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(…)

Arizona spring training: stops for Cactus fans

Spring training for major league baseball begins in less than a month, and the dozen teams that make up the Cactus League – including the Milwaukee Brewers – are reason enough to head to Arizona. It’s all about short sleeves, sunshine and ballparks that feel intimate. Seating is a short walk from dugouts and dressing(…)

Touring the Yucatan, after Hurricane Wilma

Waiters in the U.S. aren’t likely to make a sign of the cross while slipping a $1 tip into their pocket. That is one difference about being here. The quick, silent, subtle gesture was an indication of greater gratitude – especially this year. It happened as I had lunch in Mexico recently, in high-end lodging(…)

Elks Lodge 57, Koz’s: unusual bowling spots

The good people of Fond du Lac are quietly protecting a piece of history that is deemed significant in the world of bowling. They have the country’s oldest sanctioned and continuously operating bowling alley in the basement of Elks Lodge 57. Who knew? You wouldn’t guess it, from the outside. This Elks lodge, a monstrous(…)

Joe McCarthy, Houdini at Appleton museum

I’m certainly not the first to be tempted to make comparisons between Joseph McCarthy and Houdini. Anybody else want to join in? Hmmm. That didn’t take long, especially if you’re in Appleton and talking to Terry Bergen, executive director of the Outagamie Museum. Both men succeeded, for a while, as masters of illusion – the(…)

Princeton, Green Lake: ‘quiet time’ appealing

It is mid January, but winter has taken its time to reappear, at least in southwestern Wisconsin. After our holiday landscape melted into a dank and leafless gray-brown, it didn’t take long to wish for sunshine, a fluffy blanket of white and somewhere interesting to go. For much of the state, winter is our quiet(…)

Cooks Corner specializes in kitchenware

He has a pleasant and disarming way of hawking his merchandise. Today, it is porcelain dinnerware – 22,000 pieces that are being sold for a pittance because of someone else’s warehouse fire. “Look at this — $3.99,” Pete Burback says, lifting one attractive platter after another from a 3-foot-tall box. “What a deal. It’s killing(…)

2005: Best places to spend the night

I was away from home 88 nights during 2005, with a tremendous variety in lodging. The settings were plush to rustic, in urban to remote areas. Accommodations were extravagant to bare bones, including a bunkhouse, a drafty old farmhouse and a Vegas mega-hotel that is too excessive to be memorable. You’ve already heard about some(…)