R'Noggin Brewing logo

R’Noggin Brewing Company

R'Noggin Brewing, Tap RoomAlong I-41/94 in Kenosha between Highways 50 and 158, you’ll find a small, unassuming building that for years served D.O.T. trucks maintaining the roads. Today, this building maintains a brewery called R’Noggin, which opened in 2016.

R'Noggin Brewing sampler

Sampler from R’Noggin. Their beers change frequently, based on the season and local ingredient availability.

R’Noggin Brewing is the brainchild of two brothers, Jeff and Kevin Bridleman. They craft brewed for a number of years in southeastern Wisconsin before launching R’Noggin, focusing on going as local as possible with ingredients and creatively crafting seasonal releases. They make multiple uses of the word “noggin,” since the founding brothers “put their noggins together” and a noggin is also both a small glass and a measurement unit of a quarter of a pint. That’s 4 ounces, a good sampler amount. Similar to their use of “noggin,” the beer names get creative. They range from R’Biter (a IPA) to Kachem F. Ucan (an Imperial Ginger Bread beer) and from Chasing Tire (an English Porter) to a favorite during a visit, the Carpet Creature Cream Ale.

Available beers vary at any given time, so check their website or Facebook page for the latest lineup. While they don’t have a kitchen, they have partnered with the nearby Rivals Sports Pub & Grille to offer fish on Friday nights.

R'Noggin Brewing's building along I-41/94

Once a service building for trucks, this building now services R’Noggin beer drinkers.

R’Noggin’s Brewery and Tap Room sits right next to a State Trunk Tour favorite bar and restaurant, Uncle Mike’s on I-41/94. The Brat Stop and Mars Cheese Castle are close by, too! Their indoor room is open year ’round and during nice weather their picnic tables hit the lot and the yard for outdoor enjoyment.

R’Noggin Tap Room Hours

​Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: 5:30pm-9pm
Thursday: 3:30pm-9pm
Friday: 3:30pm-10pm
Saturday: 12pm-9pm
Sunday: 12pm-6pm

Address:
6521 120th Avenue (Frontage Road of I-41/94)
Kenosha, WI 53142
(262) 960-1298
Website

 

Brat Stop exterior sign

Brat Stop

Wisconsin loves brats, and Kenosha’s “World Famous” Brat Stop is among the best places in the state to enjoy them! This iconic location has been in business since 1961, when it was pretty much the only major place to eat along the rural U.S. 41, newly-minted I-94 at Highway 50. And they sell a ton of brats every week – literally.

The Brat Stop has long been heralded for its bratwurst, beer, cheese, and family-friendly atmosphere. It’s a large place, with a bakery, bar, music stage for live entertainment, huge TVs, pool, video games, rides for kids, and event space at their banquet facility, called the Parkway Chateau. Their Beer Garden is open whenever the weather allows; the food – they have a full menu – is fantastic, the beer selection is impressive, and you can get everything from a wide variety of cheese, baked goods, and Wisconsin accoutrements. This is makes is a perfect stop for people coming up from that place known as Illinois.

Brat Stop Details

Brat Stop is open 365 days a year and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with bratwurst of course being the top seller. Other popular Brat Stop dishes include Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds, Broasted Chicken,  their Reuben on Dark Rye, Pizzas, and the Brat Stop Prime Rib Dinner. Breakfast incorporate bratwurst.

The Brat Stop is a Live Music Venue, Too!
The Brat Stop’s huge bar is well-stocked and ready for shows, from local bands to national acts like Slaughter, Lonnie Brooks, The Charlie Daniels Band, Cheap Trick, Sugarland, Trace Adkins, Theory of a Deadman, and Jackyl. Check out their music lineup here!

The Brat Stop’s Cheese Mart opens at 8 a.m. with the rest of the place, and generally closes at 10 p.m. during the week, 11 p.m. on weekends. The products, and custom-made gift boxes, are available for shipping. Over 100 different cheeses, all from Wisconsin, are available. We’re talking Cheddar, Swiss, Brick, and specialty cheese, along with cheese spreads.

Like all good Wisconsin places popular with visitors, there’s a large selection of apparel, glassware, souvenirs, Brat Stop memorabilia, Cheesehead hats, and Bears and Packers merchandise – with this location SO close to Illinois, the proportion of Bears to Packers fans is such where they cater to both – with a lean towards the Green & Gold, of course. It’s definitely a fun place to catch the Packers-Bears and Brewers-Cubs (or White Sox) games.




The “World Famous” nature of the Brat Stop has led the likes of Bette Midler, Michael Jordan, and Steven Tyler to stop in. Sports announcers in town – for either Chicago or Milwaukee teams – tend to drop in when they’re traveling between the two cities.

The Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival – a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha – is held there every April. There’s a Toys For Tots fundraiser held each December, and a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics each winter, where they set up a pool outside.

As you travel to or through Kenosha, the Brat Stop is a MUST stop – a definite State Trunk Tour favorite! You’ll find it right along Highway 50 just west of the busy I-41/94 interchange. Enjoy!

Address:
12304 75th Street (Highway 50)
Kenosha, WI
(262) 857-2011
Website

Aztalan State Park Mounds

Aztalan State Park & Museum

Aztalan State Park Sign“Aztalan” is the name for an original Native American settlement that thrived along the Crawfish River banks in Jefferson County from around 1000-1300 AD. Now a National Historic Landmark, Aztalan State Park sits just east of Lake Mills near I-94 between Highways 26 and 89 just south of County B, which was formerly Historic Highway 30.

The original settlement included ceremonial grounds, farmland, pyramidal mounds, even a stockade – portions of which have been reconstructed. Aztalan is an excellent showcase of Wisconsin’s rich history predating the European settlers. Archeologists have a field day unearthing remnants, which were discovered by European settlers in the 1830s.

The original village grounds today make up the 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.

Aztalan markers and viewYou need a State Park admission sticker to use the park, which is open daily from 6am-11pm. One block north on County Q the Aztalan Museum traces the history of the village, its people, and eventual European settlement. The reconstructed historic Mamre Moravian Church sits on the museum grounds. It was a one-room log church constructed in 1861. The church has been moved twice and given a few alternations during its history, although no move was more than a few miles. It’s been sitting peacefully on its present site since 1996. The church, museum, and several outbuildings welcome explorers and visitors alike.

You’ll find Aztalan State Park along County Q just south of County B, which was once Historic Highway 30. Today, I-94 serves as the main Milwaukee-Madison route, though you can access the park between the Lake Mills/Highway 89 exit and the Johnson Creek/Highway 26 exit.

Aztalan Museum

Aztalan Museum

Address:
County Road Q
Jefferson, WI
(920) 648-8774
Website




Gobbler Theater sign, 2016

Gobbler Theater

Gobbler exterior, May 2016The Gobbler is an unusual building: a circular, Jetsons-esque design made to appear in the shape of a turkey from above – even the roof over the entrance was designed to represent a turkey’s neck. This place opened in 1967 as a restaurant, lounge, and hotel. Its location along I-94 at Highway 26 quickly helped make it a meeting spot for those coming from Milwaukee and Madison – and many legends surround some of those meet-ups. You can read a hilarious critique and review of the old Gobbler here. A bigger, extensive salute to the Gobbler can be found on this blog, featuring tons of links and pictures.

Gobbler exterior eyes

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 or visit their website here for updates and details.

Address:
350 N. Watertown Street (just off I-94 at Highway 26)
Johnson Creek, WI 53038
(920) 699-0003
Website

Miller Park

Miller Park is home to the Milwaukee Brewers and the only stadium in North America with a fan-shaped convertible roof. The roof can open or close in about 10 minutes and – along with the panels in the outfield capable of blocking the lake breeze – allows the ballpark to be heated up to 30 degrees warmer than the conditions outside. After all, Wisconsin weather conditions can be suspect in April, May, and September – and hopefully it’ll be an issue for the Brewers more often in October, too.

Completed in 2001, Miller Park officially has a capacity of 41,900 for baseball although on numerous occasions, standing room-only crowds have allowed attendance to peak over 45,000. Concerts and other sporting events ranging from bowling tournaments to international soccer/futbol matches have also brought huge crowds. The stadium weighs half a million tons, 12,000 tons of which are from the roof, which spans 600 feet and covers nearly 11 acres. Inside, the roof reaches as high as 200 feet over the playing field; outside, the highest arch over the roof reaches as high as a 30-story building.

Miller Park, father and sonNatural grass flourishes under the retractable roof; large glass panels on the sides let plenty of light in and occasionally create some shadow challenges during games. One of many traditions brought over from Milwaukee County Stadium – the previous home of the Brewers – is the Klements Sausage Race, where five “sausages” compete in a foot race during the middle of the 6th inning and Brewers fans place bets on who wins: the Polish, the Brat, the Italian, the Hot Dog, or the Chorizo. It’s not uncommon for national sports reporters to note the winner of the Sausage Race when recapping Brewers games.

Plenty of kids’ activities can keep them occupied beyond the game, while a “loop” around the ballpark is a must. You can walk all the way around Miller Park on the lower level, taking in views of the field and the game from every angle.

State Trunk Tour Tidbit:
The first “no-hitter” in Miller Park history was thrown on September 14, 2008 by the Chicago Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano… against the Houston Astros. The two teams were using Miller Park due to Hurricane Ike’s arrival in Houston. Miller Park also hosted a Cleveland Indians-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim series in April, 2007 when snowstorms in Cleveland forced a relocation of their series – one of many reasons why having the roof paid off!

Miller Park offers tours of the facility on most days during baseball season when there isn’t already a home game taking place. Check here for dates and pricing.

Miller Park from the Highway 175 bridge over I-94 in Milwaukee.Miller Park is easy to spot, of course, and sits at the junction of I-94 and Highway 175 in the city of Milwaukee, about three miles west of downtown. Highway 59/National Avenue is just to the south and U.S. 18/Bluemound road is just to the north.

Address:
One Brewers Way
Milwaukee, WI 53214
(414) 902-4000
Website




Willow River State Park


hudson_willowriverSP01Following the Willow River and its beautiful valleys, Willow River State Park covers nearly 2,900 acres and offers terrific hiking, swimming, canoeing, camping, fishing, and more. The surroundings include forest and prairie grasslands with the river cutting through it all on its way to the St. Croix.

The park’s crowning glory is Willow Falls, a beautiful, cascading set of waterfalls in a rock- and tree-lined gorge nearly 200 feet deep. Trails bring you just above the falls and to the top of the rocks above; the views offer many angles, sounds, and sights.

hudson_willowriverSP12

Willow Falls from 200 feet above.

Willow River State Park is located just north of U.S. 12 along County A in St. Croix County, about 5 miles northeast of Hudson. I-94 is just to the south and Highway 35 is nearby to the west.

Address:
1034 County Road A
Hudson, WI 54016
(715) 386-5931
Website

Mars Cheese Castle


One of our favorite places that just screams “Wisconsin!” is the Mars Cheese Castle. This Wisconsin cheese shop, deli, bar, bakery and more is popular purveyor of cheeses, meats, hot sauce, bakery, and Wisconsin kick-knacks is a widely recognized landmark on the busy Milwaukee-Chicago corridor, with its iconic sign beckoning travelers.

Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, along I-41/94 and Highway 142.

Its new building, completed in 2011, finally makes it look like a castle. It didn’t for its first six decades.

Originally opened in 1947 along U.S. 41 and what was Wisconsin Highway 43 (today’s 142), the Mars Cheese Castle catered to travelers in search of a variety of cheeses and other local foods as they entered or left the state. Still a family business, Mario Ventura, Sr. started it up and added on as they could: a deli counter, a sandwich shop, a bakery, a bar, a gift shop… all of these were tacked on to the original building. He and partners built not only a successful travel stop, but a brisk mail-order and later online business, shipping cheese, sausage and other products from Wisconsin to locales all over the country. Their home brand of spreadable cheese is called “King of Clubs”, and a large tub of it with Town House crackers are available for enjoyment at the bar at all times.

Mars Cheese Castle samplesTheir deli offers an amazing selection of cheeses, sausages, crackers, and other enjoyable consumables; their wine and beer selection is extensive, their gift shop offers every Wisconsin-y thing you could imagine, their market and bakery offers everything from tons of hot sauce selections to kringle; and a State Trunk Tour favorite is a summer sausage sandwich from the deli. The bar even has a “leg lamp” – the kind popularized in the movie A Christmas Story – to add to the atmosphere… the lamps are crafted in Kenosha, after all.

Mars Cheese Castle's bar features a coveted "leg lamp"

The Mars Cheese Castle’s bar features a coveted “leg lamp,” just like Ralphie and the Old Man liked.

Mars Cheese Castle sausage selections

When I-94/U.S. 41 reconstruction began between Milwaukee and Chicago, it was determined Mars had to move to accommodate the new footprint of the freeway’s interchange with Highway 142. The new building opened in 2011 and finally resembles a castle on the outside and all the “regions of Mars” – if you will – are more easily accessible than they were in the original building. It’s still one of our favorite Wisconsin cheese shops.

Mars Cheese Castle sign at nightThe Mars Cheese Castle is open 9am-7pm, seven days a week. It’s easily accessible of I-41/I-94/U.S. 41 at Exit 340 (Highway 142), which is also famous for its “Bong Recreation Area” sign (note: it’s not what you may think.)

Address:
2800 W. Frontage Road (I-41/94 at Hwy 142)
Kenosha, WI 53144
(800) 655-6147
Website




Raised Grain Brewing Company


Raised Grain opened in 2015, billing itself as “Waukesha’s Craft Brewery.” What began as an argument between a Scottish home brewer and a Belgian home brewer evolved into this place. The brewery sits just west of “Goerkes Corners”, where I-94 and U.S. 18 meet on the north side of Waukesha close to Pewaukee and Brookfield. Technically it’s located at 2244 W. Blue Mound Rd., which is Historic Highway 30.

Raised Grain features eight brews on tap in its Tap Room, which also features big screen TVs. Beers include their first brew, Paradocs Red, and others like Kilted Kolsch, Ah-Ha IPA, Birdseye Belgian Trippel, Six Stone Scotch Ale, Spring City Amber, Roggenaut Rye and the seasonal tap, Black Walnut Belgian Imperial Stout. Additional beers are being added.

Their Tap Room, visible from the Home Depot (which is the most visible thing around there), is open Wed-Thurs 4-10pm, Friday 4pm-midnight, Saturday noon-midnight, and Sunday 1-5pm, although hours can vary based on football season and such – check their Facebook page for any updates on that.

Address:
2244 W. Bluemound Road (Historic Highway 30), Unit E
Waukesha, WI 53186
Website

Burr Oak Winery


Burr Oak Winery dates back to 1997, when the first grapes were planted. A few years later they were drawing visitors to their tasting room, a European-style building featuring beautiful stained glass windows salvaged from a church built in 1882. Today they host a number of events and offer over 15 varieties of red, white, and dessert wines. They managed several medal wins at the 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, too.

Burr Oak Winery is open 11am-5pm, seven days a week. You’ll find them just south of downtown New Lisbon, along U.S. 12/Highway 16/Highway 80, just a few minutes off I-90/94.

Address:
N5873 Hwys 12 & 16 (and 80)
New Lisbon, WI 53950
(608) 562-5271
Website

Pettit National Ice Center

Pettit National Ice Center


A truly world-class facility, the Pettit National Ice Center features a 400-meter speedskating oval that serves as only one of two official U.S. Olympic training facilities in the United States. The oval surrounds two international-size ice rinks, popular for hockey players. The Pettit opened in 1993, welcomes about 425,000 visitors annually, brings in speedskaters from all over the world. The facility has hosted competitions like the National Short and Long Track Speed Skating Championships, the World Sprint Speed Skating Championships, and the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Time Trials. Local Gold medal champions Bonnie Blair and Dan Jansen first skated the rink and aspiring Olympians continue to use the Pettit for training.

westallis-pettit-statue

And yes, YOU can skate at the Pettit! You can even run around the outside of the speedskating oval, as a 0.28-mile running track lines the outside – it’s a popular runners’ destination in winter. Check here for times.

What other cool facts can we say about the Pettit National Ice Center?

– The Pettit features 97,000 sq ft of ice between the Oval and two international sized hockey rinks

– It has been said that If you divided all the ice in the Pettit Center into one- inch sections you would have a total of 13 million ice cubes!

– 99 miles of piping cools the Olympic Oval and the two international sized hockey rinks.

– The ice actually gets painted so it appears so white – 2,000 gallons of mixed ice paint are used every year.

– The Run-Walk Track is a little over a quarter mile for a lap, a little under four laps for a mile and just over 94 laps for a full marathon which we actually host every January! The marathon weekend welcomes over 800 participants in a variety of distances.

You’ll find the Pettit along Highway 181/84th Street at I-94, just north of Highway 59/Greenfield Avenue, south of U.S. 18/Bluemound Road, and east of I-41/U.S. 45/I-894 on the Milwaukee-West Allis border.

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