It’s that time of year: snow is falling, temperatures are below freezing, and you’re looking for a brief escape to forget about all of the shoveling, salting, and shivering. If you’re not jetting off to somewhere sunny, consider embracing the cold and enjoying a winter weekend getaway in the Midwest.
Experience a different kind of vacation and embrace all the Midwest has to offer this time of year. There’s skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and plenty of other icy activities to excite you and your family. Or, you can stay in a comfy cabin or luxurious resort with your partner and just soak up the warmth of a roaring fire. Whatever you choose, there’s something for everyone during winter in the Midwest.
Here are 6 locations in the Midwest that are great for a winter weekend getaway. The best part: they’re all within about 3 hours of Chicago!
Travel Time: 2 hours 52 minutes
If you’re looking for an escape unlike any other in the area, head to Galena. While prehistoric glaciers flattened most of Illinois, Galena remained untouched. As such, the area is rife with deep valleys, steep bluffs, and hills. Spend a day at Chestnut Mountain Resort and ski the slopes; you’ll feel like you’ve traveled much farther than Northern Illinois.
Not a big skiing fan? The town itself has a rich history: 85 percent of its buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places! Stay at one of the charming inns–such as 305 N Main–and enjoy the lively downtown district filled with shopping, dining, and more. Don’t forget to visit the home of General Ulysses S. Grant while you’re in town!
Lake Geneva, WI
Travel Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
A favorite among Chicagoans, Lake Geneva is only 90 minutes northwest of downtown, but its small-town atmosphere leaves you feeling as though you’ve traveled hours into northern Wisconsin. Whether you enjoy spending your time shopping, touring breweries and distilleries, or even observing ice castles, Lake Geneva has an activity to please everyone in your party.
If you don’t have a full weekend to get away, Lake Geneva is perfect for a day trip: grab some food at Oakfire or another lakeside restaurant, get coffee at Avant Cycle Cafe and wander the downtown district, or bundle up and follow the Lake Geneva Shore Path before heading back home.
Travel Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Just 100 miles southwest of Chicago, Utica is an old mining town that sits along the Illinois River. Although central Illinois is notoriously flat, the scenery around Utica is stunning, with Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Parks boasting canyons, thick forests, and rolling hills.
Stay in the beautiful, historic cabins at Starved Rock for a romantic getaway. Or, bring the whole family and spend the weekend at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort, where the kids can roam the waterpark while you hit up the Lazy River or soak in a hot tub.
Travel Time: 2 hours 46 minutes
On the east side of Indiana is a little town called Angola. Located in Steuben County, Angola is surrounded by 101 lakes, so it’s a great place to bring your boat during summer. However, there are plenty of winter activities that also make Angola a fun place to sneak away for a day or two.
For instance, you can visit Pokagon State Park and take in the icy beauty of nature, enjoy some cross country skiing, or slide down the 90-foot toboggan run at about 40mph. If you’d rather stay indoors, you could try ice skating at the Thunder Ice Arena or shop to your heart’s content at the Outlet Shoppes at Fremont. Looking to stay the night? Book a room at the Potawatomi Inn on the shores of Lake James and sit by the fire as you reminisce about your day.
Travel Time: 3 hours
Nestled on the banks of Lake Wisconsin, Merrimac is the winter wonderland you’ve been looking for, with some of the coziest-looking cabins in the state! Book a weekend at Rustic Ridge Log Cabins with your significant other and enjoy some alone time.
Or, stay at Devil’s Head Resort, where you can ski the slopes or stay indoors and enjoy the pool or game room. There’s also Devil’s Lake State Park where you can borrow some free snowshoes and hike among the frosty pines.
Grand Haven, MI
Travel Time: 2 hours 53 minutes
Grand Haven is a town full of history on the shores of Lake Michigan. Originally a fur trading and lumbering town, the scenic lakeside locale now attracts people from every state who enjoy the natural beauty and lifestyle it offers. Although Grand Haven is a perfect place to visit during summer, there’s plenty to do even when it’s chilly outside. The town even holds a Winterfest in January complete with every winter activity you can imagine!
Grand Haven has many offerings for those adult group getaways, such as brewery tours, tastings at wine rooms, and close proximity to Vander Mill. It also has some of the coziest Airbnbs, many of which offer that sweet lakeside charm that makes Grand Haven so unique.
Hopefully, you’ll visit one of these awesome towns for a winter weekend getaway with your family in 2020. If you’re looking for information on the local housing market during these chilly winter months, contact me today for more information.
So you’ve checked your credit score, you feel confident in your finances, and you’re ready to start your home search! You’ve scoured Zillow, Trulia, and other listing sites for homes, and you have a list of potential houses to see.
But wait: is this a good time to buy? How do I know I’m getting a good deal? And why do houses seem to be disappearing overnight?
Before you go crazy making appointments to see houses, consider speaking with a professional about your home search. Realtors are great resources for information, and you should always consult with one before diving into a contract. Two big things they can help you understand are the difference between a buyer’s market and a seller’s market and how both cycles affect the homes available to you.
What do you mean there are different markets?
The real estate market is full of ups and downs, similar to a roller coaster. Changes are controlled by the law of supply and demand, and contributing factors include area, seasons, and the financial market. That’s right, it’s ECON 101 all over again!
With real estate markets, you want to focus on “housing supply” and “housing demand”.
An agent can walk you through the specific factors that affect the market of any neighborhood you’re investigating. But, here is a guide to understand the features of each market and what to expect when buying.
What is a buyer’s market?
In a buyer’s market, housing supply exceeds housing demand. In other words, the supply of homes for sale is higher than the supply of buyers searching for a home.
Sellers may see their property sitting on the market longer (about 6 to 9 months), and prices/negotiations are favorable for buyers. Sellers may often get crafty to sell their home ahead of the competition with home staging, incentives, etc.
What is a seller’s market?
A seller’s market is the opposite of a buyer’s market: so many buyers are searching for homes that their demand exceeds the supply of houses for sale.
As there are often multiple bids on each property (also known as “bidding wars”), buyers may have to spend more than they want to beat the competition. Homes sell quickly—sometimes in hours or days—and showing appointments must be made ASAP to avoid a house selling before you can even see it.
Is there anything in between these two markets?
Yes! A market that has equal amounts of buyers and sellers is a balanced market. In this situation, home prices can remain stable and bidding wars are reserved for special situations.
So what does the current housing market look like?
This is a great question with a vague answer: it depends on where you’re looking. The housing market can vary by city or state, taking into account factors such as cost of living, schools, neighborhoods, etc.
Northwest Indiana is a sought after region! Many Illinois residents are moving to Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and Jasper Counties as public transportation and other infrastructure improvements make it possible to commute to Chicago from out of state.
Additionally, the South Shore CVA lists lower taxes, great schools, and increasing home values as factors that have piqued the interest of buyers. With all of this in mind and median home prices on the rise, it’s fair to say Northwest Indiana is currently experiencing a seller’s market.
However, as previously stated, the market oscillates frequently. While the current market will ideally last through the end of the year, 2020 could bring Northwest Indiana much different circumstances that affect home sales.
Supply and demand are the main factors that influence the housing market. When buyer demand is high and selling supply is low, we have a seller’s market. When demand is low but supply is high, we experience a buyer’s market. And, when supply and demand match, we have a balanced market.
Northwest Indiana is currently experiencing a seller’s market, with many regional features creating a high demand from buyers and driving up median selling prices.
Each market comes with its own benefits and challenges, and seeking a home at the right time can be crucial to getting a good deal in your dream neighborhood. Speaking with a professional about your home search should be at the top of your list of priorities before you start!