Editor’s Note: As of press time, all the information concerning these destinations was up-to-date. However, the situation with COVID is fluid and can change rapidly, so please be sure to work directly with the hotels to stay informed on any state- or city-mandated restrictions or changes. 

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 that allow for time in the great outdoors and lots of space to socially distance as a family.

photo: The American Club

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.

 

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For a romantic couples getaway or girlfriends retreat to the spa, the five-star The American Club and the contemporary The Carriage House guest rooms are your go-to spots. The adults-only atmosphere provides a nice break from any school-year chaos and you and travel mates will be treated to complimentary yoga, indoor cycling, a Himalayan salt stone lamp, Peloton stationary bikes are provided in select suites and a Wellness Concierge helps to maximize your time and experience.

Families will be more comfortable in the private cabins with gorgeous views, some that were newly minted this summer, or at 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.

 

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Kids stay happily entertained with oodles of family activities that include zombie dodgeball, TopGolf swing simulator, indoor tennis lessons, sledding, ice skating, hiking, snowshoeing, sledding, and fat tire biking. If you’re in need of 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.

 

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Add a little culture to your itinerary and visit the John Michael Kohler Arts Center located just five minutes away. With the Art Center’s help, stay socially distanced and outside, by taking The Sheboygan Project Walking Tour, which brings the street art movement to Sheboygan. The urban landscape and available wall space is the canvas for works that reflect the city’s people and culture.

 

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Their Wandering Wisconsin project guides you to large-scale works of art where you’ll explore grottos and acres of gardens, wander along wooded paths, admire concrete statues, discover a painted forest and more.

 

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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; Online: americanclubresort.com

 

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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.

During non-COVID times, this sprawling getaway spot is known for KidsFest, an indoor-outdoor area dedicated to little travelers. Activities include bike rentals, bowling, arcade, 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. Be sure to call ahead to inquire on the availability because many of KidsFest’s activities are paused as of press time. However, their activities calendar is still full and you can still get take-away craft kits at the Signature Shop.

They have tree lightings scheduled for Nov. 14 & 21 and the holiday hoopla stretches into the new year with live music and afternoon holiday teas 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.

 

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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.

 

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For western-style fun, check out a working cattle ranch and go ziplining, ATV-riding, see a drive-thru lights show and experience a new Drive-Thru Safari Park to see more than 40 species of animals at Wilstem Ranch. 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.

 

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With many families engaged in remote schooling, French Lick Resort added a tab on their site called Teaching Tuesdays where they provide downloadable curriculum and videos, including a resort scavenger hunt, to keep them engaged and learning.

8670 W. State Road 56, French Lick, IN; Online: frenchlick.com

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.

sky-circusphoto: Delavan Sky Circus on Ice

A great time to plan a Lake Lawn adventure is 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. Keep checking their website for COVID updates on this annual event.

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.

 

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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, 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, Feb. 3-7. 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; Online: lakelawnresort.com

— Maria Chambers

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