MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Inn retreats

If you don't like the weather, spend a weekend where everything is under one roof.

Chicago's Marina City complex.

© Torsten Muller

Chicago's Marina City complex includes the Hotel Chicago and the House of Blues.

In winter, not everyone wants to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.

Many people would rather enjoy down comforters, hot toddies and a massage. Many people don't even want to look at snow and ice.

And that's possible at many inns and resorts. Some include a spa or dinner theater, others shops and restaurants, and a few offer a whole weekend's worth of entertainment under one roof.

In Duluth, the Fitger's complex includes a hotel, restaurants, Aveda day spa, shops, dinner theater, nightclub and a brewpub with live music. In Milwaukee, the InterContinental is connected to the Pabst Theater and Marcus Center, and concert and theater patrons never have to go outdoors.

In eastern Wisconsin, guests at the Osthoff Resort can sign up for classes at its large cooking school and services at its spa.

There's a place for every taste. Below are some of the best candidates for an under-one-roof vacation. If you can stay on weekdays, you'll save a bundle — and for weekends, reserve as early as possible.

WISCONSIN

InterContinental Hotel in Milwaukee: The former Wyndham at Milwaukee and Kilbourn avenues is connected to the ornate Pabst Theater and the modern Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

It includes Kil@wat restaurant and a fitness center with steam rooms and saunas.

The Pabst hosts plays and concerts, and the Marcus Center presents touring Broadway shows and is the home of a  symphony, ballet, opera, theater and children's theater.

For more, see Milwaukee stories.

Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.  This large and luxurious resort in eastern Wisconsin town includes the Ecole de Cuisine culinary school and the Aspira Spa, both with an extensive menu of offerings.

The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.

© Beth Gauper

In Elkhart Lake, the Osthoff Resort includes a cooking school and a spa.

There's also a pool, whirlpools, game room, fitness center, yoga room and two restaurants. Special events include the Old World Christmas Market in December, the Big Band Gala in March and Jazz on the Vine in May.

For more about its cooking classes, see Now they're cooking.

A weekend in Ireland: In eastern Wisconsin, three sister inns include handsome Irish restaurants and pubs that host live music.

In Plymouth, 52 Stafford is an 1892 hotel renovated into a Irish inn with a beautiful restaurant and pub that features cherry millwork and Celtic-themed stained and etched glass.

In Green Bay, St. Brendan’s Inn is a newly built boutique hotel on the Fox River in downtown Green Bay.

On the edge of downtown Milwaukee, the County Clare has comfortable rooms above its sunny pub.

Water parks in Wisconsin Dells: The big water-park resorts are great for families, but it's surprising how many people come to the Dells without children. 

The three biggest resorts — Great Wolf, Wilderness and Kalahari — also are convention centers, with shopping and entertainment under one roof. And there's a 15-screen movie complex next to the Kalahari.

MINNESOTA

Fitgers in Duluth: There's a lot to do in the old Fitger's brewery complex on Lake Superior. It houses Fitger's hotel, a day spa, the Red Star Lounge nightclub and the Brewhouse Brewery and Grill, which often hosts live music.

It also has a coffeehouse, a wine shop, a brewery museum, a bookstore, clothing stores and the classy Midi Restaurant & Wine Bar, which serves a Mediterranean-Asian-continental menu.

If you're in town for a show at DECC or a game at Amsoil Arena, show your ticket and you'll get a 15 percent discount on your room. The hotel also offers many packages.

For more, see Duluth 101.

The State Theatre on Hennepin in Minneapolis.

© Beth Gauper

In downtown Minneapolis, skyways connect hotels to the theater district.

St. James Hotel in Red Wing: This 1875 hotel has 60 individually decorated rooms in old and new wings; many people prefer the older rooms. An inside court is lined with small shops, a spa and a coffeehouse.

There are two restaurants and live music on Friday nights at Jimmy's pub. The St. James offers many packages.

For more, see Roaming in Red Wing.

Downtown Minneapolis. Nearly all of the attractions, shops and restaurants in downtown Minneapolis are on the eight-mile system of glass skyways that cross streets.

Nearly all the hotels are, too, including Loews Minneapolis Hotel, formerly Graves 601, across from Target Center and Block E, the Westin and Marquette near Nicollet Mall and Macy's and the Hilton near Orchestra Hall.

The Depot hotels are in a historic complex at the edge of downtown, closer to the river. They're not on the skyway system, but they include a 10,000-square-foot indoor water park and a large ice-skating rink in the old train shed, now with floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

Radisson Blu in Bloomington. This modern, 13-story hotel is the only one linked to the Mall of America by skyway. You know what that means — as much indoor shopping, eating and amusement-park riding as you can handle.

For more, see Shopping at the Megamall.

Archer House River Inn in Northfield: This 1877 landmark on Division Street has 36 individually decorated rooms, some with two beds, and includes two restaurants under its roof and adjoining shops.

Many shops and coffeehouses are within two blocks. Go to a free concert at St. Olaf College or lecture at Carleton College and make it a cheap getaway.

For more, see Scrappy Northfield.

IOWA

Hotel Pattee in Perry. This gorgeous Arts and Crafts boutique hotel sits in a drab farm town 40 minutes northwest of Des Moines. Luckily, you don't need to leave the hotel, because it has a spa, bowling alley, steam room and sauna, restaurant and lounge.

The lobby of Perry's Hotel Pattee.

© Beth Gauper

The lobby of the Hotel Pattee gleams from mahogany paneling, leather furniture and original oil paintings.

Perhaps the most entertaining thing to do there is to tour the 40 rooms, each individually decorated to honor its namesakes: Louis Armstrong, who once stayed in the old hotel; furniture designer Gustav Stickley; designer William Morris; and many ethnic groups.

The hotel offers women's sleepovers, couples getaways and other packages. For more, see Perry's palace.

ILLINOIS

Irish in Galena: In Galena, the Irish Cottage Boutique Hotel includes a spa as well as Frank O'Dowd's Pub & Grill, which features music and Irish dancers every Friday and Saturday evenings.

For more, see Galena getaway.

Hotel Chicago/House of Blues, Chicago. This Marriott hotel and adjacent club in the Marina City complex on the Chicago River, also called the corncobs, allow hotel guests to take in a concert or weekend gospel brunch at the House of Blues.

There are also a steakhouse, Italian restaurant, wine bar and two lounges in the complex, and State Street is a few steps away.

For more, see our Chicago stories.


Last updated on November 20, 2014

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