Get Festive in the Great Lakes

Posted on December 21, 2015.

51ab6633e0With six states to explore, the Great Lakes celebrates the festive season like nowhere else. From world class shopping to unique New Year’s traditions, below is just a taster of what the Great Lakes has to offer this Christmas time.


There is no such thing as the “winter blues” in Wisconsin. Snow and ice transform Wisconsin into a winter playground that draws foodies, athletes and festival goers of all kinds for world-renowned events. Instead of a traditional bowling ball, why not use dinner to knock down some pins? A frozen turkey is hurled across the floor (or across the ice) towards the pins in this frozen twist on traditional bowling. Popular across Wisconsin during winter, you can find out more at


You’ve heard of the dropping of the ball as midnight strikes for the New Year, but in Ohio things are a little different. Ring in the New Year in the “Walleye Capital of the World” as Wylie the Walleye Jr., a 20-foot, 600-pound walleye, drops 20 feet from the sky at the stroke of midnight at the Walleye Madness at Midnight in Port Clinton, Ohio.


Get your maps and eye patches at the ready for a state wide scavenger hunt in Minnesota. Called “Checkpoint MN” the hunt highlights 10 iconic destinations that can be found only in Minnesota during the winter season. The scavenger hunt runs December 3 through January 31, 2016.

The 10 checkpoints can be found at:

  1. Voyageurs National Park, Rainy Lake Visitors Center, International Falls
  2. World’s Largest Free Standing Hockey Stick & Puck, Eveleth
  3. Lowell Park, Stillwater
  4. TCF Bank Stadium, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  5. August Schell Brewing Company, New Ulm
  6. Zumbrota Covered Bridge, Zumbrota
  7. Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, Onamia
  8. Hopperstad Stave Church at the Hjemkomst Center, Moorhead
  9. Cuyuna State Recreation Area, Crosby-Ironton
  10. Arctic Cat, Inc., Thief River Falls

If you are taking on the “Checkpoint MN” challenge share your finds on social media using #OnlyinMN and #CheckpointMN. Find out more at


Christmas time is a great excuse to do some serious shopping. In Illinois that means browsing upscale boulevards all decked out for the holidays, finding bargains at sprawling outlet malls and discovering one-of-a-kind gems at seasonal festivals. One of the most timeless Christmas celebrations takes place within the quaint Main Market Square of Nuremberg, Germany. A tradition that is recreated in Chicago’s loop at the 20th annual Christkindlmarket. Chicago’s Christkindlmarket features a variety of vendors selling authentic German products, food and drink.


In Michigan you can celebrate Christmas in Christmas, a small town in Michigan’s Northern Peninsula. Two hours north of the bridge will not only get you closer to the North Pole, but you will be within minutes of Santa’s Workshop, home to the Old Lady in The Shoe and the world’s tallest Santa Claus. There will always be something special about visiting Santa Claus in Christmas, Michigan.

And don’t forget you can also:

  • see the Circle of Lights in Indianapolis, Indiana, voted by Travelocity as one of the top five ‘must see Christmas trees in the US’
  •  take your pet to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota to have their photo taken with Santa
  • step into a Christmas card from the past with Holiday Nights at the Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Detroit, voted Top Holiday Event by USA Today and Reader’s Digest. With lantern-lit paths, costumed presenters, horse-drawn wagons and Model T rides, plus Santa with live reindeer, Holiday Nights is a perfect way to celebrate Christmas, right down to the spectacular fireworks display that provides a dazzling finale to each and every evening
  • visit Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys in America’s largest free walk through light show at Bentleyville in Duluth, Minnesota
  • enjoy Christmas with the Lincolns in Springfield, Illinois and discover how the Lincoln family celebrated the holidays by taking a tour through the Lincoln Home.