Kids dig hotel stays for the chance to sprint down long hallways and jump like monkeys on the bed. Parents love vacay for the squad-bonding opportunity, replacing the same ole for a new scene and having someone else make the bed for a change. Read on for great memory-making winter destinations to plan now that have everything from water slides to cooking classes to kite shows.

photo: Victoria_Borodinova via

THE AMERICAN CLUB – Kohler, Wisconsin
Buckle the kids in for a drive 145 miles north of Chicago to the city best known as home to the Kohler company, recognized for its high-quality faucets and bathroom products. But you don’t need to come for potty talk, folks. Sit back and enjoy all this town has to offer.

photo: The American Club

For a romantic couples getaway or girlfriends retreat to the spa, The American Club and The Carriage House guest rooms are your go-to spots. Families will be more comfortable in the Inn on Woodlake, which features boutique-style guest rooms as well as multi-bedroom suites.  They even have a limited number of dog-friendly rooms, so the family pet can tag along.

Kids stay happily entertained with oodles of family activities that include indoor tennis lessons, sledding, ice skating, hiking, snowshoeing, sledding, carriage rides and in-room electronic games. If you’re feeling the need for time in the kid-free zone, register for the Saturday evening Kidz Dinner and Movie from 6-9 p.m. Kids ages 4-12 will enjoy a night of food, movies and games, while you dine, explore the onsite spa or just catch some much-needed zzz’s. As a bonus, when receiving services at the spa, you can utilize the childcare for ages 6 weeks and up at Kids Core at the Sports Core Health & Racquet Club just minutes away.

kids-cooking-kohlerphoto: The American Club

Consider booking your trip to coincide with The American Club Resort’s In Celebration of Chocolate event, usually scheduled annually in February, where you’ll find everything from savory to sweet and everything in between. Celebrity and guest chefs, food pairings, demonstrations, evening dinners and events will guarantee a delicious family holiday. The cherry on top—you’ll have an opportunity to taste the signature and newest creations from KOHLER Original Recipe Chocolates.  If you can’t make the chocolate event, there are plenty of other Winter Adventures to be had, so be sure to check their website.

Add a little culture to your itinerary and visit the John Michael Kohler Arts Center located just five minutes away in Sheboygan. Its free The ARTery drop-in, art-making studio is a very cool collaborative space where visitors young and old contribute their vision of art to an ever-evolving community masterpiece. They have regular make-and-take workshops for ages 5 and over that have kids experimenting with everything from mug glazing to silk dying. Bonus: You won’t even mind if Junior needs to go potty several times while you’re exploring this art museum because every washroom is a work of commissioned art.

444 Highland Dr.
Kohler, WI

photo: French Lick Resort

FRENCH LICK RESORT – French Lick, Indiana
Peace. Quiet. Relaxation. You might have forgotten the meaning of the words, but you’ll quickly recall them in this quiet town snuggled aside a sulphur spring in the southern Indiana woodlands.

This sprawling getaway spot is known for KidsFest, an indoor-outdoor area dedicated to little travelers. Activities include bike rentals, arts and crafts projects, cooking classes, horseback riding and video games. There’s also an indoor pool, footgolf, horse-drawn carriage rides and several family friendly restaurants onsite. However you pass the day, end it with bowling and arcade games at Pluto’s Alley. Every year, mid-November to the beginning of January, they host 50 Days of Lights which is kicked off with two grand tree lighting ceremonies. The holiday hoopla illuminated by half a million lights stretches into the new year with Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas festivities spread throughout.

If you find yourself with kid-free time and can resist the urge to nap, bathe in the rejuvenating mineral springs, leave your stress at the spa, shop the Promenade or play the odds at the casino.

You can easily spend days without leaving the hotel, but it’s worth exploring the area. Nearby Hoosier National Forest has miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails; Patoka Lake is a pretty place for anglers-in-training to cast a rod; and Morengo Cave is full of gems that you can mine for and take home. For western-style fun, check out a working cattle ranch and go ziplining, ATV-riding and have a giraffe or elephant encounter at Wilstem Ranch, or take your cabooses to French Lick Scenic Railway to see vintage locomotives and embark on a 20-mile railway excursion. Even if the weather isn’t cooperating, you can put on your swimsuit and dive into 40,000 square feet of slides, drops, lazy rivers and wave pools at Big Splash Adventure Indoor Water Park.

8670 W State Road 56
French Lick, IN

lake-lawn-arcadephoto: Lake Lawn Resort

LAKE LAWN RESORT – Delavan, Wisconsin
This getaway spot has a history 130 years rich and is situated in a tranquil woods 90 miles northwest of Chicago in Delavan, Wisconsin. Evidence of the land’s Native American beginnings can be seen in the property’s 40 remaining effigy mounds, the largest collection in southern Wisconsin. It was also once the longtime headquarters of the largest traveling circus of its day, Mabie Brothers US Olympic Circus.

Plan your Lake Lawn adventure in February to coincide with their annual Sky Circus on Ice, which brings teams from across the U.S. and Canada to showcase their airborne performances. Kites as large as 80 feet wide will be anchored to Delavan Lake and families staying at the resort will be given a kite to test their wind harnessing skills. Bundle up to walk the grounds and see intricate snow and ice sculptures on display.

sky-circusphoto: Delavan Sky Circus on Ice

No matter when you make your way north, there are plenty of activities to keep this vacation from heading south. With four restaurants (ranging from fine dining to classic bar and grill), an arcade to display your Dance Dance Revolution prowess, and a spa to massage any twerking injuries, you never need to leave. Go for a swim in the heated indoor pool, make a craft in the Kids Zone, or go cross-country skiing, ice skating or snowshoeing. Even in winter, there are bonfires by the lake.

You could easily hole the family up in the resort and never leave, but The Dancing Horses Theatre located nearby is worth venturing away from the cozy fire. Trainers treat guests to a parade of equestrian showmanship in a 300-seat theater, followed by the mischievous antics of an exotic bird show that will leave the kids in a fit of giggles.

Nearby Lake Geneva hosts the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition during the village’s annual Winterfest from at the end of January/beginning of February annually. Festival-goers are treated to the intrigue of snow sculpting as well as music, helicopter rides, laser tag, s’mores, bonfires and dog sled races.


2400 E. Geneva St.
Delavan, Wisconsin

— Maria Chambers


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