Braving snow-covered sidewalks and below-zero temps on my morning commute accentuates the less glamorous side of winter. But in the right setting, snow and ice can bring out the best in some of the Midwest's best gathering spots. Below are three of my favorite winter respites in the region.
Seven Saints - Champaign, Illinois
As a proud University of Illinois alum, I can vouch that most of the time students don't venture too far away from campus. That said, Seven Saints is a Champaign restaurant well worth the trip -- and I spent a good deal of Sunday afternoons warming up with a cup of soup and sandwich at this cozy eatery on the outskirts of downtown. Seven Saints is especially welcoming for whiskey enthusiasts, with a wide selection ranging from Canadian and Irish whiskeys to bourbon and scotch.
Boyne Mountain - Boyne Falls, Michigan
The Midwest's ski slopes may pale in comparison to the West and Northeast -- but the buzzing atmosphere at Michigan's Boyne Mountain more than makes up for it. The Mountain Grand Lodge & Spa is a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, with downhill and cross country skiing, tubing, snow shoeing, horseback riding and ice skating, just to name a few. Plus, the lodge is a cozy gathering spot with bars and restaurants to gather and indulge your apres-ski appetite.
Copperstone Inn - Rockton, Illinois
Just a few miles from my childhood home lies a new, world-class bed and breakfast catering to those looking for a quiet, rustic chic retreat. The Copperstone Inn in Rockton, Illinois, is the perfect respite to seek solitude by a cozy fire as the snow piles up outside. Plus, a jacuzzi and full-service spa adds an upscale touch to a romantic weekend getaway.