That look of sheer desperation mixed with a glaze of ennui is our resting Winter Face. A quick shot out of town, even if the weather isn’t quite balmy yet, melts it to reveal that happy cherub that was us last summer. Break out of the cabin and get feverish about architecture, hiking, gaming, horseback riding, sampling new foods and spirits and more at these drive able destinations.

Galena, Illinois
(877) 464-2536
www.visitgalena.orgChicagoans flock to Galena to take in the stunning topography of hills and historic buildings perched upon them, offering a smidgen of Europe just a few hours west. Take a tour and have a snort of just distilled bourbon or gin at  Blaum Bros. Distilling Co., owned and operated by the titular brothers. Watch the beans get all toasty at Mean Bean Roasters, have a cup and then create your own custom gourmet coffee blend outfitted with a label you design. P.T. Murphy Magic Theater offers an all-ages show housed in a tiny space, making for a sweetly intimate experience. Winning Main St. eateries include the French/German Fritz and Frites and Fried Green Tomatoes, which turns out expert Italian inspired cuisine. Ask about the restaurants’s fascinating history. For a suite fit for a King and Queen a la Henry XIII and his (pick one) wife, The Goldmoor Inn, tucked away in the countryside, is a good bet while Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa has it all — rental homes, villas and rooms — plus activities from golf and kite flying to wine weekends.

Columbus, Indiana
(800) 468-6564
www.columbus.in.usThere IS another town in the Midwest known for its stunning architecture: Columbus, Indiana, boasting buildings designed by the likes of I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Deborah Berke, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese and others. Don’t miss the Eero Saarinen designed Miller House and Garden, called “America’s most significant modernist house, which will catapult you to the 1950s with its conversation pit, fanciful interior decor and checkerboard plantings of native flowers. Have a Green River at the restored turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor and museum, Zaharakos; and don’t leave without trying a Hoosier fave — the pounded pork tenderloin sandwich at The Columbus Bar. Stay at the boutique Hotel Indigo and walk to everything or sleep amid history at the Inn at Irwin Gardens B & B, an Edwardian mansion built in 1910.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
1721 W. Canal St.
Milwaukee WI 53233
(844) 217-4100
www.paysbig.comIf you’re into gaming, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s celebrates its 25th anniversary this spring with a slew of specials, the most prominent of which is its slots promotion, Reel Random Jackpots, from March 1 – June 30. The property, which began as a bingo hall and has grown to Wisconsin’s number one entertainment destination, now boasts slots, table games, off-track betting, a poker room, 500-seat performance venue with live comedy and music, a 381-room hotel and seven eateries including a just-opened full-service Asian restaurant, RuYi, for creative sushi, sake and Japanese whiskeys. If you like the ponies, watch the Run for the Roses  on a 20-foot mega screen, enter a hat contest for cash prizes, order a mint julep and place wagers on the Kentucky Derby. The hotel’s proximity to Miller Park makes it an ideal stay during any Cubs series in Milwaukee, too, as well as a base for touring other city attractions.

Related:  Best Roadside Attractions Near Chicago

Photo by Jacqueline Runice

Photo by Jacqueline Runice

Shelbyville And Bardstown, Kentucky
www.VisitBardstown.com
(800) 638-4877
www.VisitShelbyKY.com
(502) 633-6388If you’d like to astonish the next hipster bartender you encounter with your knowledge of his favorite drink, get to the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown, Kentucky. You can travel the area’s bourbon trail any time of the year, but spring also brings Bardstown’s inaugural Cocktail Week featuring creative cocktails, distillery/restaurant pairings, the Kentucky Bourbon Festival’s Mixed Drink Challenge and a Spring Sampler (April 27-30, 2016). Bardstown offers 16 B & B’s, including some that are kid-friendly (put ’em in the jail cell room at The Jailer’s Inn). Couples and girlfriends will go for Springhill Winery & Plantation B&B.  Shelbyville, American Saddlebred Capital of the World, is just a half hour north and a dream away for horse lovers. Take a horse farm tour to see how the magnificent animals are trained, enjoy horseback riding lessons or embark on a trail ride in the fresh spring air.

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
(877) 355-4278
www.elkhartlake.comThrongs buzz around the spring-fed lake all summer and have since the turn of the 20th century. Three original Victorian resorts still welcome and entertain visitors, and spring is fine time to avoid summer vacationeers.  Will it be the landmark Siebkens; Victorian Village’s rooms and condos or one of the 500 World’s Best Hotels — as per Travel + Leisure 2014 — The Osthoff Resort? The Osthoff is home to an award-winning spa and L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School so you can learn to make French desserts or the cuisine of Burgundy or sunny Provence. There are Easter activities and Jazz on the Vine in May — a weekend filled with international jazz and samples of more than 100 wines. Also in early May, Road America‘s Spring Vintage Weekend hosts over 200 participants racing in groups of grand touring cars, sports racers and formula cars. Have a cold one at the Stop-Inn Tavern at Siebkens, which is known to lubricate Road America’s racers all season.

Related: Best Places For Acupuncture In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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