5 Winter Wonderland Destinations to Experience in Wisconsin

Winter doesn’t have to be all that bad, especially when you’re visiting or exploring Wisconsin! From seeing some of the most beautiful ice cave creations, to riding the trails in the Snowmobile Capital of the World, you can find your flavor of fun all over this year’s Wisconsin winter landscape. Where, you ask? Let’s travel to 5 different counties across Wisconsin that are truly a winter wonderland.

Vilas County

One of Wisconsin’s most iconic winter destinations has to be in Vilas County! So what makes it so special you ask? How about the fact that Eagle River is known as the Snowmobile Capital of the World and has been home to the World Championship Snowmobile Derby for over 56 years! In Vilas County, there are over 600 miles of spectacular trails to get out and explore on your snowmobile. These trails go through beautiful wilderness areas, across lakes, throughout gorgeous parks, and connect you to every community in Vilas County! See a trail map here.

Besides snowmobiling, Vilas County has other winter activities that can make for a perfect trip in the Northwoods this winter. Whether you want to get out on the glossy lakes to go ice fishing on one of the 1,300 options, or if you want to head outdoors and explore the trails by snowshoe, you can really do any winter activity up in Vilas County this winter!

La Crosse County

Photo Credit: La Crosse Rotary Lights // @jeff_hender via Instagram

This winter wonderland is right along the west side of Wisconsin in La Crosse County! 2021 marks the 27th year that the rotary lights are on display at Riverside Park. This Rotary Lights Display is something you cannot miss out on this winter. With over 3,000,000 lights on display, you will feel immersed in the holiday spirit and it is absolutely a sight you need to see in person. 

Beyond this spectacular light display, La Crosse County has other fun outdoor winter activities that you can join in on this year. Case-in-point: skiing! You can really take in this winter wonderland with downhill skiing at Mount La Crosse, the area’s most popular Alpine skiing destination. Or hit the skinny skis for a day of cross-country skiing at one of the area’s most popular trails, Veteran’s Memorial Park, Hixon Forest, or the La Crosse River State Trail.

Columbia County

Photo Credit: Cascade Mountain

Another prime winter destination to visit this year is Columbia County. You can head to the heart of the county with a visit to Cascade Mountain to hit the slopes! If you’re traveling with kiddos, you may not want to get out on the skis or snowboards just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hit the snowtubing hills this winter! This family activity is a thrilling one where you get to glide down a 900-foot snowy chute and then ride effortlessly on the surface lift back up. If you do want to get on the steep slopes, you can enjoy your day of skiing and snowboarding at Cascade Mountain. 

Columbia County is also home to a lot of other fun winter activities like curling at one of the local curling clubs, snowmobiling on their well-marked trails, or the ability to explore one of their beautiful nature areas for hiking. Learn more about all of the winter fun you can have in Columbia County here.  

Winnebago County

In Winnebago County you can find the largest inland lake in Wisconsin: Lake Winnebago. What does that mean? Well, ice fishing all winter long to make a fisherman’s true ‘winter wonderland’! Lake Winnebago is known for it’s self-sustaining lake sturgeon population which brings us to one of the greatest Wisconsin events held each winter, Sturgeon Spearing! While you do need a license for spearing, many join the fun by watching the over 10,000 ice shanties on the lake. In 2022, this event will start on February 12th and will run for either 16 days or until pre-set harvest caps (whichever comes first)! Learn more about the Sturgeon Spearing event here

You can also hit the many trails this winter in Winnebago County. There is an abundance of fun activities you can check out while in the area like snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling! Be sure to take care of the trails and remember the Winnebago County trail etiquette before heading out on your next adventure through Winnebago County!

Ashland County

Photo Credit: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore // @adamsmithphotographywi via Instagram

One bucket list winter activity that you definitely want to check off this year is exploring the ice caves in the Apostle Islands of Ashland County. Unique formations are created each year due to the cold temperatures and brisk winds that flow through the caves. The Apostle Islands feature some of the most breathtaking views, cliffs, and sea caves year-round and if you have the chance to see this winter wonderland destination…you must go!

Ashland County is home to other fun activities that finish making this winter wonderland a must-see destination. Whether you want to explore the trails for a day of wandering by cross-country skis or you want to explore more than 200 miles of trails by snowmobile… Ashland County is where it’s at!

Well, we’ve said it before and we will say it again…Wisconsin truly is the place to be in the winter. From exploring beautiful nature filled trails by snowmobile, snowshoe, or ski to hitting the slopes at some of Wisconsin’s best ski hills, you will be able to enjoy this winter wonderland all season long. So what are you looking forward to doing the most this winter? Let us know in the comments below!


Kortnee Hass: Social Media Coordinator for Discover Mediaworks. A Wisconsin ‘now & forever’ transplant with a soft spot for squeaky cheese curds, craft breweries, and all things Wisconsin tourism.

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