There is something romantic about the crunch of gravel under your shoes or a plush lawn under your feet. Flat, winding roads take a scenic tour of a place that looks virtually untouched. Switching your travels to a less jet-set, tourist destination will bring a “local” experience. The culture is raw and the scenery is its own secret.
On the plane home to Fredonia, Wisconsin from Oakland, California, I had a quick thought of all of the eclectic, natural, and stunning places that exist in the state. All of them are totally Instagram-able!
Port Washington, Wisconsin
A quaint sailing town located on the beaches of Lake Michigan. This is for the human who loves the water and amazing views. Family owned businesses and curated boutiques line the retail street. There is an amazing craft and antique shop called Shoppes of Port Washington on N. Franklin Street. They sell vintage art, posters, and furniture, art from local artists, and hosts vendors from around the state.
A pier leads out to a lighthouse that serves as a landmark for the town. Water splashes right next to you when the waves are alive, and there’s a never-ending view from the end of the pier. Hills with fanciful homes give you a view over the small town and lake. Fireworks always look better from this view.
My favorite food spots are The Pasta Shoppe, Broadway Popcorn, and Coco Lena. Broadway Popcorn has all of the popcorn flavors you never new you needed. Coco Lena has all of the modern and throwback candy that caters to all generations.
West Bend, Wisconsin
This is the town that pops up after a long stretch of fields of corn and alfalfa. Driving through, it definitely looks like the small town with a few chain gas stations and grocery stores. There are hidden gems worth finding.
The Museum of Wisconsin Art is tucked away on a side street. Designed by Jim Shields, the building mirrors the triangular lot it sits on, but definitely doesn’t draw from the stone and brick buildings around it. White panels enclose the triangular structure, setting it apart visually from its location. Contemporary and historical artists from Wisconsin are shown in its galleries.
A neighboring tiny town of just over 2,000 people called Barton is home to one of my absolute favorite boutiques on the southern half of the state. Over the Moon Gifts is a vintage and modern curated shop owned by a woman who does all of her buying and hunting on her own. Vintage trinkets, art, and statuettes cover the farther half of the store. Glass and crystal perfume bottles and vintage mirrors with matching brushes leave me staring every time. Jewelry cases hold accessories from new vendors as well as a curated vintage collection. Over the Moon Gifts’ Instagram shows her style and selections.
P.S. It’s breathtaking to go into the shop at Christmas time!
Milwaukee is definitely more popular to the public when it comes to Wisconsin locations. It is the place to conceptualize and create. It’s the urban scene. The Milwaukee Public Museum has a beautiful set up of natural history and a dome theater. The Milwaukee Art Museum is known for its architecture and holds international art from different artistic eras. Warehouses have turned into commercial spaces for food, retail, and spas in the Historic Third Ward. Locally owned businesses are right on the Milwaukee River. The Milwaukee Public Market is also located there. It’s a huge market place that serves and sells artisan ethnic products and dishes made by independent merchants.
Chute Pond, Mountain, WI
This location is about 3 hours north from the previous locations. Chute Pond is a park that houses Slippery Rock. The name is rightfully assigned because it is a rock formation with a downward slope. The river water runs down the rock making a natural, smooth water slide. Indentations in rock allow you lie beneath the water and watch it rush over the space while breathing! At the end of the the slide there is a natural circular “tub” in the rocks; locals call it the “Hot Spring”.
When you climb out of the Hot Spring you find yourself in the shallow, sandy river. It’s like a fairytale when you walk a bit further out through whimsical tree branches. This is the passage way to the main river. The water is completely calm, tall trees on both sides, wind and birds are whispering, and the rushing waterfall audible in the background. It’s truly a Midwestern Narnia moment.
Door County, WI
Don’t skip the cherry pie! This is the Midwest equivalent to The Bay Area’s Sausalito. It’s a getaway town on Wisconsin’s Peninsula that is all about boating, biking, and paddle boarding. Adorable boutique shops bring you fashion from local and international designers. Curators who travel around the world and bring back art and sculpture to sell in their stores thrive here. Art from Door County artists is shown in galleries and in local businesses. Breathtaking white-picket-fence homes and hotels line the shores for the perfect unplug destination. Locally owned restaurants specialize in Italian food, pastries, breakfast, and seafood. Sipping wine from a wood beach chair at sunset isn’t too bad either!
I hope you find time to unplug this summer and adventure. Travel is good for the soul and is the best educator.
All of my looks in this post are from Anthropologie except for the black jumpsuit that is linked above. Their summer collection is absolutely beautiful and will have your wardrobe ready for travel in one visit.