Monthly Archives: September 2010

September 28, 2010

Weatherproof Getaway Ideas

Fun things to do, regardless of the weather

The late fall, early winter period offers some great events and activities for travelers. However, this period sometimes serves up the occasional bit of foul weather. Don’t let worries about the weather keep you from enjoying yourself. Here are some great “weatherproof” getaway ideas.

West Bend, WIMust-See Museums

The community of West Bend is home to four excellent museums. The Museum of Wisconsin Art is a true gem, offering the largest collection of art by Wisconsin artists ever assembled. The West Bend Company/Regal Ware Museum showcases the history of the famous cookware manufacturer since its founding in 1910. The Old Courthouse Museum is one of the finest local history museums in the Midwest, telling the story of Washington County. And the nearby Old Jailhouse Museum gives you a rare glimpse into a turn-of-the-last-century jail. For more information about planning your trip to West Bend, visit

Freedom ParkGreat River Road Visitor and Learning Center at Freedom Park

Prescott is the northern gateway to the 250-mile Wisconsin Great River Road and home to the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center at Freedom Park. The park is located on a bluff high above the confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. The center offers views of the rivers, as well as a number of excellent hands-on exhibits. The first thing you see as you enter the center is a giant bald eagle nest, complete with a replica bald eagle and its young. Other exhibits focus on the Dakota people, who lived along the Mississippi River for centuries. Audio visual exhibits illuminate the lives of early European settlers. You’ll also learn about fishing, boatbuilding and steamboats. It’s a great introduction to the Mississippi River and the region. Find more attractions along the Wisconsin Great River Road at


September 27, 2010

These Shopping Destinations Have What It Takes

Two Wisconsin destinations for a laidback shopping getaway

Don’t let Christmas shopping become a chore—make a vacation out of it! By taking a holiday shopping escape, you’ll not only get your shopping done—you’ll be able to relax and enjoy yourself.

These two Wisconsin communities have all the elements of a great shopping destination. You can cross things off your Christmas shopping list and manage to enjoy yourself in the process!

Shopping in Middleton, WIThis small community located minutes from Madison is undoubtedly one of the best places to live in the Midwest. Middleton is also one of the best places to shop.

Middleton offers shopping variety. Charming downtown Middleton is home to a number of interesting shops and restaurants. You’ll meet proprietors with personality and find some truly exceptional collections. It’s where you should head first if you want to find something really incredible for that special someone. Don’t leave downtown Middleton without stopping by the National Mustard Museum—it’ll be one of the most memorable parts of your trip.

A short stroll or drive over to Middleton’s Greenway Station puts you in touch with your chic side. Upscale, but still laidback, Greenway Station combines retail and restaurants in a wonderful combination of landscaped walkways and fountains.

On top of a great mix of shopping and dining, Middleton is home to the best hotels in the Madison area. Get all the information you need to plan your Middleton shopping getaway at

Shopping in Onalaska, WILocated at the midway point of the Wisconsin Great River Road, Onalaska is a favorite place for travelers to stay when they’re exploring Wisconsin’s Mississippi River region. But this city on the river is also a great place to shop.

Onalaska has the largest shopping district in a nine-county region. People come from parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin to do their shopping, dining and relaxing in Onalaska. The community features a mix of small shops and national retailers, as well as dozens of dining options and excellent hotels.

For the “non-shoppers” in your travel party, Onalaska’s Great River State Trail provides bicycling and hiking. A short drive north from Onalaska along the Wisconsin Great River Road takes you to the beautiful McGilvray Bridges and the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. Beginning in late fall and continuing through the winter, Onalaska is a great place to view the many bald eagles that congregate along the river.

For a shopping getaway with something for everyone, you can’t beat Onalaska. Learn more about shopping and exploring Onalaska at


September 3, 2010

10 Great Fall Drives, Hikes and Rides

Roads and trails that lead to autumn splendor

Want to catch an eyeful of fall color? In no particular order, here are ten great auto tours and trails to help you get the most out of the best days of fall.

1. Beautiful Byway

Buena Vista along the Wisconsin Great River RoadThe entire 250-mile Wisconsin Great River Road is a fall color treasure. Whether you start at the northern or southern end of this National Scenic Byway, you’re going to find brilliant autumn views. To plan your Wisconsin Great River Road journey, visit

2. Classic Crystal

Mabel Lake in Boulder Junction, WIBoulder Junction offers several excellent bicycling trails. But if you have to pick one this fall, choose the 11-mile Crystal Lake Paved Trail. The trail begins in downtown Boulder Junction and skirts the edges of several lakes as it winds its way through the forest. Find out about this and other Boulder Junction trails at


3. Fantastic Fall Forest

Rock Formations in Black River


4. Big River Biking

Onalaska in the FallPedal your way down the Mississippi River on the 24-mile Great River State Trail. Starting in

5. Magnificent Marsh

Horicon Marsh in Dodge CountyThe autumn highlight of Dodge County is Horicon Marsh, a huge wetland that attracts thousands of birds. Take the 50-mile Horicon Marsh Parkway for great views of the marsh and the surrounding countryside. Just follow the signs. For more information on the Horicon Marsh, visit

6. Railroad Ride

Riverside Park in West Bend, WIJust minutes from Milwaukee, you’ll find one of the best bicycle rides in the state. The Eisenbahn State Trail runs for 25 miles through the rolling countryside. Because the trail runs along a former railroad corridor, the trail is quite level. (The name Eisenbahn is German for railroad.) A paved section of the trail runs for five miles through the heart of the charming community of West Bend, where you’ll find shopping, dining and lodging. Plan your railroad ride at

7. Pheasant Branch Frolic

Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton, WIEven though it is surrounded by a bustling community, Middleton’s Pheasant Branch Conservancy is one of the most serene places in the entire Midwest.  The conservancy protects an important source of groundwater for area lakes. It is home to an amazing number of rare plants and animals. Fall is the best time of the year to visit this ecological gem and walk the nature trails. Learn more at

8. Trout Lake Loveliness

Lake Shore in Vilas County, WIIn an area replete with outstanding hiking trails, the one-mile North Trout Nature Trail is in a class of its own. Running through tamaracks, spruce and pines, the trail offers stunning waterscapes. During the fall, the view is truly unbelievable. Learn more about this and other Vilas County trails at

9. Mesmerizing Mountains

Rusk County TrailsThe Blue Hills Trail System gives the intrepid fall color enthusiast 23 miles of pure autumn glory. These rolling hills between Rusk County and Rice Lake really come alive in the fall. Bring your camera and capture the colorful variations of the hillsides. Find out about area lodging and amenities at and

10. Wild and Wonderful

Wild Goose State Trail in Dodge County, WIThe Wild Goose State Trail in Dodge County runs for 34 miles through the heart of wild goose country. The Horicon Marsh, located just to the east of the trail, is an important stopping point for migrating Canada Geese. As you bike or hike the trail, you’ll enjoy great fall color to the soundtrack of goose honks. If that’s your cup of tea, the Wild Goose State Trail is the best thing going. Learn more at


September 3, 2010

Not Your Ordinary Frosty Mug

Unique places to enjoy a cold one this fall

Great beer is a Wisconsin tradition. The Badger State’s passion goes well beyond the drinking of this frothy libation. Some of the best beer on earth is created in Wisconsin. This fall, enjoy some incredible ales and lagers in some unforgettable venues.

Capital Brewery in Middleton, WICapital Brewery
Located in downtown Middleton, the somewhat plain exterior of the Capital Brewery hides what should be hallowed ground for beer lovers from around the world. Inside this building, you’ll find a true genius at work: Kirby Nelson, brewmaster extraordinaire.

The brewed creations of Kirby and his staff are among the finest beers ever created. With numerous awards from beer festivals around the world, the Capital Brewery is widely recognized as one of the best breweries in existence.

Awards are one thing, but tasting the beer is the real test. And there’s no better way to experience the sights, sounds and flavors of the Capital Brewery than a tour. Tours are only $3 and are open to anyone 21 and older.

Learn more about the Capital Brewery and other attractions in Middleton by visiting

Sand Creek Brewery in Black River CountrySand Creek Brewing Company
The building that houses Black River Country’s Sand Creek Brewing Company dates to 1856. Up until prohibition in 1920, it was home to one of the area’s oldest breweries. Today, it is one of Wisconsin’s largest microbreweries, producing everything from ales and lagers, to root beer.

Tours of the brewery are free and offered every Friday afternoon at 3pm. The brewery is located minutes from the Black River and downtown Black River Falls. A tour of the brewery would be a great way to kick-off a weekend of fun on the trails and waterways of Black River Country.

Learn more about the Sand Creek Brewing Company and other things to do in Black River Country at

Minocqua Brewing Company
For the folks of Oneida County, enjoying a good brew can be an almost sacred experience. So, the Minocqua Brewing Company’s location in a former Masonic Temple is quite appropriate. The building, which dates to 1927, houses a seven-and-a-half barrel brewing system that produces seven kinds of ales and lagers.

Don’t judge a brewery by its size. The Minocqua Brewing Company produces some outstanding beers. To go along with these masterpieces of zymurgy is a full menu of appetizers and entrees. There’s also an outdoor beer garden. After day of hiking, biking or driving through the Northwoods and enjoying fall color, what better way to end the day than a cold glass of handcrafted beer.

Learn more about fall activities and attractions in Oneida County by visiting


September 3, 2010

Wisconsin Is Not A Flyover State This Fall

During the fall bird migration, Wisconsin is where the birds want to be

In the Midwest, fall brings the biggest mass migration of wildlife of the entire year. The shorter days and cool nights signal to animals that it’s time to get ready for the long winter ahead. For the majority of birds all across the northern part of the continent, that means migrating.

Wisconsin is home to some of the most important resting places for migrating birds, particularly waterfowl. Protected wetlands and clean water equals safety and food, two things that migrating birds need most.

If you’ve never witnessed the spring migration through the Badger State, you’re missing one of the most exciting events of the year. Don’t let the migration fly right past you. Here are two outstanding places to see the fall migration.

Pelican in Horicon Marsh, Dodge CountyHoricon Marsh
For birds flying over Wisconsin, the Horicon Marsh in Dodge County must look too good to be true. At 32,000 acres, it is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States and one of the best places for a migrating bird to land, rest up and feed.

Through the entire fall, and even into early winter, Canada geese fly from the marsh to surrounding cornfields and back from sunrise to sunset. At times, the swirling flocks of geese seem to fill the entire sky.

There are many ways to see the fall migration at Horicon Marsh. Boat tours are offered in Horicon. An auto tour runs around the marsh, providing a great opportunity to see flocks of geese heading to the fields or returning to the marsh. A number of observation decks are scattered throughout the marsh, giving birdwatchers a chance to get a good glimpse of the many species of ducks and shorebirds that stop here to rest and feed.

To learn more about the marsh and other fall activities in Dodge County, visit

Geese in Onalaska, WILake Onalaska
The Mississippi River is a superhighway for migrating birds. The pools and wetlands of the Mississippi River that run along Wisconsin’s western border are some of the most important migratory stopover points in North America.

More than 40% of the continent’s waterfowl travel through the Mississippi River Corridor. The pools of the Upper Mississippi are magnets for birds looking for a place to rest. One of the largest of these huge pools, Lake Onalaska, is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of huge flocks of ducks, geese, swans and other birds winging it toward warmer environs.

The Great River State Trail, which runs for 24 miles from Onalaska to Trempealeau to the north, offers a number of vantage points for viewing migrating birds. The Sunny the Sunfish scenic overlook just north of Onalaska provides views of much of this 7,700 acre pool. For a truly up-close view of the birds, a canoe or kayak is the best way to explore the expansive backwaters.

Learn more about exploring the Onalaska area at