Take eight: Hot for chocolate

TweetA little luxury during winter is hot chocolate, made all the sweeter when served in a setting that goes beyond the disappearing act of powdered cocoa in steamed milk or boiling water. Hot cocoa is an especially decadent treat at these destinations, so consider a road trip to stretch out your time with a special(…)

Touring Atlanta: fiery history, civil rights lessons

TweetOn Gena Williams’ resume is work as a Delta flight attendant, and clerk for Julian Bond when he was a state senator in Georgia. When we meet in downtown Atlanta, three months before the Super Bowl, her title is tour guide for ATL-Cruzers and her demeanor is like a chatty girlfriend. One who’s eager to(…)

Lake Winnebago sturgeon flashbacks, folk art

TweetMary Lou Schneider, thanks for the flashbacks. On a wintry Sunday morning in the 1960s. I walk two blocks from church to the little general store in Glenbeulah and wait an hour for my father, who doesn’t arrive. A neighbor eventually retrieves me and chuckles during our four-mile drive back to Hulls Crossing: “Your dad(…)

Digital detox: biz as usual at expanded Sundara Spa

Tweet“Time to relax and enjoy everything your heart desires,” the one-page pledge sheet begins. What you’ll promise, in exchange for temporary nirvana, is to unplug. To relinquish constant contact with the outside world. To silence and stow away cell phones and other mobile devices. Such digital detox is one part of the quest for serenity(…)

Hudson: Hot Air Affair for balloonists

TweetPeople in Hudson have been playing pirate for a few months now. Learning about the life of pirates was a lesson in musical storytelling at the public library during spring. Then came a pirate-themed cruise along the St. Croix River. Talk Like a Pirate Day, last September, brought costumed mates and marauders to a local(…)

EAA museum gains astronaut’s treasures

TweetEncased in glass is a two-page letter, neatly typed and labeled confidential. It was written in the 1960s to explain why it was unwise to challenge Russians to a race to the moon. “I have occasionally leveled criticism at some aspects of the space program,” Dwight Eisenhower acknowledged, but that is because he believed the(…)

Take Twelve: All in good taste for 2018

TweetLots of us have an appetite for the memorable when away from home, and sometimes we quell it with food. We remember – long after a meal ends – unique settings, unusual menus and who shares the experience. What you see and experience matter as much as what you taste. I have numerous new-to-me spots(…)

Take Ten: Alluring lodging of 2018

TweetSleeping around is part of a travel writer’s job, and the end of a year is my time to review the wide variety of places where I’ve rested my head or at least gotten a peek beyond the lobby. More and more often, much to the consternation of tourism reps, I have spread the good(…)

Sip-n-purr: Cat yoga in Milwaukee

TweetYogis, I know of a place that will deepen your downward dog with a bunch of uppity cats. Uppity, adorable cats. Sip and Purr, on the east side of Milwaukee, is the city’s first cat café. It opened in June as a spot to spy on and snuggle with a menagerie of spayed, neutered, vaccinated(…)

‘150 Bars’ book: unique places to take a swig

TweetProhibition ended nationwide 85 years ago, as of this month, so now is a particularly appropriate time to hoist that hot toddy. Comfort and familiarity matter when deciding where to drink alcohol close to home. We seek the “Cheers” effect, the tribal reassurance of being among friends or friendly faces. If everybody knows our name,(…)

Take Twelve: Holiday light shows

TweetElectrifying: That’s one way to describe this time of year. With the arrival of December and dusk comes stupendous light shows to celebrate this season of wonder and generosity. Count these among the most elaborate in Wisconsin. Celebration of Lights, Oshkosh: Menominee Park, on Lake Winnebago, turns into a wonderland of winter. The anchor is(…)

Ultimate Eats: Savoring food as culture

TweetFood is an easy, on-target introduction to a location’s cultural roots, and a new book latches onto must-try dishes when traveling the world. “Ultimate Eats: The World’s Top 500 Food Experiences … Ranked” (Lonely Planet Food, $30) explains pintxos in San Sebastian (Basque-style tapas in Spain) to stinky tofu in Taipei (follow your nose at(…)

New: retreat, fun park, plays, bike trips

TweetHere’s to the new, as in partnerships, transitions, decisions and distinctions in the world of close-to-home travel. — Wild Rice, the fine-dining restaurant near Bayfield, closed about one year ago (after a 16-year run) and is being replaced by Wild Rice Retreat, a haven for art and wellness classes and events. The change of purpose(…)

Safe travels: what to know before you go

TweetI register with the U.S. State Department before international travel to an area whose safety status is unknown to me. The free STEP – Smart Traveler Enrollment Program – automatically transmits pertinent advisories and alerts that mesh with my itinerary. That’s in addition to an online map of the world that shows risky areas for(…)

Reader mail: supper clubs, Itasca, custard

TweetIt’s been months since we dipped into the reader mailbag. Time to sift and winnow. — The Goldmoor Inn, near Galena, Ill., has gained loyal fans because of a reader incentive offered three years ago. I asked for your short essays on behalf of someone who deserves a peaceful getaway and got 50-some replies. The(…)

Chicago Detours: Get to know the neighborhoods

TweetOne way to get to know a city is through its attractions – the monuments, museums, biggest and best local marks of distinction. We seek out the “talkers” and will wait in long lines to take selfies to prove we were there. That’s fine, fun and logical for a first-time visit, but then what happens?(…)

Take Twelve: Halloween haunts, carnival to saloon

TweetTime for another ghoulishly good time as the approach of Halloween brings out goblins and gore galore. Haunted houses aren’t the only option for scaring yourself silly this month. Consider this range of terrifying settings. Several are all-volunteer efforts whose proceeds help local charities. Haunted carnival – A former millwork factory in Merrill began earning(…)

Detroit auto tours: from Model T to modern-day robotics

TweetHenry Ford didn’t invent the automobile, but he gets credit for putting the world on wheels and Detroit on the map as a leader in car manufacturing. Much began in the long-ago industrial neighborhood of Milwaukee Junction, near the intersection of interstates 94 and 75, just north of downtown. Consider it the cradle of automotive(…)

German-born master chef takes over Black Forest, Three Lakes

TweetAs most U.S. teens were just learning to drive, 15-year-old Marcel Biro was a world away, navigating culinary school. The year: 1988. The place: East Germany. Within five years, the student was certified to teach others to cook and moonlighted at Michelin-starred restaurants. By age 24, he earned the title of master chef and already(…)

What’s new: arts venue, football show, red panda cub, more

TweetAs weather cools and beaches close, there is little reason to stay home and be bored. Check out these enticements for close-to-home travel. — Pablo Center at the Confluence, a major arts venue, has opened in downtown Eau Claire. It is near the meeting of Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers. In the new structure are(…)

Archie’s Waeside in Iowa: citadel of American beef cookery

TweetIn a modest residential area – near farmland, railroad tracks and tall grain storage silos – is an almost-full parking lot at 5:30 p.m. on an average Thursday. When doors open at 5, sometimes the lineup of customers is as long as the driveway. Especially on weekends. To say that Archie’s Waeside has loyal patrons(…)

Two Take Tens: for Green Bay Packers fans

TweetWe are high above ground and just below the signature “G” that looms 40 feet tall and 60 feet wide. No point in Green Bay is loftier, and what feels simply gusty during summer would freeze the bone in January. That spells exhilaration, if you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, because little beats this sky-high(…)

Coming soon: Great River Road Trips

TweetMy nine-part series about Great River Road Trips is being turned into a mini e-book, and I will point you to details when it’s ready. Thanks for your interest!