Fifteen classic, popular Wisconsin summer resorts

Sincere thanks to the many Wisconsin Public Radio callers who shared their favorite classic summer resorts when I recently was a guest on “The Larry Meiller Show.” Here are 10 of the locations that were mentioned: Indian Trail Resort, 7431 N. Chippewa Flowage Rd., Couderay – open since 1937 on the Chippewa Flowage; cottages have(…)

Native American arts authentic at Chief Oshkosh, Egg Harbor

One of our last stops during a girlfriend getaway to Door County this month was almost an afterthought. “That place with the teepee has been there forever,” a Milwaukee friend insisted. The rest of us knew what she was talking about but didn’t recall ever stepping inside. Trendy products, catchy business names and stylish storefronts(…)

Rustic Frog Bay, first national tribal park, opens in Red Cliff

The opening of Wisconsin’s newest and most unusual park, north of Bayfield, will occur with little public fanfare this summer. Frog Bay Tribal National Park is not the kind of place that will ever be praised for its size, amenities or attendance. You might not know how to get there unless someone guides you. You(…)

Tour Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum, Spooner

“The rivers flow not past, but through us, thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing,” wrote wilderness lover John Muir in the 1870s, decades before his fight to establish the first national parks in the U.S. The Sierra Club founder spent 11 years of(…)

Sabamba Alpaca Ranch also welcomes B&B guests

When I spend the night at Sally and Tom Schmidt’s bed and breakfast near De Pere, the other guests include three girls from Dubuque who definitely see more action than I do, but that’s by design. My stay lasts one quiet night and involves long, sound sleep. They will linger two or three weeks and(…)

Les Paul, GuitarTown mold Waukesha’s music image

Waukesha’s love affair with Les Paul, whose work forever changed the sound of music, is about to deepen. The city soon unveils an outdoor public art project downtown, in response to Gibson Guitar Corp.’s selection of Waukesha as the world’s eighth GuitarTown. (The others are Nashville, Hollywood, London, Orlando, Miami, Cleveland and Austin, Texas.) Wisconsin(…)

Truly rural Fox Hills aims for good value

Vince Lombardi used to bring his coaches here for a little R&R in the 1960s. Hundreds of Chicago police officers more recently sought the same benefit, from the same place, during work retreats. The area’s longstanding reputation is a part of its charm, and challenge. Good golfing in a peaceful, rural setting was enough of(…)

Charlie’s Drive-in: It’s Elvis, tattoos, classic cars

Rachel Mann-Rosenfeldt takes a big step on the day before we meet. She adds a tattoo to her left leg – not a teensy rose or wimpy butterfly, but a sketch that covers much of her outer calf. It is not Rachel’s first tattoo, but this time the indelible ink freezes time in a most(…)

Cutting into the mustard at Middleton museum

Shortly after our host delivered a platter of shaved corned beef and rye bread, he returned with a word of advice: If you need mayo, leave now. Barry Levenson, founder of the National Mustard Museum, was smiling but not kidding. About 30 of us were at his Middleton museum on a recent Sunday afternoon, rating(…)

Rural ramble: St. Croix curds, cave, Vino in Valley

Former Gov. Anthony Earl in the 1980s dubbed Ellsworth, population 3,200, as Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin. The 102-year-old Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery produces 160 pounds of curds every day. “They’re fresh and ready at 11 a.m.,” says the creamery’s Beth Ingli, while busily distributing samples at this month’s annual Wisconsin Restaurant Association Expo in Milwaukee.(…)

Making magic: Houdini, other tricksters

Would you go out of your way to watch a guy escape from a straitjacket? How about if he was hanging upside-down outdoors, several stories higher than your neck could stretch? The peculiar antics of Harry Houdini, 1874-1926, easily drew curious crowds by the hundreds. We have long known of Houdini as an escape artist(…)

Valentine ideas, to enhance romance

Maybe you give or get roses by the dozen during this month of love, and that’s fine, but don’t dismiss other ways to freshen up affections. For example: Many recreational areas in the state arrange snowshoeing, hiking or cross-country skiing by candlelight during this time of year, and the state Department of Natural Resources compiles(…)

Horseradish: from crop to plate in Manawa

Ebelskivers. Aebleskivers. Both spellings work, and both are pronounced ABLE-sky-vers. Until I got acquainted with Judy Trull and her Lindsay House B&B in Manawa, I was unenlightened about the Danish treat that gains popularity in December. The innkeeper describes ebelskivers as a puffy pancake with a filling. To make them properly, you need – what(…)

Elite honors: Kohler spa, golf, American Club

Think “the ultimate in luxury travel,” as inspectors for Forbes Travel Guide do every year, and you’ll likely gravitate to the world’s biggest cities for international and business travel – places where the volume of traffic most easily supports such ventures. Mandarin Oriental hotels and spas in Singapore to San Francisco earn five stars, the(…)

Tavern League: inside Sessler’s, Red Room

My father, as far as I could tell, wasn’t much of a drinker – but he liked to swing into one or more toasty shoreline taverns after a day of ice fishing on Lake Winnebago. The men told their fish stories and took turns buying a round. “I’ll take a soda,” my dad would say,(…)

Madison’s Chazen art museum doubles size

Live anywhere long enough, and you’re likely to take good things for granted. That’s the way it is for me in Madison, where always-there treasures since 1970 have included a free-admission art museum on the University of Wisconsin campus. I know it as a lovely place to hear classical music on Sunday afternoons, plus an(…)

Holiday Music Motel: Sturgeon Bay high note

It’s an hour or two past sunset, and a sign of neon guides me home for the night. The door cracks open, I hear one-man music and temporarily interrupt an intimate concert with maybe a dozen appreciative listeners. It’s Thursday night at the Holiday Music Motel, and this is business as usual. At the weekly(…)

Distillers unite, to market themselves as one

We have long been in good spirits in Wisconsin, and now a lesser-known part of our alcohol-loving heritage will make itself more visible. Producers of hard alcohol are banding together to form the Wisconsin Distillers Association. Wisconsin’s reputation for beer production is longstanding and steady. In 2010, there were 112 federal brewing permits on file,(…)

Arena, Mazo: unusual, good rural dining

Two rural and south-central Wisconsin businesses, eight miles apart, cater to customers in unconventional ways. — A mile or two west of Arena, population 685, sits the Church of the Cinnamon Roll. Friends and strangers turn up on Sunday mornings for Bob McQuade’s warm, sugary communion and reflect upon life as they know it. The(…)

Wisconsin Innovations: new Madison exhibit

Here are a few of the answers: American Girl dolls. Malted milk. The typewriter. Bioluminescence technology. 
 Each solves this question: What has Wisconsin ingenuity produced? A new Wisconsin Historical Museum exhibit, “Wisconsin Innovations: From the Iconic to the Unexpected,” generates dozens more answers and sorts them into five categories: Big Ideas (concepts), Business/Industry (products),(…)

Private doors open in Milwaukee, Chicago

Almost underneath Interstates 43/94, one mile west of Milwaukee’s trendy Third Ward retail/nightlife district, illuminating work happens daily. Inside an 1890s building of red brick, Brass Light Gallery manufactures light fixtures by the hundreds and ships them throughout the world. When I visit, fixtures for a Hong Kong Disneyland expansion are among the orders being(…)

Two Ryan Braun restaurants in Wisconsin

The setting: White linens. Delicate stemware. Cartoonish murals. The pizza choices: Pepperoni. Sweet potato pie. Sausage and rapini. Also on the menu: Meatballs. Watermelon-beet salad. Hot wing ravioli. Wooing customers, behind the scenes: chef Dominic Zumpano, who makes his own Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, tomato jam, breads and more. Expanding the fan base, but seldom(…)

EAA AirVenture, the genius of Burt Rutan

Two wings. One fuselage. Propeller in front. Tail at back. I was content with my presumptions about airplanes in the 1970s, until Burt Rutan began messing with my head in Oshkosh. The newly retired California designer of eye-widening and award-winning aircraft earns a day of tribute July 28, at the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture.(…)

Mount Horeb: home to trollway, tool museum

Trolls rule in Mount Horeb, a peculiar, creative and vibrant Dane County village of 7,000. The scruffy, impish troll carvings – happy-crazed-creepy in expression, dwarfs to giants in size – have defined and guarded the community since the 1970s. The first trolls were Norwegian imports. Then local wood carver Mike Feeney took over, commissioned by(…)