Frommer’s travel advice: Bali, Europe, Nashville are good value

So many travel stories concentrate on exotic and extravagant destinations that have huge budgets for marketing and promotion. We all know they are off-limits to average people because of the excess and expense. Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel columns, magazines and books are a longstanding exception. His guidebook “Europe on $5 a Day,” published in 1956,(…)

“1,000 Places” author: thankful, curious, loves long-haul flights

Patricia Schultz was raised in Beacon, N.Y., a Hudson River town with some of our nation’s earliest settlements and the late folkster Pete Seeger as a hometown icon. She calls the city “a real Norman Rockwell corner of the world.” “I had a lovely childhood, but it wasn’t quite enough for me,” says the author(…)

Unexpected gems: Bay Motel, Leg Lamp Lodge, Molly O

Little luxuries and surprises are a part of what makes travel a joy, and this applies to my wanderings throughout Wisconsin in 2014. Remember that what you take for granted in the back yard indeed might earn ovations from out-of-towners. Here is a glimpse of what impressed me unexpectedly. Bay Motel and Restaurant, 1301 S.(…)

Reader mail: shrines, art, lodging, dining

Time to sort through the reader mailbag. ’Nuf said. — Some of you share my enthusiasm for Clear Lake, Iowa, and its rock music heritage. “We were impressed with the way the Surf Ballroom has been preserved, and the community spirit behind the preservation,” write Dick and Sharon Rayborn of Wausau. The couple also especially(…)

Reader mail: shrines, wines, BBQs, B&Bs, world’s fair, restaurant fare

Recent mail from readers seeks and gives advice about travel that is close to home. Here is a selection of what’s on your mind. — My column about the devastating 1871 Peshtigo fire and the city’s fire museum prompted you to write about a place of religious pilgrimage, 60 miles south. “I am familiar with(…)

Readers share their top, unique Wisconsin attractions

What excellent attractions are unique to Wisconsin? You sure weren’t stumped by that question. Here are favorite destinations that you were willing to share. “We just did a short trip around Wisconsin,” writes Barb Wesle of Stetsonville. “Go see the (architect Santiago) Calatrava addition at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The best show is at noon,(…)

Best of Wisconsin: a Top 10 list for travelers

This out-of-the-blue challenge came from a stranger in New Jersey this month: Soon, “three of us will be in Wisconsin for six days, intending to just drive around and see good things,” wrote Jim Elliott. “Could you please list 10 places/things that we absolutely MUST see or do in Wisconsin?” It would be the trio’s(…)

Reader mailbag: many updates on camps, resorts

Recent reader mail contains all sorts of news and reflections. Let’s get right into it. — Several were in contact about the July 27 death of Dale Petkovsek, the owner of Sunset Pines Resort. Dale died within one month after I wrote about his property, whose design makes the needs of physically disabled travelers the(…)

Reader mail: Megabus, cheap NYC lodging, Quebec travels

Summer must be here because more of you are asking for and sharing vacation advice. Here is a sampling from the reader mailbag. — Since writing about Megabus (, 877-462-6342) transportation last winter, I’ve ridden the low-cost and limited-stop bus service to Louisville and Toronto. The Chicago-Louisville trip went off without a hitch, but Toronto-Buffalo(…)

Turk’s Inn, Waswagoning: tales of two endangered gems

When a business loses its owner, it’s heart and survival also are at risk. Wisconsin lost two gems this winter, and their stories have very different endings. – Marge Gogian’s life was all about style. She was a New York City fashion designer for decades, until her father’s heart attack in the 1970s, when she(…)

Reader mail: Baraboo, drive-ins, Grand Canyon, B&Bs

It’s been months since we dipped into the reader mailbag. Here is a sample of your feedback, questions and advice – all of which I greatly appreciate. – Before colleague Sandra Friend of Florida made her way to Wisconsin, she asked for advice about places to stay. “Chicago is too urban for us,” she decided,(…)

Reader mail: Packer pride, hot air balloon rides

Time to sift through the reader mailbag. Keep it coming! Can you take a hot air balloon ride in Wisconsin? Marilyn Gering of Oconto wants to know, and she has several choices. These businesses have been around since the 1970s: – Token Creek Balloons, near Madison, and Sunbird Balloons, Lake Geneva, both operated by the(…)

Chicago fans share their fave hidden gems

Spiritual sites, ethnic neighborhoods, down-home food, fine fabrics and Asian art are among your worthwhile reasons for stepping away from the Loop and Magnificent Mile. Here is what readers had to recommend about good but lesser-known reasons to visit Chicago. — “The one place I really enjoy seeing, besides the usual tourist things, is Pacific(…)

Cash in your assets and see the world

The guestbook was one of the last things I checked during a Tutoko II cruise in New Zealand’s pristine Fiordland recently. One of the handwritten raves, entered 11/11/11, was from Karen Gill and Ken Schellin of Milwaukee. Our 14-passenger vessel was one of only two ways for travelers to spend the night afloat in the(…)

Beloit gains Great American Main St. Award

The Facebook conversation begins in a neutral manner: “Heading to Beloit; seeking your input,” I write. “Head SouthWest – LOL,” responds a high school classmate, two minutes later. “Beloit. The sound a nickel makes when dropped into a bucket of water,” adds a friend in Illinois. “Gentlemen, your reactions are what I suspected. Hope to(…)

Midwest to Middle East: best meals of 2010

An unusual setting helps deepen the dining experience. These six memorable meals are from my travels during 2010. — Traders Point Creamery – Evidence of rural life appears abruptly, just northwest of Indianapolis. It’s a quick switch from suburbia and interstates to cornfields and a one-lane bridge. This is where children, and others, learn that(…)

Good night value: eco cottage to Pod hotel

Good value matters when traveling. Here are six places to find it, from overnights that enriched my own travels during 2010. — Aloft Milwaukee Downtown – Among Milwaukee’s newest lodging options is this hip and practical hotel within a walk of the Bradley Center, Riverwalk, theaters, dining and nightlife. Sharp geometrics and bold colors define(…)

How to plan an affordable Rose Bowl trip

For Wisconsin Badger football fans, the smell of roses will swell with the end of year. Hundreds reserved a spot for group travel to the Rose Bowl before their team even got an invitation to participate. Are you tempted to head west to Pasadena, Calif., or south for a respite from the freeze of winter?(…)

Chicago hospitality: outstanding to ugly sides

Use Google when in search of the “lost art of customer service,” and 10,000 references pop up within two seconds. Balance this against economic predictions that excellent customer assistance will make a big-time comeback this year. Customer service – be it mindful or mindless – has the power to enhance, rescue or destroy a getaway.(…)

Bad news, short notice: How to travel smart

When “travel” means “vacation,” planning can be a pleasure and occur at a leisurely pace. Our decisions fulfill dreams, strengthen relationships, emphasize adventure or rest. We learn as we explore and are energized by a temporary escape from time clocks, housework, care giving. But when travel happens in response to bad news, logistics likely complicate(…)

Top dining-lodging picks: distillery, parador

One last round of accolades before I get on with the new year: These businesses provided stimulating dining and lodging during 2009, which means they were excellent getaway destinations all on their own. — What could be finer than an escape with longtime but seldom-seen friends, and what a shame to let the layout of(…)

2009 lodging: Dubuque suite to Nile cruise

I sleep in a lot of unusual places. In 2009 these included an eccentric bed and breakfast with fake fur cats in just about every room, plus a former fire station with a motorcycle parked in the living room and a door that wouldn’t accept my key. When advised, via cell phone, to use another(…)

2009 dining: Wilton, Botin, Novodabo

Excellent food, unusual settings and/or one-of-a-kind characters earn these five places a spot on my list of exceptional dining spots of 2009. Consider it a way to acknowledge interesting businesses that weren’t the topic of previous “Roads Traveled” columns. — Some people take the five-mile detour off of Interstate 80, between Iowa City and Davenport,(…)