Journeys to Wellness: 4 Wisconsin Retreats for the New Year

By Lindsey M. McKee
Special to

The New Year is just getting started and many are looking to turn their resolutions into actions. With improved fitness and well-being often at the top of the list, the journey toward wellness can start with making travel plans.

Snowshoe Scurry

Rather than giving into the temptation to hibernate all winter, travelers can get active in the first two months of the year. This was the vision of Jackie Hering, who founded the Snowshoe Scurry Race Series with her husband, Mark, in January 2013.

“I think people get stuck in a rut in the winter, staying inside, doing everything inside,” Hering said. “I wanted something to do outside with our friends.”

The Herings did snowshoe running, and found it to be great training and something everyone can enjoy. This year’s Snowshoe Scurry is currently underway from January through February with events in Madison and Middleton.

“We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback on the races,” Hering said. “You’re seeing most of the same people, you get to know each other and you’re rooting each other on.”

Participants can snowshoe with their dogs, race on fat bikes, and snowshoe walk or run for varying distances. Although all fitness levels are welcome, Hering suggests being able to walk or jog for 45 minutes as a good baseline.

“We live in a beautiful state and the best way to appreciate it is getting outside in nature, without our phones or anything else,” Hering said. “Pushing your limits and trying something new can be a really invigorating experience.”

The Christine Center

Wellness can encompass many different areas and visitors to The Christine Center can incorporate mental, physical and spiritual health into their experience.

“When you get away from your daily life, it gives you space and time to view your life in a different way,” said Sue Jenkins, The Christine Center marketing coordinator. “That kind of reflection happens here.”

For more than 36 years The Christine Center has offered a variety of wellness retreats and accommodations. Retreat options include yoga and meditation for physical and mental well-being as well as its spiritual retreats, a nod to its Franciscan founders.

In early January, the “Peace in Every Breath” retreat aims to restore and rejuvenate through practicing mindfullness. Personal retreats apart from any program are encouraged as well. Although solitude is often the aim of a personal retreat, support is available with staff that includes a psychologist, massage therapist and a spiritual guide.

Located in Willard, accommodations include modern and rustic hermitages, guest house rooms, a villa for groups, and camping areas. The Christine Center also has a sauna, art studio, library, bookstore, meditation hall, chapel, walking trails and cross-country skiing. Guests enjoy organic homemade meals in the main dining hall, complimentary with lodging.

“People have marvelous experiences here,” Jenkins said. “They get to step back from their life, take a break, and then go home refreshed, renewed, rejuvenated and relaxed.”

Sundara Inn and Spa

Creating a spa destination for wellness in the Midwest was top priority for founders of the Sundara Inn and Spa, and the spa continually furthers that vision.

“The mission is to be well in every sense of that expression,” said Chris Scheel, Sundara resort manager.

The spa was created with building and spa materials indigenous to the area. The ancient Cambrian-era sand is the key ingredient for its popular exfoliating scrub. An abundance of pine in the area is a natural choice for scents and oils. The main building houses 26 suites and private villas set in the woods.

Services pamper and relax guests. A bath ritual involves a shower and scrub and warm or cold soak with essential oils. In addition to a standard steam room and sauna, there is an outdoor heated affinity pool and a fireplace nearby, keeping guests warm even in January. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are additional activities and all common areas are electronics free.

Retreats are focused on relaxation following the hectic holidays. Visitors can spend a week, weekend or even just the day with a scheduled service. Just on the outskirts of Wisconsin Dells, it is a quiet retreat from the nearby busyness.

“It’s just an oasis from the hustle and bustle of life tucked into 26 beautiful wooded acres,” Scheel said.

Palmquist Farm

Travelers wanting to take part in winter activities, while still taking time to relax can find the right balance at Palmquist Farm. Located in Brantwood, the farm is run with Finnish hospitality by host-owners Jim and Helen Palmquist.

“People have told us when they come here that it’s almost like coming home,” Jim Palmquist said. 

Palmquist Farm is a century-old, working farm. Horse-drawn sleigh rides, an ice skating pond, a sledding hill, and groomed cross-country skiing trails are just a few activities for guests.

Lodging includes small and larger cabins as well as a large log cabin with four separate two-bedroom suites and a large great room with a fireplace. The farmhouse main building houses additional bedrooms and the dining room.

Included in accommodation rates are three home-cooked meals a day during winter with a variety of foods made from scratch. Breakfast has an assortment of pastries and homemade granola. Lunch mainstays are homemade soups and sandwiches. Dinner typically consists of a white and a red meat option for entrees with vegetables and breads. Save room for the homemade desserts.

“Do as much or as little as you want to,” Helen Palmquist said. “Sit by the fireplace and read a book, or go ski or take a sleigh ride.”

Whether you’re interested in sporting retreats to stay active outdoors during cold seasons or resorts to relax and renew, Wisconsin offers many options for travelers to ensure healthy mind, body and spirit.


Check out more wellness retreats throughout Wisconsin!

This entry was posted in Spas Tours