The Big Six: Grand Excursion to PGA events

State tourism staffers are predicting an exceptional year for revenue and visitors in Wisconsin, so big that a half-dozen events/attractions will be hyped at the beginning of this year’s annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The conference, which will be in Green Bay next week, attracts about 1,000 people who are affiliated with tourism. It is(…)

Johnson & Wales students pamper travelers

OK, here’s your next exam: Make an elaborate sculpture out of candy, and make each component from scratch. This isn’t about frosting a piece of cardboard, then pressing a bag of gumdrops into it. It is one of the tests that preoccupy many of the 5,600 culinary arts students at the five Johnson & Wales(…)

Boutique hotels personalize service

Traveling in style is getting easier to do when close to home, thanks to the slow but steady opening of boutique hotels that provide much more than a predictable place to stay. You no longer need to book a room at a W Hotel in a major metro area to experience the personalized service and(…)

Italian fare authentic at Tenuta’s, Kenosha

A gallon of virgin olive oil was one of the oddest holiday gifts that I’ve ever given, and it was bought on a whim while shopping in Kenosha a few years ago. The city’s downtown lakefront has improved remarkably since I worked for the Kenosha News in the 1980s. The shoreline has gone from an(…)

Mohegan Sun redefines ‘casino resort’ image

Consider this phrase: casino resort. It is not just a place to gamble or roast in the sun. It is not anything like the gaming facilities in Wisconsin or on the Mississippi. Most Vegas strip and Atlantic City boardwalk choices don’t come close either. To find the world’s biggest casino resorts, go to a part(…)

Say mush: Dog sledding blankets Wisconsin

A new blanket of snow is heaven when you’re a skier, a snowmobiler, a skater or a sledder. Sledder? Make that a musher. Dog sledding – as a hobby and as a business, through the racing of dog teams or the offering of dog sled rides – is gaining visibility in Wisconsin, sometimes in the(…)

Diverse ethnic fare: Eat Street, Minneapolis

To my left was a sturdy, red-shuttered German restaurant, the Black Forest Inn. To my right was the simple but cheery-looking Pancho Villa, serving Mexican food. Next door to it was the Tibet Lotus Flower Shop. Such ethnic diversity, within a block, certainly is not unprecedented in the Midwest. But this melting pot stretches for(…)

Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame: the archives

A $7,500 pair of shoes caught the eye of Tom Murphy last April, and he got them – for free. That kind of thing is pretty special, but not unprecedented, in his line of work. Tom is chief archivist for the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame, and the shoes were donated by Judy Russell(…)

Vacation condo growth spurts

Was it all that long ago when a respectable vacation getaway meant a modest lake cottage – heat and indoor plumbing optional? Or a patch of land big enough to put up a tent, or park a trailer, so you could watch the stars and tend a campfire? Times indeed are changing, not just in(…)

New NEA grants, waterpark, volunteer trips

If you have resolved to stay home less in 2004, I am happy to point you toward new and great adventures. Two are less than a tank of gas away. Two could take you to another side of the world. First, a bit of Shakespeare. The National Endowment for the Arts is paving the way(…)

Sheboygan area expands its culinary reach

The Sheboygan County that I know, having grown up there, is the culinary hub for hardrolls, brats and the world’s best burgers. We have dozens of torte recipes, most of which contain Cool Whip. We have good fish fries at reasonable prices. We are picky about our potato salad; we use butter – liberally and(…)

Home for the holidays? Say no, then go here

If the notion of being home for the holidays makes you shudder more than smile, getting away from it all could be the best gift that you receive this year. Here are ways to do just that: before, when or after the new year begins. — Canoe Bay is a low-profile but high-quality retreat that(…)

Kosher deli among ethnic riches in Postville

Hanukkah begins at sundown Friday, and that makes it a fitting time to study a small town with more ethnic diversity than communities that are 10 or 20 times as big. Postville, Iowa, has a population of 2,300 and is a half-hour west of the Mississippi River, near Prairie du Chien. It is a little(…)

New self-help books to assist with trip plans

My travel library contains a few new and odd titles, thanks to unsolicited material and my inability to part with a book after I’ve somehow bonded with it. Examples of the former are “Travel With Others Without Wishing They’d Stayed Home (by Nadine Nardi Davidson, $16.95, Prince Publishing) and “Traveling While Married: How to Take(…)

Seek and ye shall find new holiday traditions

For better or worse, holiday festivities soon will consume many of us. Whether it’s a Santa in every parade, a candy cane in every stocking or a fruitcake on every guest list, December can be an extraordinary example of magic, generosity and tolerance. So, what’s it to you – a month of annoying ruts, comfortable(…)

Shop online when planning next vacation

The Internet has become an amazing tool for deciding where to go on a vacation, then comparing prices for various elements of travel. When a trip is being taken close to home, the state Department of Tourism’s site ( has long been an excellent starting point. It’s surely not the only helpful online resource, though.(…)

Caretaker Gazette: Readers live their dream

“CARETAKER WANTED. We have a 600-acre farm in rural Steuben. Wish to exchange free rent in a 3-bedroom farmhouse for part-time care of horses, barns and property. To apply …” Steuben is in Crawford County. Too close to home? Then consider this: “CARETAKER NEEDED in St. John, Virgin Islands, for a physically fit, mobile, 83-year-old(…)

Aspiring innkeepers learn realities of B&B life

The next time you head to South Carolina, consider bringing your horse. The ink just recently dried on Jerry and Linda Gray’s purchase of the Schell Haus, a six-room bed-and-breakfast on 25 acres in Pickens, across from Table Rock State Park, in the northwest part of the state. What does that have to do with(…)

Mill City Museum examines flour power

A new museum in Minneapolis is all about flour and power, potential and resilience, reputation and ruins. The Mill City Museum, 704 S. Second St., on the banks of the Mississippi River downtown, has been open less than two months. It is a candid, airy and fascinating testimonial to what used to be the world’s(…)

Grand Excursion: big Mississippi River party

Thanks to Millard Fillmore, expect a huge surge of activity on the Mississippi River next summer. One of the 13th president’s biggest parties, with the Rock Island Railroad Company, occurred there almost 150 years ago. Now more than 50 riverfront communities are preparing for a high-profile re-enactment. There will be hundreds of events to attract(…)

Fall Art Tour: artistic inspiration in rural areas

In 1979, Jura Silverman became smitten with the picturesque nature of Spring Green, so the paper and printer maker moved her art studio, from Chicago. She has not regretted the decision. Jura was the first artist to set up shop there, and now her business – a former cheese warehouse, built in the early 1900s(…)

River museum, parks appeal in Dubuque

Dreary, steep and old. That was my first impression of Dubuque, back in the 1970s, after visiting a friend who landed there because of her first job out of college. The Mississippi River’s presence was largely industrial. Character and charm were lacking. My friend was glad for our visit; no one else had made the(…)

Culinary travel hot trend with vast potential

Let’s assume that you are hungry for something different this month. Wisconsin and its neighboring cities have an abundance of food expos, fancy wine dinners, ethnic culinary getaways, cooking seminars, demonstrations and product samplings. Culinary tourism is becoming more deliberate in both rural and urban settings. People who love to travel must eat, and now(…)