3 Must Do Spring Excursions

Sunshine-filled days are meant for exploring historic destinations, leisurely afternoons on the green, and relaxing on the patio for drinks with friends. Start the season off right with one of these must do Spring excursions in the Tri-States.

 

Fenelon Place Elevator

Take a ride up the world’s shortest and steepest railway at the Fenelon Place Elevator in Dubuque, Iowa. This bucket list destination is the perfect junket for any traveler regardless of age. Scale up the steep bluff overlooking Cable Car Square and take in the widest view of historic downtown Dubuque and the Tri-State region. Now open through November 30 for the 2017 season, the elevator is a great option for budget friendly and historical.

 

Eagle Ridge Golf Course

Tee up for a day on the green at Eagle Ridge Golf Course in Galena, Illinois. Soak up some Vitamin D while you cruise through 63 holes laid out over four recently renovated courses. This PGA award-winning course is full of challenging fairways and relaxing woodlands suitable for any skill level of golfer. Book a tee time for your Spring getaway today, now open through late Fall of 2017.

 

Whispering Bluffs Winery

Taste some of the finest wines of the Mississippi River Valley at Whispering Bluffs Winery in Potosi, WI. Situated high atop the bluffs, it is home to the perfect vineyard setting with rich sun exposure and shelter from the cold winds where over 1100 grape vines grow. Make a tasty day by pairing your winery trip with a quick trek across the street to the Potosi Brewery. Whispering Hills is currently open Wednesday through Sunday with the option for private events.

3 Spots for Last Minute Pumpkin Picking

With Halloween, just around the corner, pumpkins are in great abundance. Whether you are carving a scary ghoul, preparing a favorite pumpkin treat or looking for a family excursion, the Tri-State region has you covered for last minute pumpkin picking.

Dittmar Farms– Elizabeth, IL

Find the perfect pumpkin for your front stoop while enjoying a family fun day at Dittmar Farms in Elizabeth, Illinois. Take a leisurely hayride, meander through a corn maze and pick a prized pumpkin at this family owned patch rich in history since opening in 1854. Learn More Here

Vesperman Farms– Lancaster, WI

Venture to Vesperman Farms in Lancaster, Wisconsin for a day of fall festivities. Take a hay wagon out to the pumpkin patch and select your jack-o-lantern to be. Then watch in amazement as the Versperman Farms staff launch pumpkins from their catapult and air canon high into the sky. Not to mention this patch is free for children under 5. Learn More Here

Papa’s Pumpkin Patch– Bellevue, IA

Peruse through nine acres of pumpkins, squash and more gourds at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch in Bellevue, Iowa. This inexpensive and family friendly spot is the perfect stop on a last-minute fall adventure. Free hayrides, a petting zoo, straw maze and a spooky bat cave await. Select the perfect pumpkin from fields of Cinderella pumpkins, Amish pie pumpkins, giant luminary pumpkins, new moon pumpkins, sugar pie pumpkins and more. Learn More Here

3 Tasty Fall Festivals

Appetites are evolving here in the Tri-States. We’ve said goodbye to our hydrating watermelons and charred burgers on the grill and moved onto soul warming Autumn treats. Get a taste of what the season is all about at one of these three tasty fall festivals happening in our backyard.

1. Fall Harvest Celebration at Rural Route 1 Popcorn – Montfort, WI
Sip, sample, and savor the weekend away at the Fall Harvest Celebration in Montfort, Wisconsin September 30 – October 2, 2016. Taste some of the most unique popcorn flavors your tongue will have ever enjoyed. Indulge in Cherry Cheesecake popcorn, a sweet mingling of creamy cheesecake fudge-dipped cherry flavored popcorn with cherry jelly beans or splurge on some of Rural Route 1’s wildly popular Cheesy Jalapeno popcorn for an extra kick. That’s not all. Peruse handmade artisan pieces, sip on piping hot cider, and so much more.

2. Tri-State’s Largest Chili Cook-Off – Dubuque, IA
Get some good eats at largest seasonal soup festival in the region, Tri-State’s Largest Chili Cook-Off in Dubuque, Iowa on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Sample savory chilies made on site and judged at this Chili Appreciation Society International event in the Historic Cable Car Square. Enjoy live music by local favorite, the Lonely Goats, as you digest a warm chili food baby alongside the picturesque fall foliage filled bluff.

3. Oktoberfest– Galena, IL
Saukerkraut, brezel, and a wurst. No fall celebration is complete without good ole’ German Oktoberfest in Galena, Illinois on Saturday, October 1, 2016. Eat, drink, and be merry at this 10th annual event with non-stop live music, wiener dog races, polka lessons, of course an endless supply of German grub and beer. Taste your favorite fall brews at the Potosi Brewing Company’s rolling bar and take part in this time-honored tradition because admission is FREE!

4 Winter Activities You Won't Want to Miss

Don’t let the weather keep you from experiencing winter in the Tri-States. Check out these four outings perfect for a snowy December day.

Chestnut Mountain

Have you been itching to hit the slopes? Now is your chance. Conveniently located outside Galena, Il, Chestnut is the perfect place for all levels of skiers and boarders alike. Enjoy 19 runs at this beautiful resort overlooking the Mississippi and be sure to stop at Mountainside Outfitters for all your gear needs!

Figge Art Museum

Cinema at the Figge. Enjoy this free event sponsored by Ford Photography. Enjoy a complimentary beer tasting and snacks, followed by short film and tunes before the feature film begins! The holiday time is also about giving, all donations during this event will go to charity. December 15, 2016, 5 P.M – 9:00 P.M.

The Mining and Rollo Jamison Museum

Santa Claus is coming to the museum! Join the museum to learn about Santa’s evolution from austere bishop to jolly St. Nick and enjoy a 14′ Victorian Christmas tree, toy trains, and children’s activities.  Program at no cost to the public from December 3 – 31, 2016 during regular business hours.

Swiss Valley Nature Center

Enjoy one of the largest nature preserves in the Midwest. Swiss Valley boasts over 10 miles of nature trails that pass through forest, prairie and wetland areas. Embrace this serene season and snowshoe through the cross-country ski trails at no cost! Free rentals available throughout winter.

5 Adventures Under $5

Adventure #1: The little incline.
Imagine this. You climb in a little green and white rail car. You begin your travel 189 feet into the air. Halfway through your ascent you pass an identical car filled with a family laughing and smiling. You arrive at the top, climb out of the car and then you see it. You see into three states, a riverboat cruising on the Mississippi River and people walking the streets below. One of the kids waiting excitedly in line to take the same climb waves at you and you wave back with a huge grin. You look back out to take in the magnificent view of downtown Dubuque and the Mississippi River from the top of the Fenelon Place Elevator. You have just ridden the world’s shortest and steepest scenic railway.

Adventure #2: From Italy to the Midwest.
Seventeen years old and hearing the call to the Priesthood, Father Samuel Mazzuchelli’s began his journey. While studying in Rome, he felt called to the American missions and spent 40 days on a ship before reaching America. His work began in Michigan before proceeding south and settling in the Tri-State area. Not only did he preach to the local people and appreciate Native American’s values, but he built schools and churches along the way. One of the few remaining buildings built by Fr. Mazzuchelli can be found at Sinsinawa Mounds. Today, the Dominican Sisters continue Fr. Mazzuchelli’s mission and honor him with an artifact exhibit on the grounds.

Adventure #3: M for Mining.
Here is another Tri-State world record holder for you – the world’s largest “M”! Now over 75 years old, the rock formation continues to welcome visitors who climb its 166 steps and take in the view from the top. Located in Platteville, Wisconsin, this giant letter is 214 feet wide and 241 feet high. As history tells, a snow “M” inspired the permanent white rock “M”. Using an estimated 400 tons of limestone, students created a lasting symbol to represent the mining heritage of the area. Grab a bottle of water (or two) and a picnic lunch, take a hike up the 166 steps and enjoy the beauty of Wisconsin.

Adventure #4: Squeak Squeak!
Have you tried the cheese that squeaks yet? Even if you have, plan to make a stop to pick up some fresh cheese curds. Try a new flavor or pick up your favorite! Shullsburg Cheese Store has a variety – from classic Cheddar to the Chipotle to Dill. There is sure to be a flavor to satisfy you during your snack attack. Happy Squeaking!

Adventure #5: Welcome home.
It was the spring of 1860 when Ulysses S. Grant and his family decided to make the move to settle in Galena, Illinois. He worked in his father’s store and traveled to small towns servicing customers. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Grant rejoined the U.S. Army and was commissioned colonel. Four years later, Grant returned home a war hero and to a new fully furnished house as an appreciation gift. Grant went on to become President and his children gave the house to the City of Galena. The home has been restored to its original appearance from Grant’s time there. Take a jump back into history as you tour through President Grant’s home.

Historical Places of the Tri-States: Get Personal with the Past

The Tri-States is a perfect getaway for anyone who has an affinity for the Victorian era and steamboats, revels in the early days of agriculture or the lead mining rush, or simply appreciates American history. The region is full of established communities with historical homes and buildings that allow you to get up close and personal with the past through artifacts, possessions, and stories of the individuals and families who lived there.

ILLINOIS offers excellent examples of Italianate architecture and Civil War-era homes, and is also where you can literally follow in the footsteps of history.

Galena, IL

> The Belvedere Mansion & Gardens is called Galena’s “Downtown Abbey;” it is a well-preserved, historically accurate example of upper-class, mid-19th century life. Just across town you will find the oldest house in Galena – the Dowling House. It was once the only trading post in Galena and provided primitive living quarters for fur traders.

Dixon, IL

> Built in 1908, the Northwest Territory Historic Center is where President Ronald Reagan once attended school as a child. See President Reagan’s 6th Grade Classroom restored to his time there. A separate room features memorabilia from his time as president. Learn about the struggles of the Native American’s as well how they fought to keep their land and how early farmer’s climbed an uphill battle to prosper in a new area.

Savanna, IL

> The City of Savanna is known as an “outdoor paradise” due to its proximity along the shores of the Mississippi River. The dense forest and steep cliffs of nearby Mississippi Palisades State Park had once been home to area Native Americans; present-day visitors to the park can hike the same trails forged by those pathfinders nearly 1500 years ago.

On the IOWA side of the Mississippi, you’ll discover Victorian-era opulence and other cultural traits associated with the booming lead industry and bustling river economy during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Dubuque, IA

> The Mathias Ham House is significant to the Midwest lead mining phenomenon. The mid-Victorian home is on the National Register of Historic Places; it was built by local entrepreneur Mathias Ham and designed by architect John F. Rague. You can visit this living history site from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Davenport, IA

> In 1900, Davenport was described as the most German city in the Midwest. The German American Heritage Center works to teach present and future generations about German immigrant experiences. The Center was a former immigrant hotel and is the last one remaining in the region.

Guttenberg, IA

> The Lockmaster’s House Heritage Museum is where the lockmaster and assistant lockmaster of Lock and Dam #10 were required to live between 1938 and 1973. The house has since become a museum preserving the history of both the lock and dam and Guttenberg. This is the last remaining lockmaster house on the Upper Mississippi River and it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The scenic rolling hills of Southwest WISCONSIN offer breath-taking views, Swiss hospitality, and a rich agricultural heritage that developed the growth of Wisconsin.

New Glarus, WI

> The New Glarus Hotel Restaurant has a rich history dating back to 1853. Nowadays, it is a called a hotel despite the fact that most guests are there to dine in for the Swiss specialties. The building began as a hotel and the current main dining room was once an old opera house. Silent movies with pianists were often the featured show.

Cassville, WI

> Stonefield Historical Site celebrates Wisconsin’s agricultural history. Learn about the rise of turn-of-the-century dairy farming and see why Wisconsin is known as “America’s Dairyland.” Stonefield has a 1901 farmstead, an agricultural museum, a living history rural farming village, and more!

Mineral Point, WI

> Pendarvis Historical Site interprets the history of Cornish settlement during the early 19th century and Wisconsin’s lead-mining heyday. Touring the historic homes at Pendarvis will transport you into the typical day of a lead-mining immigrant family and how they lived and worked.

Last Chance Summer

It’s the countdown till fall. The kids have packed their backpacks and are begging for the latest pair of Nikes to impress their classmates. Parents victoriously cross out days on the calendar, dreaming of the day they pass the carpool responsibilities to the bus driver. But before we get carried away with the back to school butterflies, we still have time to enjoy the last few weeks of summer around the Tri-State region.

Food, family, and garlic breath. Is there a better way to bond? The Midwest Garlic Fest in Elizabeth, IL features over 25 of finest food vendors from the region, specializing in garlic loaded delicacies August 13-14, 2016. Live entertainment by local favorites including The Black Sheep, Lonely Goats, and Chris Cavanaugh will keep your family dancing all day long. Wake up the next morning for Family Garlic Day, August 14. Ease the kids back into education with new knowledge of planting and growing garlic during the children’s events in addition to raffles, games, contests and prizes all day long.

Maybe the kids need a weekend with the grandparents to soak up those last few summer nights. What a serendipitous opportunity to take a trip to Wisconsin for the Potosi Brewfest on August 27, 2016. Enjoy a fun-filled day of tasting craft beer, wines, and artisan grub from nearly 60 vendors. Home of the National Brewery Museum, Potosi has deep roots in the beer industry dating back to its brewery founding in 1852.

Labor Day weekend is the telltale sign that summer has come to a close. A day full of baseball is the perfect way to say goodbye to the season. Come to Dyersville, Iowa on September 4, 2016 for the Team of Dreams. Experience the magic of the Field of Dreams Movie Site as baseball legends come together for a day celebrating the Great American Pastime. Share your love of the game with family while enjoying a celebrity autograph signing and game before an evening watching Field of Dreams on the very outfield where the Oscar nominated movie was filmed 27 years ago.

Don’t let summer slip away before you experience these exciting happenings in the Tri-State Region.

Additional Information:

http://www.midwestgarlicfest.com/

http://www.potosibrewery.com/news-events/potosi-brewfest/

http://www.teamofdreamsiowa.com/

Spring Like Things To Do This Weekend

Waking up to the sun with a flock of birds singing outside can only mean one thing, Spring…in February. While it is ambitious to pack away the hats and mittens in exchange for sunglasses and shorts just yet, there is so much outdoor adventure to be had in the Tri-States with this unseasonably Spring like weather. Fishing, hiking, biking, and soaking up the bright and sunshine filled sky is just the beginning.

Fishing

Find that tackle box buried in the garage and dust off your favorite rod for some fishing on the river. While hardcore fishermen bundle up for brutal winter days on the water, us seasonal anglers will appreciate the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing day soaking up some much-needed Vitamin D. Whether you are drifting down the Wisconsin River from Potosi, WI, plunking in a pool on the Mississippi River in Dubuque, IA, or camped out at a public stocked lake in Hanover, IL, you’ll be sure to catch the fish off guard in this February weather.

Hiking

There is no better way to explore the Tri-States then by foot, hiking the glorious bluff country. Plan a weekend full of adventuring with the Grant Wood Loop in Eastern Iowa. Hike the historic bow-string bridge at Wapsipinicon State Park in Anamosa, IA, stop for a picnic along Copper Creek Trail in Preston, IA and take in a breathtaking view of the Mississippi from the bluffs of Bellevue State Park in Bellevue, IA. Plan your customizable loop here.

Biking

Break out the bikes and spin your way through the Tri-States with the sun warm sun. Follow the Galena River Trail for six miles through picturesque Galena, IL, wander along the Mississippi riverfront in Clinton, IA along the Discover Trail, or traverse the former railroad, the Dinky Trail in Platteville, WI.

No matter what outdoor adventure sends you soaring, be sure to get out and about in the Tri-States this weekend.

Summertime Along Each State's Great River Road

Summer is a wonderful time to travel……along each state’s stretch of the Great River Road:

THE GREAT RIVER ROAD IN ILLINOIS offers 550 miles of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, historic sites, local attractions and shopping. Marvel at the views of the Mississippi River and see 26 ancient Hopewell Indian Mounds when visiting Gramercy Park in East Dubuque. Go back in time to the 1800’s in Fulton with the Heritage Canyon where you will find a village built in a former rock quarry that overlooks the Mississippi River. Throw a line into the Mississippi in Savanna and you might hook a walleye, largemouth bass, or a catfish!

IOWA’S GREAT RIVER ROAD features 10 Counties and 15 designated Great River Road Interpretative Centers. Take in views from high on the bluff at Breitbach’s Country Dining in Balltown and see one of the most spectacular views of the valley. In Dubuque, take a leisurely outing on the Spirit of Dubuque for lunch, dinner or just to sightsee. Be sure to stop in Bellevue at the Bellevue State Park – home of a butterfly garden. Get lost in the world class art exhibits and collections at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport.

THE WISCONSIN GREAT RIVER ROAD will take you on a 250 mile journey through 33 river towns. There are spectacular scenic overlooks along the entire Wisconsin Great River Road with nearly two-thirds of the roadway passing along or through protected natural environments. With a stop in Cassville, you might take a ride on the Car Ferry that connects the Iowa and Wisconsin Great River Roads. Tour through the National Brewery Museum to discover the history of brewing in the area on your way through Potosi and be sure to grab a local brew at Potosi Brewery right next door! Take in the beauty of the Dickeyville Grotto – comprised of stone, mortar and bright colored objects collected from around the world.