Kettles, Eskars & Moraines: Bed & Breakfasts Near Kettle Moraine State Forest Adventure
By Pat Dillon
The Kettle Moraine State Forest stretches from Whitewater at its southern most tip almost to Elkhart Lake at its northern most tip, divided into Southern and Northern Units. All the way up, darling Wisconsin towns host quaint bed and breakfast experiences. Many connect to the forest and its scenic attractions by way of bike paths and walking paths, or are a short car ride away. The forest’s glaciated terrain—kettles, eskers and moraines—offers everything from challenging trails for fat tire bikers to great wooded paths for diehard hikers, all twisting and turning throughout Wisconsin’s spectacular autumn colors. Pick a B&B and get to know it!
Historic Plymouth is the idyllic backdrop for bed and breakfast charm, just 17 miles from Kettle Moraine State Park’s Northern Unit. The Gilbert Huson House offers a screened-in porch, a generous sitting parlor, crackling fireplaces, all in pure authentic Victorian decor. The pièce de résistance? One decadent breakfast.
Plymouth’s downtown is an antiquing and book lover’s paradise. Independent book stores like Dear Old Books on Mills Street are a short walk from Gilbert Huson House.
The 52 Stafford Inn, a National Historic Registered Inn, offers a critically-acclaimed dining experience as close as you get to the Emerald Isle.
Access the Plymouth Recreation Bike Trail to the Old Plank Road Trail and head to the Kettle Moraine Forest at Greenbush for four loops of biking and 5 of hiking. The Parnell Trail leads to the highest point of elevation with the Parnell Tower, a 60 ft. observation tower. Imagine the fall color to be seen there!
Named by the Potawatomi Indians for the lake’s shape resembling an Elk’s Heart, Elkhart Lake is full of heart. The Jay Lee Inn is, too. This casual country estate-like inn is on the path of the historic Elkhart Lake race track, a picture-book, small town setting.
Vintage and art foragers will love shops like Three Gables Consignment, stocking housewares and unusual art. Two Fish Gallery and Sculpture Garden represents local artists and crafters.
Dine at the Osthoff Resort for locally-sourced fine dining. Brown Baer is an architecturally reclaimed wonder with a menu for vegetarians and carnivores in equal measure. The Feed Mill Market sells goods perfect for packing a picnic including Schwallers Meats and West Side Bakery items.
Six miles southwest is the Kettle Moraine Forest with the most symmetrical deep kettles in the area. It’s a hilly biking-walking trail system where American Birkebeiner skiers train!
Set smack dab in the Kettle Moraine Forest Southern Unit at one of the points where the Ice Age Trail intersects is Eagle Home Hostel, a youth hostel like few others. At a reasonable rate you get a room in a refurbished farmhouse just steps from outdoor adventure. For a small additional fee you can get breakfast made from an on-site organic garden and featuring farm fresh eggs.
Inn at Pine Terrace, once the home to Chicago wagon barons, is set between Fowler Lake and Lac La Belle, a neighborhood basked in dramatic Wisconsin history boasting visits from notables such as Mark Twain and the Queen of England. It’s a stones throw from the Kettle Moraine State Forest and is known to be one of the most luxurious inns in Wisconsin.
Downtown Delafield is the spot for great food. Kurt’s Steak House is the go-to spot for steaks in supper club style, Zin brings a little Italian-California style eating to the region while Fishbones is Tex-Mex across from Nagawicka Lake. Until late-October you can get a burger and signature sundae at the Kiltie Drive In, Wisconsin’s authentic custard stand with car-side carhops.
The Southern Unit is 21,000 acres that includes Scuppernong River Habitat, just northwest of Eagle, the largest wet prairie this side of the Mississippi. Mountain bikers love the John Muir Trail and Emma Carlin Trail at LaGrange. Want to see beauty from your auto? Drive the Kettle Moraine Scenic Route that starts in Eagle and goes clear up to Elkhart Lake.