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7 Ways to be a Tourist in Your Own Town

5/11/2018 - Nancy Davies

Seven ways to be a Tourist in Your Own Town in Kenosha, WI
Seven ways to be a Tourist in Your Own Town in Kenosha, WI
Seven ways to be a Tourist in Your Own Town in Kenosha, WI
Seven ways to be a Tourist in Your Own Town in Kenosha, WI

Saturday’s Nearly 11 years ago my husband and I moved to Kenosha County, and we haven’t looked back. While both of us have lived in major cities, including Chicago, New York and Montevideo, Uruguay, we couldn’t be more pleased with our decision to move here. We find it peaceful and lovely with a vibrancy of activities that service many: those who love the outdoors, the arts, microbreweries, unique local retailers and, yes, so much more. You’ll never go wrong driving around the county to enjoy the scenery and stop at spots you’ll find along the way, but to get you started I’m sharing seven of my favorite K-E-N-O-S-H-A things to do.   

Knowing our history is a great place to begin. It’s more robust than you probably imagine for a city of our size. Today, national brands calling us home include the corporate headquarters of Jockey International, Snap-on Tools, and Uline, along with an Amazon distribution center that built here just a few short years ago. But did you know we also used to make beds and mattresses for Simmons Company? The company began in Kenosha in 1870 and stayed until 1919. Learn more about us with a visit to the Kenosha History Center. One of the things you’ll always find there is an automobile exhibit that showcases our long-standing automobile manufacturing history, which was very much a part of us until the last plant here shut down in 2010.  The cars in the exhibit are rotated once each year to showcase all the different types of vehicles that were proudly made in Kenosha.   

Everyone can find something to take home from weekly Kenosha Harbor Market. Some of my favorite things to buy are jams, cheeses and anything else that catches my fancy on a visit. The market has now moved from its indoor winter quarters to its outdoor downtown Kenosha home, located on the street west of the Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum. Open Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. the market seems to grow larger each year; a few years ago it expanded across the street to Place de Douai near the Southport Marina. Plan to visit the market early in the morning to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the musical entertainment and browse the stalls of vegetables, flowers, food, crafts, jewelry , garden art and more, then spend the rest of your day exploring Kenosha County with the suggestions here, or other ideas you’ll find at Visit Kenosha.com.

Notably, Kenosha beaches along Lake Michigan are a treasure trove, but not of money. My last blog post for Visit Kenosha was about the beach glass that can be found washed up on our Lake Michigan beaches. Before writing the story, I was a casual collector, but afterwards I’ve found myself going to the shoreline often. What I realized is how much I enjoy the meditative and soothing walk along the waters listening to the water lap at the beach or the waves crashing into it. The fact I’ve been finding lovely green, blue and clear pieces of beach glass is a bonus, I even found my first lake tumbled marble. What I love even more about Kenosha beaches is their cleanliness and how, even in the summer, they aren’t nearly as crowded as our bigger cities to the north and south. No matter where you choose to go, such as Pennoyer Park and Beach or Simmons Island Park (did you catch the Simmons name here?), I know you’ll love the relaxation and beauty. Find these and other beaches and parks to visit by checking out locations here.

Our area has the only museum dedicated to Midwesterners involved in the civil war - The Civil War Museum. The museum focuses on the Civil War from those who were from these seven states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. Combined, these states sent over one million men to serve in the Union army, while also providing much of the food and raw materials necessary for the northern states to carry on the war. From the moment my self-guided tour began, I was enthralled. I started with watching the 360 degree movie experience, “Seeing the Elephant,” which set the immersive tone of my visit, to then viewing interactive exhibits and life-size dioramas, to ending my tour with the Veterans Gallery, which honors all U.S. soldiers and veterans. This gallery depicts Civil War soldiers huddled around a campfire under a twilight sky and surrounded by life-size soldiers from the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts. As the daughter of a World War II and Korean Conflict veteran, this gallery touched me the most. After your visit, plan ahead to attend Sept. 18’s The Great Lakes Civil War Forum, a day filled with presentations and discussions. The theme this year is: Conquer or Perish - The Shiloh Campaign. Learn more here.

Special. That’s how I describe Tuscany Bistro Bar & Grill. The food is delicious, the service fantastic, and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. My husband and I have been going here for several years – by our second visit staff was already remembering us - and lately we’ve been going monthly on a special day. In my husband’s home country the tradition is to have gnocchi on the 29thof each month and place paper money under the plate to attract wealth for the coming month. It’s worked, really. So while we attract more monthly money, we’re enjoying a delicious meal (I highly recommend the gnocchi with Pomodoro sauce) with a staff that feels like friends. A special shout out to Chef Theresa and Servers Taylor and Tammy; these are three special people.

Hear ye, hear ye, this summer heralds the start of the 31stannual Bristol Renaissance Faire, that brings 16thcentury merriment every weekend July 7 through Labor Day weekend. This family friendly village comes to life only nine weekends each year and is an event like no other. I’m telling you about this now so you can be sure to make your plans to attend. There’s so much to see and do, you essentially just have to experience it yourself, even if you never thought this was your type of entertainment. The costumes, the interaction and the shows are amazing, including the joust you can watch. You can even go in costume if you like – it’s all part of the fun. The people watching is the best! There’s plenty of food to enjoy and a range of live entertainment you’ll happen upon. Faire tip: bring dollar bills to be able to tip show performers and don’t forget additional money or your credit card to purchase all sorts of interesting wares at the village shops. You know, just like they did back in the day. Oh, and for those who wonder, there are indoor bathrooms available (I wondered before I went). Plan to make it an all-day experience, rain or shine, and while you’re at it, why not make it an overnight trip. Reserve a room at one of our Kenosha Area hotels. This newly remodeled hotel sits along the lake harbor and would make a relaxing modern way to end a 16thcentury day.

Avintage looking store in downtown Kenosha turns out to be an interesting Modern Apothecary, which also happens to be its name. There’s something about this place continually drawing me in. I love that a young pharmacist decided to open it, equaling, no, bettering the pharmacy service found at drug store chains. But if you’re a visitor here, it’s likely you’re not thinking of getting a prescription filled, instead you’ll want to go there to see the vintage details of the store and its décor as well as the gift items contained within. You’ll also find homeopathic products with knowledgeable assistance. It’s a true Kenosha original.

There you have it – seven of my favorite places. There wasn’t room to give you more so instead go to Visit Kenosha comand plan your trip, where you can also view the Visitors Guide online or order a free print copy. And don’t just visit us once, come back often. We make a fine day trip, weekend getaway, or permanent residence. I’m just sayin’. 

I love you, Kenosha!

Nancy Davies

Community Blogger

A Kenosha County transplant 10+ yrs. ago, Nancy and her husband love the friendly, beautiful atmosphere of Kenosha. Enjoying finding the hidden gems of the area, she also enjoys being by the lake!

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