I love Chicago in the summer: we no longer need to look like Wildlings, there are festivals galore, and it's prime time to check off bucket list items. Despite all the goings-on nearby, it's sometimes nice to venture to a neighboring state for a little R&R. Thanks to a Living Social gift from my parents, Elliot and I were introduced to Cedarburg, WI, a small town reminiscent of Gettysburg and Disney World's Main Street USA. Located about an hour and a half away the city, and twenty miles north of Milwaukee, it was the perfect place to soak in some small town charm.
The Living Social deal was quite the package. The voucher included an overnight stay in a Queen room at Cedarburg's historic Washington House Inn, a 30th anniversary cookbook from the B&B, two tickets to the Rivoli Theater, two winery tour tickets, and a coupon for a gourmet candy apple from nearby Amy's Gourmet Caramel Apples. Elliot and I couldn't get over all the swag included in the deal and were curious what our stay would be like. I'm now very city and suburb minded, so I pictured a town where you needed a car to get anywhere. I was delighted to find that Cedarburg is centered around its "downtown" area on its main street, Washington Avenue, and that everything was accessible by walking. Freeze frame!
The Washington House Inn is an historic part of Cedarburg and looks every bit the part. It's quite large for a bed and breakfast, but its size doesn't take away from its charm. The rooms and main guest areas are furnished with antique furniture, and the walls are papered in flowered, albeit dated, wallpaper. In the reception area, they have two guestbooks, one for modern visitors to sign, and one from the 1800's that's behind glass. The writing is still legible, so it was interesting to see from where people visited and to imagine the stories that brought them to this small Wisconsin town.
We checked into our room and were given the Living Social accouterment for our stay. In addition to the above mentioned swag, we also received a coupon for a free "Irish perfume". I had no clue what that meant, maybe a beer scented eau de toilette? Zing! After getting settled in the William Horn room, we walked to the Silver Creek Brew Pub that sits in an old grist mill on the river. The interior was very dark and reminded me of the Olde Hansa medieval restaurant we visited when we were in Tallinn, Estonia. All the brewing equipment was visible from the bar area, so it definitely had that microbrewery feel to it. We both ordered a Pacific Coast lager and joined the growing crowd of residents enjoying their beers on the patio. The weather was cool yet pleasant, and the sound of the rushing river provided the perfect soundtrack to our evening.
We finished our drinks and walked along Washington Avenue, taking note of all the yard ornament stores, numerous sweet and popcorn shops, and smiling faces that we passed. It was a nice change of pace to have a stranger sincerely smile at you and then not ask for money. Oh, the city life!
There were a number of bar/restaurants advertising their Friday Fish Fry deals on Washington Ave, and we decided upon C. Wiesler's Saloon for dinner. Open since 1885, it reminded me of the bars you can find in Erie, PA: lots of domestic beer choices, wooden booths and tasty fried food served in baskets. Since we were in Sconnie, we ordered cheese curds (called nuggets here), and I washed it down with an Ugly Mug favorite, Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat. Elliot partook in the fish fry, and I went the healthy route with a turkey burger...followed by french fries. Because, you know, healthy. After dinner, we had to partake in another small town tradition and got ice cream cones at The Chocolate Factory. The ice cream shop was packed with locals trying to make the most of their Friday night and provided a pleasant place for all to indulge a sweet tooth.
After a peaceful sleep in the Washington House Inn's soft bed, we woke up at 6:45 and went downstairs to the dining room for breakfast. Breakfast had just begun so everything was warm and plentiful. The kitchen was adjoined to the dining room, and a woman was still hard at work making everything from scratch. There were plenty of continental breakfast staples like bagels, breads, fruits, and cereals, but the homemade goodies were what impressed us the most. There were baked scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, a combination of potatoes in a crock-pot, and freshly baked coffee cakes and scones. The blueberry scones were so delicious that I had two at breakfast and took one for the road. Everything was amazing, and I already looked forward to recreating the recipes at home with my new cookbook.
We checked out after getting ready for the day, grabbed a coffee at a local shop, and walked next door to Amy's Gourmet Caramel Apples, where we had a coupon for one apple. We expected to encounter maybe one or two varieties of a classic candied apple, so we were amazed to see the rows and rows of not just dipped apples, but of Belgian chocolates and other dipped goodies. We decided upon a Reese's Pieces dipped apple and picked up some Belgian melt-aways and chocolate dipped Oreos for good measure. We didn't indulge until arriving home, but if we hadn't waited, I would have picked up several more apples. To say the apple was delicious is an understatement; it was like like peanut butter explosions high-fiving each other on my tastebuds.
Our next stop was the Cedar Creek Winery, located conveniently down the street. It was too early for a tour of the winery (the majority of the grapes are grown on the West Coast, so no vineyard to tour), but there was a friendly, older woman who ushered us over to her counter. She informed us that four tastings were complimentary but ended up pouring us eight. She was so proud of their wines that we just "had to taste this one too". She talked to us about how much she loves her town, and that the shops on Washington Avenue prosper mostly from fall tourists. We learned all about the upcoming strawberry festival, for which the winery had made a special strawberry wine. We sampled several whites and reds and chose our favorites out of wicker baskets located in the tasting room. We left with a Bon Vivant, several Rieslings and Pinot Grigios, and one called La Belle Vie. The wine was very tasty and reasonably priced, so the Cedar Creek Winery should be a must-visit on any trip to Cedarburg.
Elliot and I were pleasantly surprised by all the charm and relaxation Cedarburg had to offer, and we left knowing it wouldn't be our last visit to this friendly town. We enjoyed escaping the city for a night and the friendliness that greeted us in Wisconsin. I'd highly recommend it to anyone looking for a charming weekend getaway. Still need an incentive? You can check out Miller Valley on the way back home...
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