Discover the Coziest Winter Getaway in the Midwest: The American Club
You know when you just need a vacation just to get away? No real plans except to relax and the only certainty is where you’re going to sleep. I don’t go on trips like that often but they can be even more exciting than an action packed vacation with every minute accounted for. For our anniversary last year, Ryan and I did just that. We planned a cozy winter getaway to The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin with no actual plans other than eating good cheese and drinking good beer. To our delight, it was true winter wonderland the perfect place to chill out and be cozy right before the holidays.
Our anniversary is just two days before Christmas Eve making it a little more difficult to carve out time for ourselves because of family holiday plans/travel. But, last year I’m thankful we decided to do a trip with just the two of us. We don’t get the chance to travel together often because he is a college professor and hustling to finish his dissertation. I thankfully convinced him to take a break!
We had a few days to work with and knew we wanted to be able to drive to the destination. I was also craving a cozy and snowy destination because Bloomington, Indiana is more icy than snowy in the winter. Many of my Instafam and other midwestern bloggers I know, voted for for the American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin. I’d heard of it and after a little research, discovered it was about a 6 hour drive from Bloomington, high likelihood of snow, beautiful historic hotel, and it’s in Wisconsin so… beer & cheese. It checked so many of our boxes checked we decided to go for it.
How to get there?
Kohler is about an hour north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you want to fly in, then MKE would be your closest airport. It’s also a relatively easy drive from Chicago if you can find a cheaper flight to Chicago. Kohler itself is a little village in Sheboygan County Wisconsin. And home to the kitchen and bath design giant, Kohler.
What is The American Club?
The Kohler Company was founded in 1873 by Austrian immigrant, John Michael Kohler. Inspired by small European towns built up around companies, in 1899, he moved the Kohler company to the little village of Riverside and it was renamed Kohler.
The American Club is an English Tudor style building that was originally a boarding house for Kohler’s immigrant workforce. It housed single workers and included a pub, bowling alley, barbershop, lessons in American citizenship, and English lessons. It was truly an all-encompassing facility to help workers make their way in their new home. The need for company lodging dissipated and The American Club was transformed into the Midwest's only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star resort. In 2018 marked the resorts 100th birthday.
We stayed in a cozy deluxe room at The American Club with a view of the front lawn. The bathroom was one of the best parts because it is completely outfitted with everything Kohler. With a overhead rain showers and multifunctional shower heads, this was one of the nicest showers I’ve ever experienced. Outside of the room, the resort itself is kind of maze like in the best way. Narrow corridors lined with historic photos of the Kohler Company through the years adorn the walls leading to little nooks like the Library, the Sitting Room with complete with roaring fire and card tables stacked with games, and The Greenhouse Cafe. If you go during December it is absolutely decked in holiday decorations.
There are several properties to choose from:
The American Club - Main hotel in the heart of Kohler with three restaurants and two bars on property
Carriage House - adjacent to The American Club. This property offers complimentary daily access to the Kohler Waters Spa. When we go again, I think I want to stay over here simply because of spa access
Inn on Woodlake - short drive from the resort center these rooms are the most modern and offer suites for larger groups
Sandhill - The swankiest backwoods cabin and just 10 minute drive from Kohler. The cabin sleeps six and comes equipped with a gourmet kitchen, sauna, and 360 degree views of the nature preserve.
Winter Lodging Specials
One of the other reasons we settled on The American Club was their special winter rates. This year they’re offering $25 off per night Sunday-Thursdays with a complimentary upgrade. Check out this page for all of specials throughout the resort.
What to do at The American Club Resort
Kohler Waters Spa - You can’t visit the mecca of kitchen and bath design without visiting their very own spa. It is every bit as luxurious as you would imagine and in the frigid winter temps of Wisconsin, it is a welcome reprieve from the outdoors. I highly recommend booking a treatment at the spa but you can pay the daily use fee to access the pools, sauna, rooftop fireplace and pools, and steam room.
We’d gone hiking in the morning so I was ready to get inside and warm up. To start my spa day I booked a Healing Waters Treatment. Kohler’s custom Vichy shower shoots water up and down your body with delicate precision; like being caught in a rainforest downpour while lying down on the most comfortable bed imaginable. I’ve never experienced a massage quite like this. The temperature ranges throughout the treatment so it’s relaxing and invigorating all at once. The treatment also includes natural exfoliation and a luxurious Moroccan Oil hair treatment.
Afterwards, I headed up to the rooftop for some herbal tea and a soak by the fire. It was the perfect end to a busy day.
Design Your Dream Kitchen and/or Bathroom - I don’t quite have the budget to create my perfect bathroom and kitchen but when I do, I know exactly where to go. Since Kohler is headquartered in Kohler, they have an incredible two story showroom with the most beautiful bathroom and kitchen creations by famous designers. My favorite was this bathroom transformed into a secret garden. As the child of an interior designer and art/architecture nerd, I was in heaven. Tubs and sinks as far as you could see; the bottom floor was a museum gallery style showcasing the Kohler line through history.
Get Outside - There are lots of winter adventures at The American Club Resort. We’d planned on doing some cross country skiing but it actually didn’t snow while we were there. There is a nature preserve at The American Club Resort but it requires an entrance fee and rental fees for skis or snowshoes. With minimal snow on the trails and limited budget (we spent all our extra cash on food and beer, naturally) we decided to do some hiking instead. Thanks to my Milwaukee Insta fam, we were pointed to the Kohler-Andrae State Park near Sheboygan that was on the beach and had lots of trails. If there had been plenty of snow, I think we would’ve shelled out the price to ski on the private nature preserve.
Ice Skating is a popular activity at the lake at the Shops at Woodlake. They have the whole area decorated with Christmas lights and weather permitting, music on the weekends.
Have a Drink in the Library - Every day there is coffee and and afternoon tea service in the Library. Starting at 5 pm, The Library Bar opens and offers an array of specialty martinis and old fashions along with a full bar. With several stacked built in book shelves, enjoy the cozy vibes in in the old library. We grabbed a seat on a plush window seat to watch the the sun go down on the snow covered lawn.
If you’re traveling with a group or are just a baller in general, rent one of the go ice bowling or curling in the courtyard. The courtyard is sheltered from the wind and they have patio heaters to keep you warm. The lane costs $250 per hour but resort guests can play for Friday and Saturday from 2-5pm. We were staying mid-week so we didn’t splurge on private ice bowling.
Where to Eat at The American Club Resort
Horse & Plow - This was our favorite spot to hang out at the resort. This historic pub is at the resort but it feels much more like the neighborhood watering hole than a typical resort bar. With squeaky fried cheese curds, big burgers, golden crispy fries, brat sliders, the food is extremely regional and delicious. They have mostly Wisconsin beers on tap and they have an excellent bloody mary. If you’re just having drinks but need a little snack, ask for the complimentary popcorn.
The Wisconsin Room - Once the dining room for immigrant workers at Kohler Company, The Wisconsin Room features farm to table dishes guided by Wisconsin delicacies and local farmers. The menu changes often and each menu notes the farms and purveyors that they collaborated with. We did a little surf and turf starting with an incredible scallop appetizer, wild mushroom risotto, and then shared filet mignon. Since we were sharing everything, the kitchen was really thoughtful and split everything for us. Every bite was incredibly rich and decadent; zero room for dessert but it was an incredible meal. The dining room is has a very romantic feel in the evening. Adorned with tapestries, chandeliers, coffered ceilings, white table cloths, and just for the holidays a couple of massive Christmas trees trimmed with glittering lights and garland really tie the room together.
The Greenhouse - Massive stained glass walls let the morning sunlight trickle in as guests bundle up on plush sofas and chit chat over morning coffee and reading that days headlines. This super cute greenhouse turned cafe, is a great place to warm up with a coffee or cocktail in the wintertime. We spent our last morning here enjoying a couple of cappuccinos and giant muffins before hitting the road. The Greenhouse doubles as an ice cream parlor too. Affogato anyone?
The Immigrant Room - Intimate restaurant in the resort wine cellar with a variety of tasting menus. Rated AAA Four-Diamond and a Four-Star by Forbes, this award-winning restaurant is arranged in a series of six rooms paying homage to the style of early Wisconsin settlers: French, Dutch, German, Normandy, Danish and English. We had planned on dining here for our anniversary but didn’t realize they aren’t open Sunday-Wednesday. It is on our list for next time!
Shopping at The American Club Resort
The Emporium Gift Shop - Cute gift shop inside The American Club. They have fun Christmas ornaments, books, nice leather goods (beautiful handbags), spa gift baskets and more.
Craverie Chocolatier Cafe - For chocolate lovers, this is the place. They have an impressive selection of truffles, bars, bonbons, caramels, and more to choose from. We got a few gift boxes of these to gift to friends, but in truth, I ate them when we got home (Holiday FAIL). After you shop for your friends, don’t eat your gifts and buy yourself a decadent dark chocolate croissant and snuggle up by the fire. If you’re not in the mood for chocolate the cafe has yummy panini sandwiches, soups, and salads too.
Woodlake Market - This may look like your standard grocery store but if you like beer and cheese, this place is an oasis, especially if you live out of state. There is an entire wall of Wisconsin beer and a massive display of New Glarus Brewing. If you’re unfamiliar with New Glarus, they famously only distribute in Wisconsin and they make some of the best fruit beers in existence. Not to mention their farmhouse brew Spotted Cow is like water in this state and on tap EVERYWHERE. So stock up on some Wisconsin brews. We walked away with some New Glarus Raspberry Tart, Belgian Red, and their Oud Bruin, a few styles from 3 Sheeps Brewing in nearby Sheboygan, and a few others.
Woodlake market also has an big selection of Wisconsin cheese and meats. Put together your own little charcuterie spread for happy hour in your room or just keep for souvenirs to enjoy after you get home.
There were a lot of other shops at Woodlake, we just didn’t have time to see them all.
Beyond The American Resort: Explore Sheboygan
Kohler-Andrae State Park - Beautiful park just south of Sheboygan with lots of easy trails winding around the woods and boardwalks running up and down the beach.
Paradigm Cafe - We stopped here before hiking for massive bagel sandwiches and coffee. Super cute spot with big windows and plenty of bar seating looking out into the cute downtown. This coffee house and music venue seemed like the cultural hub of town.
We only had a couple of days so we didn’t get to explore as much outside the resort as I wanted. Next time I plan on visiting:
Kohler Art Museum
3 Sheeps Brewing - Housed in a historic armory building, I love their beer and they host trivia nights regularly.
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