There’s no month that feels longer than January. The post-holiday blues set in hard for everyone, and winter realllly starts to drag. Wisconsin winters are famously long, but after a trip up to the winter wonderland that is Eagle River, you’ll actually wish they were longer. Replete with cozy cabins tucked away under towering pine trees—and an average annual snowfall of more than 100 inches—a 24-hour escape to Eagle River will help anyone break out of their January funk.
Like our previous trips in the summer and fall, with the full day, and maybe some cocktails with dinner, you might want to plan a stay over. Luckily, there are tons of lodging options for visitors to crash at here.
We started our day in the car, in the snow. It was coming down hard when we pulled into the Eagle River Roasters lot right at 7 a.m., easily covering the footprints of our boots as we ran inside. Once we ducked through the door though, any and all chill dispersed, replaced by the warmest little roastery. The nice ladies served us coffee and breakfast sandwiches while we discussed how the shop reminded us of the tiny coffee places our parents used to take us. It’s homey and cozy and the perfect spot to start your winter day in the north woods.
From there, we traded the car for a snowmobile, and hit the trails. There are more than 600 miles of snowmobiling trails wrapping around Eagle River, and with how much snow was piling up by the hour, it was easy to see why people preferred the “sleds” to cars. After being shown how to drive a snowmobile (and being advised to avoid hitting any trees), we started winding our way through what looked very much like a fairytale or the winter set of Narnia. The snow was weighing down branches as we zoomed underneath, curving around bends and little hills. Everything was green and white.
Once my arms got sore from gripping the steering column admittedly probably too hard, we decided to dismount and slow it down. We strapped on snowshoes and continued on, able to enjoy the scenery at a much more leisurely pace, without the concern of me plowing us into a pine tree. Sound travels slower in the winter, muffled by cold air and snow, so out in the woods, it was almost pin-drop silent. We didn’t see a soul and we couldn’t hear a thing, outside our own footsteps. This is exactly what we were hoping for. I could feel the work stress and city buzz melting into the background.
We hiked for a good hour before our stomachs started to complain, those breakfast sandwiches a distant memory, and a hot meal started sounding really good. We drove back into town to grab some lunch at Aiello’s on Wall Street, the cutest little Italian deli serving up hot sandwiches and fresh pasta salads. After stomping around in the snow and the cold all morning, to say that we scarfed down those subs would be an understatement. There is nothing, and I repeat, nothing, like good food after coming in from the cold. It will fix all that ails you.
To round out the day, having gone back to our hotel to change and clean up, we pulled into Bortolotti’s Cin Cin. This upscale spot has some of the best food in town, with great specials, incredible food, and just a nice, relaxed vibe. The most stressful part was picking something on their menu because everything sounded so good. We enjoyed cocktails and great pasta that warmed us up after being out in the Northwoods snow all day.
We left Eagle River the next morning, after what was possibly the best sleep of our lives, having absolutely dropped off the grid the day before. We didn’t check our phones and we had no grasp of what was going on in our e-mail; that’s partially because our phones died in the cold, but mostly because we wanted this trip especially to be an escape from our January blues. We wanted to commune with the outdoors in a way that really only feels genuine once you enter the Northwoods. It was the perfect 24-hour winter getaway to the woods, and it certainly made us wish that Wisconsin winters were just a little bit longer.
Our advice: get up there before the snow is gone. Spring will be here sooner than you think.