10 Winter Break Activities For The Whole Family

The stockings are hung, the cookies are baked, the kids are out of school… it can only mean one thing: winter break! Here are some family-friendly ways to spread holiday cheer and make life-long memories during the entire week (or two!) of winter break.

 1. NEW! Edgewater Hotel Ice Rink, Madison

Grab your skates and head to the newly-remodeled Edgewater Hotel, located on the shores of Lake Mendota in the heart of the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Part of the hotel’s grand opening includes a 4,000 square foot ice rink, complete with views of the State Capitol building. (Insider tip: When the sun goes down and the lights start to twinkle, the scene is quite spectacular!) The rink is open weekdays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sundays from noon to 8 p.m., and on school holidays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

2. NEW! Trivial Pursuit 50 State Adventure, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, Milwaukee

The museum teamed with Hasbro Inc. to create the Trivial Pursuit 50 State Adventure exhibit. Adults will remember playing the classic board game, and kids will have a blast taking a pretend trip across the country. Each stop on the journey highlights one of America’s most spectacular places, including historic sites, tourist destinations, arts and sports venues and favorite family attractions. The whole family will discover something new about the U.S. as they play together! (We can’t help but imagine families will have the most fun learning about Wisconsin, but hey, we’re slightly biased!) Check the museum’s calendar for holiday hours and other special programs.

3. Wisconsin Christmas Carnival of Lights at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Resort, Caledonia

Relax in the comfort of your own car as you wind through the campground’s dazzling holiday light show featuring one-of-a-kind displays, well-known holiday characters and more than one million lights. After the drive, head to Santa's Coffee Shop for warm beverages, snacks, photos with Santa and more. The event benefits the Ronald McDonald House Charities, just in case you needed another reason to attend. The light display is on through December 31 from 5-9 p.m., excluding December 25.

4. NEW! Margarita’s Swim-Up Bar at the Wilderness Resort, Wisconsin Dells

Located in the Waterpark Capital of the World, the Wisconsin Dells, The Wilderness Resort is widely known and respected for its five fantastically fun indoor waterparks (featuring America’s largest indoor wave pool), go-kart trails, laser tag, 3-D mini golf, bumper boats, arcades, and even a ropes course. But new this year is Margarita’s Swim-Up Bar for adults ONLY. The 1,400 square foot tropical-themed bar can accommodate up to 88 guests over the age of 21. So while the kids are surfing, swimming or napping, grab your sweetie and a Mai Tai and head to the place where adults can soak up the sun, all year long.

4. Holiday movies under the stars (literally) at Barlow Planetarium, Menasha

Located on the University of Wisconsin - Fox Valley campus, current shows include Perseus & Andromeda, ‘Tis the Season and Laser Holidays, a festive mix of dazzling lights and all your favorite classic Christmas tunes. Each show concludes with a tour of the current nighttime sky – stars, constellations and planets – as seen from the Fox Valley and Northeast Wisconsin. The theatre has expanded hours during the holiday season, but is closed December 24, 25, 31 and January 1, so be sure to check the website for current show times.

5. Ice skating at the Pettit National Ice Center, West Allis

The U.S. Olympic Training site is open year-round for daily skating, no experience required! Those who don’t love skating but still want to get up and move can walk, jog or sprint on the 433-meter track. The Pettit offers open skating every day in December, even on holidays, and has 5 or 10-pack skating deals for those who are really looking to sharpen their skating skills. Be sure to check online for skating times and up-to-the-moment details on how to navigate the area while the interstate is under construction.

6. Green and Gold Pizza at Wild Tomato, Door County

No “Top 10” list is complete without mentioning pizza, right? And bonus points for pairing pizza with the Packers! Stop at the Wild Tomato for the Green and Gold pie, made with roasted chicken, bacon, and real Wisconsin Cheese curds. Drooling yet? While you’re in Door County, hike, ski, sled or snowshoe your way through one of the five state parks, all providing breathtaking scenery and fabulous family photo opps.

7. Wisconsin State Capitol Holiday Tree, Madison

Experience the magic of the holidays as you gather ‘round the 40-foot holiday tree in the rotunda of the Capitol Building, and check out all the other decorated trees around Capitol Square. Families can explore State Street and other Madison hot spots by hitching a ride on the Holiday Trolley. The trolley will be decorated and staffed by volunteer Downtown Information Ambassadors who will greet riders, hand out treats for kids, and offer shopping suggestions, directions, and downtown maps. Click here for details on trolley times and routes.

8. Northwoods Children’s Museum, Eagle River

This museum does a great job of living up to its motto: “Children learn best by doing, not viewing.” Check out the 24 interactive exhibits including a “build your own lava lamp” session, bubble station, art studio, pioneer cabin, medical center and more. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, but be sure to check the website for special holiday programs. And, if your family is looking for outdoor adventure, Eagle River is the place to be. Known as the “Snowmobile Capital of the World,” it’s home to countless winter festivals and spots for skiing, ice skating and tubing with the whole family.

9. Sandy’s Popper Gourmet Popcorn Store, Kenosha

With 50 flavors of gourmet popcorn to choose from, this shop has something the whole family will love, whether you like sweet, salty, savory or something in between. Kids will love popcorn flavors including key lime pie, peanut butter and jelly and a cereal inspired mixture called Silly Rabbit with 6 flavors: apple, blueberry, cherry, grape, lemon and orange. Adults with a more refined palate can indulge in Penguin Tracks, a mixture with white chocolate, almonds and dried cranberries. Afterwards, you can burn up some of those popcorn calories and treat the family to a day at RecPlex, America’s largest municipal recreation facility featuring an indoor water park, fitness center, indoor track and public skating ice rink. 

This entry was posted in Winter Activities, History & Heritage, Museums & Galleries, Outdoor Fun, Natural Attractions and Parks, Science and Nature Centers, Entertainment and Attractions, Waterparks