Light up your holiday season
The season of lights has arrived. Across Wisconsin, homes, parks and public spaces are transforming into twinkling spectacles that celebrate the holidays. Here’s where to find them and make your season even more merry and bright.
Every winter, West Bend’s Regner Park is transformed into a magical wonderland of colored lights. The Rotary Clubs of Washington County host the event and 750 hard-working volunteers work together to string more than a half-million lights. Every year, the display is expanded, so there are always some new surprises. The display is so impressive it draws more than 50,000 people annually. The event is open daily Nov. 29-Dec. 24.
Lights of the Northwoods blankets Hodag Park in Rhinelander with colorful lights. The event takes place Dec. 13-15 and 20-22 and throughout the celebration, Santa will be on hand and available for photos. The displays are open from 5-9pm, and there will be a driving route as well as a walking path. See a map of the route here.
While twin Kodiak bears Munsey and Boda are usually the star attraction at Marshfield’s Wildwood Park & Zoo, during the holiday season they take second billing to one of the state’s premier light shows. Rotary Winter Wonderland is an ocean of twinkling lights, with dozens of displays and more than 2 million lights. You can experience the lights with a driving tour, but for the full experience, take time to walk through the park and marvel at the displays. The event runs from 5 to 9pm daily from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve.
Raise a glass to excellence
Wisconsin knows a thing or two about classic cocktails—our friendly taverns and pubs elevate these beverages to an art form. With fresh ingredients, small-batch spirits and a jigger of creativity, bartenders are finding ways to serve up perfection in a glass. Here are three of our favorite destinations for classic Wisconsin cocktails.
Is there a more classic Wisconsin drink than the old fashioned? While the drink has been around for a while, there’s nothing stodgy about the old fashioneds served at Bitters & Bull in Lake Tomahawk. After a day of enjoying Oneida County’s trails and lakes, head to this cozy Northwoods pub for some of the most inventive old fashioneds around. You’ve got some big choices to make—Bitters & Bull serves up nine variations on this classic drink, including chai & vanilla, maple and tamarind varieties!
In recent years, craft micro-distillers have been popping up across the Dairy State. One of the best is located in Fitchburg, just outside of Madison. Yahara Bay Distillers is a family-owned microdistillery known for its single batch whiskey. Yahara Bay is open to the public, so you can enjoy a craft cocktail in the distillery’s Public House while admiring Yahara’s copper pot still. What to order? We’d go with the Wis-Kee Manhattan, made with Yahara Bay’s whiskey, the house WIS-KEE Liqueur and a few cherries. Enjoy!
The Bloody Mary is a beverage with infinite variations, from mild to spicy, tangy to savory. And the garnishes can range from a simple olive to a virtual salad on a stick that threatens to topple the glass. Find your new favorite Bloody at Mid Town Pub in Middleton. The pub, located near Middleton’s great downtown shopping options, has a Bloody Mary bar that features more than 30 different juice mixes and an expansive buffet with all the fixings. Cheers to that!