By Jeniece Smith
Looking for a quick but scenic escape? Southwestern Wisconsin’s marvelously hilly Driftless Area, left untouched by the glaciers that leveled much of the rest of the state, is a perfect destination for its convenient proximity to Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.
Take the less-than 30-minute drive along Highway 23 from Dodgeville to Spring Green for some especially picturesque countryside along climactic ridges and quiet valleys. The trip is short, but there are endless waysides to explore – from the eclectic collections at the House on the Rock to architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin home, Taliesin. Also on the route, you’ll find one of Wisconsin’s largest parks, the 5,350-acre Governor Dodge, along with the little but lovely 77-acre Tower Hill State Park.
After a day of taking in all of the beauty – both natural and manmade – extend your trip with a stay in one of these five nearby cabins and cottages, all of which conveniently bookend your scenic drive route. As a bonus, they’re all right around an hour from Wisconsin’s capital city, Madison.
Return to historic Mineral Point’s early days with a stay in one of two stone cottages built by the town’s original Cornish settlers in the 1800s. A three-story limestone inn offers five more rooms with fireplaces and whirlpools above the main-floor brewpub and restaurant.
With some of the oldest architecture in the Midwest, Mineral Point offers galleries, antique dealers and specialty shops in beautifully restored stone structures reminiscent of an old-word Cornish village.
You’ll feel like you have your own 26-acre country estate when you pillow your head in this luxurious modern post and beam log cabin. Warm up in the jacuzzi or front of the stone hearth, or relax outside in the hammock or porch swing. Stroll two miles of private trails through a hardwood forest along a meandering creek and up to a restored native prairie on the hilltop.
This rural retreat is just over 15 minutes from the start of your scenic drive in Dodgeville, but you may never want to leave.
This huge log lodge in a wooded setting a few miles off the highway pours on the country charm with its hearty breakfasts and 10 guest rooms, all named after notable photographers. If you’re in the mood for seclusion, you’ll get it – the inn limits guests with pets or young children to certain lower-level rooms.
Take a delightfully rambling five- to six-mile drive to spend a day at the nearby House on the Rock.
Stay in the 1861 home where Frank Lloyd Wright spent much of his boyhood. Wright worked his uncle’s farm and roamed the land each summer, eventually building Taliesin on his own scenic rural spread within view of the property where he grew to love Wisconsin.
The main house, ringed by some of the farm’s original outbuildings, sleeps up to a dozen people. Taliesin’s grounds are just a mile away, with the American Players Theatre and The Springs Golf Course also both nearby.
Want to take in more history? Browse our list of Wisconsin's top 25 historical sites.