Is all that blue light from your computer screens giving your family a bad case of the winter blues?
If so, a stay in a Keefe Vacation Rental property on Lake Geneva or another of southeastern Wisconsin’s beautiful lakes provides an opportunity to unplug and get away. Offering something for every budget, Keefe’s well-appointed vacation rentals range from studio condos to lakeside estates.
All winter, southeastern Wisconsin bubbles with outdoor activities, including sledding, ice skating, hiking, skiing, and ice fishing. And in early February, Lake Geneva is hosting two outdoor events guaranteed to produce smiles and happy exhaustion by the end of the day.
Lake Geneva Winterfest/National Snow Sculpting Competition
February 3 – 7
This is the 26th year for Winterfest, with a host of activities centered on the 72-hour snow sculpting competition at Riviera Plaza and Flat Iron Park – the only national snow sculpting competition in the United States.
Visitors wind their way through the elaborately fashioned snow sculptures, many with themes drawn from fantasy and mythology. In addition, beginning Friday, February 5, more than two-dozen downtown Lake Geneva businesses will display sidewalk ice sculptures – perfect for taking selfies or creating a unique Instagram post.
On Friday through Sunday, TLS WindSled and Universal Hovercraft will offer hovercraft rides on Lake Geneva for one to six riders to experience the thrill of gliding on Geneva Lake’s frozen surface and get a new perspective on the sights along the lakeshore. Reservations and prepayment are required.
Several venues are hosting food and beverage events – for child and adult tastes. On Friday and Saturday night, bonfires will dot Riviera Beach where people can gather after purchasing hot chocolate and s’mores. In another family-friendly event, visitors can register to participate in the late-afternoon Cocoa Crawl on February 5. Downtown businesses will offer a variety of cocoas, sweet treats, and a free goody bag. For adults, the Baker House on Wrigley Drive is offering specialty cocktails, hot toddies, and warm food to enjoy by the fire pit, in heated cabanas, or in the indoor heating lounge. At the Maxwell Mansion on Baker Street, families are welcomed between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. for family-friendly activities, snow painting, and hot chocolate bombs. In the evening, those aged 21 and older can enjoy signature Maxwell Tiki beverages and swag, as well as live music on Saturday night.
For more information about Winterfest, visit www.visitlakegeneva.com .
Ice Castles in Lake Geneva
Ongoing, weather permitting
The Geneva National Resort and Club is the site of one of the four Ice Castles installations in the nation. Professional ice artists construct a fairyland of icicles entirely by hand – a frozen attraction that changes every day with weather conditions.
Datytime visitors blink at the brightness as the sun pierces the ice structure in the late afternoon. As the sun sets, the LED lights embedded in each part of the sculptural formations twinkle in time to piped-in music. Along the paths through the one-acre structure, signs point out the perfect spots for photo opportunities.
The smallest visitors seek out the little nooks within the ice creation, find tunnels to explore, and delight in the gently-sloped slides created especially for them. For attendees 42 inches and taller, a plastic sled is provided for a long, twisty turn inside one of the formations.
To keep warm, two Hot Shotties stands sell hand warmers, alcoholic and non-alcoholic hot drinks, and snacks. Fire barrels and log benches covered with fur blankets provide resting spots.
For more information about Lake Geneva Ice Castles, visit www.icecastles.com/wisconsin .
January 29 – February 2 with ongoing touring opportunities
Just a half-hour’s drive directly south of Lake Geneva lies Woodstock, Illinois – site of the filming of the 1993 classic movie Groundhog Day. Each year, the town celebrates Groundhog Day with a prognostication and four days of events saluting all things groundhog. While most indoor events had to be cancelled this year, the prognostication will still go on, and it’s possible to tour many of the filming locations.
Any visit to Woodstock must begin with a viewing of Groundhog Day, suitable for middle schoolers and up.
Walking around the town of 25,000 people, plaques mark where the movie’s iconic scenes were filmed – the curb where Phil Connors (Bill Murray) steps off into the puddle, the gazebo where Connors and Rita (Andie MacDowell) dance, and the corner where Ned Ryerson (Jeffrey Tobolowski) runs at Connors. For the full scoop on filming sites, view the Groundhog Day Walking Tour on YouTube, hosted by the film’s locations manager, Bob Hudgins. Visitors can also pick up a map of touring sites at the Woodstock Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry at 127 E. Calhoun Street.
At 7:00 a.m. on February 2, residents and visitors will gather in the Woodstock Square to see if Woodstock Willie predicts early spring or six more weeks of winter. Following the prognostication, the Woodstock Public House will host a Toast to World Peace on its patio.
For more information about Groundhog Days events, visit www.woodstockgroundhog.org .
A carefree vacation experience
With 20 years in the business, Keefe Vacation Rentals makes renting a vacation property an easy process. Following an online booking, renters receive a personal code and entry information for the property. Each condo or home is thoroughly cleaned and pre-stocked with paper goods, garbage bags, and soap. The management company is available 24/7 in case of an emergency. To check out, renters simply lock the front door and leave. Keefe Vacation Rentals takes care of the rest.
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