Saturday, February 15, 2014

North for Winter?

Why Go South for Winter?

Most people I know head south for winter break, lured by sunshine and tropical winds.  But, when you live in an area that hardly gets any snow, you have to look at vacations a little differently.  Snow was calling my name this year!  Snow and the promise of winter activities like sledding, skiing, and tubing.  With nowhere close to have that kind of fun, my family packed up and made the short trip to Mishicot, Wisconsin.

Why Mishicot?  You've probably never heard of it and before this vacation, neither had I!  Truthfully, we picked it because it was on the 'thumb' of Wisconsin, and my mother-in-law told me she had visited this place decades earlier and that it was great fun.  I needed no more encouragement than that.  And, of course, mothers are always right.  It was, indeed, great fun.

Things to See and Do:
  • Winter Fun.We went for outdoor winter fun and we found all we could use at Winter Park Recreation in Kewaunee County.  What was so great was that this wasn't a huge ski resort, but a mom and pop operation catering to locals.  It was a blast!  We didn't waste any time and went snow tubing the very first night we arrived. Snow tubing at night is one of the highlights of my life experiences.  I don't think I've ever had so much fun.  Flinging myself down a snowy hill on a tube with the stars twinkling above and glittering snow all around.  There were six runs and a hands-free tow rope that pulled me to the top over and over again--hours of fun for $6 a person.  Skiing the next day was just as much fun--no crowds, just snow.  Since this is a mom and pop location, you have to bring your own ski equipment but there is a small "lodge" available with snacks and hot chocolate.  It's only open on the weekends and there are future plans to build a little ice rink.  Too cute!  For more information, visit Kewaunne County Promotions & Recreation Department.
  • Think the Great Lakes is only good in the summer?  Think again.  Right on the edges of Lake Michigan is the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in downtown Manitowoc.  The museum is three floors of maritime history, in and around the Wisconsin area, focusing mainly on World War II.  The museum has plenty of kid's exhibits, an entire floor dedicated to the sea-faring way of life in Wisconsin, and plenty of interactive exhibits.  The best part, though, was the completely restored WWII submarine, the USS Cobia.  A themed tour guide will take you through the ship, section by section, explaining how the seaman lived and worked on the submarine.  Everything has been painstakingly restored, right down to the torpedoes and even the plates in the galley.  It was an amazing experience.  For more information, visit Wisconsin Maritime Museum at Manitowoc.
  • Ah, wine.   Doesn't every good vacation have a wine tasting or two? Or, possibly even three if it is a good vacation?  This one did.  I have to say that this wine tasting will go down in history as the greatest of all time.  Nearby Door County, Wisconsin, features a wine tour that will knock your socks off.  It was a trolley winery tour.  We were picked up at a local hotel and taken to three different wineries in the area where we wined, wined, wined.  My favorite winery was Parallel 44 Vineyard and Winery.  The wine was first rate and worth the whole drive to Wisconsin itself.  We bought a case and I am saving each one, savoring it drop by drop.  Another favorite was Simon Creek.  Most of their wine has names based on mobsters and Al Capone, as the area was a favorite with gangsters from Chicago.  The tasting room was beautiful and the wine good enough to rate another case!   At one, we were even treated to a horse drawn carriage ride in the snow through the cherry orchard.  This winery, the Orchard Country Winery and Market featured cherry wines, salsas and a delightful county store.  The company does all different kinds of tours from Halloween to Lighthouse and everything in between.  For more inforamtion, check out Door County Trolley.
Places to Eat:
  • What vacation is complete with a cozy pizza joint?  This is our number one job on vacation--find the best pizza in town, and it has to be a mom and pop place.  Mission accomplished!  Waverly Inn Pub and Pizzeria fit the bill perfectly.  Housed in an old, old hotel in nearby Two Rivers, Wisconsin, this pub had the finest pizza in the area. Trust me, we tried several.  Baked made to order with paper thin crust.  So delicious!  For more information, visit Waverly Inn Pub and Pizzeria.
  • While you're in the area, there is one place you have to stop.  It's right beside Waverly Inn Pub and Pizzeria, and it is a famous historical landmark concerning food--Historic Washington House in Two River, Wisconsin.  This 1850 hotel has been kept in sparkling vintage shape and houses a period ice cream parlor and upstairs museum.  This house is the original location of the very first ice cream sundae ever served in the US.  Invented by Ed Berner, it is served the same today--in sundae glasses with whipped topping, nuts and a cherry.  The most popular flavor is chocolate topping and it's easy to see why this invention is still around today.  For more information, call Historic Washington House at 920-793-2490.
  • Looking for a fun breakfast or lunch place right on the water?  Check out M&M Lunch.  This quaint diner is like something straight out of the 1950's with a revolving glass dessert case and a bar with swivel chairs.  They have daily specials on the menu board and everything we had was so good on such a cold blustery day:  homemade potato soup, cheese curds and fried mushrooms and a Double Bratwurst sandwich with the works, which is a brat, butterflied and fried, served on a bun with all the toppings.  Be honest, that description made your mouth water a little, didn't it?  For more information, visit M&M Lunch.
  • Another favorite lunch spot for us was Friar Tuck's.  This place was so funny!  From the outside, it looked like a regular square brick building.  From the inside, we felt as if we had been transported straight to England!  Brown wood beams, a long bar, and wenches serving sandwiches.  What's not to love?  Naturally, we had the cheese curds once again because it is Wisconsin and their cheese curds are not to be missed.  We also had cheese and crab chowder, chili and a Reuben.  Everything was so good--I felt as fat as Friar Tuck himself when we waddled out of there.  For more information, visit Friar Tuck's.
  • My favorite restaurant of all was the Harborside Restaurant in Manitowoc.  The outside is very plain but it is a little gem of a place.  Open the door and you are in a romantic little hideaway with the Rat Pack playing on the speakers and the best Italian food I've eaten in many years, maybe ever.  We started with the best calamari I have certainly ever eaten, followed by homemade bread and olive oil spread, a fabulous salad and a stuffed pecan chicken.  It is one of those places where each bite is more delectable than the last.  Truly amazing.  The food was only overshadowed by the cocktails.  There are so many varieties of martinis, from the classic to my favorite, the Pumpkin Martini, a dessert in itself.  For more information, visit the Facebook page of Harborside Restaurant.