Kid on a snowmobile in the winter in Madison, Wisconsin

Do you realize that in just more than one week, the kids will be out of school for winter break? Yikes! What will you do with them this year? Time for a pre-holiday day trip to let off some steam? Or maybe just stick close to home. Read on for some ideas.

Get out of town

How about a day (or a stay) at Boulder Junction? The Winter Celebration is happening on December 30, with even more fun things for the family to enjoy. These include a guided cross-country ski adventure (equipment will be available), sledding, ice skating, wagon rides, music, fireworks and, best of all, complimentary hot cocoa and chili.

If you want to stay for a night or two, check out these lodging ideas. Boulder Junction is about 3.5 hours north of Madison.

Eagle River calls itself the Snowmobile Capital of the World, so if snowmobiling is your favorite winter pastime, load up the family and head north. Eagle River, located east of Boulder Junction, offers 500 miles of forested trails for your snowmobiling pleasure. It’s also home to the World Championship Snowmobile Derby, held on January 18 through 21, 2018.

Want a trip with a shorter drive? Head to Cascade Mountain’s Snow Tube Park and enjoy the five, 800-foot long chutes. It’s a day the kids will long remember. It’s located a little less than an hour north of Madison on Interstate 90/94, exit 106.

Or, stay close to home

If your children are of the younger variety (age 12 and under), consider the open gym sessions at Legacy Academy Activities Center in Fitchburg (2881 Commerce Park Dr.).

They can have a blast and burn off some energy in the 6,000 square-foot playground (indoors, of course) that includes Skee ball machines, a small version of a bowling alley and a small merry-go-round, air hockey and a platform that they can jump off of into a landing pit.

Prices are reasonable, as well, only $6 per child. On the Legacy website you’ll notice that “An adult relative or a nanny hired by the parents is required to supervise any children present under the age of seven,” and this person will be admitted free of charge. The facility provides supervision for children between ages 7 and 12, at no charge. Check the website for current hours at or call 608-270-9977.

Take them on a treasure hunt

Geochaching is a blast for the whole family. In case you’ve never participated, it’s basically like a treasure hunt. Someone will hide a container with various items inside (that’s the cache) and then posts the location’s GPS coordinates online. You can find lots of them around Madison, many in our parks. The parks service publishes geocaching guidelines on the City of Madison’s website. In a nutshell, however, you should know that geocaching is prohibited in the following areas in Madison:

  •          Olbrich Botanical Gardens
  •          Forest Hill Cemetery
  •          All City of Madison conservations parks
  •          All city-run golf courses
  •          All sites with identified Indian mounds

All caches in the city’s parks will be hidden, not buried, so there’s no need to dig (digging, in fact, is prohibited).

The Wisconsin Geocaching Association offers lots of information, so visit them online at and find a list of Madison cache coordinates at

Drop them off

Need a break? Who doesn’t, especially during the holidays what with having to play Santa and all.

Drop the kids off for a day of fun at Wisconsin Youth Company’s all-day winter break program. They’re held in both Madison and Middleton and offer many activities that the kids will love.

Although the program is highly supervised, there are some enrollment and other restrictions and you can find those (and prices) online at


Posted by Jolenta Averill on
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