Above: A snowkiter shoots across Lake Monona. Photo: John Maniaci/AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal
Difficulty Meter Moderate skiing or snowboarding skills are a must. Fear of speed is a no-no.

Madison, Wisconsin

  • Drive Time 2.25 hours

Picture a skier or snowboarder tethered to a large kite, zooming across a snow-dusted plain, and you’ve got snowkiting. The sport has seen a boom in Madison, where five frozen lakes provide ideal launching pads for riders who want to catch air as high as 30 feet and hit speeds of up to 60 miles an hour. The trick to a fast run is a grippy surface. “We get a lot of good ice and snow conditions on top of the water, and that’s when snowkiting gets really fun,” says Robert Cook, owner of Kite Riders, which offers instruction for newbies (from $50 an hour, kiteridersllc.com). Lessons are highly recommended for novices, if only to get properly outfitted.


The Particulars

Body Burn Think an hourlong squat.

Get in Gear Bring a helmet and goggles, plus skis or a snowboard. Kite Riders provides the rest.

Stay Soak in the vintage-meets-mod atmosphere (canoes as chandeliers, trophy case as front desk) and rooftop view at the 72-room Graduate Madison (from $159, graduatemadison.com), opened last year by Chicago-based AJ Capital Partners (Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Soho House).

While There Dine at the elegant-meets-pubby Heritage Tavern (heritagetavern.com), run by former Chicago chef Daniel Fox (Everest, Spring).