Top 5 Best Winter Outings for Families -
When the weather outside is frightful… or even just mildly cold, I’ve found Beloit, Wisconsin has a wonderland of indoor and outdoor winter activities to keep the tiny tots (and the rest of us) entertained. Here’s my list of this year’s Top 5 Best Winter Outings for Families:
5. The Beloit Public Library: “Literally” Anytime
The Beloit Public Library is a happening place. From teen book discussions to pre-k story time, there is an activity going on at the library almost every day. You can go here to see their full calendar.
I’m partial to the family movie parties on the weekends. I’ve never seen so many Olafs in one place. Kids’ movies usually feature less watching and more celebrating the characters we love through games.
4. Doodles’ Blank Canvas & “KIDDIE” Cocktails
Whether you’ve spent time with a paint brush or not, Doodles’ family friendly setting is a great place to spend an evening this winter. Guided classes add a bit of structure, so kids ages 6 -14 can really get into it. Parents can relax and paint or just watch. The registration fee includes a Kiddie Cocktail and all of the supplies.
Pick a date: Thursday nights from 5:30 PM – 7 PM downtown. It’s on the second floor above the old Café Fromage. Go here to double check the schedule, and be sure to sign up six days in advance.
3. Beloit Historical Society’s Hanchett-Bartlett Homestead
My kids love the house because unlike a lot of museums, Hanchett-Bartlett Homestead has a lot of display pieces that are not original to the house—that means you can touch them! Upstairs vintage toys and bedrooms tell the story of life in the house including the Hanchett children. The first time my family got a tour we even went up into the cupola.
You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the Victorian beauty and the great stories in this 19th Century Farmstead. The homestead was built by James Hanchett, the contractor and quarry owner who built Hanchett Hall in downtown Beloit. Later the home belonged to the Bartlett siblings, including Dr. Mary Bartlett—a prominent woman doctor in Beloit in the early 20th century who’d answer house calls by driving through people’s front yards.
On top of the interactive experience and the great volunteers who guide tours, the house has an interesting history that is integral to Beloit. You can visit the house by appointment if you call (608) 365-7835. Donations are accepted as visiting the house is free. It is heated in winter and has all the other modern conveniences that become important when planning outings for tiny bladders.
2. Beloit Auction & Realty
No, I’m not kidding. Beloit Auction has a fast-paced, family-run, and family friendly event every Wednesday from 4:30 PM until about 8 PM. My kids love the auction because Rich, the owner and lead auction caller is funny, there are interesting things to see and hear all around, the atmosphere is very welcoming, and they sell really reasonable concessions that my kids can afford with their allowance money.
My husband and I love the auction because we enjoy people watching. (The drama of the auction rivals a good tennis match–with all the competition, adrenaline, and prevailing good in humanity you find in Wimbledon). Often we find unique items we didn’t expect as well as stuff on our wish list– all for insanely low prices. An evening at the auction is always a winning experience. To see what’s coming up in the auction go here.
1. Winter Hike at Green-Rock Audubon Preserves
My favorite option! The worst part of Wisconsin winter (if you had to see a downside) is the general stir-craziness that starts to set in after the holidays. Every place on this list is a great option, but when I find myself doing yoga for the third time in a day and nothing else satisfies my kids besides running, jumping, and climbing the walls—it’s time to get outside. Green-Rock Audubon Society has four parcels of land on the west side of Beloit with groomed trails that are perfect for winter hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or just getting the wiggles out.
I love these properties, because they always seem truly wild, though they are so close to home. Spring Creek Reserve has a creek and secret pond you can stumble upon. All of the properties boast beautiful scenery; slumbering trees and frozen prairie plants have a special kind of elegance in the snow. My kids enjoy looking for tracks in the snow and trying to guess what animal made them.
The land reserves are totally free and open anytime for public use. I park on the road if it’s snowy; there are not many other cars to worry about. Otherwise I usually pull into the grass near the wooden signs at the entrance to the trails. Foot-traffic only means you won’t be sharing trails with snow mobiles—just you, the fam., and the winter air.
There are no bathrooms during the winter. My family and I usually make a stop at Woodman’s or the Rollette gas station on Madison Road before we head to the parks, but it’s also only about 2 miles down the road if we need civilization. Find out more about hiking the Audubon here.