Great places for winter activities - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Great places for winter activities

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The winter weather is here, so why not enjoy it? This weekend and the start to next week are ideal for winter sports and activities throughout Wisconsin! Lisa Marshall from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism shared some great places to go for several different winter activities and some hidden gems you might not know about in our state.

If you or someone you know is a fan of ice-skating, you might want to check out two fun outdoor urban locations in Wausau and Milwaukee. Milwaukee has its own version of the famous ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center in NYC that you see in movies and on TV. It's Red Arrow Park on North Water street and was voted "Best of Milwaukee" in a Shepherd's Express readers poll last year.  Starbucks is right there to stay caffeinated and warm. In downtown Wausau it's just called The 400 Block and it's located right in the main square.  Skating is free and a sporting goods store across the street rents ice skates for $10 a day.  Plenty of local restaurants, cafés and boutique stores around the square to visit and warm up.
 
For downhill skiing and snowboarding in Wisconsin, there's no place like Granite Peak at Rib Mountain in Wausau. It's the state's largest ski area. With the tallest vertical drop and 74 runs, it's a great place for expert skiers. High speed, 6-person Comet Express whisks you to the top for challenging black diamond and intermediate level runs. Two chalets and full service ski shop, learning school and more.
 
If you're just a beginner at skiing or if you want a great place for your family, you can check out Cascade Mountain in Portage. It's been recognized a number of times as a top ski area for families. They offer excellent lesson packages for both group and private lessons. Right now they have a "Learn to Turn" package for $89, which includes 8-hour ticket, rental equipment, helmet, and group lesson.  
 
If you're looking for a great hidden gem, you might want to check out some of Wisconsin's more than 250 cross-country ski trails. One of the best "hidden gems" is Winter Park in Minocqua. Winter Park has over 75 km of groomed and tracked trails and a separate snowshoe trail. They also have ski school and equipment rentals for both skis and snowshoes. If you or the kids get tired of skiing, Winter Park also offers snow tubing. 
 
The best place to cross country ski if you're expert is probably the Birkebeiner course from Cable to Hayward.  It's 52 km long but the good news is that they've created some shorter loops new Telemark Resort in Cable if you're not quite ready to do a marathon-length ski.
 
The best tip for snowshoe enthusiasts is to head to a nature center.  Many of them offer snowshoeing workshops and guided interpretive hikes with a naturalist. Treehaven Nature Center in Tomahawk offers a weekend snowshoe-making workshop Jan 18-20 where you will make your own functional pair of Ojibwa snowshoes.Horicon Marsh Education Center has a guided hike this Saturday and a candlelit hike on the 19th that will also feature kids activities. 
 
For more tips and outdoor places to go for fun click here.
 
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