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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wisconsin Vacations

Keeping Travel Cheap

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Given the current state of the economy, it may be difficult to spring for a plane ticket to an exotic locale; luckily, Wisconsin has no lack of fun day trips. Some of them are kid-friendly and others are more suited for adults. But no matter which trip you decide to take, you will likely bring home some fond memories.

Suds City

The free tour at Chippewa Falls’Leinenkugel Brewery (1 Jefferson Ave.) is something any beer lover will enjoy. If you have ever wondered why the factory was established in such a small town or how the Leinenkugel Brewing Co. gets their beer to taste just right, then this is the day trip for you.

The 45-minute tour takes visitors on a journey inside one of the oldest breweries in the United States. The tour explains the history of the Leinenkugel family, the company and the brewing process. One stop includes watching bottles being filled, capped and sent to the pasteurizing device. The fun continues at the Leinie Lodge, where adults over 21 get a chance to sample different types of beer. The beer samples can be refreshing, but make sure to have a designated driver for after the tour.

Industrial Performance

Another interesting stop is at a factory tour of the Kohler Design Center in the company town of Kohler (101 Upper Road). If you don’t mind being in the middle of a shop floor that requires safety goggles and headsets, then you will enjoy this free three-hour tour that explains the making of bathtubs, faucets and toilets.

The tour takes visitors inside the factory and through the Pottery, Brass and Foundry buildings. Workers take you through the step-bystep process of mixing plaster, filling the mold and then kilning and glazing the product. Guests to the factory must be at least 14 years old and everyone must wear closed-toe shoes. Tours take place Monday-Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Reservations are a must.

Candy Land

The variety of flavors offered by the Jelly Belly Candy Co. separates them from their competition—you can’t help but wonder how they are able to squeeze so much flavor into one tiny bean. Well, wonder no more: You can learn all about the brightly colored treats by traveling to Pleasant Prairie, where you will enjoy a free train ride and video tour at the Jelly Belly Center (10100 Jelly Belly Lane).

Families will be entertained by all of the fun that the Jelly Belly factory tour has to offer. After a casual walk through a lobby filled with photos of Jelly Belly history, visitors board a train at Jelly Belly Junction for a 30-minute tour with various stops explaining the process of making the perfect bean. Make sure to look at the pictures made entirely out of jelly beans, arranged throughout the factory, including images of Elvis, the Statue of Liberty, Superman and more. The tour concludes with a dancing chorus of Jelly Belly characters and a free bag of jelly beans.

Something for Everyone

For families with many interests, Historic Cedarburg’s Washington Avenue is a great place to visit. A town with a scenic setting, Cedarburg is also committed to keeping alive the charm of its manmade landmarks.

While in Cedarburg, be sure to explore the Cedar Creek Settlement with its 1860-vintage Woolen Mill. Inside the mill, the Cedar Creek Winery offers free tours explaining the process and history of winemaking. The tour concludes with a wine sampling. Other attractions include browsing the unique shops filled with antiques, specialty gifts, clothing, jewelry and more. Cedarburg also has many art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and festivals that run throughout the seasons.

History Buffs

If the history of pioneer-era Wisconsin is something that interests you, then travel to Eagle to visit Old World Wisconsin (S103 W37890 Highway 67). This outdoor museum features historic farm and town buildings of the old-country lifestyle.

All of the buildings were restored and relocated from their original Wisconsin locations to the museum grounds. Throughout the museum the past comes alive with volunteer workers dressed in period clothing and living the life of several different immigrant groups. They cook, farm and tell stories of 19th-century buildings, houses, schools and people.

This tour could occupy an entire day; you may either walk the grounds or take a tram to each stop. Admission is $16 for adults, $14 for students and seniors, and $9 for children—or $43 for a family of two adults and two children.

Comment on this article at ExpressMilwaukee.com.


Wisconsin by the Book

Travel writer Kevin Revolinski knows his way around the Badger State. In his latest book, Backroads & Byways of Wisconsin (published by Countryman Press), Revolinski finds things to do in each of the four seasons, whether exploring the winter beauty of state parks or a summer excursion to the cheese producers of New Glarus. He often travels beyond the obvious, from miner cottages in Pendarvis to lumber baron mansions along the Mississippi, providing tips for dining and hotels on the way. Inevitably, Backroads & Byways has a booster tone, but Revolinski doesn’t neglect to point out the occasional downside to America’s Dairyland. “Never mind the jungles of the Amazon, the northern Midwest is mosquito country,” he warns. And mind those ticks! (David Luhrssen)

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