Best Winter Weekend Getaway at Governor Nelson State Park

By Samantha Loomis

Best Winter Weekend Getaway at Governor Nelson State Park

Oftentimes when we think of winter, we remember all of the snow we had to shovel this past year and how much salt we had to purchase for our sidewalks. We tend to forget that winter can be a pleasurable season filled with crackling fireplaces and the beauty that is an icy Mother Nature, as well as a joyous time to spend time with family. Experience a cozy winter weekend getaway near Governor Nelson State Park in Waunakee, Wisconsin. Remember what it feels like to enjoy the winter season.

Cameo Rose Victorian Country Inn, Belleville, WI

Wait, did someone say crackling fireplaces? How about crackling Victorian fireplaces? This rustic bed and breakfast was rated the fifth-best American romantic inn by American Historic Inns, according to Cameo Rose’s website. Filled with elegance and luxury, a weekend getaway here would entail relaxing rendezvous to the whirlpool room, breakfasts fit for kings—and queens—and soul-soothing solitude from the bustle of everyday life. Whether you enjoy a crisp walk on the inn’s 120 acres or would rather remain inside indulging in a favorite movie on a flat screen TV with fresh-baked goods, Cameo Rose can cater to your needs—and your family’s too.

Morningside Trail, Waunakee, WI

Yes, it’s as good as it sounds. In fact, it’s even better. Morningside Trail is a 2.4-mile loop that meanders through restored prairies. In the winter, trail-goers have the added options of skiing, snowshoeing, or bringing beloved pets along (on a leash, of course).

Spring Harbor Park, Madison, WI

Ruddy cheeks. The crunch of boots on ice. Hot Hands warming pockets. Sound familiar? Ice fish out of Spring Harbor Park or, if the ice is thick enough, travel on to Lake Mendota itself to drop a line. Spend the day in a rented ice shanty or brave the cold on a 10-gallon bucket flipped over to make a chair and experience a true Midwest winter. 

Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton, WI

While visiting Governor Nelson State Park it might be appropriate to spend a day at Pheasant Branch Conservancy, hiking, birdwatching, or snowshoeing—or maybe a combination of all three. Just a short distance away from the state park, the conservancy offers an awe-inspiring look at nature with 160 acres of land to explore. The conservancy is an experience family members of all ages will enjoy and cherish.

National Mustard Museum, Middleton, WI

Yes, you read that right—the National Mustard Museum. Most museums may be home to art pieces from previous decades, pharaohs encased in tombs, or modern architecture that may be just a little difficult to wrap your head around. This museum is home to more than 6,090 mustards from all 50 states and from more than 70 countries, according to the museum’s website. How about that! And here you thought the only mustards that mattered were yellow and Dijon.

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Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison, WI

It would be a bummer to travel so close to Wisconsin’s capitol city and not venture in for a tour of the capitol building. Witness the elegant first-floor rotunda, the Supreme Court Room, and maybe brush shoulders with members of the Wisconsin legislature. Go on a guided tour or simply wander around the building of your own accord, capturing snapshots of the interior decorations while you go. The Wisconsin State Capitol will surprise you with its beauty and charm.

Mousehouse Cheesehaus, Windsor, WI

Maybe the family is in the mood for something a little sillier and a little cheesier. Visit the Mousehouse Cheesehaus and experience at least 20 different cheeses all made in Wisconsin. More goodies than just cheese are available, the Mousehouse offers homemade fudge, sausages and other specialty foods such as maple syrup and honey. Don’t forget to pack your Cheesehead to wear while you’re there!

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McCarthy County Park, Cottage Grove, WI

While there aren’t many areas available for hunting purposes during the winter near Madison, Wisconsin, there is one park that allows limited trapping. Want to experience the thrill of the hunt? Trapping may be the answer. McCarthy County Park is 22 acres of wildland that contains any number of critters. Set your traps, and all you have to do is wait.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Madison, WI

Beyond a doubt, these gardens are nothing to sneeze at. Home to Bolz Conservatory, Olbrich offers a tropical indoor conservatory filled with exotic plants, fragrant flowers, free-flying birds, and a waterfall. Admission is affordable, even if the whole family decides to tag along. The air inside is humid and a great refresher during a mid-winter slump. 

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Drumlin Ridge Winery, Waunakee, WI

Leave the kids—if you have them—at the hotel or bring them with! Drumlin Ridge is family-owned and while obviously there are adult beverages available, the children can still roam the winery and learn about how wine is made. Tours are offered daily and walk-ins are welcome.

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