Chicago events celebrate culinary heritage

It’s easy to work up an appetite in Chicago, and that especially will be true this spring and summer. The city has coordinated a massive celebration of its food heritage, expertise, creativity and diversity. “Stirring Things Up in Chicago” is a five-month endeavor that involves museums as well as restaurants, with some events to introduce(…)

Road America, at 50, still a car racer’s dream

Ask me about Road America, and all kinds of memories are quick to return. As a kid, the constant buzz of the racing car engines was easy to hear at our farm, about five miles from the competition. While in college, several friends found future husbands during race weekends – if not at the track,(…)

Quilter museums: Cedarburg, Paducah, Ky.

If you are a quilter, you know why Paducah is special. The western Kentucky river city is home to the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society. Wisconsin has a strong presence there, but our quilters also want a home of their own. So work has begun to create just that, the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts(…)

Waterpark growth spurts at Dells, Six Flags

Watch your language, when it comes to waterparks. The caller who alerted me recently to an expansion at Six Flags Great America, north of Chicago, got my attention this way: “It will have the biggest waterpark in the Midwest.” “Those are fightin’ words in this state,” I replied, knowing well that the Wisconsin Dells seems(…)

Grandma’s Christmas tradition: a gift of travel

Lu Ann Williams begins her holiday shopping months before Christmas, but it’s not about filling a closet with toys for her two grandchildren. She’s doing research online, but it’s not with eBay. She’s collecting shopping materials, but they are about cities, not catalogs. What she and husband Gary, who live in Madison, end up with(…)

Reader mail: favorite churches, getaways

Between Plain and Loganville, in southwestern Wisconsin’s Sauk County, is hilly terrain that seems idyllic and never-ending. The coulee area is magnificent – yes, even in these last few days before the trees and groundcover green. Highway 23 zigzags up, down and around clumps of woodland and fields of cattle. There are horses with sun-kissed(…)

Smart design: Taliesin West, Acrosanti

This spring is full of reminders that architectural wonders carry a price. Innovation means risk of ridicule. Success, over the long haul, requires perseverance as well as preservation. The major league baseball season opens next week. Almost all the leaks from that funky and retractable roof at Miller Park, from what I’ve read, have been(…)

Church architecture: studies of love, promise

This month ends with the promise of spring and new beginnings, as Easter celebrations fill restaurants as well as churches. You don’t have to be a person of faith to appreciate the sense of community, commitment and comfort that a place of worship represents. To me, the denomination doesn’t matter. Quick visits to churches that(…)

What’s new in state tourism? It’s all wet

The annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism always is a good place to hear the buzz about the newest projects and partnerships that are designed to heighten the exposure of tourism in Wisconsin. A few of the ideas are all wet or just brewing. That’s an observation, not a judgment. For example: — Looking for the(…)

Dysert O’Dea Castle links Ireland, Wisconsin

If Jack O’Day says there’s no place like home, ask for a clarification. Does he mean the house he lives in today, which is across the street from the one where he was born and on land that his grandfather owned? Is he referring to his neighborhood, which includes the family’s long-running Jack’s Body Shop(…)

Castle Arkdale: from manure to book storage

Some people with a passion will make sure you hear all about it. They are self-proclaimed experts who are slick and aggressive about soliciting attention for their collection, cause, crusade, candidate. Others proceed more quietly, but with just as much verve. The fire seems more a matter of love or personal mission than for public(…)

Apathy, lazy advice drive tourists away

Not all that long ago, in the gift shop at an upscale Wisconsin resort, a friend asked whether there were any antique stores nearby. “I don’t know,” was the reply. “I’m not from around here.” There was no offer to find out more, and no clue about the impression that had been left with her(…)

Mount Horeb museum masters mustards

What a spread it was. In a corner were the fruity recipes – the tart, the sweet, the zesty. Another table was all herb/veggie combos – the dills, the onions, the garlic. Segregated elsewhere was one honey of a collection, literally. This was an eclectic food sampling project, and this was just one part of(…)

How innkeepers ensure a good night’s sleep

When I’m away from home and have an extraordinary night of sleep, it’s not above me to tear away a part of the sheets and mattress pad, trying to over-analyze just what made the difference. This is not something that I bothered to do after a night on a mattress whose firmness could be pumped(…)

Detroit battles bad rap, bad image

“It’s takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it.” That comes from Warren Buffett, one of the richest guys in the world. “To gain a good reputation, endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” That’s from the Greek philosopher Socrates. “You can’t build a reputation on what you are(…)

Chocolate events entice, especially in Feb.

Do you love chocolate enough to make it a full meal, to bathe in it, or to build a weekend around it? Here are options to melt the heart, in preparation for Valentine’s Day – or any other excuse you find to feed the sweet tooth before or after that holiday. — Next year, we’ll(…)

‘Farm Life’ exhibit examines rural living

There is a lot about rural living that I take for granted, having grown up on a 120-acre dairy farm. I assume that everybody has seen a cow being milked, that nobody cares how a manure spreader operates, that there always will be 4-H clubs and small-town poultry parties. There are places that acknowledge farming(…)

Exhibit examines Jackie Kennedy’s legacy

When Laura Bush announced recently that her gown for Thursday’s presidential inauguration would be an ice blue number by Oscar de la Renta, the New York Daily News called it “incredibly important news.” This is not my own definition of a red news alert, but I understand the significance that some circles attach to appearance(…)

World of travel shows resilience once again

Channel NewsAsia has issued an amazingly optimistic report about how tourism outlets hit by the deadly tsunami are likely to recover in as little as three months. The world remains vulnerable and resilient, forgetful and hopeful. The traveler, both wary and adventurous, has been tested in other ways since the millennium began. The sucker punch(…)

The year in review: noteworthy lodging

I was in my own bed at the start of this new year, and that’s not a complaint. After spending two months of the past 12 away from home, it’s fine to stick around for a while. Besides that, Badger sports – football and hockey – would be a priority for this holiday. Before My(…)

Holiday happenings: nature to nurture

If you are a family with time off because of the holidays, it might be wise to come up with a way to avoid getting on each other’s nerves. Consider these possibilities: The first of five new guides to birding and nature trails in Wisconsin has been released by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. It(…)

Truck driver’s photos from the road dazzle

It is humbling to think about all the good people who intersect our lives briefly, but with impact. That’s what I’m pondering today, as I recall meeting Roger Blake on a Sunday night in St. Paul, Minn. Our conversation lasted all of five minutes, while I tried to give justice to Mickey’s Diner, a 1937(…)

Five new books guide Midwest travelers

Shopping for somebody who loves the Midwest, particularly Wisconsin? Out of all the new travel books that crossed my desk this year, here are five favorites. 101 Things To Do In Door County by Richard R. Rusnack II (Rusnack Publishing, $13) — When heading to Door County this year, I was glad to slip this(…)

Lake Lawn Resort expands, upgrades

One of Wisconsin’s oldest resorts is soon to begin a massive transformation that will capitalize on its rich history and may almost triple its size. Lake Lawn Resort, on Lake Delavan and near Lake Geneva, was merely a small, two-story hotel when it opened in 1878. Today it is a 284-room resort with its own(…)