Ditch reality for a spell at these great vacation spots.
Looking for a getaway just 25 miles from Downtown Milwaukee? Consider the cool, contemporary Delafield Hotel.
This property, opened in 2006 and remodeled in 2016, features 38 luxury suites, says Erin McDonald, general manager.
A stay at the pet-friendly hotel also includes free access to beFitness, the fitness center next door. And there is boutique shopping and fine dining in Delafield’s city center, hiking and biking at nearby Lapham Peak State Park and water sports – rental boats, kayaks and paddleboards on one of many nearby lakes.
The hotel’s on-site restaurant, I.d., offers a shared-plate dining experience with creative American dishes, boutique wines, Wisconsin beer and craft cocktails. Milwaukee Magazine named it one of Milwaukee’s best new restaurants.
Or how about a weekend in North Dakota?
Book a room at Fargo’s artsy Hotel Donaldson or the Radison and dine at local eateries along Broadway Avenue. Peruse boutiques, visit Plains Art Museum or see a film at the historic Fargo Theatre.
Bismarck, the state capital, is an ideal base to explore historical landmarks. Near the capital building is the Heritage Center and State Museum. The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn highlights the Corps of Discovery’s journey with interactive displays. Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in nearby Mandan offers guided tours of reconstructed Mandan Indian earth lodges and a reconstruction of Lt. Col. George Custer’s home.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is another option. The Badlands park is home to wild horses, prairie dogs and bison.
The main draw in Elkhart Lake is… Elkhart Lake.
“It’s a beautiful, crystal-clear lake,” says Kathleen Eickhoff, executive director of Elkhart Lake Tourism, with a “Mediterranean blue color.”
The village has three popular resorts (the Osthoff, Siebkens and the Victorian Village), plenty of outdoor activities and motor sports at nearby Road America.
That 640-acre venue has races from the Spring Vintage Weekend in May, to the Indy Car Series in June, to vintage cars in July and NASCAR in August.
There is dining, and activities such as kayaks, bicycles for rent and trails for hiking and jogging. Also, a golf course, pontoon boat cruises and history to learn about at the nearby museums. Not to mention beaches and swimming in the lake.
This city of 487 is the gateway to the Apostle Islands, a cluster of 22 Lake Superior islands. Twenty-one of them are part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where you can camp or visit the largest collection of lighthouses in the country. Bayfield is the stepping-off place for exploring them, with kayak outfitters, sailboat and power boat charters and a cruise line based there.
It’s also where you can get on the Madeline Island Ferry, to visit the only inhabited Apostle Island.
There’s lots to see and do on the mainland, too. Bayfield has about 400 lodging rooms available. There’s a maritime museum and multiple festivals, including May and June’s Bayfield in Bloom, with garden tours and other events, says Kelley Linehan, marketing and events manager for the Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau.
The Charmont Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel that opened in 2015 in downtown La Crosse, is in a 119-year-old building that started life as a candy factory.
The hotel features a restaurant, a lobby bar and a candy counter (sticking with the building’s origin), along with a rooftop bar and eatery featuring wood-fired pizzas, the only such outlet in La Crosse, says its general manager, Sean Castady. The building features original maple floors and exposed brick and beams.
The hotel is next to Riverside Park, and only 100 yards from the Mississippi River.
Castady calls the experience at the Charmant “translocal” – “When somebody comes here,” he says, “they’re able to stay at the hotel and experience La Crosse as a local would.”
O, the things you can do in Oconomowoc, away (but not far) from the summer crowds and congestion of the big city.
Among the big draws:
Downtown’s Spring Gallery night, where shop owners stay open late and offer sales, free drinks and treats while artists create. 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 5
Moonlit Movies on a 40-foot screen at Fowler Park. Free entertainment begins with the Badgerland Water Ski Show, 6 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, June 15, July 7 and Aug. 17
Free concerts at City Beach, 7 p.m. June 9, 23; July 7, 21; Aug. 4 and 18
The city’s Festival week, which runs Aug. 15-20. Check out their calendar of events.
As camping season arrives, Yellow Wood, a Whitefish Bay store that sells outdoor gear, offers these tips for a successful trip:
First, plan ahead, and if you can, reserve your site. Also: Watch the weather.
Then, pack the right gear: For meals, car camping allows you to bring enough equipment to make culinary masterpieces. But if you’re hiking, you’ll want a compact, lightweight stove along with store-bought camp meals or prepackaged dishes. For shelter, tent options range from suspended hammock-style tents to luxurious, staked abodes. For sleep: Camping is better when you can rest comfortably. Do research on a mattress or pad. Finally, bring enough water for cooking and drinking. No reliable water source? There are multiple filters, drops and purification systems available. ◆