By Kristine Kierzek
Looking for a different shopping experience? Discover unique finds and year-round charm at these local shopping destinations.
Named as one of a “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Mineral Point has long been a haven for history buffs and art lovers.
An arts incubator created in the 1970s spawned a community that today includes 20 galleries and art studios. Much of what you buy here is made here, and popular stops for regional work include Brewery Pottery Studio, and Longbranch Gallery. Brewery Creek Inn and Brewpub Restaurant welcome with pints of local ale, hearty meals and bed and breakfast options.
Most shops are found along Commerce and High streets, where historic buildings house a number of specialty shops. Antique shops include Against the Grain, Mineral Point Collection and Phoebe's Nest. A growing community of fiber artists showcases creations at local galleries. Grab a book at The Foundry Books, an antiquarian book shop with a large collection of books about Wisconsin, then sample Cornish fare at The Red Rooster Café or The Walker House.
Just off Highway 23/73, Princeton’s Shops of Water Street shopping district is flush with home decorating and gift options. Explore eco-friendly offerings at daiseye, and furniture at Amish House. Old things are given new lives at Woolbright’s River City Antique Mall and Jo Von’s Vintage and Antiques. Relax with espresso or wine at the eclectic Twister. For breakfast or lunch, head to Once in a Blue Moon, where a whimsical gift shop makes the wait for a table enjoyable. April through October, Princeton is also home to the state’s largest weekly outdoor flea market.
Nestled on the shore of Lake Superior, Bayfield beckons with apples and the Apostle Islands. Nature’s inspirations are incorporated into driftwood carvings, handmade soaps and paintings at the Bayfield Arts Guild, the colors of kitchenwares at Eckels Pottery, and in designs at Oulu Glass and Water Music Jewelry. Keeper of the Light is a must-stop for nautical gifts and lighthouse lovers. Local, fair-trade and sustainability missions are carried out through Big Water Café & Coffee Roasters (formerly named Burt & Francie’s), serving locally roasted coffee, regional beers and foods from local farms, cheesemakers, and other producers. Nearby, Old Rittenhouse Inn, a collection of historic homes with rooms for rent, opens its nationally recognized restaurant to the public for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Restaurant group Flamingos Up North also operates three popular restaurants in the area: Wild Rice Restaurant, Egg Toss Café and Maggie’s.
Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward
Wedged into a former warehouse district bordered by the Milwaukee River, the Historic Third Ward teems with upscale condominiums, trendy shops, galleries and salons. Anchored by the Milwaukee Public Market (free one-hour parking in the Water Street lot with purchase/validation), the ward pumped up the fashion scene with recent additions of Anthropologie, and Stephanie Horne, joining Lela, and shoo. Stroll along the Riverwalk then settle in to one of the restaurants lining the waterfront, including Milwaukee Ale House, Water Buffalo, and Rustico.
Warmly welcoming visitors for winter wandering, each year the Mississippi River town celebrates Country Christmas with sleigh rides, wassailing, cookies, and a visit by Santa. Year-round foodie favorites include The Palate Gourmet Kitchen Store and the Stockholm General, known for Wisconsin-made gourmet goodies. Save room for homemade ice cream and treats at Stockholm Pie Company. Find that special something for the home, from furniture to linens and accent pieces, at Abode Gallery, Savvy or Out of the Blue Gallery. Berry bowls and butter keepers are among the popular functional pieces at Stockholm Pottery and Mercantile. Distinctive and charming, local lodgings in the area known as Laura Ingalls Wilder country include Great River Bed and Breakfast, and Tansy Hus.
Check out even more small towns with big shopping appeal, along with Wisconsin's most upscale shopping destinations!