Just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Milwaukee, Stevens Point (located in Portage County) is an ideal place for a weekend trip.
Home to UW-Stevens Point, and with a population of just over 26,000 — including more than 8,500 college students — Stevens Point boasts plenty of natural beauty and outdoor activities, a number of breweries (including the third-oldest operating brewery in the state), a vibrant arts scene, plenty of shopping options and a wide variety of independently-owned eateries.
Here’s your weekend getaway itinerary:
Check in to Dreams of Yesteryear (1100 Brawley St.), a quaint bed and breakfast located in a historic Victorian home two blocks from the city’s downtown and the Wisconsin River, or the cozy A Victorian Swan on Water (1716 Water St.), housed in an elegant 1899 home and featuring rooms like the luxurious J.P. Rothman Travel Suite.
For dinner, try a traditional supper club like the Sky Club in nearby Plover (2202 Post Rd.), which has been serving patrons classic Old-Fashioneds and Grasshopper drinks since the 1930s, or Michele’s Restaurant and Catering (513 Division St.) in Stevens Point, a family-owned establishment which serves an outstanding fish fry. Then, indulge yourself with a sweet treat at Belts’ Soft Serve (2140 Division St.) or King Cone (2534 Post Rd.) in Plover.
If you’re visiting the area during the summer months, enjoy live music at Pfiffner Pioneer Park (1100 Crossby Ave). The park, which includes a building once used in the lumber industry as a planing mill, also offers a boat launch and playground.
To start your day, take a short drive to The Landmark, a coffee shop/restaurant in a historic building in nearby Amherst (102 S. Main St.). The Landmark serves up Colectivo coffee and a variety of gourmet breakfast fare, including salmon eggs benedict and quiche, and vegetarian options like the veggie pesto burrito.
Next, get your blood pumping with some fresh air and beautiful scenery. The George Mead Wildlife Area offers 33,000 acres of land for hiking, biking and spotting native flora and fauna. Hike or bike along the Tomorrow River State Trail or the Green Circle Trail, or visit the Schmeeckle Reserve, 280 acres of land located on the UW-Stevens Point campus, with a visitor center, hiking trails, a man-made lake and plenty of opportunities for viewing wildlife.
For a healthy lunch, try a curried chickpea salad or a sandwich at Zest Bakery and Coffeehouse (624 Isadore St), a coffee shop with a playful, laid-back vibe offering themed cookies and mouthwatering bakery items. Or, enjoy diverse cuisine, including Asian chicken lettuce wraps, grilled pork tenderloin or seafood jambalaya, with a craft cocktail at Father Fats Public House (945 Clark St.).
Follow up lunch with a brewery tour at the Stevens Point Brewery (2617 Water St.). Operating since 1857, the Stevens Point Brewery (the fifth oldest continuing brewery in the United States) produces craft beers, cider and sodas.
Stop in at Central Waters Brewing Company (351 Allen St.) in Amherst, too. Tour the facility and sample a number of craft beers including ales, lagers and stouts in the brewery taproom.
Head to downtown Stevens Point next to view the #grabtheglass mural, created by Chicago artist Nick Goettling to commemorate the Stevens Point Brewery’s 160th year. Or, go to UW-Stevens Point to see the enormous “E Pluribus Unum” mural, 150 feet wide and 50 feet tall, made up of more than 10,000 mosaic tiles.
Try Chef’s Kitchen (924 Clark St.), a new restaurant whose menu completely changes periodically to showcase a different kind of cuisine. Chef’s Kitchen is currently serving Italian dishes. Then catch a movie at Rogers Cinema, a small theater located at 2725 Church St.
Enjoy coffee and a pastry at Main Grain Bakery (1009 1st St.), a bakery featuring organic and local ingredients like sourdough bread and a variety of delectable cheesecakes. Then, treat yourself to brunch at The Wooden Chair (1059 Main St). Housed in a historic building in downtown Stevens Point, this eatery serves up hearty breakfast and lunch fare such as omelets, salads, wraps and burgers.
Visit some of the downtown area’s many boutiques, including Girls in Pearls Boutique, which offers the latest in women’s clothes and accessories, or grab a tasty treat or toy for your beloved pet at The Companion Shop. Get in touch with your inner child by visiting Gepetto’s Workshop, a toy store which sells classic toys and games.
For an educational activity, visit the Museum of Natural History (900 Reserve St.), which showcases a variety of exhibits dedicated to Native American culture, dinosaurs and wildlife.
Before heading back to the Milwaukee area, grab a light lunch at the cozy Emy J’s Coffee House and Café, 1009 S. 1st St., a quaint spot which uses locally-sourced ingredients in its menu offerings. Fuel up with a sandwich like the vegetarian Toga Wrap or Swiss Hamwich.