A weekend’s journey is closer than you might think. Check out these fun destinations that are close to home but still feel so far away.
A Swiss-Style Escape at Chalet Landhaus
By Sara Myers, multimedia editor
The winter season is officially here. For Midwesterners, this means two things: embrace the winter season and enjoy the snowy weather, or stay inside and warm up with fireplaces, hot drinks and comfort food.
Chalet Landhaus, in New Glarus, Wis., provides the best of both worlds.
The boutique hotel on Wisconsin Highway 69 transports its guests to Switzerland, in large part because of its signature style.
The hotel’s gabled roof and wide eaves look like they’re transported straight from the Swiss Alps. Balconies outside are decorated with red and white flowers – the colors of the Swiss flag, which you’ll see flying at the hotel office.
“Chalet Landhaus is like a giant Alpine Swiss lodge,” says Bekah Stauffacher, executive director of the New Glarus Chamber of Commerce. “It really fits the winter, cozy expedition feel. It’s right on the Sugar River State Trail. You can stay at the Landhaus and then hop right on that trail to hike or snowshoe.”
Inside, the décor reflects the charm of a Swiss lodge while still providing modern conveniences like a pool, a gym, cable TV and Wi-Fi. Recently remodeled suites include a full kitchen with a breakfast nook.
Chalet Landhaus greets visitors heading northbound toward downtown New Glarus, which is just a couple of blocks away. Its location just off the Sugar River recreation trail puts it in close touch with attractions like Swissland Miniature Golf, Fat Cat Coffee Works and the Chalet of the Golden Fleece Museum.
This time of year, the recreation trail especially appeals to snowmobilers, cross-country skiers or snowshoers, who you’ll spy passing the hotel throughout the day.
There are plenty of other outdoors activities to enjoy, too. Ice fishing is popular at Hoesly Pond, located about a quarter-mile north of the lodge. Guests can also enjoy a family gathering while renting the hotel’s pool house, located in a separate building.
Dining at Chalet Landhaus is an attraction in its own right, as the dining room’s main specialty is authentic Swiss food such as cheese fondue, Jaegerschnitzel, Wienerschnitzel, and both chicken and steak Rösti.
“We always push the comfort food aspect of New Glarus in the winter,” says Stauffacher. “It’s not only standard Wisconsin food, like cheese and sausage, but it’s also the fondue and schnitzels.”
To start planning a winter escape to New Glarus, head to swisstown.com.
A Winter Escape Awaits in LaSalle County
By Kathy Casstevens, marketing director, Starved Rock Lodge
Winter at Starved Rock Lodge is a quiet time. After the whirlwind of challenges forced upon us in 2020, we all need a new perspective, some fresh air and wide-open spaces. So, get up and go outside to see frozen waterfalls. Look up and see bald eagles in flight. Experience the joy of walking on a trail covered with freshly fallen snow.
When was the last time you got up early to watch the sun rise? If you go to the boat ramp at Starved Rock State Park, in Oglesby, Ill., or position yourself along the seawall near the Visitor Center, you’ll be amazed at the beauty of a brand new day.
Planning a getaway to a restful place where you can get some nature therapy could be just what you need to elevate your mood this winter. You can set up your remote office and laptop in your hotel room or cabin. You can work outside or at a table in the indoor pool complex. You can also take a much-needed break and swim a few laps or unwind in the hot tub between emails and Zoom meetings.
The Lodge’s Great Hall fireplace is always glowing and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, which brings the outdoors inside. There are several places to work in the warmth of this historic, architectural masterpiece, including desks on the second floor that are tucked away from public areas. You’ll have to wear a mask, and everyone around you will do the same.
Following important safety protocols continues to be a top priority at the Lodge. While Tier 3 mitigations continue statewide, indoor dining is prohibited but carryout meals are readily available from the Main Dining Room, Cafe and Trailheads on weekends.
Guided hikes and historic trolley tours are offered each weekend. Capacity is limited and social distancing is practiced. If you’ve never been to Starved Rock before, these activities will enhance what you see and do during your visit.
Join us for a narrated trolley ride to see Starved Rock’s winter wildlife in its natural habitat. This 2-hour trolley tour departs from the Lodge and takes guests on a tour through Buffalo Rock State Park to visit our resident bison. Then, you’ll travel to the Illinois Waterway Visitors Center observation deck to search for eagles. The tour will also introduce visitors to the history and legends of Starved Rock and the surrounding area.
Sled Dog demos are scheduled to take place on Jan. 17 and Feb. 28. Jason Hussong, musher and team leader with Free Spirit Siberian Husky Rescue, shares his useful knowledge of these amazing canines.
Check the Lodge’s website before each event to find details on each day’s schedule. Learn more and make your reservations at starvedrocklodge.com or by calling (815) 220-7386.