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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Welcome to Kenosha

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You don’t have to travel to San Francisco to hear the ding-ding of the trolley. Kenosha Transit operates electric streetcars on tracks through the city’s downtown. And that’s only one of the attractions in a city with a beautiful lakefront and a cluster of museums, along with galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Art is in bloom, including a long sculpture garden stretched along the lake. It’s easy for Milwaukeeans to sail past Kenosha along I-43 on the way to Chicago, but the old port town south of Racine makes for an excellent day trip with much to offer visitors. Exit at the Mars Cheese Castle and head east.

 

Anderson Art Center

121 66th St.

262-653-0481

andersonartscenter.com

Housed in a French Renaissance Revival mansion, the Anderson Art Center’s floor-to-ceiling windows overlook manicured grounds on the shores of Lake Michigan. They invite visitors to admire the views outside along with the regional and state artists who exhibit on a rotating schedule within. Colorful class projects by Kenosha County school children on display in the upper galleries promote arts education at every level. The Arts Center hosts numerous cultural events, including Summer Jazz concerts on selected Tuesdays, where admission is usually free. The mansion may also be rented for any elegant occasion. (Peggy Sue Dunigan)

 

Char’s Café

5537 Sixth Ave.

262-657-3677

Clean and bright, Char’s Cafe is a pleasant place for breakfast or lunch. The menu is based on classic diner favorites like eggs & bacon, pancakes, grilled sandwiches and steaming bowls of chili. An excellent breakfast side item is the crispy potato pancakes, served with applesauce and sour cream, of course. The friendly staff, well-stocked bakery case, bottomless mugs of Alterra coffee and free WI-FI encourage customers to linger. Keep in mind, Char’s only accepts cash and is closed on Mondays, so plan your visit accordingly. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

 

Coffee Pot

4914 Seventh Ave.

262-653-8849

thecoffeepotkenosha.com

The Coffeepot is a great place to start your day in Kenosha. Outstanding food, generous portions and reasonable prices have led to the success and popularity of this long-running establishment. Grab a seat at the counter for that authentic diner experience, or out on the patio to enjoy the lake breeze in the warmer months. Can’t-miss menu items include the phenomenal corned beef hash, homemade bread and the lighter-than-air griddlecakes. The lunch menu includes breakfast as well as a host of tasty sandwiches. (S.H.G.)

 

Dinosaur Discovery Museum

5608 10th Ave.

262-653-4450

kenosha.org/wp-dinosaur/

As exciting and scary as the special effects of Jurassic Park can be, there’s something extraordinary about encountering the full-scale three-dimensional presence of a dinosaur right in front of you. Yes, I’m talking about Tyrannosaurus rex, the most horrifying of giant prehistoric monsters. And at Dinosaur Discovery Museum he towers over you, jaws open, rows of huge sharp teeth poised to rip into flesh and bone. The museum claims the largest collection of meat-eating dinosaur casts in the United States. The overall effect of seeing these as a group is stupendous also for the pure rhythmic potency of all the dynamic bone structures flexing, unfurling, hovering and virtually flying through the air with sinuous and shuddering whiplash power. Here was a time when life, for many creatures, really was nasty, brutish and short. (Kevin Lynch)

 

Franks Diner

508 58th St.

262-657-1017

franksdinerkenosha.com

Upon entering Franks, your senses are blindsided by the savory smells of onions and potatoes frying. And then you get the sense of being inside an early-20th-century train car. (Franks is built around a small rail car.) A shout from the cooks—“Order’s ready!”—or bold talk between servers and the regulars makes you imagine yourself in an America from decades ago. Franks has been in Kenosha since1926 and was owned by the Franks family until 2001. It since has passed into other hands, but little has changed. Try “Franks Garbage Plate,” which includes five eggs, hash browns, choice of meat, onions, peppers and cheese. No surprise: Franks accepts cash only. (Daniel Gaitan)

 

Kemper Center

6501 Third Ave.

262-657-6005

kempercenter.com

Once a girls boarding school run by Episcopalian nuns, today a beautiful county park with a collection of buildings listed on the National Historic Registry. The Kemper Center has remodeled and preserved much of the former school and residences, which now house a conference center, auditorium, art gallery, arboretum and non-denominational chapel. Add in breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, and you realize why this has become a prime location for weddings and large outdoor events like the Twilight Jazz Series held on Tuesday evenings in summer. (S.H.G.)

 

Kenosha Public Museum

5500 First Ave.

262-653-4140

kenosha.org/wp-museum

Entered through a striking two-story lobby made of glass and glacier rock, the Kenosha Public Museum is built around a winding walk-through exhibit whose dioramas afford a tour of Southeastern Wisconsin from the age of great reptiles and wooly mammoths through the Potawatomi and the early European-American settlers. The second floor, looking out on a magnificent view of Lake Michigan, the marina and the historic red lighthouse, features thoughtfully curated changing art exhibits. The concept behind the architecture combines new with old, the postmodern with the primeval—a mission the Kenosha Public Museum carries out daily. (David Luhrssen)

 

Kenosha Community Sailing Center

5130 Fourth Ave.

262-997-9343

kenoshasailing.org

A great way to enjoy Lake Michigan is in a boat on the water. Even better? Piloting a boat yourself! The Kenosha Community Sailing Center is a non-profit branch of the Kenosha Yacht Club, offering sailing lessons to kids and adults. The Youth Sailing Program allows kids, ages 8-18, to take small group classes, taught by U.S. Sailing-certified instructors for as little as $85/week for half-day classes. The Adult Sailing Program teaches the basics of sailing in six evening classes for $125, including three classes on land, three on the water and a copy of the U.S. Sailing textbook. (S.H.G.)

 

Lemon Street Gallery

4601 Sheridan Road

262-605-4745

lemonstreetgallery.org

Kenosha’s thriving Lemon Street Gallery was established as an art collective in 1999 and continues to showcase work by artists from Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois in every medium. The “creatively driven” gallery also coordinates after-school art classes, open mic night, plein air painting and summer art programs while participating in the Kenosha Union Park Project, a public effort to develop art for urban green spaces.  The collective also contracts for special art exhibitions at business and government office buildings, while their Brick Gallery rotates artists’ work from the collective with a reception on the second Saturday of each month. (P.S.D.)

 

Mangia Trattoria

5717 Sheridan Road

262-652-4285

kenoshamangia.com

An Italian restaurant regularly drawing customers from Chicago, Mangia is a place Milwaukeeans will appreciate. A rambling set of rooms with a walled-in patio, Mangia features white linens over the green-and-white checked tablecloths, friendly service and a menu drawing from fresh ingredients. Some items are prepared in Mangia’s wood-fired oven. Look for well-prepared daily soup, pasta and pizza specials, and check out the summertime small plate patio menu. (David Luhrssen)

 

Scoops Ice Cream

5819 Sixth Ave.

262-657-9866

scoopskenosha.com

In an area well populated with frozen custard stands, it is always refreshing to find a place that still dishes up high-quality ice cream. With an extensive list of flavor choices and a full menu of shakes, malts, floats and sundaes, even die-hard custard fans may be swayed back to ice cream. Folks with dietary restrictions will be happy to learn of Scoops’ vegan, no-sugar-added, gluten-free and nut-free varieties. If you’ve brought kids along, get ready for a chorus of “pleases,” because Scoops is also a candy store with a full case of homemade chocolate temptations and it’s connected to a well-stocked toy store. (S.H.G.)

 

Tenuta’s Italian Grocery and Delicatessen

3203 52nd St.

262-657-9001

tenutasdeli.com

For Milwaukeeans that still yearn for the way Glorioso’s used to be before they moved into their polished new digs, make the drive to Tenuta’s. This old-school Italian deli-grocery-liquor store is a virtual maze of goodness. The powerful blend of meat, cheese and spice aromas will trigger sense memories of childhood deli trips and tantalize the taste buds. Olive oil, cheeses, tomato sauces, pasta, two-for-one wine, deli meat and outstanding sandwiches—the selection is dizzying. Shoppers can satisfy the appetite they’ve worked up while filling their carts by grabbing an Italian sausage to go at the seasonal outdoor grill. (S.H.G.)

 

Wine Knot

5611 Sixth Ave.

262-653-9580

wine-knot.com

Visitors to downtown Kenosha may be surprised to find a modern wine bar and bistro that could blend in to any trendy big city neighborhood, but locals have been fans of Wine Knot since they opened. The wine list offers more than 30 wines by the glass, with wine flights available for those that want to sample several varieties. The food menu features small plates for light appetites as well as “big plates”—full entrées like standout Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut. The knowledgeable and friendly staff is more than happy to suggest pairings and make recommendations. (S.H.G.)

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