Great Indoor Getaways for Cold Winter Days

By State Senator Julie Lassa


Now that winter weather has set in, cabin fever is right around the corner.  Wisconsin offers lots of opportunities for outdoor winter recreation, but you may be looking for a family destination where you can have fun and stay warm.  Fortunately, there are many great indoor attractions in central and west central Wisconsin that can offer you a chance to get out of the house on a cold winter day.


In my hometown of Stevens Point, my family loves a trip to the Central Wisconsin Children’s Museum. Children and their families can get creative in hands-on art and media exhibits, learn about food in a play grocery store, get some exercise in the Healthy Heroes exhibit, and so much more.  Another great Stevens Point destination is the Museum of Natural History on the campus of UW-Stevens Point.  You’ll find everything from rocks and minerals to dinosaur fossils to dioramas of landscapes across North America, Native American exhibits, and even a reproduction of an African savanna and watering hole.


Learning by doing is the attraction at the Central Wisconsin Cultural Center in Wisconsin Rapids.  An ever-changing array of exhibits lets you try your hand at everything from making yarn to building a bee hive.  You’ll also enjoy displays of all kinds of art, photography and crafts from local artists.  The Wisconsin River Papermaking Museum, built in a historic Wisconsin Rapids mansion, is about much more than the history of one of the region’s most important industries.  You’ll learn about the growth and development of the community, and discover the fascinating history of the century-old home the museum is housed in.


There are two great history museums in the Tomah area.  The Historical Center at Fort McCoy is dedicated to the important role this 106-year-old U.S. Army installation has played in conflicts from World War I to Operation Desert Storm.  Along with artifacts documenting the history of agriculture, industry and business in Tomah, the Tomah Area Historical Society Museum has an exhibit dedicated to Tomah native Frank King, creator of the famous comic strip Gasoline Alley.  And no trip to the Tomah area would be complete without a stop at the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center in Warrens, which preserves the state’s cranberry growing heritage.   Hands-on exhibits help you learn everything you’d want to know about cranberries and how they’re grown and used, and you can enjoy lots of cranberry treats too.


Sparta is known both as the bicycle mecca of Wisconsin and as the birthplace of Deke Slayton, one of the original Mercury astronauts.  You can experience both at the Deke Slayton Memorial Space and Bicycle Museum, where you’ll see more than 80 historic bicycles, dozens of model planes, artifacts from Deke Slayton’s life and even a real moon rock.


Your local chamber of commerce or convention and visitors bureau can help you locate a fun indoor excursion near you.  There’s no need to sit in the house when so much discovery and fun awaits!