Reader mailbag: what to do during winter

Janey Kimpton knows there is beauty in rural Wisconsin – and in Rural, a picturesque village on Highway 22, a couple of miles from King and four miles south of Waupaca. “The Crystal River winds through the little town, which has bed and breakfasts, craft shops and mid-1800 buildings,” writes Janey, who lives in Warrens(…)

B&B owners know how to enhance romance

The romance of Valentine’s Day is history, for this year, unless you want to fuel the passion, in your own home or that of another. How? Some of the softest hearts around are operating Wisconsin’s bed and breakfast inns, and they are quick to offer advice. We got more than 50 responses after asking: What(…)

Tourism rep: vacation, getaway not the same

Minnesota wants to replenish what the rest of the world takes away. That is a marketing theme for the state, the heart of one effort to drive tourists north and westward – from Wisconsin – as impending war and a weak economy hover menacingly. “Send ’em over here,” says Jim Keller of Itasca State Park,(…)

Sundara rides to top of spurt in spa choices

I have lain naked on a bed of hot stones, and under a 105-degree canopy of steam. I’ve been wrapped in foil, oiled up to smell like cinnamon, rubbed down to feel like limp spaghetti. Strangers have worked on my feet to get kinks out of my back. They have pulled on my limbs, massaged(…)

Oconomowoc: 39 lakes within half-hour drive

I’ve driven the 77 miles between Madison and Milwaukee at least a couple of hundred times, usually while preoccupied and rarely at a leisurely speed. So it’s been easy to ignore Oconomowoc, one of the state’s few five-syllable cities and probably the only one with five Os. In the shadow of Wisconsin’s two largest metro(…)

Riding the rails, literally, or through exhibits

I wonder if our lack of easy access to train travel has much to do with our desire to romanticize that particular era of transportation. Here are the few of the ways we pay homage to railroads, trains and our heritage. — In Minneapolis, an ice skating rink is a part of the newly restored(…)

Wis. Dells makes splash with waterpark wars

It’s been one big surge of development after another in the Wisconsin Dells, because of its indoor waterpark wars. About 1.1 million of the Dells’ 2.5 million visitors per year come from September through April, says Bonnie Sierlecki of the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau. Since 1993, visitor spending has grown 305 percent during(…)

Architecture rich at Chicago Cultural Center

One of Chicago’s finest architectural gems provides visitors with a cheap way to sample the city’s history, art, music, dance, films and drama. The Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., has been nicknamed the “People’s Palace” because there is no admission for most exhibits and events. Mayor Richard Daly dedicated the building in 1991(…)

For New Year’s Eve: retreats to hoopla

I suspect that you may want more than bad champagne and squeaky paper horns to ring in the new year. Rest up, Wild One. Here are a few options. — Chandelier Ballroom, Hartford (Washington County) – This historic and grand ballroom is making a comeback. Spend New Year’s Eve here and a part of the(…)

New travel books for holiday gift giving

  Your days are numbered, fretful holiday shoppers. If you’re “to buy” list remains annoying, consider these travel book titles. “Moon Metro Chicago” edited by Grace Fujimoto (Avalon Travel Publishing, $16.95) – If you need help navigating the Windy City but don’t want to look like a dork, here’s help. This is a practical guidebook(…)