When you cross the Wisconsin border, you might feel as if you’re traveling to another world. It’s a place that adopts a slower pace and stays true to its historical roots. Many of our cabins and hotels capture this throwback feel. From summer camp nostalgia to neon-festooned motels brimming with midcentury flair, you and your family are sure to love the bygone vibe at these destinations.
Tucked away in Elkhorn, Camp Wandawega is a vintage lover’s paradise. One can easily sense the history here. Since the 1920s, it’s lived lives as a hotel, speakeasy, resort and church camp. Today, it’s a stylish homage to summer camps of yore, with cabins, tents and even a treehouse outfitted in the owners’ flea market treasures.
The camp doesn’t mince words when they proclaim themselves as rustic (no air conditioning, communal baths) and daytime activities stay true to the summer camp theme: archery, canoeing, swimming, biking and more.
Downtown Alma is home to an 1853 residential dwelling that’s now a charming bed and breakfast. Nestled along the Mississippi River, The Blue Door Inn has a variety of delightful suites, many of which have private baths.
In 1857, an accompanying stone building expanded the structure. That original stonework can be seen in the Upper Apartment at the Stone House and in the Breakfast Room as well, where you’ll enjoy homemade continental breakfasts. You can almost hear the sounds of carriages and hooves traveling down Main Street.
If you love music and a good, old-fashioned motel, you’re in luck with Door County’s Holiday Music Motel. It opened in 1952, and in 2007, a group of musicians bought the motel and resorted it to its midcentury glory. Rooms showcase real-deal 1950s décor, down to the furniture and retro curtains.
There’s something else that makes this motel stand out: It’s the world’s only fully operational motel with live music, songwriting retreats and its own radio station. Book a stay here and you’ll feel like a hip cat in no time.
The spirit of Lake Geneva is alive and well at the Maxwell Mansion. The renovated historic mansion, carriage house and stables display carefully-curated vintage décor alongside modern extras like whirlpool tubs and chromatherapy lighting.
Play croquet or bocce ball on the lawn. Then head to the property’s libation destinations: The Apothecary Bar, where barkeeps dressed in period clothing serve swanky cocktails and The Speakeasy, an underground, clandestine bar that requires a password. The covert word is only shared with hotel guests and Facebook followers.
Head North to Manotowish Waters for a true-blue cabin experience. Operating since the 1930s, a cranberry-farming family purchased the Alderwood Resort in 1988. They’ve been specializing in classic accommodations ever since. Other than a refresh here and a modern bathroom there, these cabins look virtually unchanged from the ‘30s. Top off your vintage vacation with fishing, horseshoes and a library of beloved board games.