Full of laid-back luxury, home to one of North America’s best golf courses, situated on majestic Lake Michigan, with a spaceport (who knew!) and not forgetting those delicious, crisp cheese curds all within driving distance -this is a Road Trip Special: Sheboygan County Wisconsin
Paying homage to its 1885 Victorian roots, the sprawling all-suite Osthoff Resort begets exceptional hospitality. Spread over 500 ft of recreational lakefront with a stark white exterior, the resort is a waterside playground. Lazy mornings are spent with a warm cup of coffee and German potato pancakes at Otto’s restaurant, while elegant three course dinners of lobster bisque, seared scallops and chocolate hazelnut croquentine at Lola’s On the Lake make you appreciate the invention of drawstring pants.
Watch fisherman cast their lines as they leisurely float along the pristine waters of spring-fed Elkhart Lake. This kettle lake, formed by glacial ice, now boasts million dollar houses along its shores and is the fourth-deepest natural lake in Wisconsin. Captain and 50 year veteran Jim Benson guides the Elkhart Queen pontoon seamlessly through the shimmering lake, as the golden sun slowly sets.
Gently trickling water flows over a natural stone wall and into an enormous round hand-tooled copper vessel in Aspira Spa’s meditation sanctuary. This peaceful tranquility is the setting for your massage. With a motto declaring its treatments infused with spirit, and combining the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water), it’s no wonder that the holistic spa has been named one of the best in America’s Midwest.
For a light lunch, Barefoot Bay Tiki Bar at Victorian Village Resort is the perfect prelude to an afternoon spent on a paddleboat.
Lake Street Café
The quirky-cool vibe at Lake Street Café (children’s books double as menus) is the vision of owners John and Lynn Shovan. The restaurant serves a California bistro-style menu (think seared yellow fin tuna and seaweed salad), and an array of classic dishes like the succulent shiitake chicken and orecchiette con carne.
As the warm, soft, sunflower hued yolk runs into your plate from the ramp pizza at Paddock Club, you know you’re in the right place. The restaurant excels at combining seasonally prepared produce with a distinctly Mediterranean-European bent. Order an extra helping of the crisp shrimp cigars, wrapped in brik pastry and dip into the sweet-tangy orange ginger sauce.
Palo popcorn made with Wisconsin cheddar is a must!
With a vine covered Tudor-style redbrick facade, it’s easy to embrace the old world elegance at The American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin. Doormen dressed in knickerbockers, argyle socks and black caubeens, immediately convey that this is a golf destination resort. Inside, deep mahogany furnishings, brocade covered sitting chairs, rust coloured rugs and lavish bouquets of fresh flowers add warmth to the resort founded by Walter J. Kohler Sr. in 1918.
Along the oak paneled hallways hang historic photographs from the area while an inviting gold, wine and rust colour palette in the heritage rooms contrasts the modern Kohler fixtures (yes the world-renowned ceramic and plumbing company owns the resort) inside the spacious bathroom. Like a page out of a Jane Austen novel, the formal Kohler Gardens at The American Club are impeccably kept with meandering pathways that lead to various courtyards and the showpiece Art-deco style greenhouse.
Everything about the Kohler Waters Spa whispers relaxation – from the sound of rushing water in the central relaxation area to the mosaic lined pool. Opt for the Kohler Waters facial and custom massage – technicians flawlessly revive, de-stress and calm.
For the best way of taking in all the culinary options at The American Club why not try a dine around – walkabout sampling dishes from a few of the restaurants on site. Start with a Carrot 43 cocktail at The Winery Bar, followed by deliciously creamy beer and cheese soup with pretzel bites at The Horse and Plow. Chef Loren Rue of The Immigrant Restaurant offers Russian Imperial Osetra Caviar. This modern take on a classic is a burst of colour and flavor with chess board plating of red beet, tangy crème fraîche, and buttery, crunchy brioche croutons topped with minuscule black caviar. Order the crunchy asparagus salad from the traditional farm to table menu at The Wisconsin Room. Finish with the chicken three ways (the crackling is a standout), overlooking the 18th green at The River and The Meadow Valleys at Blackwolf Run.
Don’t leave without having breakfast at Whistling Straits championship golf course. With captivating views of Lake Michigan, black faced sheep roaming the grounds and rolling hills, you’ll swear you are in Scotland.
See how much you can restrain your inner interior designer from reaching out to touch every masterfully crafted piece of home fixture (we see an Artist Edition Moroccan sink in our future!) at Kohler’s Design Center. Take a factory tour (tip: bring a mask) to see the production side of things, visit the Kohler Museum or walk around to get inspiration for your home. Don’t leave without seeing the designer center galleries on the top level with work from Ron Radziner and Jonathan Adler– the elaborate and sometimes ostentatious spaces will have you dripping with envy.
Bon Bon Bonus
Craverie Chocolatier Cafe
Yes, Kohler makes chocolates too! Stop by the Craverie and try the signature terrapins studded with toasted pecans, chewy caramel and dipped in chocolate.
The 180-room Blue Harbor Resort & Spa stands like a soldier overlooking brilliant Lake Michigan. Take a morning stroll along the lakeshore trail, with the crisp air hitting your face and you will feel like the only person for miles. You’ll want to have an extra leisurely dinner at Latitude 43 restaurant to fully appreciate the breathtaking views.
Sheboygan River’s fishing village and boardwalk with neatly moored boats resemble those of Scandinavia. Take a motorboat tour of the lake shore and watch as the darkness of Lake Sheboygan fades into the tumultuous turquoise waters of Lake Michigan.
You may not think a children’s garden would be your thing, until you spot the barn from Charlotte’s Web, recalling childhood. Over 60 different books, and their respective characters, are literally brought to life at Bookworm Gardens. Spread over seven distinct areas on two acres, there are plenty of sweet surprises and interactive experiences around every turn. Who wouldn’t want to make their own fairy house in the woods or search for tadpoles?
Brag to friends that you have your own signature scent, after you customize your own body oil at Olivu 426. Or, you can choose from a plethora of personal care products (whipped emu lotion anyone?), handmade from all-natural ingredients.
3 Questions With Brian Ewenson
Currently serving as Executive Director of Spaceport Sheboygan, Brian Ewenson is an aerospace educator with 25 years of experience. Beginning his career in Canada he has designed, developed and flown student created experiments on the Space Shuttle as well with the Canadian Space Agency and numerous NASA Centers
Last October we had four-time shuttle astronaut and Wisconsin native Mark Lee come to the centre, he donated space flown material and provided a great presentation on his four missions to space.
Why is Sheboygan the ideal
We have a 70 mile Military Zone of Exclusion over Lake Michigan to test and launch rockets to the edge of space. With further work and designation by the government, we endeavor to be America’s in-land Spaceport in the next decade.
What is to come?
We see the future of Spaceport Sheboygan as the go-to, hands-on science museum for the entire State of Wisconsin. We are not trying to make astronauts of the students who pass through our doors, but rather expose them to the opportunities that exist in STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Mathematics) fields.
This travel article first appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.