MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

New Year's Eve trip for a Chicago group

Hello! I am looking for suggestions for a good place to travel for New Year's Eve within a 3-4 hour drive from Chicago. My boyfriend's birthday is around this time and we have a small group of friends interested in a trip to celebrate. We'd like to find a place with some type of outdoor activity (hiking, skiing, etc) and a cool lodge or hotel where we could stay and celebrate the new year. I'm looking for a place that offers a balance of a peaceful/scenic/nature getaway and a not-too-isolated feel. Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks so much. - Elizabeth, Chicago

If you have a group, your best bet is to rent a cabin or cottage. They're available everywhere.

There are dozens available through VRBO and HomeAway in the Lake Geneva area alone, and one in Eagle (very close to the snowshoeing and skiing trails in Kettle Moraine State Forest) and a few in Whitewater. Check TripAdvisor's Flipkey and local listings, too.

Along the Illinois River, Starved Rock Lodge has cabins, plus an indoor pool and restaurant. There's cross-country skiing in Starved Rock State Park and at nearby Matthiessen State Park, and I'm pretty sure that snowshoeing into the many canyons would be a lot of fun. For more, see Marvels of Starved Rock.

Near Oregon, Ill., you could try the White Pines Inn, in White Pines Forest State Park.

You could ski downhill at Chestnut Mountain Resort near Galena, and there's a lot to do in town. Reviews of the lodge are mixed, so check them first. For more, see Outdoors in Galena.

You could try one of the lodges in Michigan state parks; there are lodges that sleep eight in Grand Haven and near Ludington. For more, see Michigan's great lake cabins.

In Madison and Milwaukee, there are many parks and nature centers in which you can ski or snowshoe, plus lots of festivities, nightlife and great places to eat.

Madison's big party is U.S. Bank Eve; in Milwaukee, you can go down to the lakefront New Year's Day for the Cool Fool Kite Festival.

For more ideas, check 10 great ways to celebrate New Year's.

Last updated on November 13, 2011