Wisconsin Journals

Wisconsin: The Farmers and the Dells

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A September 2009 trip to Wisconsin by MikeInTown

House on the Rock Photo, Spring Green, Wisconsin More Photos
Quote: Ours was the only bid for the "Week in Wisconsin" at a charity auction. I, along with my wife and my mother, had a wonderful time staying in the resort town of Wisconsin Dells and doing day trips to interesting attractions scattered throughout the farmlands of Southern Wisconsin.

Just For Fun

House on the Rock

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Attraction | "Overwhelming Dream World"

House on the Rock Photo, Spring Green, Wisconsin
Quote:
The House on the Rock was the highlight of the Wisconsin trip for me. It is one of the most unique tourist attractions I've ever seen. Its themes seem to wander from exquisite collections to surreal Twilight Zone-ish creations. It totally overwhelmed our senses.Our self-guided tour began with a short film on the life of Alex Jordan, the visionary/eccentric who created the House on the Rock originally as a vacation home in the 1940’s. In addition to being a skilled architect, Alex Jordan was also a collector of just about everything from weapons to dollhouses. During his lifetime, he added two warehouse buildings to st...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

House on the Rock
5754 State Road 23
Spring Green, Wisconsin 53588
(608) 935-3639

Jelly Belly Visitor Center and Warehouse Tours

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Attraction | "The Art of Candy"

Jelly Belly Visitor Center and Warehouse Tours Photo, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
Quote:
Few things in life bring a smile to my wife's face like a bag of Jelly Belly gourmet jelly beans. When I found out a month before our trip that there is a Jelly Belly factory in Wisconsin that gives free tours, I decided to make this a surprise stop in our sightseeing itinerary.The huge grin that came across my wife's face when we drove into the parking lot was worth the 2.5-hour drive we had done that morning to get there. For our tour, we boarded a miniature train called the Jelly Belly Express. No jelly beans or any other candy is made at the Wisconsin site. It is a distribution ware...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Jelly Belly Visitor Center and Warehouse Tours
10100 Jelly Belly Lane
Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin 53158
(866) 868-7522

Wollersheim Winery

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Attraction | "Lessons in Reds and Whites"

Wollersheim Winery Photo, Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin
Quote:
We left the Larson's Famous Clydesdale attraction in barely enough time to make the 2-hour drive to our next attraction - the Wollersheim Winery. Tours are given every hour starting at 10:15 AM with the last of these occurring at 4:15 PM.We began by watching a short film on the history of the winery. It was started by Count Agoston Haraszthy of Hungary in the 1840's. He soon abandoned the winery and moved to the more favorable climate in California where he founded that state's wine industry. The Wollersheim family bought the abandoned Wisconsin winery in 1972. Philippe Coquard, a French winemaker, married into the family and passed ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Wollersheim Winery
7876 State Road 188
Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin 53578
(800) 847-9463

Cedar Grove Cheese Factory Tour

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Attraction | "Get Your Squeaky On"

Cedar Grove Cheese Factory Tour Photo, Plain, Wisconsin
Quote:
Since we were in Wisconsin, the cheesemaking capital of the U.S., I figured it was appropriate that we do a cheese factory tour during our visit. There are places all over the state that offer cheesemaking tours. (Here is a list of locations.) I chose Cedar Grove Cheese Factory since it was relatively close to our lodging in Wisconsin Dells. It was a 45-minute drive deep into farm country.Cedar Grove was smaller than I expected. It consists of a small cheese store attached to the cheesemaking room. We were greeted by a friendly but over...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Cedar Grove Cheese Factory Tour
E5904 Mill Road
Plain, Wisconsin 53577
(800) 200-6020

Ethnic Pride

Old World Wisconsin

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Attraction | "Wisconsin’s Melting Pot"

Old World Wisconsin Photo, Eagle, Wisconsin
Quote:
Old World Wisconsin is a living museum that reminded me of Colonial Williamsburg. However, instead of America's colonial period, Old World Wisconsin focuses mainly on Wisconsin's immigrant farm communities of the mid to late 1800's. The employees are dressed in period costumes and go about typical chores of that era as they interact with visitors.As we were getting out of the car, a nice lady came across the parking lot to greet us and tell us they were operating on their fall hours - meaning they'd be closing at 3 PM. She told us it normally takes from 4 to 6 hours to see the whole place. It was already 1 PM. She ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Old World Wisconsin
S103 W37890 Hwy 67
Eagle, Wisconsin 53119
(262) 594-6300

Swiss Historical Village

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Attraction | "Cheese and Bees"

Swiss Historical Village Photo, New Glarus, Wisconsin
Quote:
The Swiss Historical Village is located in a residential neighborhood in New Glarus, Wisconsin - a.k.a America's Little Switzerland. Instead of doing a self-guided visit, we chose to join the guided tour (AAA membership discount accepted). At the Swiss Historical Village, you join the tour group at any point and follow along until you’ve visited all 14 buildings. It takes about 1.5 hours to see the whole village in this manner.Our tour guide was a Swiss native who moved to America 58 years ago. We joined him and two other visitors at the Hall of History where we learned the story of the 193 colonists who left their ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Swiss Historical Village
612 7th Avenue
New Glarus, Wisconsin 53574
(608) 527-2317

Little Norway

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Attraction | "Exploring the Valley of the Elves"

Little Norway Photo, Blue Mounds, Wisconsin
Quote:
As we learned the previous day at Old World Wisconsin, Wisconsin was home to a diverse set of immigrant communities. The Norwegians were one such group. Little Norway is the former farm of the Haugen family who came from Norway in 1856 and settled in this valley in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin.We arrived at Little Norway at 9 AM on a chilly autumn morning just as the attraction was opening for the day. The staff, who were surprised to see visitors so early, greeted us warmly as did the cozy fire burning in the fireplace inside the gift shop. Before long, off we went with our guide for a 1-hour tour of the outdoor museum. The ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Little Norway
3576 County Road JG Blue Mounds
Blue Mounds, Wisconsin 53517
(608) 437-8211

Wonders of Nature

Upper Dells Boat Tours

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Attraction | "A Prehistoric Journey"

Upper Dells Boat Tours Photo, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Quote:
The Upper Dells Boat Tour is a 2-hour tour of the portion of the Wisconsin River above the dam. Long before the Wisconsin Dells contained waterparks and amusement parks, tourists were coming to the area as early as the 1850's to canoe the Wisconsin River and admire the sandstone rock formations. As we floated along, we were able to see the same odd rock formations that have been standing in this area for 500 million years. The Dells is one of the few places in the world where this type of exposed bedrock can be observed.Our guide pointed out rock formations and told us their local names such as Chimney Rock, Alligator Rock, and Black ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Upper Dells Boat Tours
Stand Rock Rd
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965
(608) 253-5551

Cave of the Mounds

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Attraction | "Kissed from Above"

Cave of the Mounds Photo, Blue Mounds, Wisconsin
Quote:
We did not have far to go to get to our next attraction - Cave of the Mounds. Like Little Norway, it is also located in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin.Cave of the Mounds is an underground cave that was discovered in 1939 by workers who were doing a quarry blast for limestone. Our guide led our tour group of five down the steps into the cave to begin our 1-hour tour (Southwest Wisconsin Pass is accepted). I was immediately awestruck by the variety of oozing shapes of the rock formations. We saw stalactites that hang tight from above and stalagmites th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Cave of the Mounds
2975 Cave of the Mounds Road
Blue Mounds, Wisconsin 53517
(608) 437-3038

Larson's Famous Clydesdales

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Attraction | "Meeting Big Bud"

Larson's Famous Clydesdales Photo, Ripon, Wisconsin
Quote:
It was a 1.5-hour drive from the Dells to Ripon, Wisconsin. We were there to see Larson's Famous Clydesdale horses. When I hear the word, Clydesdale, I normally have visions of Budweiser Christmas commercials in which a team of these shaggy-hoofed horses are pulling a Budweiser sleigh through the snow. I guess I thought I was going to see something similar during our visit.The brochure for the Larson's Famous Clydesdale attraction advertises a daily 1 PM tour and show. Reservations were recommended so I called and made ours the week before our trip. We were invited to park in the Larson’s driveway with two other cars. As Judy ...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Larson's Famous Clydesdales
W12654 Reeds Corner Rd.
Ripon, Wisconsin
(920) 748-5466

Wisconsin Dells Lodging

Glacier Canyon Lodge

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Hotel | "Living It Up in the Dells"

Glacier Canyon Lodge Photo, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Quote:
We had purchased our Wisconsin vacation during a charity auction. We knew very little about where we were staying other than it was a donated timeshare property that sleeps up to six people. My mother, my wife, and I were the only ones staying there so I knew we’d have plenty of room. Wow! Were we ever surprised by what we saw when we arrived. We were staying in a Presidential Condominium at Glacier Canyon Lodge which is part of the huge Wilderness Territory Resort. We had two large bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining room, 2 full bathrooms, a fireplace, and a Jacuzzi tub to name a few. There is free Wi-Fi access in the unit. The dec...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 1, 2009

Glacier Canyon Lodge
45 Hillman Road
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965
(800) 867-9453