Thursday, December 14, 2017

Holiday magic at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Being a Texan, there’s not much opportunity for traditional winter magic—especially if snow is part of that equation. But we found a wonderful place to get in the holiday spirit on our recent trip to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Winter at Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Sure, it’s colder than our home in the South, but that’s part of the intrigue. Wind chills in single digits, followed by beautiful white snowfalls, and shops decked out in Christmas finery quickly put us in a festive mood. Lights twinkled wherever we went, and reflections on the lake were just gorgeous.

As guests of Osthoff Resort, the timing of our visit put us right in the middle of several special holiday events, including the OldWorld Christmas Market. For 20 years the Osthoff resort has offered this European-style market to reinforce the spirit of Christmas.

German vendors offer carved wooden
nativities and ornaments for sale.
While many vendors bring their wares from nearby Wisconsin towns (think cheese, wool sweaters and mittens, and homemade jams and jellies), there are also booths straight from Germany, Baltic countries, Russia, and Turkey.

After chatting with St. Nicholas, it was time for lunch. We fortified ourselves with potato pancakes topped with applesauce and sour cream, beef stew, brats, and apple strudel.
Ready to scour the booths, we wandered through the large heated tent admiring hand-painted wine glasses, blown-glass ornaments, Russian Santas, Polish pottery, Scandinavian ornaments, gourmet chocolates, and wooden nativities from Germany.
I loved these exquisite blue and silver glass
Yes, we bought cheese (couldn’t resist the extra sharp cheddar) and a cute woolen cap that I love but will have to travel away from Texas to wear.
During our stay, we also had time to peruse ElkhartLake village shops, all within a few blocks in the “downtown” area. Hometown shops like these always tempt me, so it’s no surprise that I bought a stunning necklace at Gina’s Fine Gifts (lots of fun items here) and wine bottle stoppers at Enchanted Florals.
Modern shops occupy vintage buildings, like this one where we
samples wine, cheese, and crackers.
At Nordic Accents we chatted a while with owner Pirkko Jarvensivu, who is from Finland, and later admired fine art at Two Fish Gallery and Sculpture Garden. Many of these shops are housed in original buildings, like Vintage Wine and Fine Food--a great place to sample excellent wines while owner Gina Borland shared her expertise with us.

Cookie decorating was a favorite of the younger set.
Dozens of families began arriving at the resort on Friday—in time to participate in hayrides, breakfast with Santa, and cookie-decorating workshops. My heart was warmed seeing multiple generations enjoying activities that have become family traditions over the years—the best examples of sharing the holiday spirit.
Snow covered the lakeside in a beautiful blanket of white.
If you’re looking for a place that truly conveys the magic and beauty of the season, Elkhart Lake would be hard to beat. Consider a holiday trip this year or next. And don’t forget to indulge in a little magic for yourself—spa treatments, a French cooking class, and dining in any of the village’s fine restaurants.

Photos by Beverly Burmeier


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