DISTANCE: 20 miles
THIS HISTORIC TOWN looks like it belongs in a snow globe even in the summer. When winter arrives, its cuteness kicks into high gear. Festive Friday Eves, a recurring event featuring live entertainment and carriage rides, takes place throughout the season. Families chop down spruces at Stumpf ’s U-Cut Christmas Tree Farm. And forget what you’ve heard about Santa’s belly jiggling like a bowl full of jelly; he presides over the Santa Dash Away 5K on Dec. 14.
DISTANCE: 55 miles
THIS IDYLLIC TOWN gets lit over the holidays. Every year, the Lake Geneva Electric Christmas Parade (Dec. 7) brightens Broad and Main streets with live music, floats and lots of lights. The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa strings more than 2 million lights around its property and offers $5 trolley tours of its grounds. And LED-illuminated ice castles are slated to welcome sightseers and knights-errant as soon as the weather gets cold enough.
DISTANCE: 90 miles
THE RESIDENTS OF RIPON often call their town the “birthplace of the Republican party.” But they could also call it the “living window capital of Wisconsin.” For nearly 30 years, they’ve been staging scenes from holiday classics like A Christmas Carol – complete with live actors decked out in Dickensian top hats and waistcoats – in many of their downtown storefronts. You can see them perform from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Dec. 7 while squeezing in some shopping, too.