Group-friendly four-season destinations, like those that welcome business throughout Wisconsin, present planners with opportunities to stage new and exciting agendas for attendees at different times of year.
During a winter meeting, a guided snowshoe adventure or sleigh ride are group options, and in summer groups can attend a festival after a kayaking outing. Springtime is a good time to cheer on a local baseball team, and in autumn groups will enjoy an outing to taste some locally brewed beer.
Following are more great ideas to enliven events with seasonal fun.
The colder winter months are upon us, which means both indoor entertainment and snowy pursuits outside the meeting room.
The performing arts scene in Milwaukee, particularly at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, kicks into high gear during winter, according to Jeff Baryenbruch, executive director of sales at VISIT Milwaukee.
“Convention attendees get a real taste of the history and architecture of Milwaukee at music and comedy shows in unique venues, including a vintage former opera house, a restored vaudeville theater and a former German ballroom,” he said.
The Appleton-based Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, which hosts group gatherings, also has a calendar of productions and offers group ticket sales.
A naturalist-guided snowshoe hike at The Ridges Sanctuary awaits groups meeting in Door County, and groups convening in Madison in early February can check out the Frozen Assets Festival.
Festival activities include ice-skating and sleigh rides and, according to Greater Madison CVB spokesperson Rob Gard, festivalgoers can “shake off the chill by toasting s’mores or grabbing a cup of free hot chocolate.”
The new Titletown District located next to historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay is under construction and this season introduces a snow-tubing hill and ice-skating rink.
“Nearby Leaps & Bounds Cafe inside Lodge Kohler has lattes and coffee, or head into Hinterland Brewery for a Packerland Pilsner,” said Brenda Krainik, director of marketing and communications for the Greater Green Bay CVB.
Many other cozy indoor options are available throughout the state, from a show at Tristan Crist Magic Theatre in Lake Geneva to the Wisconsin Dells-based Knuckleheads Trampoline Park, where attendees can bounce, bowl, ride go-karts and more.
The Waukesha-based Veloce Indoor Speedway is another go-kart facility that’s great for teambuilding and social events, and offers exclusive access to the entire facility.
“Attached to Veloce is Point Burger Bar, a local favorite where you can build your own burger,” said Tammy Tritz, executive director for the Waukesha Pewaukee CVB.
Any time of year is a good time for a spa visit, including in early spring when it’s still a little chilly out.
In Lake Geneva, there is a full menu of treatments, including massages, facials and manis/pedis, at both the WELL Spa at Grand Geneva Resort and at Abbey Resort’s Avani Spa.
Both resorts also offer on-site recreational pursuits in all seasons, including Immersion, a new virtual entertainment center at Abbey Resort, and two championship golf courses, disc golf and archery at Grand Geneva Resort.
Springtime brings Timber Rattlers Minor League Baseball to Fox Cities Stadium, which has spaces such as club-level suites for groups, and Major League Baseball with the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
“The fan-shaped roof means there’s never a rain date, and catering of Milwaukee favorites like beer and brats in well-appointed suites ensures a great time,” VISIT Milwaukee’s Baryenbruch said.
Come spring, Madison’s Dane County Farmers’ Market, open year-round, moves outdoors beneath the picturesque State Capitol.
“It’s a pleasure for visitors to walk around and snap pictures of each other for jealousy-inducing social posts,” said the Greater Madison CVB’s Gard.
“Many of Madison’s top-tier, James Beard Award-winning chefs shop here for their ingredients.”
A photo op is also awaiting groups at Green Bay’s Automobile Gallery, where attendees can strike a pose with many of the 60 cars on display during a reception featuring passed hors d’oeuvres and Captain’s Walk Winery’s Collaboration wine.
In Door County groups can hop aboard a trolley for a tour that showcases “the beauty of the spring blooms and picturesque cherry blossoms that line the roads and fields,” according to Laura Bradley, marketing and sales manager for the Door County Visitor Bureau.
Summer months bring many festivals that groups can visit if the timing is right, including ethnic celebrations at downtown Milwaukee’s Henry Maier Festival Park on the shore of Lake Michigan, and Friday Night Live, a music/food event held in downtown Waukesha from June to September.
In Door County, groups are encouraged to visit some of the seven local wineries for tours and tastings.
Wisconsin Dells is home to a special experience, the Dells Lumberjack Show, which according to Tifani Jones, director of sales and services at
Wisconsin Dells VCB, presents a blend of age-old lumberjack competitions and extreme sports entertainment.
“Watch an action-packed display of accuracy, speed and fearlessness, and include dinner at Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty for a truly unique group outing,” she said.
Boating and other waterborne pursuits are available in select Wisconsin locations, including Madison, where groups can kayak and try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) on Monona Bay, and in Lake Geneva, where Lake Geneva Cruise Line (LGCL) offers popular group excursions.
"It’s a must for your lunch, dinner or cocktail cruise of Geneva Lake,” said Susan Smolarek, group sales manager at VISIT Lake Geneva. “During [LGCL’s] Geneva Geo-Challenge teambuilding event, the team works together with GPS technology to locate items that have been hidden at various places around the lake.”
Boating outings carry into autumn when the colors of fall foliage fill the state.
“Dells Boat Tours provide a classic Wisconsin Dells experience,” said Wisconsin Dells VCB’s Jones. “The scenic Upper Dells tour along the Wisconsin River reveals amazing sights at every turn, as your boat cruises past towering cliffs and dramatic rock formations.”
Boating, kayaking, canoeing and SUP are all possibilities for groups meeting in Fox Cities during autumn.
“Take the time to see our area from a different vantage point—by experiencing it from the water,” said Jennifer Hecht, visitor services manager for the Fox Cities CVB. “There are routes for beginners to experts as well as special paddle events.”
Wisconsin is also a decidedly hoppy place where groups can plan on visiting a local beer purveyor, especially during fall.
“In Milwaukee, we’ve got all the fun of old-time beer halls in our DNA,” VISIT Milwaukee’s Baryenbruch said. “Fall is a great time to experience our thriving beer and brewing culture, from iconic Miller Brewing Company to popular Lakefront Brewery, to more than 30 local craft brewers—many with event space full of atmosphere.”
According to Greater Green Bay CVB’s Krainik, the cool, crisp air of fall makes Titletown Brewing Company’s rooftop, which overlooks downtown, the place to be.
“See the sunset or the lights of the night surrounded by outdoor heaters and fireplaces,” she said. “Add a great local band and beer brewed in the same building and attendees will be impressed.”
And Frame Park in downtown Waukesha is a lovely location for group events, as it’s home to a picturesque river walk and a garden area.
“The Rotary Building offers a cozy environment—with a fireplace—for food functions, and the park is filled with recreational options that allow everyone to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall along the Fox River,” said Waukesha Pewaukee CVB’s Tritz.