Staying “Sidetracked” with Ben Logan

I am in the uncomfortable position of wanting to tell you about the first book that I’ve written, but not wanting it to seem like a blatant advertisement. “Sidetracked in Wisconsin: A Guide for Thoughtful Travelers” (Itchy Cat Press, $23) is about some of the less obvious people and places that I think make Wisconsin(…)

Twin Cities eats: Start at Hell’s Kitchen

Fine wines and places to dine are not in scarce supply in downtown Minneapolis, but I’ve decided that the first meal of the day is the best. Breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen – just off Nicollet Mall, at 89 S. 10th St. – is far from ordinary, yet not pretentious. What a pity to limit yourself(…)

Minneapolis architecture: expansions stun

Lovers of the fine arts and architecture have gigantic new reasons to visit downtown Minneapolis this summer. About $500 million in expansions have cemented this city’s reputation as a leader in the visual and performing arts scene. It is quite a show, and much of it can be seen for free. These projects are the(…)

Teachers’ field trip: close-to-home immersion

This eight-day field trip was for teachers – 26 of them, from Arena to Waukesha – and the destination was Wisconsin, more than 1,000 miles of it. The itinerary was a study of geology, culture, history and geography. Now each participant will take her impressions and knowledge into classrooms, kindergarten to adult special ed. Much(…)

Quirks, circus history in endearing Delavan

The history is rich and unusual. What other Wisconsin city has an elephant at the bottom of its lake, or a piece of state highway that is paved with brick? An animal statue downtown is of a big-as-life … no, not another Holstein, but a giraffe. In the largest cemeteries are clowns, and I mean(…)

Diverse resort models: Lake Lawn, Pitlik’s

We were sipping coffee as the father and daughter placed an order to go. It was for sugar-coated doughnuts, still warm from the fryer, five for $1.50. The customers had flown in for breakfast, a 12-minute flight from Waukegan, Ill. Their destination was the airstrip at Lake Lawn Resort, just outside of Delavan and eight(…)

How to save big money during big-city trips

Recent visits to a couple of the nation’s most expensive places – New York City and Chicago – motivated me to figure out how to live it up while saving a few bucks. Among the strategies: — Buy an Entertainment coupon book for the metropolitan area that you plan to visit. These thick guides contain(…)

Farm markets, indie restaurants have value

Summer has yet to arrive, but hundreds of farmers in Wisconsin already have begun their harvests. This is our good fortune, and I hope it continues this way. It seems like just about every little town has a summer farmers’ market, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is aware of 114 in our state. Nationwide,(…)

Riding U.S. 51 with state’s tourism secretary

My passport is full, and so is Jim Holperin’s, but we never left Wisconsin. The state tourism secretary let me tag along as he drove the 300-plus miles that make up the new U.S. 51 tour of 15 communities, Hurley to Beloit. Wisconsin is the first of six states to turn this highway into a(…)

UN cemetery: tranquil Korean War memorial

This attraction, the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, was an unscheduled stop. We needed to eat up an hour before checking into our hotel, in the South Korean seaside city of Busan. This gravesite, one of 2,300 on 35 acres of a gently sloping hill, was unusual because it was identified by state and nation as(…)

South Korea’s DMZ tours surreal, extensive

The landscape is desolate, dotted with concrete military bunkers and elevated lookout posts. Swirls of razor wire, atop chain-link fencing, seem to stretch on forever. There are armed soldiers, passport requirements, photography restrictions. This is a tourist attraction? Add a park with room for both amusement rides and war/peace memorials. A tram carries kids and(…)

Korean adoptions spark heritage tour interest

It was easy to tell that the Asian women, although seated apart, were traveling together. They wore child carriers that matched, and filling each fabric pouch was an adorable and incredibly calm infant. The babies were going home for the first time. The women were escorts for Holt International, one of the world’s largest adoption(…)

Vacation ideas: submarine stay, Vatican visit

As gasoline prices spurt beyond $3 per gallon, with more increases likely, we need a good reason to leave home for anything other than work. We seek good value as well as a good time. The thrill of touring Italy while driving a Ferrari, for example, probably isn’t appropriate motivation. (If it were, you’d already(…)

Taking the post-Katrina tour in New Orleans

“Remember, it’s August. It’s hot, there is no electricity, there is no sewerage system and there is no communication.” Our tour guide’s voice is patient but emotional, and the story is her own, as well as her city’s. New Orleans, Barbara Robichaux explains, was thrown into chaos well before Hurricane Katrina hit on a Monday(…)

Introducing Travel Green Wisconsin

The mattresses are made of organic materials, as are the sheets and towels. Breakfast menus contain whatever is in season, and locally grown ingredients are a priority. Solar panels heat water. Radiant heat insulates floors. If travelers could be persuaded to lose their interest in whirlpool baths, we’d really be on a roll. Madison’s Arbor(…)

Seeking adventure, voluntourism, thrill rides

As the weather warms, so do thoughts of time off to escape, bond, explore, pamper. We could fill a column every week with the unusual options that are available. For example: — Idyllic bicycling and hiking trips abroad are presented every year at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, whose Adventure Tours are open to the(…)

Reader mail: Memorials, cheese, gay rights

Time to dip into the mailbag for a few fine observations from our readers. — Regarding U.S. 51 tourism development: “You did not mention the $600,000 Wisconsin Korean War Veterans Memorial, situated on an island in Plover’s Lake Pacawa and reachable by a memorial causeway,” writes Cliff Borden, a retired Army colonel who lives in(…)

U.S. 51: Southern leg delves into La. bayou

The most unsettling attraction, as we tour the southern end of U.S. 51 in the Louisiana bayou, is simply an exit sign. It says “Ruddock,” about six miles from the end of the line. This was a small but promising fishing town, with hopes of also growing its tourism and lumber industry, until a hurricane(…)

U.S. 51: Attractions abundant along highway

Here is how reps from six states have summarized the project: One million stories. One hundred cultures. One road. Wisconsin is leading the pack on development of U.S. 51 as a culturally and historically rich highway that merits the attention of tourists. “Passport Wisconsin” – a free, 36-page, pocket-sized guidebook – contains up to five(…)

Milwaukee, Kohler: fine dining in fun formats

A great meal isn’t just about the food. It’s also a mesh of memorable circumstances, be it a pretty plate presentation or an exquisite setting, plus dining companions who are congenial and engaging, if not treasured. 
 
It also is easy to find a fine dining experience to quell your appetite for adventure as well as(…)

More cities aware of gay-friendly travel value

It has taken only one year for Philadelphia to document positive results from a $1 million campaign to make itself known as a gay-friendly city. “Get Your History Straight, and Your Nightlife Gay” is one slogan; “Let Freedom Ring” is another. For each marketing dollar, there has been $153 in consumer spending. Now Wisconsin’s biggest(…)

Skate like an Olympian at Pettit Ice Center

On a freezing Sunday in Milwaukee, one day after U.S. men took gold and silver speedskating medals in Turino, I saw how easy it was to catch the Olympic fever close to home – without a TV. The Pettit National Ice Center was a frozen sea for kids and couples, parents who glided while holding(…)

Las Vegas freebies on the Strip and beyond

The Golden Gate, in downtown Las Vegas, turned 100 this year and is the city’s oldest operating hotel. It is a charming, vintage property where a room is $45 on weekdays ($70 on weekends). That’s all fine and good, but what really gets in-the-know tourists’ attention is the shrimp cocktail. Lots of casino-hotels in Vegas(…)