Forget Michigan. Chicagoans in the know tout Granite Peak as the Midwest's best. They aren't the only ones. "Ski Magazine" gave the mountain the #1 ranking for Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and Minnesota.
Its history is a quiet and romantic one: According to its website, Granite Peak's "700-foot mountain became a ski area in 1937, when Wausau residents cleared six runs by hand, installed the nationís longest ski lift and built the chalet with stone quarried nearby."
The last four years have seen considerable growth: the mountain now boasts 72 runs of various difficulty ranging from beginner to expert (including six tree-skiing glades, a terrain park and half-pipe), five new chairlifts (including Mid-Americaís longest high speed chairlift) and a base village with restaurants, premium skier services and shopping. After a long day on the slopes, grab a hot chocolate in the Reindeer Coffee Bar. Need something a bit stronger? Head to the Bear's Den Tavern and Saloon and try one of its many wines and microbrews.
The cozy ski town of Wausau offers extremely affordable lodging (generally $59-$80 a night) at a variety of inns, hotels and B&Bs; add in the town's restaurants, bars and boutiques, it's a perfect weekend getaway.
A season pass will run you $414. Sunday-Thursday night specials offer great savings; Tuesday and Thursday nights offer 2-for-1 lift tickets.