5 Ways to Actually Enjoy a Midwest Winter

Words by Matthew Vanatta

There’s no way around it, Midwest winters are brutal. From November to March, and sometimes even longer, snow, wind and freezing temps can make things seem downright arctic. However, this doesn’t stop hardy Midwesterners from year-round enjoyment, as you can show up to any Midwest town in the middle of a cold snap to find warm spirits and good vibes. Midwesterners have developed a certain fortitude and thick skin when it comes to cold weather. Forged from resilience, toughness and when starting your car in the morning feels like a polar expedition. And while surviving a Midwest winter becomes easier with experience and acceptance, there are some surefire tips that can help anyone new to the area or visiting the Midwest in the dead of winter make it back without frostbite or the blues.

Gear Up

The weather can be wicked during a Midwest winter, but if you have the right gear you can survive anything. If you aren’t from the Midwest you might wake up to subzero temps and think that no one in their right mind would venture outside in such extreme weather, only to find there are many people going about their daily lives like it’s midsummer. Layers are essential during winter months, make sure you have a few pairs of long underwear, a good fleece, mittens, a beanie and down jacket.

Stay Active

This is essential for maintaining any type of sanity. You don’t want to end up stalking anyone through a hedge maze a la The Shining. When people are new to the Midwest they are usually dumbfounded to find people running, biking and sometimes cross-country skiing down snow-covered roads. Winter enthusiasts rejoice when Fall starts to roll in, and for good reason, as Midwesterners spend winter participating in everything from ice climbing and ice fishing, to surfing the frigid waters of the Great Lakes.

Drink Merrily

If you are from either coast and think you know how to party, come to Wisconsin in January. While your liver may cower in fear once you first step into a Midwest bar come winter, the rest of you will rejoice as good craft beers and core warming cocktails are served with cheer and jolly spirits throughout the shorter days of winter. People in the Midwest are generally kind and pretty welcoming, so find your favorite watering hole, hunker down and begin to thaw out. If if you’re more of the homebody, try your hand at brewing your own beer or cocktail infusions, lord knows you’ll have plenty of time on your hands.

Get Creative

Some of the best art is created when adverse weather keeps artists trapped indoors. Yes, this art is spurred by the maddening weather, but if you can find the balance between crazy and inspired you will emerge from winter with a catalog of new work. Learn how to tool leather, learn calligraphy, buy a pottery wheel, scrimshaw a knife or make your first photo zine, the winters in Midwest are the perfect time to harness your creative energy.

Travel Often

One of the best parts of the brutal Midwest winters is they inspire anyone with any sense to get out of Dodge for a bit. If you have been thinking about exploring Baja or meeting babes on the beaches of Rio De Janeiro, winter is a great time to plan your adventure. Dig out your summer clothes, throw them into a bag and go collect a sunburn that will make all of your friends stuck at home shake with envy.



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