Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue March 10 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | March 10, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Time Is Running Out To Enjoy These Winter Weekend Getaways

    Time Is Running Out To Enjoy These Winter Weekend Getaways

    After yet another winter snow storm cruelly drives travelers into hibernation as airports and roads shut down, it's time to consider another tactic. Rather than trying to beat the cold blasts by heading to tropical locales, why not embrace it? 

    Winter travel doesn't have to mean high-end ski lodges and big city prices. You can actually enjoy the snowy beauty of a frozen landscape in small Midwestern towns where charm and old-school fun rule. Here are my suggestions for stress-free winter travel weekends:

    Hocking Hills, Ohio

    Located just an hour from Columbus, Ohio, Hocking Hills is an unsung winter paradise. Noted for stunning frozen waterfalls that decorate the area's caves and nature preserves, you don't need skis or skills to enjoy Hocking Hills. With an Inn at Cedar Falls cottage equipped with a whirlpool and freshly baked cookies as a base, explore the ice formations and frozen falls of  the parks and then watch a maple syrup demonstration at Old Man Cave.

    For me, the highlight of a Hocking Hills visit is a hike to Saltpetre Cave State Nature Preserve to witness a Shawnee storytelling performance. The natural wonders of the landscape come to life as the heritage and history of Native Americans’ connection to the region is presented with stories, chants and songs.

    If you've had enough of the freezing temps, then there are several indoor adventures offered. The world's only pencil sharpener museum showcases a quirky collection of pencil sharpeners spanning seven decades. I really enjoyed visiting the Columbus Washboard Factory, the last remaining washboard company in the U.S.

    They display a surprising assortment of styles and finishes and even present washboard music demonstrations that you can join. I also recommend a jaunt to Rockmill Brewery, where beer and Ohio cheese pairings will inspire you to stock up on local beer and cheese before you head home.

    Galena, Illinois

    This historic 19th century town is on the National Register of Historic Places for good reason. Strolling through the cobblestone streets is like going back into time, when U.S. Presidents Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant made regular appearances. As Grant's hometown, you can visit his home as well as take a tour of the 19th century architecture that fills Galena.

    Covered in rolling hills, valleys and bluffs, Galena resembles a festive holiday card in the winter. My favorite place to stay is Cloran Mansion Bed & Breakfast, outfitted with lovely Victorian rooms and a gut-busting breakfast that often includes cinnamon swirl pancakes.

    Voted the second friendliest town in the US by Conde Nast Traveler, you won't have any problems finding something to do because people will always show you around or offer suggestions. I love sleigh rides and snow shoeing down the steep hills, but there's also Galena Cellars Vineyards and Winery for wine tasting, art galleries to explore and the required stop by Durty Gurt's Burger Joynt for the quintessential Galena lunch experience.

    St. Joseph's, Michigan

    Dubbed “The Riviera of the Midwest,” St. Joseph's sits atop a bluff along Lake Michigan's shore and is one of the prettiest towns in the region. I love to cozy up at South Cliff Inn, perched on a hill that supplies beautiful sunsets. Although it's known primarily as a beach town, St. Joe's offers lots of winter recreation as well.

    The annual ice carving festival turns the streets into a glistening winter wonderland and a trek to the iconic lighthouse to view its snow-covered transformation into an “ice monster” is a must. The Box Factory For The Arts will soak up loads of time with 28 art studies, three galleries and a gift shop. Antiques are a St. Joe hallmark all year round and you can pop into dozens of shops to dig and browse. Whatever you do, don't miss the Chocolate Cafe where the seven layer chocolate cake and assortment of hot chocolates makes it worth going out into the cold to partake.


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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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