Your travel plans don’t have to be placed on hold throughout the winter – they may just need a few adjustments. As long as it’s safe for you to travel by car, there are plenty of reasons why taking a trip in the winter makes sense.
1) Peace & Quiet:
There are far fewer crowds and you can often enjoy places of interests in solitude! Here in Madison County, almost all of our attractions are open year-round, including the covered bridges, parks, museums (both the John Wayne Birthplace & Museum and the Iowa Quilt Museum are open all four seasons), shops, restaurants, wineries and more. Now you can linger longer at your favorite locations without feeling rushed.
The covered bridges of Madison County are open to the public every day (no fee). If you want to stick to paved (cleared) roads, then visit the Imes Bridge in St. Charles and the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge in Winterset’s City Park. For a map or guided tour, contact the Madison County Chamber of Commerce. The John Wayne Birthplace & Museum is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm during the months of December, January, and February, and the Iowa Quilt Museum is open 10 am to 4 pm, Tuesdays-Saturdays, and 12-4 pm on Sundays.
There are over 20 retail stores on Winterset’s historic courthouse square, and most are open throughout the week and on Saturdays from 10 am to 5 pm (check individual store hours on Facebook), as are nearly a dozen eateries around town. On Saturday, February 9th from 10 am to 4 pm, the Winterset merchants are holding their annual Chocolate Walk. Stop by participating stores for chocolate samples of all kinds, and pick up something special for your Valentine!
2) It’s beautiful!:
What’s prettier than red bridges and barns popping against white snow? Or a charming town square decorated for the holidays? Grab your camera and get busy documenting the natural splendor of the season.
3) Master Your Craft:
Winter is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby or to spend time indoors making things with your own two hands, and Madison County has an abundance of places ready to guide you!
- Winterset Art Center – This art institution in Winterset offers year-round classes in the visual arts, taught by local professionals. Upcoming classes include photography, calligraphy, clay, and more.
- Covered Bridges Winery/Madhaus Gallery – Sip on Covered Bridges fine wines while creating your own masterpieces. Join Robin of Madhaus Gallery for Sunday Crafternoons at the Winery. Classes are from 2-4 pm (beverages and snacks are available for purchase). Click here for a full schedule of classes and music at the winery.
- 1st Avenue Collective – This artisan market in the old Madison County jail is always offering jewelry classes. January’s lineup includes Colorful Cuff Bracelets and Double Hoop Patina Earrings.
- Heartland Fiber – Learn to knit or take your skills to a new level at Heartland Fiber on Winterset’s town square. Be sure to join them for the Heartland Fiberpalooza on March 16th.
- Bricker Price Block – The renovated Bricker Price Block in Earlham offers a range of fun craft and cooking classes year-round, and winter is no exception. I have my eye on their Chocolate Candy Making Class, offered just a few days before Valentine’s Day.
- Winterset Public Library – The library is a huge resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. From genealogy help to gardening classes, book discussions for adults to story times for young children, there is always a lot happening at the library.
4) Get Fit with Flair!:
Mix up your workout with one of these fun fitness offerings in Madison County:
- Sk8n Station – Dust off your roller skates or rent them at the Sk8n Station in Winterset. Admission is only $6 (including rental) or $3 if you’re not skating (but what’s the fun in that?). Open Fridays and Saturdays from 7-10 pm.
- Take part in special winter activities offered by the Madison County Conservation Board, like snowshoeing or a night hike to Clark Tower, one of Iowa’s “hidden gems”.
- The Winterset Public Library offers fitness classes for older citizens, as well as a women’s self-defense class.
5) Let Them Entertain You:
Winter is award season. Whether you need to catch up on the latest movies, or want to revisit a classic, the Iowa Theater is a quaint yet state-of-the-art cinema right on the historic Winterset town square. Admission is only $6, and the concessions are fantastic – pair your Iowa-grown popcorn with real butter with a locally-made wine, cider or coffee. This winter, the theater’s popular Way Back Wednesday series features favorites like Roman Holiday and Strictly Ballroom, and popcorn is half-price those nights.
Image credit: Teddi Yaeger