Elkhart Lake, WisconsinAs much as I enjoy my job, I loved getting away on vacation, and I was blessed to be able to spend a week in the little town of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Although its population is just 1000 people during the winter, summer vacationers increase the numbers from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Having grown up in Wisconsin, I‘ve gone to Elkhart Lake with my family for over 40 years. The magic of the place resides in the people–kind and caring. My husband and I kept remarking how people would engage us in personal conversation, whether it was our waitress, clerk, or neighbor. I wanted to share some of my favorite spots, all within 20 minutes of Elkhart Lake:

·      “Roecks Bakery” in Kiel, Wisconsin. Thursdays is crullers day at this four generation bakery. Arrive early before they’re gone. Sometimes I call ahead from Connecticut to make sure they save me some.

·      “Evans” variety store in Kiel, Wisconsin. Between the True Value Hardware Store and Evans, you would never have to leave town to buy anything. I actually lost my husband in there. I asked him what he was looking for while slowly perusing the aisles and he replied, “I’ll know in a minute!” From fabric Evans Variety Store, Kiel Wisconsinnotions to pots and pans and critter cages, it is a true variety store like an old five and dime. I had to take a picture of the dense toy aisle because it is better stocked from floor to ceiling than Toys R Us. Choose from model airplanes, action figures, Playmobil, jigsaw puzzles and my husband’s favorite, “Artoo Potato”—Star Wars gone green.

·      “The All Seasons Family Restaurant” in Elkhart Lake. Breakfast specials are two of everything (eggs, bacon, pancakes) for under $6, served with a smile.

·      “The Red Rooster” in Plymouth Wisconsin. Plymouth, known for its downtown antique dealers, has vintage, antique and collectible shops. The Red Rooster is my favorite with an ever-changing interesting collection of vintage and antique delights. I did my wedding and graduation gift shopping there this year.

·      “The Exchange Bank Coffeehouse” is a must for an afternoon mocha break from heavy duty shopping. Formerly a bank in the early 90’s, this coffeehouse holds the old vault to wander through as you enjoy lunch or expresso.

·      “Quit Qui Oc” Golf course in Elkhart Lake. In addition to the 18 hole golf course, the Glacial 9 is my Critter Casefavorite. Layed out in the Kettle Moraine, rolling hills left by the glaciers provide a beautiful landscape for golf.

·      Walk around the lake. A five mile path weaves in and out of the homes along the shore, only a few feet from the water for most of the route. Stop for a coffee in town and sit in the sunshine outside of “Thyme Savours,” a healthy option for lunch or a muffin, housed in a renovated feed mill.

·      Brat Fry. You can’t leave Wisconsin without enjoying a bratwurst or a double brat for those with an appetite. Since we were about 10 minutes from the town of Johnsonville, home of the official brat of the New York Yankees, we had multiple opportunities to enjoy the tasty sausage. On our first trip to the Piggly Wiggly to pick up groceries, the Salvation Army had a brat fry to raise funds. The line was too long to wait.

·      Bike the Kettle Moraine State Forest. If you want a workout, bike through the kettles into the wind off the farms. You’ll share the road with trucks and cars but wind through charming little towns of interest.

It’s hard to leave, but I have 17 hours in the car on the way home to Connecticut to digest the memories.