Surprise your favorite Francophile with a romantic weekend at the historic (and aptly named) Hotel Charmant (thecharmanthotel.com) in La Crosse, Wisconsin, a quick three-hour drive from the Twin Cities. Winter is quiet in sleepy La Crosse, so bring a good book and enjoy a dinner at Lovechild, the town’s hottest restaurant, before finishing with a coffee and housemade chocolates in the hotel’s lobby bar.
Gather up the kids and head out to the Best Western Plus Country Inn near White Bear Lake. Stop downtown for doughnuts at Grandma’s Bakery, then drive three miles to Tamarack Nature Center. Rent cross-country skis or snowshoes and explore miles of trails around Tamarack and Fish lakes before returning to the hotel for blue-ribbon meatloaf and other classics at Rudy’s Redeye Grill.
For a stylish winter getaway, check in to Lora (lorahotel.com), the still-new boutique hotel carved into Stillwater’s sandstone cliffs. Kick off the weekend with craft cocktails at The Long Goodbye and dinner at Feller. Sleep late under Faribault Woolen Mill heritage blankets and stop for espresso and brioche at MADE before heading outdoors to climb the city’s five sets of famously steep San Francisco-style stairs—about 500 in all.
Make the most of Minnesota’s signature season with a weekend at Maplelag Resort (maplelag.com) in Callaway, about four and a half hours north of the Twin Cities. Check in to the rustic Finnish log cabin and head outside for cross-country skiing on nearly 50 miles of trails—or ice skating, sledding, and ice fishing on Little Sugarbush Lake. Relax in Minnesota’s largest hot tub before a hearty dinner followed by the legendary variety/talent show and dancing.
For a quintessential northern Minnesota weekend, pack up the family and decamp to Grand View Lodge (grandviewlodge.com) on Gull Lake, about two and a half hours north of the Twin Cities. Settle in at one of the cozy log cabins and then drive 15 minutes to Mount Ski Gull for an invigorating day of skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Continue the fun with dinner and live entertainment at Grand View’s Northwoods Pub.