5 Wisconsin Destinations to Surround Yourself With History

By Denice Ryan Martin
Special to TravelWisconsin.com

If the word ‘history’ makes you want to snooze, we’ve got just the idea for you! Get some great ZZZZs in some of Wisconsin’s most historical and inviting inns, hotels and guest houses. Enjoy comfy accommodations in renowned buildings with good old bones.  Learn fascinating historical tidbits and explore the beauty of the region. This is the kind of history that’s fun!

Port Washington

Steeped in maritime history, this picturesque town boasts one of the prettiest ports in the state.

Stay:

The Port Hotel dates back to 1835 when it was a hotel and tavern with horse stables. After extensive renovations, the 1902 building has ten well-appointed guest rooms with European-class concierge service. The restaurant offers tender steaks, fresh seafood and a hint of traditional German fare.    

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Peek into the past with help from the Port Washington Historical Society. The Port Exploreum, an interpretative hands-on museum, celebrates the history of commercial fishing on Lake Michigan. The 1860 Lighthouse and Light Station Museum shine light on the light keepers and their work. The 1852 Blake Building Resource Center lets you dig deeper into history with help from research volunteers.

Lake Geneva

Known for its grand estates like the Wrigley mansion and Black Point Estate & Gardens, Lake Geneva sparkles with plenty of historical eye candy accessible by walking the Geneva Lake Shore Path or by boat on Lake Geneva Cruise Line.

Stay:

The quaint French Country Inn was designed and constructed in Denmark for the 1893 Columbian Exposition and then travelled by rail to its current location. By the 1930s the lake resort was bustling and attracted the infamous gangsters called George “Bugs” Moran and Baby Face Nelson. Much more tranquil and larger today, the inn features 33 lakefront rooms, including a private cottage.      

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For a look at yesteryear, visit Geneva Lake Area Museum of History. Highlights include displays on the boats and yachts of Geneva Lake and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hotel Geneva. Shop for nostalgic lake art at the Cornerstone Shop and Gallery.

Plymouth

Centrally located in Sheboygan County, Plymouth is known as “The Cheese Capital of the World.”

Stay:

A nationally registered Historic Inn, 52 Stafford is Plymouth’s premier hotel for Irish hospitality. Most of the nineteen guest rooms have whirlpools with plenty of fluffy towels. Sleep in a queen-sized four poster bed and start your day with a complimentary hot breakfast. Hear live Irish music every Wednesday in the pub. The inn’s restaurant prepares hearty American and Irish cuisine.

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Say “moo” to Antoinette, the fiberglass cow and local landmark who sits at the site of the original Wisconsin Cheese Exchange. Stop by the Red Rooster to browse hard to find antiques and collectibles. Visit the Plymouth Historical Society with its Plankroad Trail Exhibit circa 1867. It’s open year round and admission is free.

Mineral Point

Looking to get lost in time? Tucked into the coulees and hills of the Driftless region, Mineral Point is chock full of art and awesome architecture. Cornish miners were among the early settlers in the mid-1800s and they left their mark with an abundance of beautiful stone cottages and buildings.

Stay:

There are lots of quixotic options to choose from! You’ll be counting badgers (a nickname for old miners who wintered in caves) to sleep when you stay in the historical Mineral Point Hotel or Brewery Creek Inn and Cottages.    

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Plan to see a performance at the magnificent Mineral Point Opera House built in 1915. Stroll the streets of Mineral Point’s Historic District with its specialty shops, restaurants and art studios.

Milwaukee

Milwaukee is home to many fine historic hotels like the Pfister Hotel and the Knickerbocker on the Lake. But only one lets you say you slept at a brewery!  It’s a must if you want suds with your luxury.  

Stay:

The Brewhouse Inn and Suites is on the grounds of the original Pabst Brewery, producers of the iconic PBR. The boutique hotel combines steampunk and Victorian revisionist décor with modern amenities. For meals, Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub is just steps away.

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Take the entertaining tour at the nearby Best Place and the Historic Pabst Brewery. Have a frosty pint in the Blue Ribbon Beer Hall and peruse the large gift shop brimming with “beerabilia.”  Be sure to take a selfie with King Gambrinus, patron saint of beer. 

 

Keep your historical adventure going with countless attractions and places to stay across Wisconsin.

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