Choose any of the following adjectives you like – quaint, charming, enchanting, picturesque – they all apply very nicely to the city of Cedarburg, especially so at holiday time.
The historic cream city brick buildings lovingly preserved and decked out in Pinterest-worthy fashion, the creek that meanders through the community, the walk-ability factor, and the genuineness of the shopkeepers make Cedarburg a veritable must-visit for girlfriends and couples who believe there’s no such thing as too much holiday spirit.
5 p.m. – Sneak away Friday afternoon to arrive in time for one of the city’s Five Festive Friday Eves.
Music and festivities are centralized at Cedar Creek Settlement, an enclave of shops and galleries, with a different holiday theme each Friday.
8 p.m. – Check in to one of Cedarburg’s historic bed-and-breakfast inns, both within walking distance of everything. The Stagecoach Inn, built in 1853, is so named because stagecoaches once made this a stop en route from Milwaukee to Green Bay. There are nine guestrooms here appointed with antiques.
It’s a doubly nice choice for those with a sweet tooth – enjoy a tasty breakfast that might include orange cranberry coffee cake or spiced pear muffins, then pop across the hallway to Beerntsen’s Confectionary.
Larger at 34 rooms, the Washington House Inn – built in 1886 – has whirlpools and steam baths to soothe the soul. The innkeepers generously share their much-requested recipes weekly on their Facebook page.
9 a.m. – While the B&Bs put out a delicious spread, there’s no rule against fueling up with a second cup of coffee. Pop in to Fiddleheads Espresso Bar & Café where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the coffee houses of Vienna. Java House roasts coffee beans on premise and sells within three days of roasting. Opt for a smoothie here if you’re fully caffeinated. The European pastries at Boulangerie Du Monde are as delicious as they are pretty.
10:30 a.m. – Concentrate on checking items off your gift list for family and friends. With some 75 shops in the historic downtown district, winnowing your must-visit list will require discipline. Starting with the youngest, there’s Itty Bitty Piggies for cute baby items and Cedarburg Toy Company for toys handmade by local artisans as well as sourced from American companies.
For art and home décor, you’re spoiled for choices: Cedar Creek Settlement houses Cedar Creek Pottery, Bridge Road Gallery, and Studio 6; The Pink Llama Gallery, eclectic and colorful, represents 100+ artists from across the country, with a strong showing from local artists; Birchwood Wells has both vintage home décor and modern accessories; and Bohemia offers repurposed and redesigned pieces plus artwork.
Foodies will happily receive your gift of wine from Cedar Creek Winery or Chiselled Grape Winery. Include some dipping oils from The Olive Sprig too. No trip to Cedarburg is complete without a stop at Amy’s Candy Kitchen; their signature caramel apples feed four.
Noon – When your stomach starts grumbling, opt for nourishment at a favorite of the locals, the Cream and Crepe Café overlooking Cedar Creek. Try a savory crepe to start and a dessert crepe to conclude.
The Vintage Café is another great find. Everything here is made from scratch. Warm up with one of their soups.
1:30 p.m. – Dedicate a portion of the afternoon to artful pursuits, like admiring the work on display at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts. The museum is a former farmstead with a handful of original stone and timber structures. The 1870s barn serves as the gallery for rotating exhibits of inspired quilts from around the world. There’s also the Cedarburg Art Museum, housed in a downtown historic building complete with turret, sweeping staircase and stained glass windows. Along with changing exhibits, it’s also the repository for the winning paintings from the city’s annual plein air art contest.
3:30 p.m. – Reenergize with a spa treatment at Bella Lei. Packages with names like “Quick Indulgence” and “Rejuvenate Me” are the perfect way to relax after a full day of shopping.
7 p.m. – Fill your belly with a cozy meal at one of Cedarburg’s warm and inviting restaurants. Try the Stilt House, where the menu features small plates and a large selection of craft beers and wines. Take your pick of seafood or steaks and pair with a fine wine at The Farmstead, tucked back on the south end of town.
11 a.m. – Catch the Sunday morning brunch at Anvil Pub & Grille. Its casual, rustic atmosphere is a nice backdrop for the Bloody Mary bar. Cedarburg Coffee Roastery can help jumpstart the morning, too.
12:30 p.m. – Pick up a pretty something for yourself. Corner Closet has both new and consignment items, so feel free to mix and match. At Lillies, satisfy your style and social conscience with their hippie-chic assortment of goods. Follow the green footprints on the pavement to Fyndig, tucked back behind the main avenue, and you’ll be rewarded with finds from local artists as well as upcycled goods. For jewelry, check out the exquisite estate pieces at Dorothy Gallun Jewelry and Nouveau Antique and Jewelry Parlour.
3 p.m. – Make your last stop Downtown Dough for a huge selection of cookie cutters, more than 2,000, plus all the sprinkles you could ever want for your holiday baking. Cut yourself some slack – take home some frozen dough.
Time Your Visit
If it works with schedules, plan your visit for the weekend of the annual Cedarburg Artists' Guild Holiday Art Fair held at the Cedarburg Community Center. The local artists’ guild, 250+ members strong, exclusively exhibits the work of its members. Browse everything from wearable art to printmaking to pottery. Admission is free.
Looking for another quick trip idea? Try our 48-hour itinerary for La Crosse.