My Favorite Places of 2021

I guess my true sentiments, when considering this past year, as it was very much a year in limbo, is that it provided an opportunity. I was able to discover more places, especially attractions within the state of Wisconsin, and I could share them with people like you. For that, I thank God from the bottom of my heart.

I must confess, even if I had posted more posts than any other year, there were a few things that curtailed my endeavors. First and foremost, there was a positive Covid test to deal with, and that I did. Other things, like Heidi and my own conflicting schedules, hindered my exploits . So, I did a lot of destination hunting on my own. I’m glad I have this blog to tend to, otherwise, I may have been bored out of my mind.

Today, as I’m coming off a full week and a half of rest, I’m going to feature a lot of places. Don’t worry, I don’t intend to make this a lengthy read. Sometimes, details only draw out an otherwise decent post. So, I’ll make my overviews short and sweet, as I focus on places I had visited in 2021. In this retrospective, I’ll pick three spots each, as I pull my favorite 2021 topics from five different categories, the categories being Victorian houses, breweries, state parks, museums and restaurants. I’ve also featured one special place as my final entry. So, let’s get started.

Victorian Houses

First off, as I do believe they’re artistic renderings that served a basic need, I’ll start off with a few Victorian houses.

I’ll begin with the most unique structure, an attraction in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, I’ve never toured the inside of this particular place. But the Eagle Bluff lighthouse, built in 1869, once served as a secluded residence for its lightkeeper.

Going from lighthouse to art museum, the Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc is an 1893 Queen Anne styled structure. Inside the beautiful house, there is a wealth of artwork adorning this Victorian Era Well-to-do home.

Lastly, The Beyer Home Museum in Oconto displays a few different Victorian architectural influences, and it also shares the property with a local museum. Its carriage house, if memory serves me correct, has an early 20th century electric car; eat your heart out Tesla!

Restaurants

Next on my list, being a must, no matter where you travel, are restaurants. I’ve picked a few, ones with characteristics that registered highly in several regards: those qualities being service, location ambiance, price and food.

Let’s start off with a lofty dining spot, and I’m speaking both literally and figuratively. Taverne in the Sky, located straight across from Lambeau Field, offers a high class atmosphere, plus an unrivaled ‘roof top’ vantage of the stadium.

And located in the same area, although without the view of Green Bay’s iconic football stadium, you’ll find the Turn. Life sized gaming simulators allow one to golf, or participate in whatever trips their trigger, inside this trendy eatery. If you add its long list of craft brews, just hanging out for a beer would be an acceptable choice.

And if you’re looking for a burger and a beer, Brick House Craft Burgers and Brews will satisfy that craving. Set in a defunct 1912 De Pere hotel, this spacious spot serves craft burgers, such as the Widow Maker, the Baaahd Boy and the Mac-n-Cheezy. And as crazy as it may sound, while you wait for your patty to arrive, the staff will pacify you with a platter of delicious pickle slices….oh, and the drink list is literally six pages long!

BREWERIES

Well, I just gave you a few area spots sporting drink lists and menus. How about a few joints, I’m talking about places where the beer is brewed on site, that allow you to simply sip a brew? I’ve definitely got that covered, and although two establishments are from northeast Wisconsin, I’ve slipped in an excellent brewery from Milwaukee also.

Let’s start with a beer factory in Bailey’s Harbor. The taproom for the Door County Brewing Company, a location that appears like an enormous general store, is quite spacious and holds musical events. Outside, during the summer months, a food stand and food truck offer some delicious eats while you sip a brew.

Secondly, staying in Door County, one might try the Bridge Up Brewing Company. It’s located in Sturgeon Bay, on the banks of the city’s canal. While the brews are pretty darn good, the view from the patio, or from its kitschy taproom, is a meld of natural beauty, a wide array of boats and shipyard grit.

Lastly, as I had promised, should you be going to Milwaukee, you’ll find Lakefront Brewery. The biggest reason why I liked this place, besides the fact that I was a fan of its amber ale, and that was before I ever set foot in the place, is that it symbolizes two monikers that Milwaukee has earned. The first, being pretty dang obvious, would be ‘Brew Town’…Need I say more? The second, and maybe not quite as prominent, would be the ‘Cream City.’ The label ‘Cream City’ has nothing to do with dairies, but everything to do with the cream colored bricks that make up this brewery’s shell. Many other buildings in Milwaukee share these exterior colors.

Museums

Okay, next up! How about a few Museums? I’m a history buff, so I love places that showcase interesting facets of our past.

I’ll kick this segment off with the Door County Maritime Museum. The entire Door Peninsula juts into Lake Michigan. Because of that, the County has a lot of Great Lakes Maritime lore. With more shoreline than any other county in the United States, it allows for a dozen lighthouses along its coasts. Heck, even the county’s name pertains to maritime yarns. Taken from the french term ‘ports des mortes’, or Death’s Door, the moniker was used to describe a harrowing passage, a corridor that caused peril for any sailing vessel’s captain, which ran between the peninsula’s tip and nearby Washington Island. So, with all that said, and if you throw in a tugboat tour, this museum, one that features a ton of shipbuilding, is an interesting visit.

Secondly, in Shawano, there is a soda bottling museum, known as the Twigg Bottling Company, in which one may peruse artifacts and taste craft beverages. That’s right, a soda bottling museum, one featuring the Sun Drop brand. The place is filled with nostalgic items galore, including promotional memorabilia and old fashioned bottling machinery.

My last choice, as far as museums are concerned, is not really a museum. Yet the history, importance and social influence this place had in Victorian age Milwaukee is substantial. Consider this, after the Chicago fire in 1871, Milwaukee became the beer brewing capital in America. The biggest of the brewers, and the oldest brewery also, would be the Best Brewing Company, which later became known as the Pabst Brewing Company. And today, one can tour the antiquated structures that gave the largest American owned beer company its start. This collection of buildings, with a trendy microbrewery amongst the aged factory, is known as the Brewery District.

State Parks

Finally, on this rather long list, I’ve chosen three Wisconsin state park visits. These were late spring and early fall excursions, adventures along pristine Midwestern landscape, which brought a bit of peace inside my being.

I’ll start off with the dense forests in Tommy Thompson State Park. This State park is only a few miles from the miniature city of Crivitz; the small town, itself, being a laid back, ultra ‘down to Earth, Northwoods locale.

More towards the center of the State, near Chain of Lakes, we discovered Hartman State Park. There were a ton of activities, a rustic cabin and three inland lakes to enjoy, ensuring relaxation and adventure, to entertain visitors of this Badgerland park.

And my final attraction, set in a remote area of Door County, on the Lake Michigan shore, Newport State Park offers rustic nature endeavors. Also, as I’ve mentioned it’s remoteness, this park is an International Dark Sky Park, ensuring a starry sky on clear nights.

Okay I promised one special place, and that would be a town known as Sturgeon Bay. I’ve already listed a couple of attractions standing in this Shipbuilding town, but I figured, since it was my most read post, I’d mention it one more time. With a canal that hosts a wide array of boats, a historic downtown, a bridge nearing a century old and a large, functioning shipyard, not to mention parks and beaches, Sturgeon Bay is a bit different than many tourist towns.

Phew! I know, I said this post wouldn’t be a lengthy read; I think I kind of lied. Well, I hope, if you’re in Wisconsin, or dream of visiting, that you found a few items on my list interesting. And with that, a new year begins, and new adventures await! Happy New Year and….

Safe Travels!

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