By Hayden Walker & Jane Ko
What’s your idea of the perfect Winter Wonderland during the holidays? Perhaps its the image of a snowy day, a cup of hot coco and a cozy fireplace. Maybe its that comforting feeling of quality time with your friends and family, great food and the welcoming atmosphere of home. These are all part of that classic image of American holiday traditions that most of us have grown up to cherish and love. Of course, if you’ve lived in the generally warm and snowless city of Austin for all or most of your life, the winter wonderland is something you may have never experienced before.
If you’re looking for the perfect holiday experience, I dare you to step outside your boundaries this season by giving your family an experience that’s just not possible in our part of the country. Deep in the heart one of the most beautiful villages of Wisconsin, Elkhart Lake offers to fulfill your holiday experience with a winter vacation Clark W. Griswald himself could only dream of! The Osthoff Resort is a gorgeous AAA Four Diamond property offering 245 spacious suites that guarantee the perfect holiday getaway.
Each suite at the Osthoff is truly in a class all it’s own with a spacious layout and luxurious interior that will make any visitor feel like a VIP. Each suite features a fully stocked kitchen, dining area and a comfy living room with a large flat screen TV, fireplace and private balcony providing plenty of room to feel right at home! The bedroom features an amazingly comfortable king sized bed with large walk in closets and a 32 inch flat screen TV that will make you never want to get up. The bathroom defines luxury in every possible way, with a large Jacuzzi bathtub and separate walk-in shower.
Relax – Aspira Spa
Before going out to enjoy the holiday hustle and bustle, enjoy a treatment at the award-winning Aspira Spa (www.aspiraspa.com). Aspira Spa provides a holistic, organic approach to the spa experience, offering personalized services that reflect the ancient healing wisdom of indigenous peoples from around the world. Aspira extensive menu of services includes massages, facials, color therapy, hydrotherapy, salon services, spa manicures and pedicures proving to be one of the Midwest’s premier spas, you’ll be sure to leave Aspira relaxed and rejuvenated.
Lake Street Café
Just a few steps from the resort, Lake Street Café is a family-style pizzeria and restaurant serving California bistro-style food, wood-fired pizzas and irresistible entrees complemented by a variety of local beer and wine. This family-style cafe and bar provides a cozy dining room, a stupendous wine list, spectacular martinis, and a menu that includes a melt-in-your-mouth filet or fresh fish, served to order. Combine that with all fresh ingredients, and you’ve got the makings of a comforting meal guaranteed to leave your belly satisfied.
Back Porch Bistro
This quaint little spot features a seasonal menu with locally grown and homemade cuisine that’s downright perfect for the wintry weather. Once a thriving speakeasy during Prohibition era, the little spot now serves a seasonal menu of steak, fish, poultry, and pasta with artisanal cheeses and fresh warm homemade bread. Coupled with a picturesque fireplace, Christmas trees, and outstanding cuisine, the Backporch Bistro is a perfect spot to add on a few extra holiday pounds for winter hibernation. If you’re looking for lighter fare, put your worries aside and save a few hundred calories with several wonderful low cal selections that won’t have you pull out your stretchy pants.
If you’re not in the mood to venture outside the steps of the resort, but still want to enjoy a meal made for royalty, Lola’s On The Lake awaits your reservation. While dining on an eclectic menu created by their award-winning culinary team you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Elkhart Lake during lunch or dinner creating a most exceptional experience that’s romantic as the season itself.
L’ecole de la Maison
Whether you love to cook and want to enhance your culinary skills, or you just enjoy learning about French Cuisine and other great food, L’ecole de la Maison cooking school (http://www.cookingschoolatosthoff.com) is a great environment to develop your passion. Those interested in a culinary adventure can learn to prepare a multi-course French gourmet meal in the school’s state-of-the-art kitchen where the fruits of your labor will be truly delicious!
The Winter Wonder Land
Old World Christmas Market
Experience the holiday “gemütlichkeit” of a traditional European Christmas Market, reminiscent of the centuries-old German Christkindlesmarkt. Beautiful European gifts, hand-carved wooden toys, blown-glass ornaments, homemade reindeer gloves (only $10!), real and fur hats (best investment piece in my closet). The sweet aroma of gingerbread, hot mulled wine, and roast bratwurst filled the crisp winter air as we strolled through the market. We stopped to take a photo in the snow with real reindeer! Admission: $6 for adults.
Off The Rail Cafe
This little red coffee shop is a jewel among the community. Formerly a train station, Off The Rail offers a fantastic menu for breakfast and lunch as well as speciality coffees and tea. You’ll also find a decent selection of wine and beer as well as some homemade baked goods. This is one of the most authentic small town cafes you’ll ever see. Owners Kelly and Daniel opened the cafe in 2010, and haven’t looked back since. This cozy little community cafe is an absolute treasure and is one of the must see spots in Elkhart Lake.