A great weekend’s journey is hours away. Here are some excellent places to visit.
Come Along to The Edgewater
By Lindsey Gapen, assistant managing editor
When it comes to football, tailgating and Badger pride, The Edgewater, in Madison, Wis., is one of the best places to be. Located just steps away from The University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, this urban resort is a focal point for game-day energy.
“Every Saturday home game is all about great live music, Badger spirit, games, giveaways and, of course, great beer,” says Jason Kycek, vice president of sales and marketing. “There’s nothing like mixing in with the sea of fans, everyone dressed in red. And it’s all right on the shores of Lake Mendota. Tailgating on the water can’t be beat.”
The 2016 Edgewater Tailgate Series is open to the public. Park on-site and take advantage of The Edgewater’s round-trip shuttle to and from Camp Randall stadium. The fun continues after the game with ongoing live music, Badger prizes and games.
It’s easy to turn your Game Day experience into a full weekend getaway. With a variety of packages available, the hotel offers guests many hotel amenities and overnight accommodations. The Edgewater’s UW Alumni Package is especially convenient during Game Day weekends, since Badger alumni receive 15 percent off the best available rate, plus a special amenity upon arrival.
“We want visitors to experience the best of Madison, so that’s why we put together so many different packages,” Kycek says. “There are about a dozen exclusive packages to choose from. Whether you need a well-earned spa treatment or a local shopping excursion with friends, you can enjoy our multi-faceted property, and the city we love, to the fullest.”
One of the most popular packages is “Breakfast by the Lake,” which includes breakfast for two with a lakeside view. Another is the “Midwest’s Best Farmer’s Market” package, including an Edgewater tote bag and two Edgewater coffee mugs, car service to and from the Dane County Farmer’s Market, as well as two drinks at The Cafe and breakfast for two in The Statehouse – both located on The Edgewater’s property.
“In addition to great breakfast, The Statehouse is also our premier seafood and steakhouse restaurant that showcases our chef’s approach to modern Midwestern cuisine,” Kycek says. “Try the lobster or the ribeye for entrees, or the chef’s specialty octopus. It’s incredible.”
Edgewater staff is currently working on new, exciting specialty tour packages that offer guests a full experience of visiting local breweries, wineries and UW-favorite spots. Look for availability later this season.
More important than amenities, the dining and the beautiful location is The Edgewater’s quality of hospitality, Kycek says. The staff has a responsibility to share the Madison experience with guests.
“Our staff’s love for Madison is contagious,” Kycek says. “We want our guests to love Madison just as much as we do, which is why we go above and beyond in being friendly and accommodating. Nobody leaves The Edgewater regretting that they came.”
To learn more, visit theedgewater.com.
Shop, Dine and Unwind in Geneva
By Lindsey Gapen, assistant managing editor
Framed by the scenic Fox River, Geneva offers visitors beautiful parks to enjoy, historic neighborhoods to explore and sophisticated dining to savor. More than 140 specialty shops, many housed in charming Victorian-style homes, are just waiting to be explored.
“Of course, shopping and dining in Geneva are fabulous now in the fall season,” says Laura Rush, Geneva Chamber of Commerce communications manager. “The weather is still nice enough to dine al fresco, but now you can also enjoy the fall colors.”
A favorite dining spot is Atwater’s Restaurant, located within the Herrington Inn & Spa, 15 S. River Lane. The neoclassical menu and worldwide wine list are sure to impress, along with the view of the river. Opt for private, al fresco dining in the waterfront gazebo – ideal for two to eight guests.
When it comes to shopping, Geneva merchants offer exclusive treasures from around the world. Shoppers can find everything from trendy clothing to unusual garden plants.
“All of Geneva’s stores are unique,” Rush says. “Items you see there today may not be there tomorrow. With most shops being independently owned, the owner is most certainly on the premise, if not helping you pick out your purchase.”
Prime downtown shopping awaits on Third Street, right near the city’s Metra stop. To find one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family members, stop at The Little Traveler, 404 S. Third St. The company’s scouters travel the globe to find unique treasures for shoppers. For innovative and sustainable products, such as upcycled wine glasses or handcrafted decor, visit Peaceful Parlour, 212 S. Third St. To end the day on a sweet note, indulge with melt-in-your-mouth chocolate at Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice Cream, 407 S. Third St.
To unwind away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, pick a bench along the river and relax amidst the peaceful beauty of nature, or opt to bike, run or walk along the riverside recreation trail.
“And if you think Geneva is beautiful in the fall, just wait until you see the town dressed in its holiday finery,” Rush says.
Geneva is already preparing for its annual Christmas Walk on Dec. 2. This special tradition welcomes Santa Lucia, the Swedish symbol of the season, who offers Swedish cookies to merry visitors. The young and young at heart then gather on the courthouse lawn for the annual tree lighting and highly anticipated arrival of Santa Claus on a horse-drawn carriage. Carolers fill the night air with seasonal favorites and window displays dazzle in the downtown shopping district.
The annual Holiday House Tour adds to the Christmas celebration from Dec. 2-3, when visitors can wander through five historic, festively decorated homes. The architectural marvels, combined with spruce decor, make the tour a favorite event for visitors.
To learn more about events and attractions in Geneva, visit genevachamber.com.
A Memorable Visit to Rockford
By Lindsey Gapen, assistant managing editor
There’s always something new and exciting to look forward to in the Rockford region.
“Our little city with big life is packed with everything, from parks and preserves to museums, shopping and a culturally rich downtown,” says Andrea Mandala, marketing and communications manager with the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
When it comes to spending a day, weekend or extended period of time in the Rockford region, Mandala has more than a few suggestions for how to have a memorable visit.
From U.S. Route 20/Interstate 90:
Business 20 (State Street) travels straight through downtown Rockford. Take in the quaint shopping and dining along State Street and enjoy a walk along the Rock River, or check out one of the downtown festivals. A great place to grab a bite is at one of the two downtown breweries – Prairie Street Brewing Co. or Carlyle Brewing Co. – or at one of the four downtown restaurants specializing in farm-to-table dishes and craft cocktails: abreo, Social Urban Bar and Restaurant, Irish Rose Saloon and Octane InterLounge. While you’re downtown, stop at Rockford Art Deli for a fun, original Rockford T-shirt to commemorate your trip.
From Ill. Route 2:
For a beautiful drive along the Rock River, take Ill. Route 2 into Rockford. Enter this tree-lined road in Oregon, Ill., where you can see the famous Black Hawk Statue atop the riverside bluff. Follow the road into downtown Rockford and do some shopping, or head to the Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St., and explore the Discovery Center Children’s Museum, Burpee Museum of Natural History and the Rockford Art Museum. Grab lunch a few miles north at Olympic Tavern, 2327 N. Main St., for pasta, sandwiches, steak and seafood.
With leaves changing colors, now’s the time to witness the splendor of the outdoors. During your visit, stop at Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 2715 S. Main St., to see a 155-acre living museum full of gardens and rare trees. Another area favorite is Anderson Japanese Gardens at 318 Spring Creek Road – a 12-acre authentic Japanese garden that’s recognized as one of the best in North America.
“Other places to see fantastic fall colors include the Forest Preserves of Winnebago County, Rock Cut State Park and Atwood Park,” Mandala says.
The Rockford region is also home to several apple orchards where you can handpick your own bushel of apples, or simply enjoy a fresh apple cider donut. Curran’s Orchard, 6385 Kilburn Ave., has more than a dozen varieties of which you can buy pre-picked or pick-your-own. Edwards Apple Orchard West, 8218 Cemetery Road, features apples, cider, pumpkins, raspberries, a dairy barn store and children’s play areas. Its cousin in rural Boone County, Edwards Apple Orchard, 7061 Centerville Road, Poplar Grove, has many similar attractions. Finally, Valley Orchard, 811 E. State St., in Cherry Valley, maintains more than 5,000 trees yielding apples to pick or purchase, plus a store with fresh cider donuts.
“Our area sites, attractions, businesses and eateries know how to turn the ‘wow’ factor up a notch,” Mandala says. “People come from all over to enjoy these fun events and experiences in our region.”
Colorful Adventures on the Horizon
By Kathy Casstevens, Marketing Director, Starved Rock Lodge
Once crisp fall mornings return and daylight savings time ends, the most wonderful part about autumn appears in an array of color that stretches across the skyline at historic Starved Rock State Park. From atop Eagle Cliff, the view of the scenic Illinois River Valley is one of the best in north-central Illinois.
Starved Rock Lodge and Starved Rock State Park are located just more than an hour from Rockford, Kane and DuPage counties and is just south of the quaint village of Utica. Known to be one of the top 10 places in the Midwest to soak up a magnificent display of fall color and texture, the Lodge provides many activities to complement the fall season.
A recommended activity is the Lodge’s Fall Colors Trolley Tour, which runs throughout October on Mondays and Saturdays. Cost is $30 per person and includes the trolley ride, lunch in the rustic main dining room and a guided hike to Council Overhang and Ottawa Canyon. This tour is not recommended for anyone with limited mobility, and reservations are necessary. The Lodge additionally coordinates guided hikes with lunch, historic trolley tours and more every weekend.
Fall Colors Weekend is Oct. 15-16. Crowds flock to the park to see the peak of fall colors, but the season extends beyond just one weekend. The panoramic view from the Veranda at Starved Rock Lodge is one-of-a-kind, as the peaceful Illinois River Valley is painted in hues of orange, gold and brown. Whether you choose to have lunch, a refreshing Starved Rock Signature Ale or a glass of Starved Rock wine, the air is crisp, and the atmosphere is laid-back and welcoming.
The Lodge kicks off the Oktoberfest season with a keg tapping of Paulaner beer on Sept. 25 at 3 p.m. Oktoberfest Dinners are planned for Oct. 8-9 (conveniently when the Burgoo Festival Weekend occurs in nearby Utica) and again Oct. 15-16 during Fall Colors Weekend.
Free, family fun is offered every Saturday night in October at 7 p.m. with storytelling next to a crackling fire at Fox Ridge, located across from the main steps of the Lodge. S’more kits and other fireside snacks are available.
Musical tribute shows are a perfect choice for indoor entertainment. The Dean Martin Tribute “Man of Many Hats” is set for Oct. 3-4 and Alan Jackson Tribute Shows play on Nov. 7-9. Lunch or dinner is included and reservations are required. Call (815) 220-7386 for tickets and show times.
For details on upcoming events, overnight packages and holiday buffets, visit starvedrocklodge.com.