Day Tripping – Kenosha and Madison Wisconsin



Kenosha Harbor.

By Wendy Wood-Prince 

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” – Sam Keen


As the trill of the cicadas reaches its crescendo and the summer sun slants lower, the inevitability of summer’s end sets in. If you are like me and you want to hang onto summer as long as possible, day trips are a great solution. Two Wisconsin towns can help you prolong the carefree days: Kenosha and Madison.



The electric trolley in Kenosha travels a two mile circuit around downtown.



Kenosha, Wisconsin, is just 50 miles north of Chicago and the Metra North Line’s northernmost stop — you don’t even need a car for this road trip. Once you arrive at the Kenosha station, you can catch the electric trolley which travels a two-mile circuit around Kenosha, where $3.50 buys an all-day pass so you can hop on and off as you please. Wandering around for the day in this retro feeling city couldn’t be easier. A few stops you don’t want to miss:


The trolley map shows some highlights on its route.


Dinosaur Discovery Museum

Located at 56th and 10th Avenues, the Dinosaur Discovery Museum houses an on-site laboratory belonging to Carthage College which conducts field studies with students and volunteers every year. In 2006, on a research trip in southeastern Montana, the group discovered the youngest Tyrannosaurus rex ever found. It was determined that “Little Clint” was just two and a half years old when he died. The museum itself contains a full-grown life-size replica of a T. rex, and the evolution of modern birds from meat-eating dinosaurs is emphasized at the museum. Admission is free, with a $2 donation suggested at the door.

Kenosha Public Museum

The Kenosha Public Museum sits right along the lakefront adjacent to Southport Marina. This museum was established in 1933, and the emphasis is natural science and fine art. Two of the most significant woolly mammoth discoveries occurred in Wisconsin and are represented at the museum, including an exact replica of the dig site of the Schaefer mammoth, found on a farm in Paris, Wisconsin, in 1964. These two mammoths show scars from tools, most probably inflicted by humans, and represent the earliest evidence of human activity in the Western Hemisphere at about 14,500 years ago. Admission to the museum is free.



Kenosha hosts festivals on the lakefront.


Pierhead Lighthouse

Built in 1906 and standing 50-feet tall, the North Pier Lighthouse is privately owned after being put up for auction in 2011. It is used as an art studio by the present owner, and it is still the functioning lighthouse for Kenosha Harbor. It’s bright red silhouette stands in stark contrast to the sparkling blue waters of Lake Michigan at the entrance to the harbor.



Pierhead Lighthouse stands at the point on Simmons Island.


Mike’s Donuts and Chicken

Yes, you read correctly, one of my favorite attractions in Kenosha is this quirky bar/restaurant/breakfast eatery. Located on the corner of 56th Street and 7th Avenue, Mike’s has something for any time of day and it’s a highly entertaining stop — busy day and night, featuring decadent donuts and long johns, nachos, chicken and burgers. Their key ingredient seems to be bacon featured on many lunches and even on a maple-glazed long john. The bar is extensive and has great atmosphere, and the decor is fun and zany. Mike’s is a must stop.



The bar at Mike’s Donuts and Chicken and Donuts in Kenosha.



Maple glazed long john with bacon. Yes, I ate it and it was delicious.



If you are in a driving mood, Madison is about a two and a half hour drive from Chicago, and worth an overnight stay. Named after the fourth president of the United States, Madison was established as Wisconsin’s capital in 1837. Today, it is a thriving city with the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the Wisconsin state government at its core. The unique topography of four lakes that sit within and around Madison gives it much of its character and charm. Some great things to do while in Madison:


The Edgewater Hotel

Located right at the edge of Lake Mendota, The Edgewater hotel is close to everything. Dine outside right on the water at the boathouse for lunch or dinner. The Plaza, located between the two buildings that make up the hotel, hosts concerts, celebrations and outdoor movies, and it is converted into an outdoor ice rink during the winter months. Most rooms offer a beautiful lake view and even the spa looks out over the lake. A massage at the spa is one of the best around.



Outdoor movie on plaza of The Edgewater.


Bicycles and Boats

B-cycle has three locations to pick up bike rentals: Spring Street, N. Park Street or N. Shore Drive. Grab a bike and ride around the University of Madison’s beautiful campus or ride to Marigold Kitchen for a delicious breakfast. Then head over to the farmers market and fill your basket with fresh flowers and tomatoes. In the afternoon, rent a boat from SkipperBud’s and cruise around the shores of the lake looking at all of the pretty houses.



B-cycle rental bikes offer a great way to get around Madison.


Eats in Madison

Marigold Kitchen is the perfect place for breakfast. Located at 118 S. Pinckney St., they serve amazing coffee, pastries and all kinds of breakfast. Do not miss the roasted salmon, broccoli and Havarti frittata with field greens!



Marigold Kitchen frittata—delicious.


Too numerous to list, the variety of foods available from the many food trucks and stalls in Madison is mind-boggling. From empanadas to BBQ, gyros, falafel, grilled cheese, Jamaican, the list goes on.

Merchant Madison specializes in farm to table fare from brunch throughout the day and into dinner, everything is fresh and delicious. And Merchant has an extensive craft cocktail menu that includes ingredients and stories to go along with each cocktail.

Whether you are up for a day trip or a long weekend, Kenosha and Madison have lots to offer in food and entertainment, as the lazy days of summer draw to a close.