Desperately seeking a diversion
June 30, 2017 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Our favorite dog ever, Monty, just crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and there is a huge achy hole in our lives. Everywhere we turn in our house, we're smacked by a memory. We need to get out of town and experience things that don't remind us of the dog we'll never see again. So, it's off to the Madison (WI) art fair next weekend and then... well, this is where I need your ideas.

We live in NE Illinois and are hoping to use Madison as our jumping off point for somewhere else we can go on our long weekend roadtrip. Outdoorsy things (but not camping) sound good, other art fairs, interesting towns with galleries and cool shops and/or microbreweries, something kitschy, great curvy roads with nice scenery, maaaybe a particularly awesome museum... You get the idea. Something to take our minds off our sorrows, create some fun memories, and make space for us to heal. (N.B. Spring Green and the surrounding area will be explored fully in October when we go for the Fall Art Tour.) Ideas about destinations, things to do, places to stay?
posted by DrGail to Travel & Transportation around Wisconsin (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Maybe swing by the Indiana Dunes?

Sorry for your loss, seems like Monty was a great little dog.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:00 PM on June 30, 2017

Best answer: So sorry for your loss.

Devil's Lake State Park features easy and hard trails, rock climbing, and a lovely deep glacial lake.

It's relatively nearby to Dr Evermor's Forevertron. It features several acres of surreal sculpture crafted from industrial detritus, such as flayed tractors. Dr Evermor is no longer on site, so it's truly a see-it-before-it's-gone.

Nice winding hills from Madison to these spots. If you need a quick canine fix while you're still in town, we have many wonderful off-leash parks, where owners are happy to share skritching opportunities.
posted by Jesse the K at 7:28 PM on June 30, 2017

Best answer: Paoli is a great place to spend an afternoon looking a shops and hanging out at the hop garden. We often take our bikes down the Badger State Trail to get there, about a 14 mile round trip from central Madison.
posted by rockindata at 7:35 PM on June 30, 2017

Best answer: Paoli is a cute town about 15 miles south of Madison. If you like bikes, you can get there entirely on paved bike trails. If you don't like bikes, you can just drive. There's a nice little brewery, where you can sit on a lawn overlooking the Sugar River and (often) listen to live music. Walk up behind the brewery to get BBQ and pastries. The town also has a few other cafes and some nice art galleries. You could plan to spend a relaxed 3/4 of a day in Paoli.

Edit: Rockindata and I go there together. Our endorsements should only count for 1 combined vote.
posted by juliapangolin at 7:35 PM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Circa Madison and Milwaukee: Start looking through this. Wisconsin has a deep bench of quirky concrete and metal art yard projects (e.g. Dr. Evermore) executed at grand scales, if such things float your boat. They're a couple of places around Sparta, which has beautiful countryside and drives in the driftless region, that are notable, again if that is your idea of interesting.
Further(ever)more, it has two museums (MKEMoArt and the Kohler museum in Sheboygan) which have good collections and often dedicated galleries to outsider art. And Racine, on occasion.

Finally, there are big (oconomoc, i think) and little woodland native american sites and burial grounds in between Madison and Milwaukee, as well as around the MKE region. (some preserved by the Kohlers, again).

If you can, bring a bike. There are some great rail trails throughout that region and also fantastic roads, if you're so inclined.
I very much hope this helps you heal through travel.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:42 PM on June 30, 2017

Could outdoorsy things include paddling? The Kickapoo River is about 2 hours from Madison, and can accommodate a totally lovely canoe or kayak trip of any length. Outfitters abound in the town of Ontario. Viroqua would be the closest nice town if you want to spend the night in the region.
posted by juliapangolin at 7:46 PM on June 30, 2017

I love the Driftless Area, which is an easy drive from Madison. Make sure to drive along the Wisconsin River; there are curvy, scenic roads galore. There are a lot of small towns but Viroqua is especially cute and has lots of antique shops and art galleries. The downtown area is on National Registers of Historic Places.

I stayed at a small cabin on a sheep farm that I found through AirBnB.

There are all kinds of outdoor activities available, but I stuck to hiking and went to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.

If you want to go a bit farther, I stayed at another cabin on a llama farm (A LLAMA FARM!!) in Spring Grove, MN. I spent one day in nearby Decorah, IA, which has a big bicycling culture and a downtown similar to Viroqua. I also had fun on a tour of Niagara Cave. On your way back you could follow the Mississippi and cross back into Illinois at Galena, another charming small town. If you take Hwy 20 back to NE Illinois, stop at this place near Lena, which has literally the best fried chicken I've had in my life.
posted by AFABulous at 5:26 PM on July 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Re: breweries, New Glarus is close to Madison and has tours. You can't buy it outside of Wisconsin so you should definitely try it while you're here.
posted by AFABulous at 5:29 PM on July 1, 2017

Sorry for your loss, Marty looks like an awesome dog.

The drive along the St. Croix river is amazing! If you decide to do so, there is a great little pizza farm that has great music and awesome food. It's in the bluffs and a beautiful drive.
posted by LinneaJC at 11:16 AM on July 3, 2017

« Older Eco Lawn Advice/Experience?   |   Fairest way to split family vacation expenses? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.