Snow way out
Navy Pier's annual winter party returns this year with snow-sculpting competitions among 15 professional teams from the U.S. and around the world. Watch teams from Spain, Mexico, Czech Republic, Russia, Germany and other countries carve and mold snow into magical creations that are illuminated by a festive light display each night of Snow Days. Enjoy snow painting and other kids' activities including a new interactive snowboarding experience and live entertainment on the Family Pavilion Stage.
4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, at Navy Pier's Gateway Park, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Free admission. navypier.com/snowdays.
Being a Midwesterner has its perks
Chicago's Kimpton Hotels are offering a chance to recover from the holidays in style with a special "License to Stay" promotion. Those from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin can enjoy downtown without the holiday traffic, long lines at attractions and overall hassle of holiday travel plus receive 20 percent off their stay by showing a valid state driver's license.
Through March 31. The "License to Stay" promotion is available at Kimpton's Hotel Allegro, Hotel Burnham, Hotel Monaco Chicago and Hotel Palomar Chicago. Visit kimptonhotels.com or call (800) KIMPTON and mention rate code MIDWEST.
Michelangelo on ice
Get an eyeful at the 27th Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition held annually at Sinnissippi Park in Rockford. Teams from around the state compete for a chance to represent Illinois in the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition next year. Teams use axes, machetes, water buckets, scraping tools, ice chisels and shovels to create their sculptures.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Jan. 23-26, at 1401 N. Main St., Rockford. ilsnowsculpting.com.
A women's retreat
Need time to relax with a friend or allow your body, mind and spirit to be nurtured? The Homestead in Michigan offers Thrive, a women's weekend of replenishment though group activities, healthy-cooking classes, outdoor recreation, spa treatments and yoga. The package price includes a suite at Stony Brook Lodge, two dinners, two lunches, three breakfasts and the many activities scheduled during the retreat. Spa treatments and outdoor activities such as skiing cost extra.
Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 24-27, in Glen Arbor, Mich. Package prices begin at $217 per person, per night based on double occupancy or $195 per person, per night based on triple occupancy. (231) 334-5100 or thehomesteadresort.com.
Frigid air in Amana
Beat the blues with a trip to Iowa's Amana Colonies during Winterfest. The list of activities ranges from the sublime (beer/wine walk) to the ridiculous (ham-flinging contest and the best beard competition). Enjoy breakfast the way it used to be at the Amana Communal Kitchen, then it's time for cross-country skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing and the pork chop slap shot hockey game to burn some calories. Kids will go for the marshmallow roast along with the game and craft day. Visitors can see knitting and spinning demos, watch the log-sawing competition, stop in the Amana Heritage Museum or try pretzel making.
8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, in Amana, Iowa. (800) 579-2294 or festivalsinamana.com.