5 Cities for Spring
Last Updated: 5/2/2013
Blooming flowers, migrating birds, splashing waterfalls, even a 100-mile garage sale – these are just a few reasons why you should visit one of these five destinations this spring.
Celebrate the Season:
Gays Mills, WI
This tiny town, nestled into a valley in the Driftless area of the state, knows how to welcome warmer weather. Where else can you find events like bareback bronc riding, a clogging workshop, Maypole dancing, and the toe tappin’ music of Spider John Koerner? All that and more happens at the Spring Festival/Folk Festival. Bring your appetite – festivities include a bake sale and pancake breakfast. Creative workshops are offered on the fiddle, banjo and bones, plus writing and children’s poetry. Apart from the festival, the surrounding Kickapoo Valley is easy on the eyes, especially when thousands of pink-and-white apple blossoms give their own fragrant tribute to Mother Nature – check the Kickapoo Orchard for updates on the blooms. To spend the weekend, try the Travel Green Wisconsin certified Inn at Lonesome Hollow.
Watch the Birds:
Horicon, on the Rock River, is pleasant any time of the year, but spring is particularly enjoyable, especially during the May birding season. The Horicon Marsh Bird Festival takes place, offering bird-watching and activities for nature lovers of all ages. Events throughout the weekend include bus and hiking tours, bird banding demonstrations, birding boat tours, workshops and a photography contest for shutterbugs. Experience the rustlings, croaks and twitters that permeate the marsh after dusk on the Night Sounds bus tour. Add in a little romance at the Honeybee Inn, just a few blocks away, and take advantage of their Birds and Bees special beginning in May. The package includes a one-hour pontoon ride through the marsh courtesy of Travel Green Wisconsin certified Blue Heron Landing, a sumptuous dinner for two, gourmet breakfast, a Wisconsin birding book and chocolate covered strawberries.
Smell the Flowers:
Green Bay, WI
One way to really go green is to visit Wisconsin’s own city by the bay. Green Bay’s Botanical Garden has 47 acres of springtime splendor: bulbs are planted to be at their peak around the middle of May, so expect carpets of tulips, daffodils and flowering shrubs. In May, engage not only your senses of sight and smell, but also taste, at the TasteBud Outdoor Culinary Experience, where local restaurants present their most appealing cuisine in the lovely spring gardens. Other special days include Mother’s Day and Memorial Day—free for moms and vets, respectively. For another type of green, check out the links at one of the 15 public golf courses within 10 miles of downtown. And even if you’re not a golfer, you can still get a springtime view of the action: Pine Tree, the gastro-pub at Thornberry Creek at Oneida, offers dining al fresco on a beautiful veranda overlooking the golf course.
Winter seems to last a little longer in Superior, making springtime especially sweet. This part of the state offers miles of spectacular beauty, both on the shores and further inland. Start your visit at Barker’s Island, where you can tour the SS Meteor, the only surviving whaleback ship – her maiden voyage began in Superior in 1896. You’re likely to see other ships sailing in and out of the harbor while you’re walking or biking the 5-mile paved Osaugie Trail, which begins on the island. But to really experience nature, head a few miles south on Hwy 35 to Pattison State Park for nine miles of hiking trails, camping, and two waterfalls; one is the tallest in the state. Big Manitou pours straight down from a height of 165 feet, while sister falls Little Manitou drops a relatively short 31 feet, right into Interfalls Lake. There’s a swimming beach and picnic area, and fishing is allowed on the Black River below Big Manitou.
Forget spring cleaning – how about a little spring shopping? Head to artsy little Stockholm – it’s right in the middle of the 100 Mile Garage Sale, which stretches along both sides of the Mississippi River. In Wisconsin, rummages run along Hwy 35 from Bay City to Nelson. Stockholm is the perfect place to make your hub for the weekend, with lots of lovely gardens to take the winter right out of your memory, and several galleries, boutiques and restaurants. Stay in the 1869 home of Stockholm pioneer Eric Peterson at Great River Bed & Breakfast, or the earth-friendly Travel Green Wisconsin certified Journey Inn. If you’re really into art, check out the Spring Fresh Art Tour, in 14 studios and galleries in the area. You can self-tour along the winding roads, or try the bus tour.