Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee during the COVID-19 pandemic

Updates heading into your Wisconsin Weekend: Free Fun & Fishing Weekend, State Parks open restrooms, more places welcome visitors

It’s been a rough stretch. If you want to get out for a road trip and refresh, here are some things of note this week and weekend as you “Pick Some Roads and GO!!”


Free Fun (and Fishing) Weekend coming up in Wisconsin State Parks

Copper Falls

As most of the rest of Wisconsin’s State Parks are open and have opened up some restroom facilities (let’s face it, that was needed), get ready to take advantage of “Free Fun Weekend” coming up! This means means NO state park admission stickers, trail passes, or fishing licenses are required Saturday, June 6th or Sunday, June 7th.

• ATV, UTVs, and OHMs are exempt from registration requirements. Resident and non-resident all-terrain vehicle operators do not need a trail pass to ride state ATV trails.

• Visitors are asked to recreate responsibly close to home and practice social distancing.

FISHING

• All 2020-2021 fishing regulations apply including bag and length limits.

• Due to the public health risk, loaner equipment will not be available. Anglers should bring their own equipment and bait.

• Events such as fishing clinics are canceled.

STATE PARKS

• All state parks have updated hours of operation from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

• All group, family and indoor group campsites will remain closed through June 7. The status of events, reservations and camping after June 7 is currently under review.

• Park-goers should remember to take their garbage and recycling home with them as most state parks, forests, and other day-use areas do not have garbage or recycling bins.

• Attractions at which social distancing cannot be achieved are closed at various properties; visit the park notices webpage for information about ongoing closures.

• All other facilities currently closed such as towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, entrance stations and concession buildings remain closed to the public.

• Fight the Bite! Ticks are out, and visitors should take precautions to prevent Lyme Disease.

RESTROOMS AND BUILDINGS

• A limited number of day-use area restrooms at parks are now open for public use.

• All other facilities will remain closed, including towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations and concession buildings.

• Attractions where social distancing cannot be achieved will be closed as needed at various properties.

More…


More Craft Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries are opening up this week and weekend

Thumb Knuckle Brewing sampler

With COVID-19 shutdowns of tap and tasting rooms, brewery, winery, and distillery tours have been non-existent this spring. That’s changing! While social distancing and cleaning/sanitizing rules remain in effect, more of your favorite – and your yet-undiscovered – places that deal in fermentation are re-opening their doors to visitors. Places like G5 Brewing in Beloit, Duesterbeck’s Brewing north of Delavan, the Lone Girl Brewing Company in Waunakee, and Brewfinity Brewing in Oconomowoc have already opened their tap rooms back up.
Opening Thursday: Petskull Brewing in Manitowoc, Second Salem Brewing in Whitewater, and Potosi Brewing in Potosi.
Open Friday: Thumb Knuckle Brewing along Highway 54 in Luxemburg, Driftless Brewing Company along U.S. 61 in Soldiers Grove, Hubbleton Brewing Company near Waterloo, and 3 Sheeps Brewing in Sheboygan. These are just the ones we know offhand; there are many, many more in the state opening up for indoor beverages and food. Even in the city of Milwaukee, bars and restaurants are being allowed to open to 25% capacity this weekend, so if you want to try Broken Bat Brewing, Lakefront Brewery, Good City Brewing, or any the other dizzying array of craft breweries in Milwaukee, you just might be able to. But you should definitely check with your local (or distant) favorites before heading out! More


Summerfest 2020 cancelled

One of our favorite festivals in the world, Summerfest in Milwaukee, has decided to cancel outright for 2020. It’s the first time its 50+-year history they’ve done this, but they decided to look ahead and plan for 2021. Details about ticket refunds can be found here, and we’ll track additions to the music lineup in 2021 – four are already committed.


Check out State Trunk Tour Podcasts on the Wisconsin Coastal Food Trail and the Blues history in Ozaukee County!
State Trunk Tour founder Eric Paulsen got to talk with Jason Ring of the Manitowoc CVB about the new Wisconsin Coastal Food Trail that offers pathways for exploring everything from farms and cheese factories to breweries, bakeries, wineries, and distilleries in and around the Manitowoc and Two Rivers area (which are reopening again), as well as with Kris Raymond of the Paramount Music Association, about the amazing and little-known history of early Blues and Jazz records being made in Grafton and Port Washington – recordings that helped shape music ever since. Check them both out below:



How to best enjoy your Wisconsin road trips on this Memorial Day Weekend!

Almost all State Parks are now back open (with a few restrictions), Drive-Ins for food and movies are opening up, some craft breweries, wineries and distilleries have tap and tasting rooms available again, and for events and sights, it varies. Here’s what you need to know!

Copper Falls

Wisconsin State Parks

The state parks are open now, with the exception of four State Natural Areas: The Dells of the Wisconsin River, Gibraltar Rock, Parfrey’s Glen, and Pewits Nest. Every other park in the system has resumed regular hours of 6am-11pm, seven days per week.
Restrooms are still not open during this holiday weekend. They are scheduled to reopen Wednesday, June 3rd. The DNR has stated to not expect hand sanitizer at the restrooms, however.
Campsites remain closed until June 7th; the policy after that is still under review.
Annual park stickers or trail passes are required to visit state parks and trails. They can be purchased online or by calling (888) 305-0398 daily from 8am-4pm.
Capacity limits are being enforced due to COVID-19.
Note that most facilities currently closed such as towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, entrance stations and concession buildings remain closed to the public.
Also, if COVID-19 wasn’t enough, remember it’s the season where ticks are out and Lyme Disease can be a concern; please take the proper precautions!
Get more details from the Wisconsin DNR here.

The Kiltie, one of our classic Wisconsin drive-ins

Drive-Ins!

Now that Memorial Day Weekend has arrived, most drive-In restaurants have been opening back up for the season all over Wisconsin. Some are offering take-out only for consumption off the premises (subject to local orders), but since sitting in your car enjoying a meal is a good social distancing practice, most places offering car hop service are in full swing. Check out over 20 options here, from Grantsburg, Land O’Lakes, and La Crosse, over to Oshkosh, Washington Island, and down through Milwaukee and Kenosha and more!

Drive-In Movies!

The 1950s and 1960s may have been the peak era of the classic drive-in theater, but some have held on across the state and we’re even seeing some new ones, like the Milky Way in Franklin, just outside Milwaukee. Some, like the Highway 18 Outdoor in Jefferson, have yet to open for the season. But others from Door County (the Skyway along Highway 42) to Monroe (the Sky-Vu along Highway 69) are ready to show you some great (and maybe some not-so-great, but fun) movies from the comfort of your car! Here’s a guide to drive-in theaters across the state from OnMilwaukee.com.

Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee during the COVID-19 pandemic
Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee during the COVID-19 pandemic

Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries!

Many of the state’s craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries have been offering their creations for curbside pickup through the COVID-19 pandemic (hey, alcohol kills the virus, right?) but now some of them are re-opening tap/tasting rooms – with social distancing enforced, some requesting masks – and some have their outdoor patios to offer. Now, this depends on the place and their layouts. New Glarus Brewing, for example, remains closed as their brewing facilities are so close to where people come they’re preferring to keep their tasting room and gift shop closed for now. Most others are open to some extent. For example, if you’re in New Glarus, just west on Highway 39 from town will bring you to Bailey’s Run Winery, which offers indoor and outdoor seating. The options are many across the state!

Get out and explore Wisconsin, just be safe – and ENJOY! It’s been a looooong spring.

Back to StateTrunkTour.com

Milky Way Drive-In, Franklin

New Drive-In for Movies Opens in Franklin in time for Memorial Day Weekend

The Milky Way brings the drive-in movie experience back to Milwaukee, starting Friday

Ah, the drive-in movie! It’s been decades since the Milwaukee area has had them. Memories still linger of the 41 Twin and other places where you could pull up and watch a movie (or not) from the comfort of your own car. And now the drive-in is making a comeback, right off Highway 36!

The Milky Way Drive-In is a new “pop-up” outdoor movie theater at Ballpark Commons in Franklin, right next to where the Milwaukee Milkmen baseball team plays when there isn’t a pandemic going on. The Milky Way opens this Friday, May 22nd, and will show movies on a 40-foot LED screen in a parking lot that accommodates up to 150 cars. Admission is $35 per car per movie, and they plan on showing two per evening on average, with three showing on select weekends.

You’ll find the Milky Way Drive-In in the north parking lot at Ballpark Commons in Franklin, next to the Milwaukee Milkmen’s home stadium. The address is 7900 Crystal Ridge Drive, right off 76th & Loomis.

Ticket sales are online only, at milkywaydrivein.com. The first movie of the night will be family-friendly, with movies geared towards grown-ups showing after. You can listen to the movie from their outdoor speakers or on your FM radio; there’s also an app you can use. Concessions will be available; you can order food and drinks from an app and car hops will bring it to you. Of course, you can bring your own food and drink in, too. No need to hide stuff in a purse!



Here’s the movie schedule, so far:

The titles will all be second-run features or “classics.” Friday, for example, the drive-in is showing “Onward,” the Pixar action-fantasy movie, at 6 p.m., and “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbes and Shaw,” the spinoff action comedy with Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham, at 8:45 p.m

Friday, May 22nd: Onward, 6pm; Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, 8:45pm

Saturday, May 23rd: Dolittle, 5pm; Jumanji: The Next Level, 7:45pm; The Gentlemen, 10:30pm

Sunday, May 24th: Frozen II, 3pm; Sonic the Hedgehog, 6pm; Knives Out, 8:45pm

Monday, May 25th: Toy Story 4, 3pm; Men in Black: International, 6pm; 1917, 8:45pm

Tuesday, May 26th: Onward, 6pm; The Gentlemen, 8:45pm

Wednesday, May 27th: Sonic the Hedgehog, 6pm; Knives Out, 8:45pm

Thursday, May 28th: Jumanji: The Next Level, 6pm; Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, 8:45pm

Friday, May 29th: Dolittle, 6pm; Goonies, 8:45pm

Saturday, May 30th: Frozen II, 5pm; Men In Black: International, 7:45pm; The Lodge, 10:30pm

Sunday, May 31st: Toy Story 4, 3pm; Mamma Mia!, 6pm; Ted, 8:45pm

More showtimes into June and beyond will be available on their website.

Back to StateTrunkTour.com

Wings Over Wisconsin May 12, 2020

Wings Over Wisconsin: Here’s Where the F-16s will fly Tuesday

Wings Over Wisconsin, May 12, 2020

It’s been happening across the country, and on Tuesday, May 12th Wisconsin will get the salute. The 115th Fighter Wing will pay tribute to health care workers and first responders who are working hard and supporting communities across Wisconsin during this COVID-19 pandemic response.

During the day Tuesday, the 115th Fighter Wing will perform flyovers with four F-16 Fighting Falcons over healthcare facilities across Wisconsin. They start with Froedtert hospital in Pleasant Prairie and continue past Racine, the Milwaukee area, Sheboygan, Green Bay and Appleton to Oshkosh, then up to Wausau and over to Marshfield and Eau Claire. The jets will then head south to La Crosse, over to Tomah and down essentially along the I-90/94 corridor to Madison and Middleton. Here’s the schedule for the statewide plan, including times and from which direction the F-16’s will be coming:

The flight path for the F-16s during “Wings Over Wisconsin” on May 12, 2020.

Most state parks are now open – with restrictions

Copper Falls Fall Festival, view of Copper Falls

Road trippers, all state parks – except for six for some reason – are available again! However, with COVID-19 still a concern, restrictions will be in place.

The Wisconsin DNR, at the direction of Governor Evers, reopened 34 of the 40 state parks and forests that were closed at the beginning of April. “Outdoor recreation is important for both physical and mental health, and I know how important it is to Wisconsinites to get outside and enjoy Wisconsin’s natural resources and spring weather,” said Gov. Evers in a statement. And we’re hoping the “spring weather” part holds true, you never know sometimes.

At any rate, the governor’s office sent out these changes:

ADMISSION REQUIRED – AND IT NEEDS TO BE AN ANNUAL PASS

An annual park sticker and/or trail pass is required to visit state parks and trails.
Annual stickers are available for purchase with credit card by phone 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. seven days a week by calling toll free: 1-888-305-0398. Annual passes are NOT available for purchase at individual parks. Visitors must have an annual admission sticker adhered to their vehicle or proof of purchase for entry. Once proof of purchase is shown, visitors must place proof of purchase on the dash of the windshield while parked within the boundary of the property. The 2020 annual vehicle admission sticker is valid through Dec. 31, 2020.

HOURS OF OPERATION

State parks and forests are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, a change from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Properties will be closed to the public every Wednesday for maintenance and upkeep.
Northern Forests, Flowages, Lower Wisconsin Riverway, and Wild Rivers will be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Specific properties listed below.

  • Black River State Forest
  • Brule River State Forest
  • Chippewa Flowage
  • Flambeau River State Forest
  • Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest
  • Governor Knowles State Forest
  • Lower Wisconsin State Riverway
  • Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest
  • Pike Wild River
  • Pine-Popple Wild River
  • Turtle Flambeau Flowage
  • Willow Flowage

Hunting and fishing is allowed on all open properties in accordance with legal season structure and hours. Access to some areas may be limited to walk-in or water access only.
The following properties will remain closed for the health and safety of the public, staff, and property integrity:

  • Gibraltar Rock state natural area
  • Pewit’s Nest state natural area
  • Parfrey’s Glen state natural area
  • Dells of The Wisconsin River state natural area

BOAT LAUNCHES

DNR boat launches are open at open state properties.
All anglers and recreational boaters should practice social distancing and keep travel to a minimum.
If individuals can lawfully access Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes, they are free to navigate upon them while engaging in outdoor recreation.

TRAILS

All linear/rail trails are open to the public, which includes ATV trails.
The Ice Age Trail remains open.
An annual state trail pass is required for anyone age 16 or older biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding or in-line skating on certain trails. A state trail pass is NOT required for walking or hiking. The annual trail passes are valid through Dec. 31 of the year they are issued.

RESTROOMS AND BUILDINGS

Restrooms at all state properties are still closed. So go, before you go.
All other facilities will remain closed, including towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations and concession buildings.
Attractions where social distancing cannot be achieved will be closed as needed at various properties.

PRE-DETERMINED SAFETY CAPACITY LIMITATIONS

At times, many properties will likely reach their pre-determined safety capacity. When this happens, visitors may be denied entry to the park until existing visitors leave. Visitors are encouraged to explore other DNR recreation areas or visit during non-peak hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
State Parks likely to temporarily prohibit additional visitors include:

  • Copper Falls
  • Devil’s Lake
  • Governor Dodge
  • Governor Nelson
  • Harrington Beach
  • Hartman Creek
  • High Cliff
  • Interstate
  • Kinnickinnic
  • Kettle Moraine Southern Unit
  • Lapham Peak
  • Perrot, Rib Mountain
  • Roche-a-Cri
  • Whitefish Dunes
  • Willow River

CAMPING AND EVENTS

Camping, group camps and shelters will remain closed until May 26. Refunds will be issued to all customers. Limited numbers of remote, backpack and boat-in campsites are available on a first-come first-serve basis. A list of some of the properties offering this type of camping include:

  • Brule River State Forest
  • Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area
  • Dunnville Wildlife Area
  • Flambeau River State Forest
  • Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest
  • Governor Knowles State Forest
  • Meadow Valley State Wildlife Area
  • Tiffany Wildlife Area
  • Van Loon State Wildlife Are
  • Willow Flowage

Volunteer activities remain suspended at DNR properties.
All events and special event permits are canceled until May 26.
Of course, we should continue to work on preventing the spread of COVID-19 including avoiding large social gatherings, frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching your face – although really, the handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes part should happen whether there’s a pandemic or not.

We’ll work to keep you up-to-date on the latest in what so far is an unusual year for roadtripping – but it could lead to some new and cool experiences, too!

Highway 19 in Dane County in late fall

Check out great Wisconsin stuff to check out on road trips here, whether you’re self-quarantining or still getting out there!

With COVID-19 making people buy inordinate amounts of toilet paper and staying home (social distancing, whatever you want to call it), this is a good time to explore the state via the State Trunk Tour online as you make future plans. We show you the interesting stuff along our state’s highways, and dive into everything from international symbols of art to weird quirky stuff – and we have a lot more coming! The State Trunk Tour takes you there when you’re ready to explore the state again with plenty of reasons to Pick Some Roads and GO!!


Highway 95 winds down towards Arcadia
Highway 95 winds down towards Arcadia

Spring will be here soon, and this is a great time to plan some road trips!

With coronavirus fears, a lot of events around the state are being cancelled or postponed right now; hopefully that eases soon, but in the meantime stay safe, wash your hands, and if you self-quarantine, this is a great resource to explore! We’ll offer up some cool stuff on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too, as you plan your next exploration around Wisconsin. Meanwhile, check out 10Best.com’s Reasons to Visit Sheboygan (the “Malibu of the Midwest”) and see more of our links below!



Recent Updates:

Gravity Hill south of Shullsburg, WisconsinCheck out our piece and video on the legendary Gravity Hill, south of Shullsburg and Highway 11 in Lafayette County. It’s a mysterious locale where your vehicle will seem to magically defy gravity!


Other Cool Stuff to Check Out

Wisconsin has some weird street and road names. Here are 10 Quirky Street Names We Found across the state – and there are more coming!

PetSkill Brewing sampler
One of many samplers we’ve sampled lately at Wisconsin’s craft breweries. This is at PetSkull Brewing in Manitowoc.

Explore some of the recent craft breweries we visited, including Driftless Brewing in Soldiers Grove, Second Salem Brewing Company in Whitewater, PetSkull Brewing in Manitowoc, Rebellion Brewing in Cedarburg, G5 Brewing in Beloit, and two brand new Wisconsin craft breweries: Duesterbeck’s Brewing on a farm just north of Delavan, and Foxtown Brewing on Highway 167 in Mequon!

Hit the “Routes” menu and follow some highways end-to-end, and enjoy everything along the way here before (or as) you head out! Pick Some Roads and GO!!



Back to StateTrunkTour.com

New Year's 2017 Cheese Drop

3 Odd Things Wisconsin Towns Drop on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is Tuesday night! And just like the ball drops in New York City to ring out (or wring out, depending on your perspective) 2019 and focus on 2020, so will Wisconsin. We just drop other things, since we’re a quirky state to begin with.

We’re talking cherries, cheese, and even a carp. Here are three State Trunk Tour New Year’s Eve picks for a unique and odd Wisconsin drop experience:

Sister Bay: 3rd annual Door County Cherry Drop and New Year’s Eve Celebration

Door County Cherry Drop poster. NYE 2018-2019

Door County’s only major fireworks show on New Year’s Eve gets complemented this year with a new tradition, now going for its 3rd (and probably warmest) year: the Door County Cherry Drop. Yes, a huge, lit cherry will be lowered as midnight approaches this New Year’s Eve on the main drag in Sister Bay. The party includes fireworks at Sister Bay Marina, live music and libations at both Husby’s & Sister Bay Bowl, and then one of our favorite Wisconsin radio stations, fm106.9 The Lodge, will broadcast live with the biggest party tunes of all time starting at 10:30pm. Then the giant sparkling cherry will drop in Sister Bay and welcome in 2020. You should too! The party continues for a while because, as you know, you have to keep it going for a while once a new year begins. Check this out right along Highway 42 in Sister Bay, where Highway 57 ends.

Find out more details below on the State Trunk Tour Podcast!

Plymouth: the New Year’s Eve Big Cheese Drop

New Year's 2017 Cheese Drop

The Plymouth Arts Center, touting Plymouth as the “Cheese Capital of the World,” is doing the annual Big Cheese Drop and New Year’s Eve party again this year, dropping (not cutting) the Cheese at 10pm instead of midnight to make it a family event! The party still continues to and after midnight for everyone. Live Blues & Bluegrass music, champagne toast at midnight, free cheese appetizers from Sartori Cheese – it’s always a fun time. Take Highways 23, 57, or 67 to get to Plymouth for the Big Cheese Drop and ring in 2020 the cheesiest way possible!



Prairie du Chien: Carp Fest & New Year’s Eve Droppin’ of the Carp

New Year's Eve Droppin' of the Carp in Prairie du Chien

Now a Wisconsin tradition, Prairie du Chien has been fishing a carp out of the Mississippi River, freezing him, naming him “Lucky” and adorning him with makeup and lights, and then lowering him from a crane as midnight to the New Year chimes in. This year, they’re lowering the carp a little earlier.

But how’s that for a New Years’ Eve fish story? It’s free, and the party starts at 8pm downtown and on St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien. Hit U.S. 18 or Highways 27, 35, or 60 and check this out! They have some other events related leading up to it for a larger event, now called Carp Fest.

The only thing more Wisconsin wintry would be if they lowered a brandy bottle or a snowmobile at midnight (and yes, consider those ideas, ya other towns!)

Check out all kinds of fun highways, road trips pathways, events, attractions, points of interest and more across Wisconsin for 2020 on StateTrunkTour.com. We’re adding new stuff all the time!

Have a safe New Year’s Eve and a wonderful 2020!



Tall Ships

STT Update: August fires up with State Fair, Brat Days, Lumberjacks, Mile of Music, and much more!

Welcome to August! We’re heading into a busy weekend and there’s so much going on around Wisconsin… it’s a great time to road trip around the state and just Pick Some Roads and GO!!

Tall Ships hit Kenosha

First of all, after a fun weekend in Green Bay the Tall Ships Challenge hit Sturgeon Bay Monday, and today these magnificent sailing vessels head to a rendez-vous with Kenosha that will run through the weekend.

Tall Ships in Sturgeon Bay
The Tall Ships Challenge made its way into Sturgeon Bay on a gorgeous Monday night, July 29, 2019. These magnificent sailing vessels will head to Algoma and other ports as they make their way to Kenosha for the next big show on Thursday, August 1st.
Wisconsin State Fair 2019

State Fair kicks off today!

We’ve arrived at the Opening Day of the 2019 Wisconsin State Fair! With all the animals and traditional fun of pig races, the bumpy slide, and cream puffs, the vendors at State Fair are offering over 65 new food options to try – and not all of them are deep fried! Bug tacos are one example; an Apple Crunch Cheesecake Quesadilla is another. And yes, that’s just the start. Main Stage headliners range from REO Speedwagon and Rick Springfield to Jeff Dunham, Kidz Bop, Old Dominion, Melissa Etheridge, and more. You can find out more about this year’s State Fair in the latest State Trunk Tour Podcast here:

Wisconsin State Fair Milk House
The Milk House returns to Wisconsin State Fair, sponsored by the Milwaukee Bucks. A variety of flavors this year, and the milks are still just 50 cents.

Hayward’s got the Lumberjacks

It’s time to climb, chop, saw, and roll with the World Lumberjack Championships in Hayward, which kicks off today and runs through Saturday with all the lumberjack and lumberjill action that makes this event a popular draw from all over the continent!

Lumberjack World Championships, Hayward
Lumberjacks and Lumberjills descend on Hayward for the World Lumberjack Championships. U.S. 63 and Highways 27 and 77 will bring you to the action!

Brat Days kicks off a delicious weekend in Sheboygan

Sheboygan is the Bratwurst Capital, and tomorrow Brat Days kicks off with great activities, fun musical lineups, and of course all kinds of ways to enjoy Wisconsin’s favorite sausages!

You can also check out DeerFest in West Bend, and county fairs including Ozaukee County, Door County, and more. Additional updates shortly!

I-94 sign, courtesy billburmaster.com

8 Cool Stops along I-94 between Milwaukee and Madison

Tens of thousands make the hour-plus drive between Wisconsin’s two largest cities along I-94 in a given day. You’ve probably make the trek more times than you can count, right? Most of the time the point is to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible – that’s why you take the Interstate. But have you ever tried a little sightseeing along the way? There are a lot of cool things to check out along that 70-mile stretch that you normally just whiz by. You know some of them: Miller Park, Miller Brewery Tours, the Milwaukee County Zoo, the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, the outlet stores at Johnson Creek, etc. Here are another eight cool stops along I-94 between Milwaukee and Madison:

The Concord Zoo (and Gas Station/General Store)

Concord Zoo entrance

The Milwaukee County Zoo isn’t the only zoo along I-94. At Exit 275 (County F) in eastern Jefferson County, you’ll find a little mini-zoo behind the Concord General Store, which is also a Mobil station. We’re not kidding.

Concord Zoo, one of the cool stops along I-94 between Madison and MilwaukeeThe gas station/general store itself is interesting, with an espresso bar, mechanical horse, historic photos of the township, and a nice selection of everything from fresh hot sandwiches to organic food from area farms. But if you go to the northwest corner of the parking lot you’ll find a wooden sign saying “Concord Zoo” and just beyond, fenced-in areas filled with goats, pigs, cows, chickens, a mule, mini-horses, and even alpacas (they can spit far, so be careful!) In the Concord General Store you can buy large – and we mean large – carrots to feed some of them, too. It can be somewhat therapeutic in an unlikely spot just off the freeway to spend a little time with the animals.

Alpacas are just some of the residents at the Concord Zoo off I-94.

Alpacas are just some of the residents at the Concord Zoo off I-94 at County F west of Oconomowoc.

Address: N6485 County Road F, Oconomowoc, WI 53066, (262) 593-5400

Kettle Moraine State Forest & Lapham Peak

Lapham Peak Tower, DelafieldBetween roughly Oconomowoc and Pewaukee, I-94 traverses the “Lake Country” of Waukesha County. These lakes are part of the Kettle Moraine, an area glaciers pushed together into peaks and lakes thousands of years ago. One result was Lapham Peak, Waukesha County’s highest point at 1,233 feet above sea level – about 650 feet higher than Lake Michigan and slightly higher, elevation-wise, than the top of Milwaukee’s U.S. Bank Tower. A climb up the 45-foot tower provides a beautiful view of the surroundings. Lapham Peak also happens to be the site of the first National Weather Service forecast, which was issued in 1870. The forecast, developed with the help of signals from Colorado’s Pikes’ Peak, called for high winds in Chicago – among other places.

Lapham Peak Marker The Kettle Moraine State Forest around Lapham Peak is full of glaciated topography and over 20 miles of trails – including a segment of the Ice Age Trail – for hiking, cross-country skiing, or even skijoring if you want to get real Scandinavian about it. In winter, some trails are lighted for cross-country skiing and candlelight hike and ski events happen throughout the year. SummerStage at Lapham Peak hosts concerts and other performances.

You can access the park off County C, about one mile south of I-94 at Exit 285.

Address: W329N846 County Road C, Delafield, WI 53018, (262) 646-3025

Aztalan State Park and Museum

aztalan-aztalanmarker02This National Historic Landmark showcases some of Wisconsin’s rich history predating the European settlers. A thriving village of Native Americans existed along the Crawfish River just east of Lake Mills from approximately 1,000-1,300 A.D. Archeologists have a field day unearthing the remnants, which were discovered by European settlers in the 1830s. The village, called Aztalan, featured ceremonial grounds, farmland, pyramidal mounds, and even a stockade – some portions of which have been reconstructed. The grounds today make up Aztalan State Park, which covers 172 acres along the river. The Crawfish River is terrific for fishing and canoeing; the grounds also feature prairie, oak woods, a picnic shelter, walking trails, and bathroom facilities.

Aztalan State Park Mounds

Plenty of mounds and re-creations of wood forts and more illustrate Aztalan’s history.

You need a State Park admission sticker to use the park, which is open from 6am-11pm daily. Just up County Q you can also check out the Aztalan Museum, which traces the history of the village, its people, and the European settlement centuries later. You’ll find Aztalan State Park along County Q just south of County B (which today’s I-94 replaced as the main Milwaukee-Madison route) between the Lake Mills/Highway 89 exit and the Johnson Creek/Highway 26 exit.

Address (office): 1213 S. Main Street, Lake Mills, WI 53551, (920) 648-8774

Scroll down for more!



Tyranena Brewing Company

Tyranena notes itself as “Legendary Wisconsin Beer,” calling back to the mysterious stone structures and effigy mounds that border – and are submerged under – today’s Rock Lake… the original name of which was “Tyranena.” You’ll find their Tasting Room just south of I-94 near the Highway 89 exit (Exit 259). A quick ride east on Tyranena Park Road, which parallels the freeway just to the south, will bring you there.

lakemills_tyranena01

Tyranena pint at their Tasting Room in Lake MillsBeers from Tyranena include some colorful names: Bitter Woman IPA, Rocky’s Revenge Brown, Three Beaches Honey Blonde, Headless Man Amber Alt, Sheep Shagger Scotch Ale, Down N’ Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Chief Blackhawk Porter, and more. While available in stores throughout the state, you can sample them in their Tasting Room in Lake Mills, which features an outdoor patio during the non-freezing months, games, and live music on weekends. There are also brewery tours every Saturday. Yes, they’re free.

Tyranena’s Tasting Room is open Wednesday-Thursday 10am-4:30pm; Friday 3-11pm; Saturday noon-11pm; and Sunday noon-8pm.

Address: 1025 Owen Street, Lake Mills, WI 53551. (920) 648-8699

Lewis Station Winery

Lewis Station Winery from the outside

Lewis Station Winery opened in a former gas station (hence the “station” part of the name) in Lake Mills in 2011, right at the corner of Highway 89 and County A (originally Highway 30, the I-94 -esque route between Milwaukee and Madison way back when.) Last year, Lewis Station became Wisconsin’s first Certified Craft Winery by the Craft Wine Association. They produce around 25 different varieties throughout the year, although they’re best known for big reds and sweeter wines. They’re also known for excellent pizzas and other good food to complement their wines. On a nice, warm day, you can enjoy the patio out front and check out local residents enjoying Commons Park, which functions as the town square.

Address: 217 N. Main Street, Lake Mills, WI 53551. (920) 648-5481

Sunshine Brewing Company

Sunshine Brewing Company can at the barSunshine rose in 2018 in downtown Lake Mills, right along Highway 89. The newer of Lake Mills’ two craft breweries, Sunshine focuses on Belgian-style ales but offering up several other varieties as well. You can stop in their Taproom right along Main Street and sip their brews at the bar in the front or at tables in the event space in the back, which hosts bands, games, and the brewing equipment.

Sunshine offers several guest taps from other craft breweries in Wisconsin and, when the mood may strike, a neighboring state or two. They’ll also let you take some beers to go in their 32-oz. crowlers (and growler in a can.) You can even buy a friend a beer in advance and they’ll not only get their beer when they arrive, their name will be up for all to see on the taproom board!

You’ll find Sunshine along Highway 89/Main Street about a mile south of I-94. Their Taproom is open Thursday 5-10pm, Friday 5-11pm Saturday 1-11pm, and Sunday 1-5pm.

Address: 121 S. Main Street, Lake Mills, WI 53551. (920) 320-9735

Pettit National Ice Center

Pettit National Ice Center

An official U.S. Olympic training facility that helped train some of our skating athletes in the 2018 Winter Olympics going on right now, the Pettit National Ice Center welcomes over 425,000 visitors per year – you should be one of them. The Pettit features a quarter-mile speedskating oval and two international-size hockey rinks, with a running track surrounding the 97,000 square feet of ice. You can rent skates and hit the oval, play some hockey, run in a refreshing environment all year ’round (it’s warmer than the outside in winter and pleasantly cooler in summer) or just enjoy a snack and a beverage watching it all. Local Olympians Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen trained here and still participate in activities, while hockey tournaments, indoor running events, skating lessons, and more keep the Pettit and busy, engaging, and (literally) cool place to check out right along I-94. You’ll find it (amidst a busy Zoo Interchange construction project) at Exit 306, the Highway 181/84th Street exit right by the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds. Note: eastbound I-94 does not have the exit to 84th Street reopened yet, so take the 70th Street exit and double back to 84th Street via the frontage road.

Address: 500 S. 84th Street (Highway 181), Milwaukee, WI 53214, (414) 266-0100

The Gobbler Theater

Gobbler exterior eyesA longtime landmark along I-94 at Exit 267 (Highway 26), The Gobbler is an unusual building: a circular, Jetsons-esque 1960s design made to appear in the shape of a turkey from above. Even the roof over the drive-up entrance was designed to represent a turkey’s neck from a birds’ eye view (remember, turkeys don’t fly.) This place opened in 1967 as a restaurant, lounge, and hotel shortly after I-94 opened and quickly became a meeting spot for those coming from Milwaukee and Madison – and many legends surround some of those meet-ups. You can read a non-glowing – yet hilarious – review of the old Gobbler here. A bigger, extensive salute to the original Gobbler can be found on this blog, featuring tons of links and pictures.

Gobbler Theater sign, 2016

The hotel is long gone and the restaurant had closed for over a decade before the original space was transformed – with many of the better original elements preserved – into a new entertainment venue now called The Gobbler Theater. Opened in December 2015, it’s open for concerts and at various other times to see the building, have a drink, and discover the history. Call them at (920) 699-0003 for updates and details.

Address: 350 N. Watertown Street, Johnson Creek, WI 53038, (920) 699-0003

So next time you hit the interstate, plan some extra time and check out these six cool stops along I-94 between Milwaukee and Madison. And if you have more (we know there are a few more), let us know in the comments or contact us! It’s always good to explore Wisconsin’s fun and unique things to see and do.

Click here to back to the main State Trunk Tour site and continue exploring!




Ice Castles Wisconsin at night

Ice Castles Wisconsin continue in Lake Geneva as March comes in like a near-freakin’ polar vortex

Ice Castles Wisconsin Wonderland opened later than planned; now it gets to stay open later than expected in Lake Geneva; tickets available here

Well, March is here and with near- and below-zero temps the next few days it feels more like January. The good news? Winter sports are staying full swing and Ice Castles Wisconsin Wonderland in Lake Geneva – right along the lake and beach downtown – continue to amaze.

These Ice Castles create life-size winter playgrounds entirely by hand. It weighs over 20 million pounds, with ice artisans haven grown up to 10,000 icicles every day.

The ice is illuminated inside the castles at night with color-changing LED lights that twinkle to music. You can explore ice-carved tunnels, fountains, slides, frozen thrones, and towering ice formations. This is truly something to dazzle the entire family.

This mega-complex of ice is right in downtown Lake Geneva, by the beach right along Wrigley Drive, just a block south of Highway 50 as it goes through the heart of town!

Ice Castle at night

How long will it last? At this rate, a while! Keep up with the Ice Castles and weather conditions, which will be continuously updated, on their Facebook page.

Tickets are on sale now (buy tickets here). Admission prices are:

Weekdays:
$15.95 Adults 12 & older
$10.95 Children ages 4-11
Children under 4 are FREE

Weekends:
$18.95 Adults 12 & older
$15.95 Children ages 4-11
Children under 4 are FREE

Hours:

Monday: 4pm – 9pm
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: 4pm – 9pm
Thursday: 4pm – 9pm
Friday: 4pm – 10:30pm
Saturday: Noon – 10:30pm
Sunday: Noon – 8pm

Be prepared to hit U.S. 12 or Highways 50 or 120 to get to Lake Geneva and experience Ice Castles Wisconsin and the magic of the winter season!


Ice Castles Wisconsin slide

Of course, Lake Geneva offers so much else, too. Experience great downtown shopping, fall orchards in the area, ziplining at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours, water park fun at Timber Ridge, Black Point Estates & Gardens, a boat cruise, even a safari! And of course, around Lake Geneva you’ll find great resorts like The Abbey, Lake Lawn, and the Grand Geneva, and more.

Find out more about Lake Geneva here!