Take Twelve: Comedy in Wisconsin

In case you think Wisconsin could show a better sense of humor, I have two words for you: Very funny. No need to factor in those cheddar-colored Cheesehead wedges. We have a reputation beyond that. For example: You don’t know Ben Karlin from stage performances, but the University of Wisconsin grad is leaving a huge(…)

ArtPrize puts Grand Rapids, Mich., on the map for wild, wonderful art

Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest city, finds unusual ways to gain attention. It has produced high-quality furniture for more than a century. It is a nationwide leader in environmental sustainability. On the city’s Beer City Ale Trail are at least 60 microbreweries, including Brewery Vivant, in a former funeral home. Grand Rapids brews so much beer(…)

De Pere’s 4th generation Union Hotel quietly begins 100th year

Closing time at the Union Hotel’s restaurant is 9 p.m. in downtown De Pere. Decades ago, that was because of the butcher, who worked halfway down the block. If a customer wanted a steak, you’d call for a fresh cut from the butcher, then send somebody to fetch the order. The butcher shop closed at(…)

DMZ: wildlife refuge, tourist attraction, war reminder

Nearly 6,500 miles separate most Wisconsinites from South Korea. Among the exceptions, for now, are around 270 airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing of the state’s Air National Guard. These troops and one dozen F-16 aircraft this month were deployed to Kunsan Air Base on a four-month assignment to help stabilize and secure the region.(…)

The lifelong value of a same time, same place vacation

The older I get, the more I notice two extremes among travelers. One seeks a new destination for every trip and rarely returns to the same locale. The other gravitates to the same spot, year after year, developing a strong and deep connection to one part of this very wide world. Of what value are(…)

Rural Missouri B&B operates inside Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage

Within the hills and dales of northeast Missouri are far fewer miles of paved roads than rivers and creeks. Signs at one-lane bridges warn of flooding, and roadside markers are positioned to measure high water, foot by foot. These are not comforting details to notice when driving under a flash flood watch. The occasional farm(…)

Bay City Chef Shack: fine dining in down-home location

Follow the Mississippi along the Great River Road (Highway 35, in Wisconsin) for no shortage of woods, bluffs, curvy waterfronts and pastoral landscapes. Common are riverfront hamlets with historic charm. Rare are restaurants with a discerning menu that changes often. One big exception is Chef Shack in Bay City, population 500, where the co-owners are(…)

Alto Fair: smallest in Wisconsin, big respect for tradition

In the community center are tables with handicrafts, bakery, veggies – typical fair fare – but one thing seems obvious pretty quickly: Attached to an easy majority of entries are blue ribbons. You won’t see that at the average county fair, but this is Alto – AL-to, not ALL-to. The Fond du Lac County township(…)

Take Ten: sky-high Madison views

Plop me near water on a pretty, warm day, and I’m content for hours. When in Madison, that means Memorial Union Terrace, known since 1928 as the living room of the University of Wisconsin. We settle in to yak, listen to free music, watch the sun set and indulge in Babcock ice cream (make mine(…)

Croatia’s Dubrovnik a hot spot for ‘Game of Thrones’ fans

As clock tower bells chime at high noon, I stand 80 feet above ground with a wide and clear view of medieval architecture and history. Ahead are signs of modern living: sailboats, speedboats, ferries and a cruiseship or two. Below are hints of the past: terracotta rooftops, laundry on clotheslines and people on the move(…)

Natural thrillers: Glacier, Waterton parks

Feeling a little overheated? Let’s talk snow. My guy and I missed by one measly day the opening of Going to the Sun Road – the 50-mile-long, steep and winding Glacier National Park thruway of hairpin turns. Known as one of the most thrilling and beautiful roads in America, it requires at least two hours(…)

Take Ten: summer sizzlers

Beat the heat with these Wisconsin destinations that have something new or novel to offer summertime travelers. Actor’s Craft, Kenosha: Find your inner Bogart at acting camps and classes with a certified coach whose technique is used by professional actors, including Academy Award winners. Topics range from one-night scene studies to five-day immersions in acting.(…)

Lac du Flambeau upgrades Ojibwe cultural sites

Peace Pipe Lane. Wild Rice Avenue. Tomahawk Circle. The Lac du Flambeau street signs hint at pride of heritage, and soon a rebuilt cultural space emerges for ceremonial dancing and other centuries-old traditions. It will give the average resident a new retreat and the average traveler a new reason to visit. On an ordinary weeknight,(…)

Mackinac Island: land of fudge, lots of it

Mackinac isn’t the birthplace of fudge, but the 3.8-square-mile Michigan island in Lake Huron may well be the nation’s epicenter for it. The island kinda smells like fudge, thanks to exhaust fans strategically positioned near the ferry dock. About 10,000 pounds of fudge are carted away daily, usually in half-pound slabs. An annual fudge festival(…)

Green Bay gallery treats autos like fine art

To most of us, a car is a necessary form of transportation that keeps us independent. Our vehicles are sometimes flashy but more times simply practical. To William “Red” Lewis of Green Bay, the automobile is beauty in motion, art on wheels. Now the dozens of vehicles he has collected and restored are his legacy(…)

Tune in: Paisley Park, Motown tours; Rolling Stones show at Navy Pier

Every artist needs a studio – someplace to inspire and motivate, concentrate and create – and it can be as simple as a nook, spare room or loft. Occasionally it’s more. Much, much more. For the man who would be Prince, musical masterpieces were conceived and mounted at huge and multifaceted Paisley Park, the superstar(…)

Food trends: more ethnic flavors, less artificial ingredients

The largest buffet that I try to sample every spring is at the National Restaurant Association’s trade show, which shows off what’s new in every aspect of the industry. That means food concepts with “Shark Tank” exposure and lesser-known, chocolate-flavored hummus. Strawberry ricotta ice cream and multi-grain naan bread. Hemp seeds for salad and hemp(…)

Roots Inn, Sister Bay: It’s not your average B&B

Collin and Sara Doherty have traveled the world – on their walls are framed photos from Vail to Vietnam – but they choose, for now, to call Sister Bay their home. Family heritage matters to the thirtysomething couple. So does the bounty of local farmers and work of local artists. That’s why their one-year-old business(…)

American Writers Museum opens in Chicago

In the same room are Julia Child, Alex Haley, Prince, Patrick Henry and Hunter Thompson. What do they have in come, besides being dearly departed? The power of words helped each forge a legacy through cookbooks, novels, song lyrics, speeches or gonzo journalism. Their impact is longlasting. Most of us in the world of writing(…)

Door Artisan Cheese: from milk vat to restaurant plate

Fans of fine dining know that an amuse-bouche is a chef’s little gift to diners – a nibble or slurp that usually is an elegant extra at the start of an evening meal. Think fancy canape, shot of gazpacho, tiny culinary work of art. Whatever you are given is not on a menu, so you(…)

New in books: Ice Age hike, girl drinks, Mighty Miss, ode to rain

What constitutes a full day of hiking for many of us is just a warm-up for Melanie Radzicki McManus of Sun Prairie. The longtime traveler writer and first-time author hoofed the entire 1,100-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail in 36 days and five hours. That’s a record for women hikers. You can read all about(…)

New exhibit at Vets Museum takes personal look at WWI

Casual decisions sometimes lead to profound, life-altering circumstances. No one learned that more than John Pavlik of West Allis, who was 16 years old when he learned to drive an ambulance. Soon he was evacuating the National Guard 32nd Infantry’s wounded on the front lines during World War I. What compelled the teenager to volunteer(…)

Grilled cheese: worthy of complex treatment, sandwich contests

If dressing up a grilled cheese means sneaking in a slice of tomato or bacon, or switching from wheat to sourdough, please take a moment to sit down. The world is changing this most common of sandwiches two slices at a time, especially this month. It doesn’t matter that we just missed National Grilled Cheese(…)

Baby Boomers seek emotionally rich retirement

Call me asleep at the wheel or on a river called denial, but I am only beginning to take notice of how my generation’s retirement will look different than our predecessors’. On each day until 2030, at least 10,000 Baby Boomers (those born from 1946 to 1965) will reach the age of 65. About 75(…)