Alumni Park, Milwaukee zoo babies, APT for 2018


If cold weather and fewer hours of daylight tempt you to stay home, read on. There’s no need to hibernate quite yet.

Open on 1.3 acres between Memorial Union and the Red Gym at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along Lake Mendota, is the new and art-rich Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Alumni Park.

Timeless words of wisdom and images, cut out of a 7-foot-tall steel cone and 80-foot-long steel panel, look fine on a cloudy day. At night and in sunshine, artistic expression deepens because of light and shadow interplay.

Look for a sculpture of Bucky Badger sitting on a pile of books, and exhibits that note the accomplishments of 120-plus alums. Progress Point, a new observation area, juts out over the lake. There’s a lot going on in this relatively small space that used to be a boring parking lot.

New at Milwaukee County Zoo is a baby gorilla named Zahra (Swahili for “blossom”), now about two months old. Look for the toddler and her mom, Naku, on public exhibit at the 200-acre zoo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on days when it seems appropriate for them.

Other cute zoo babies include Kazi (which means “labor”), a giraffe born during Labor Day weekend. 414-771-3040

Although outdoor performances at American Players Theatre, near Spring Green, ended less than one month ago, the lineup for 2018 is set. On the docket for the June 9 to Oct. 14 season are “As You Like It” and “Measure for Measure” by Shakespeare, “Born Yesterday” by Garson Kanin, “The Recruiting Officer” by George Farquhar and “Heartbreak House” by George Bernard Shaw.

On stage on APT’s smaller and indoor Touchstone Theatre until Nov. 19 is “Creditors,” a psychological thriller by August Strindberg, which closes this year’s performance season. 608-588-2361

New holiday spa treatments at The Edgewater, Madison, include a Bourbon Marshmallow Body Treatment (exfoliation with a mix of rice bran oil, pecan whiskey and brown sugar; then a drizzling of hot marshmallow butter) and the Peppermint Bark Bliss Pedicure (a foot bath of Candy Cane Champagne, sea salt scrub, slathering of chocolate and more).

The 202-room hotel faces Lake Mendota and recently won a Readers’ Choice Award from Condé Nast Traveler as sixth best hotel in the Midwest. 608-535-8200

Also making the Condé Nast cut: The Pfister Hotel (fourth) and Kimpton Journeyman Hotel (12th), both in Milwaukee; and Inn on Woodlake (18th) in Kohler. Top Wisconsin resorts were The American Club, Kohler (first); Sundara Inn and Spa, Wisconsin Dells (fifth); and Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, Lake Geneva (seventh).

Sundara, for adults only, remains open as the property undergoes a $13 million expansion. The project includes the addition of an outdoor saltwater pool, firepits, rooftop greenhouse, fitness center, retreat space and additional suites (some 850 square feet). 608-253-9200

Dorf Haus, a supper club with authentic German fare, is the biggest draw in little Roxbury (after St. Norbert’s Catholic Church). Residents of the Dane County town of 1,700 know they could wait an hour or longer for dinner on weekends because the restaurant usually does not accept reservations.

That changes during afternoon and evening dinner theater shows on Nov. 18, 19, 25 and 26. “Happy Holidays from the Homefront” is a two-act Driftless Area Reperatory Theater production that revisits songs from the golden days of radio. A $42 ticket includes the show and dinner. 608-643-3980

Narrated boat cruises on Geneva Lake typically end as weather cools, but the newer and seasonal Santa Cruise is an exception. Forty-minute rides on the heated Grand Belle, which looks like an old-time steamer, float past lakefront light displays and pretend to transform a part of the Lake Geneva area into the North Pole.

The outings, at dusk or later from Thanksgiving to Dec. 30, begin in Williams Bay with a walk past trees decorated for the Twelve Charities of Christmas. Tickets are $25 (less for senior citizens, children). “Naughty or Nice” tours, at 8:30 p.m. on weekends, are for only adults. 800-345-1020

No need to feel forced to shop on Black Friday, Nov. 24. You have other options.

The sixth annual Black Friday Beerfest at the 20-acre Harley-Davidson Museum campus, Milwaukee, showcases hard ciders to stouts from the Midwest’s craft brewers. The 4-7 p.m. event happens inside The Garage, and tickets are only sold online. It’s $45 for general admission and $60 for VIP treatment, which means early entry and other perks. 414-287-2789

“Black Friday Fun” at Milwaukee Public Museum means strolling the holiday-decorated Streets of Old Milwaukee and European Village galleries. Create an ornament, decorate a postcard and make a toy popular 200 years ago.

Less gentle and on exhibit at the museum until Jan. 1 is “Weapons: Beyond the Blade,” about 180 artifacts from the museum’s archives. Curator Dawn Scher Thomae says each has in some way shaped human history. “While some of them are objects of hostility, they all have another story that highlights national identity, personal status or artistic expression too,” she explains.

In the show are items from more than 50 countries, modern-day to 10,000 BC. 414-278-2702

Opening Nov. 17 at History Museum at the Castle, Appleton, is “Asylum: Out of the Shadows,” the stories of eight people who lived or worked at the former Outagamie County Asylum for the Insane. Bring earbuds and hook into a free cellphone app to follow these stories.

The study of behavior and mental health aims to ease the stigma associated with mental illness. Artifacts include items used long ago to diagnose and treat patients. The exhibit closes June 3. 920-735-9370

“Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs” is a new exhibit at Neville Public Museum, Green Bay, with full-sized models and fossilized skeletons of creatures that existed millions of years before T. Rex and his pals.

The traveling exhibit is up until Jan. 28 and is a mix of art and science, featuring the work of artist Julius Csotonyi. 920-448-4460

The Monarch Lounge of Hilton Milwaukee City Center sponsors an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest on Fridays, Nov. 24 to Dec. 22. Top prize: a gift card to the hotel’s Milwaukee ChopHouse. Expect one-half off on drinks and appetizers from 4:30-7 p.m. 414-271-7250