Discover Wisconsin’s Winter Wonderland
Festive Activities and More
Group tour leaders appreciate that Wisconsin is a year-round destination. Options range from Christmas festivities to eagle watching and theatrical productions.
Rather than hibernate in winter, Wisconsin embraces the season. Whether you’re looking for some indoor coziness or rosy-cheeks fun in the frosty air, the choices are plentiful during the Christmas holidays and beyond.
Here are a few ideas to rev up your engines and warm your hearts when the snowflakes fall in Wisconsin:
1. Rotary Lights in La Crosse, Wisconsin
Gearing up for its 30th year in 2024, Rotary Lights at La Crosse’s Riverside Park offers an opening-night parade, musical entertainment, ice skating, a towering Christmas tree and free s’mores at the fire pits. There’s a live Nativity production, complete with animals, on select nights. Guests can walk, drive, or take a carriage or hayride through the fantasyland of more than 3 million lights. Santa and his reindeer are in attendance through December 23. Enjoyed by nearly 130,000 visitors every year, the free nightly extravaganza (food and cash donations accepted) runs from Thanksgiving weekend through New Year’s Eve.
2. Making Spirits Bright in Sheboygan, WI
For the 13th year in 2024, the nightly display of electric artistry will transform the winding roads of Sheboygan’s Evergreen Park into a winter wonderland. Choreographed to music, twinkling outlines in the light-festooned woodlands may range from a gingerbread house to a 3-D mega star and jolly hippopotamus. On Friday and Saturday nights at the Quarryview Center across from the park, visitors can board the trolley for their tour and will find concessions, entertainment and Santa Claus. The much-anticipated holiday spectacle (from the Friday after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve) is staged by the Rotary Clubs of Sheboygan County. Donations of cash and pantry items are welcome.
3. Winterfest in Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva’s annual Winterfest features the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship. During the first week in February along the shore of Geneva Lake, more than a dozen state-champion teams create larger-than-life sculptures out of massive 10-foot-tall blocks of snow. Steps away from the lakefront, the downtown Ice Sculpture Walk dazzles fest-goers with Instagram-worthy works of art. Winterfest, a free event, also includes live music and bonfires on the beach with hot chocolate and s’mores for purchase.
Geneva National Resort in Lake Geneva presents Winter Realms, a frozen fantasyland of caverns, crawl spaces, slides, tunnels, towers, thrones and snow sculptures. Illuminated at night with LED lights, the wintertime attraction, formerly called Ice Castles, includes a Polar Pub ice bar, ice slides, a tubing hill and horse-drawn wagon rides.
4. The Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson
One of the Midwest’s premier dinner theaters, this group-friendly venue will present Miracle on 34th Street from October 31 to December 22, 2024. Based on the classic movie, the big brassy Broadway musical tells the warm and funny story of Kris Kringle, a sweet and jolly old man who has to prove in court that he is the real Santa Claus. There are matinee and evening performances. Groups can choose from a three-course meal, four-course meal or buffet in the 1,000-seat restaurant.
5. Eagle Watching Around Prairie du Chien, WI
The Mississippi River Valley around Prairie du Chien is an ideal wintering habitat for the bald eagle. From early morning until about 3 p.m., the birds can be seen be seen soaring, perching in riverside trees and sitting on the ice. The best places to see eagles include Gordon’s Bay boat landing and nearby Lock and Dam #9, a short drive north of Prairie du Chien. A good viewing spot in Prairie du Chien is between the Blackhawk Avenue and Washington Street bridges.
6. Pabst Mansion at Christmastime in Milwaukee
The 1892 Milwaukee home of beer baron Frederick Pabst gets gussied up for the holidays, enhancing its Victorian splendor with glittering trees, elaborate garlands and other festive decorations. Christmas at the Pabst Mansion, an annual tradition, features self-guided tours from mid-November to early January. Special evening tours from Thursday to Saturday include live holiday music and drinks for purchase like spiced wine and hot pecan whiskey cider.
7. Nutcracker in the Castle at the Paine Art Center and Gardens
Running from mid-November to early January, the annual display of scenes from The Nutcracker fairytale enchants visitors to Paine Art Center and Gardens, which occupies a historic estate in Oshkosh. Guided tours feature live musical, acting and dance performances, and a special treat awaits in the Sugar Plum Fairy’s Cupcake Cafe. The Paine mansion also glows with 70 Christmas trees.
8. Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee, WI
Consisting of three glass domes standing seven stories high, this horticultural blockbuster is one of Milwaukee’s favorite attractions, especially at Christmastime. From mid-November to early January, “A Holiday Snow Globe” in the Floral Dome dazzles visitors with hundreds of poinsettias grouped with decorated spruce trees.
The annual Winter Train Show (January-March) feature a miniature train exhibit with 600 feet of tracks. New themes each year ensure every show is different, with unique props to set the scene and over 4,000 plants to create a stunning display. Also appealing in winter is the warmth provided by the Tropical Dome and Desert Dome, showplaces for exotic vegetation.
9. Wisconsin Stadium Tours for Sports Fans
Historic Lambeau Field, home of football’s Green Bay Packers, offers year-round, behind-the-scenes tours that take guests through the players’ tunnel and onto the track that circles the turf. On the main floor of the six-story atrium are entrances to 1919 Kitchen & Tap, open year-round for lunch and dinner, and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.
The Packers Pro Shop sells every kind of green-and-gold logo gear imaginable. A completely indoor tour experience awaits wintertime visitors to the Milwaukee Brewers’ American Family Field, a stadium covered by a retractable roof. Tours reveal some of the most restricted and non-public areas, including the playing field, visitors’ clubhouse and dugout, Brewers bullpen, luxury suite level and press box.
Looking for More Great Ideas?
Our annual planner will help you craft an unforgettable Upper Midwest group adventure with helpful attraction spotlights, itineraries and listings.