Snow clings to the limestone bluffs and trees, ice forms on the Mississippi River and you get to look out over it all.
6. Kettle Moraine State Forest Northern Unit - Greenbush
Trekking through the trees in the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine is awesome no matter what time of year, but there's beauty in the starkness and stillness of the forest in the winter.
7. Lake Mendota - Mendota
The larger of Madison's two lakes gets a bit more wild in the winter. Plus, there are tundra swans.
8. Kettle Moraine Lapham Peak Unit - Delafield
A great place for Milwaukeeans to get into nature close to home, the Lapham Peak Unit feels like a wonderland in the winter.
9. Devil's Punchbowl - Menomonie
This post-glacial ravine has water "leaking" from it year -round, but in the winter those streams freeze up and create an amazing view.
10. Wolf River - Winneconne
This area features a couple of rivers and three large lakes and when it freezes over, there's a harsh beauty to it. What's normally chock full of noise and animal chatter is now serene and silent.
11. Manitou Falls - Superior
Wisconsin's largest falls is just south of the city and to see its power held in suspension when the water freezes is awe-inspiring.
12. Devil's Lake State Park - Baraboo
Whether it's the view up at the Devil's Doorway or in the surrounding woods, there's so much to hike and see in this state park in the winter.
13. Willow River State Park - Hudson
The falls here normally flow into a 200-foot gorge. They take a bit to fully ice over, so they're part water part ice and all gorgeous.
14. Lake Winnebago - Oshkosh
This large lake looks like something out of a sci-fi novel as the ice and snow pile up.
15. Wisconsin River
When the surrounding flatlands and grasses are dusted with snow and the water starts to frost over and there's mist in the air, it's like you could be in the arctic.
16. Dells - Wisconsin Dells
The "dells" that the area is named for are gorges carved by the Wisconsin River. The jagged ridges of the sandstone collect snow and ice and the bare trees help create a stark, beautiful landscape.
17. Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest - Rhinelander
At 1.5 million acres, this forest covers much of northern Wisconsin. Sure, all trees look pretty when dusted with snow, but when it's trees as far as you can see and the only sounds come from nature, there's something special to see.
18. Lower Mississippi RIver - Potosi
There's something so poignant about the Mighty Mississippi caught in the midst of a northern winter. Without the constant stream of boats and barges, it's a great place to reflect - and watch for eagles.
19. Apostle Islands Ice Caves - Bayfield
This one seems so obvious it almost got left off the list. The icy caves are an amazing wonder that feel like maybe you might discover Superman hiding in one.