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Snuggle into these 9 grand lodges for a cozy winter getaway

Lied Lodge Guests can snuggle up next to six massive fireplaces at Lied Lodge, which celebrates winter in style. | Photo Courtesy Arbor Day Farm

Mother Nature and common sense tell us that we should snuggle in and hunker down during these cold dark months of winter, but she doesn’t tell us exactly where all that snuggling and hunkering should take place.

Fortunately, we have some ideas for grand lodges that include massive fireplaces, indulgent spas, and delicious comfort food. And you can venture into the great outdoors during the chilly days ahead—all the while knowing that a warm and cozy room is waiting for you upon your return.

1. Pere Marquette Lodge

Grafton, Illinois

Pere Marquette Lodge

Pere Marquette Lodge has been welcoming guests for more than 80 years. | Photo courtesy Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, Illinois

If there were a competition for great fireplaces, the 50-footer at Pere Marquette Lodge in Pere Marquette State Park would likely win top prize. With an inset painting of explorer and missionary Father Jacques Marquette paddling the Mississippi River, the 700-ton fireplace dominates a lobby filled with Adirondack-style furniture, an oversize chess set, and massive windows that invite the outdoors in. Located about 21 miles north of Alton, Illinois, and not far from St. Louis, Pere Marquette feels like it’s a world away with 22 cabins tucked in the rolling hills around the 50-room lodge.

Hikers can follow approximately 12 miles of trails punctuated with scenic overlooks in the 8,000-acre park. During winter, you can often spot bald eagles drawn to the area to feed in the nearby Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers. On select days from late December through early March, the park’s Bald Eagle Days will highlight the raptors with programs followed by a drive to view them. Rates start at $99.

2. Giant City State Park Lodge

Makanda, Illinois

Giant City Lodge

Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, Giant City State Park Lodge charms guests with its rustic ambience. | Photo courtesy Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Springfield, Illinois

Using native white oak timbers and multihued sandstone, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed Giant City State Park Lodge, and much of the Adirondack-style furniture that fills its lobby, during the Great Depression. Many visitors come not only to enjoy its rustic ambience, including the 40-foot-tall stone fireplace, but also for some of the best fried chicken and homemade cobblers around, served in the Bald Knob Dining Room.

Choose from 34 cabins around the lodge, located in the Shawnee National Forest. Although the park is open year-round, the lodge and cabins are closed from the first weekend in December to the first weekend in February. Because winter doesn’t officially end until March 20, 2022, there’s plenty of cold weather left to enjoy a cozy getaway surrounded by the park’s 4,000 acres of natural beauty, including amazing geologic formations. Rates start at $85.

3. Echo Bluff State Park Lodge

Eminence, Missouri

Echo Bluff Lodge

Nestled in a scenic valley, Echo Bluff State Park Lodge provides the perfect place to enjoy the beauty of the Ozarks. | Photo courtesy

Since it opened in 2016, Echo Bluff State Park Lodge has become one of the Midwest’s hottest getaway destinations. Nestled in a scenic valley with towering bluffs and hillsides covered in oak, hickory, and pine, the property boasts 16 guest rooms and four suites in the grand lodge, as well as 13 cabins of varying sizes. Each lodge room has a balcony and a fireplace, and each cabin has a fireplace, an indoor deck, and a fully equipped kitchen.

Summer and fall weekends are booked at least a year in advance, but you’ve got a good chance to enjoy the lodge and its surrounding natural wonders by planning a winter getaway. It might be too cold to swim in the crystal-clear stream that runs through the park, but you can hike two trails that showcase the raw beauty of the Ozarks. Fuel up at the Creekside Grill, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lodge rates start at $104.

4. Big Cedar Lodge

Ridgedale, Missouri

Big Cedar Lodge

The epitome of rustic luxury, Big Cedar Lodge boasts three separate lodges along with scores of cabins, cottages, and glamping sites. | Photo courtesy Big Cedar Lodge

Sitting near the Arkansas state line in the heart of Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, Big Cedar Lodge epitomizes rustic luxury. At this sprawling all-season oasis surrounded by thousands of acres of unspoiled wilderness, bundle up for a hike through nearby Dogwood Canyon Nature Park and then return to your private cabin, cottage, glamping site, or room in one of three lodges. The massive property, which abuts Table Rock Lake, has 317 lodging options available.

Developed by conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris, the resort features rooms that offer views of the lake or the wooded Ozarks scenery. Amenities include a spa, two marinas, five world-class golf courses, a seasonal ice-skating rink, and several dining options—including the Devil’s Pool Restaurant, which specializes in Southern home-style dishes. Rates start at $350.

5. Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm

Nebraska City, Nebraska

Lied Lodge

Simple yet impressive Douglas fir columns tower over the lobby at Lied Lodge. | Photo courtesy Arbor Day Farm

With massive Douglas fir logs framing the lobby and dozens of cozy leather chairs tucked here and there, Lied Lodge is a particularly snuggly place to be on a snowy winter’s day. Plus, a 40-foot-tall stone fireplace dominates the lobby of this lodge at the heart of 260-acre Arbor Day Farm. The Arbor Lodge State Historic Park on the property preserves the home of the Morton family, where the idea for the first Arbor Day was hatched in 1872.

A total of six massive fireplaces warm the public areas of the 140-room hotel, which also features an expansive indoor swimming pool and a spa. Sign up for an Apple Blossom Massage, which celebrates the property’s 2,800 apple trees. Explore 11 different tree houses in the Treetop Village, and watch for weekend events and the debut of the new Apple House Market and Porter’s barbecue restaurant early in 2022. Rates start at $149.

6. French Lick Resort

French Lick, Indiana

French Lick Lodge

Snow blankets the ground outside West Baden Springs Hotel and its 100-foot-tall atrium. | Photo courtesy French Lick Resort

Step back to the 1850s and the glory days of mineral-spa resorts at French Lick Resort, composed of two outstanding properties abutting southern Indiana’s Hoosier National Forest. While not lodges per se, these AAA Four Diamond properties provide memorable winter escapes. Guests to West Baden Springs Hotel are wowed by a spectacular atrium—once called the Eighth Wonder of the World—that is 200 feet wide and 100 feet tall. Less than 1 mile away, the French Lick Springs Hotel welcomes visitors through a lobby adorned with gold leaf and faux marble columns.

Sign up for historical resort tours, and enjoy afternoon tea on Saturdays in the West Baden Springs Hotel lobby. Bet on great food in several restaurants, and place other kinds of wagers in the casino. If weather permits, hike in the Hoosier National Forest, take a horseback ride, or shoot some clay pigeons. Your winter escape would not be complete without a spa treatment. Lodge rates start at $167.

7. The Lodge at Mount Magazine

Paris, Arkansas

The Lodge at Mount Magazine

The Lodge at Mount Magazine sits atop Arkansas’ highest mountain. | Photo courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

One of several lodges in Arkansas state parks, the Lodge at Mount Magazine offers the highest level of accommodations anywhere in the Natural State. And we mean that literally—the 60-room lodge sits atop Mount Magazine, Arkansas’ highest point, at 2,753 feet. Perched on the mountain’s south bluff in Mount Magazine State Park, the lodge affords breathtaking views overlooking the Petit Jean River Valley and Blue Mountain Lake.

Built in three wings that stretch along the bluff, the hotel showcases those incredible vistas from every guest room, the central hearth room, the swimming pool, and the Skycrest Restaurant. An extensive trail system crisscrosses the park, which is a popular place for rock climbing and hang gliding. Rates start at $85.

8. Mather Lodge

Morrilton, Arkansas

Mather Lodge

Original portions of the log-and-stone Mather Lodge in Petit Jean State Park date to the 1930s. | Photo courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

As historically significant as it is picturesque, Mather Lodge in Petit Jean State Park is the only lodge in Arkansas built by the CCC. Named after Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, the log-and-stone lodge astonishes guests with its view of Cedar Creek Canyon. While original portions of the lodge date from the 1930s, renovations in recent years have given the place a modern edge while maintaining a cabin-in-the-woods ambience. During winter, the main stone fireplace provides a cozy gathering point.

Among several overlooks around Petit Jean Mountain, Stout’s Point draws visitors to see a simple grave site of a young French girl who, according to legend, posed as a cabin boy to accompany her fiancé to the New World. Succumbing to disease, she was buried by her heartbroken suitor atop the mountain now named for her. Among the park’s many other outdoor attractions, Cedar Falls cascades 95 feet into a horseshoe-shaped box canyon. Rates start at $85.

9. Queen Wilhelmina Lodge

Mena, Arkansas

Queen Wilhelmina Lodge

An inviting wraparound porch provides a great place to relax at Queen Wilhelmina Lodge. | Photo courtesy Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism

The center-set jewel of Queen Wilhelmina State Park, Queen Wilhelmina Lodge perches atop Rich Mountain—the state’s second-highest peak. Built in 1898 by the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad, the original inn proved unsuccessful. After it was rebuilt in 1963 and later burned down, the lodge was reborn in 1975. A remodel completed in 2015 added around 11,000 square feet of space to the lodge and restaurant, more sleeping rooms, and an inviting wraparound porch for relaxing.

The park’s trails and other natural amenities complement the accommodations. Whichever way you turn, miles of lush forests stretch into the valley below. There’s even a miniature train that takes visitors on a short tour of the park—a nod to the railroad portion of its origin story. Fill up on Southern cuisine in the Queen’s Restaurant, which also offers panoramic views. Rates start at $85.

Diana Lambdin Meyer is a contributor from Parkville, Missouri. Some information provided by contributor Dwain Hebda of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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