If you ﬁnd yourself perched at the top of mountain (or, more accurately, a large hill) in ten-degree- below-zero weather, surrounded by people in dark green-and-gold jackets emblazoned with a large “G” and looking forward to an après ski cheese fondue, you’re likely experiencing a Wisconsin winter getaway. Save some cash and make it a day trip with my top picks:
Highlands of Olympia Ski Hill
Located in picturesque Oconomowoc (say that three times fast), on the highest point between Milwaukee and Madison, this ski hill has a 205-foot vertical drop, ﬁve runs and three lifts (two chair lifts and one rope tow). Some 50 percent of the runs are rated for beginners, making this a perfect family getaway. Lighted runs mean you can ski into the evening and still make it home to put the kids to bed. If you’ve got golf fanatics in your group, don’t miss the indoor HD Golf Center (you’ll need to make reservations ﬁve days in advance), where eight people can hit real balls with actual golf clubs on 19 different simulated courses.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Call 262-567- 6048 or visit www.oldehighlandergolf.com.
COST: Lift tickets $18, adults on week- end for a half day (10 a.m. – 4 p.m. or 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.), kids 12 and under, $12. Ski rentals, $25 half day.
DIRECTIONS: Take I-94 north toward Milwaukee; take the I-894 bypass which rejoins I-94 toward Madison. Drive approximately 25 miles to Oconomowoc exit #282 (Highway 67). Turn right on Highway 67, and the ski hill is 1 ½ miles ahead on your left. Approximate drive time: 2 hours.
The Mountain Top at the Grand Geneva
From snow shoeing to 18 downhill ski slopes and cross-country skiing on 10 kilometers of scenic winding trails, this expansive resort has it all. If you’re into water, not snow, spend the day at Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, the Grand Geneva’s 50,000 square-foot indoor waterpark. Best-kept secret: winter horseback riding. A guided trail ride through the woods is $30/person for 45 minutes. If there’s enough snow, four to ﬁve people can take a sleigh ride ($50 for 30 minutes).
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 888-392-8000 or visit www.grandgeneva.com.
COST: Lift tickets $33 half day, adults; $24, kids 11 and under. Ski rental $25, adults; $22, children. Water park “day tripper” passes include a hotel room and ﬁve waterpark passes from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. for $99, Sunday- Friday. Day tripper passes are sold on occasional Saturdays depending on occupancy; call reservations to check. DIRECTIONS: Take I-94 north to High- way 50 Kenosha/Lake Geneva west. Drive approximately 24 miles. Grand Geneva will be on your left. Drive time: approximately 2 hours.
Milwaukee Art Museum
If the $18 admission at Art Institute is getting you down, check out this stunning museum for a mere $12 for adults, free for children under age 12. Highlights include amazing architecture (the 2001 addition by Santiago Calatrava houses Café Calatrava and temporary exhibitions and features retractable wings), an impressive collection (don’t miss the Bradley Collection of Contemporary Art) and beautiful grounds with a spectacular view of Milwaukee’s lakefront. Don’t miss watching the “wings” open at 10 a.m. Tues-Sun, close and reopen at noon, and close again at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Thurs).
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 414-224- 3200 or visit www.mam.org.
DIRECTIONS: Take I-94 North to 794 East (exit 310C). Continue on 794 East to exit 1F and onto Lincoln Memorial Drive. The museum will be on your left. Drive time: 1 hour 45 minutes