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Heartland Resorts

Resorts in the heart of America might surprise and amaze you. Located along unspoiled lakeshores, on rolling hillsides and in forested settings they offer a cornucopia of activities and abundant dining options.

With Michigan’s German-inspired Bavarian Inn Lodge to northern Illinois’ lovely Eagle Resort Inn and Spa and the striking landscape at Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls in Ohio, why go outside the Midwest? Factor in an authentic Minnesota-style vacation at Grand View Lodge Golf Resort and Spa and the Osthoff Resort’s upscale luxury in Wisconsin. The variety of resorts makes it easy to tailor a trip for your group. The only difficult decision will be choosing from among these impressive properties.

Bavarian Inn Lodge

Frankenmuth, Michigan

Nestled between Flint and Saginaw in Michigan, the Bavarian Inn Lodge and Bavarian Inn Restaurant transport visitors to Germany. The Zehnder family has managed the lodge for four generations. Connecting the lodge to the restaurant, the Holz Brücke, aka the Wooden Covered Bridge, crosses the Cass River. A Glockenspiel, European-themed guest rooms and more than 100 shops on Main Street complete the Bavarian-style community.

The Glockenspiel Tower houses a 35-bell carillon, a figurine movement depicting the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin and an illuminated clock, all imported from Germany. Four times each day, the Pied Piper, 14 other story figures and a horde of mechanical rats appear on a movable stage on the bell tower as the story unfolds.

The inn features four indoor pools, including an adults-only pool, and a water park, an 18-hole indoor mini-golf course and outdoor tennis courts.

The Bavarian Inn Restaurant has celebrated its 125th anniversary and is a Michigan landmark. Dorothy Zehnder’s cookbook “Come Cook With Me” features many of the items served in the restaurant, such as Blue Cabbage (Blaukraut) and Beef Rolls (Roulauden). The famous Frankenmuth family-style chicken dinner has become a tradition. While dining, one of the country’s most renowned accordion players strolls and plays German music.

“Our hotel lounge offers nightly entertainment, and the restaurant hosts dinner shows featuring performers from across the country, as well as murder mysteries,” said assistant general manager Joanna Stratman.

Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa

Galena, Illinois

The Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa offers a four-season getaway on 6,800 wooded acres of Galena Territory in the northwest corner of Illinois. Summer and winter, outdoor activities abound on the property’s rolling hills and woodlands. Country luxury defines the 80-room inn and more than 200 homes that range from one-bedroom condos to a 9,500-square-foot home with six bedrooms and conference facilities.

During the summer visitors can explore 26 miles of biking and hiking trails, ride horseback or take a wagon ride. The man-made lake offers canoeing, kayaking and pontoon cruises. Guests can bring their own rod and reel or rent one to catch the lake’s abundant fish. Golfers can play four courses that boast 63 championship holes and that underwent significant enhancements in 2014.

In winter, the south golf course transforms into the Nordic Center. Cross-country skiing on seven and a half miles of groomed trails, snowshoe walks and ice fishing take the chill out of the season. Ice skating and a big bonfire by the frozen pond are always popular.

“Winters are wonderful, and our golf pro shop transforms into an Aspen-like ski shop,” said director of sales and marketing Colin Sanderson. “Sledding is also popular because the 18th hole has a 75-foot vertical drop.”

Six restaurants on property range from casual to formal dining. All feature regional ingredients and seasonal menus. And any time of year, the 6,000-square-foot Stonedrift Spa promotes relaxation and rejuvenation.

Elizabeth Hey

Elizabeth Hey is a member of Midwest Travel Journalists Association and has received numerous awards for her writing and photography. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @travelbyfork.