Amber Flanagan's grandparents moved to Milwaukee from Mississippi in the 1960s, bringing with them their culinary heritage and their firm belief in the importance of good eating. Today, Amber carries on their passion for gastronomical traditions by leading walking food tours of the Silver City District and the Historic Third Ward. Milwaukee’s history as a hub for immigrants from all over the world is reflected in the city's diverse ecosystem of restaurants: tours may bounce between Vietnamese, Peruvian, Thai, and Mexican cuisines on their journey. Some restaurant outings incorporate cooking demonstrations, which could otherwise only be glimpsed after donning an elaborate busboy disguise.
Back in 1999, brothers David and Rick Kueber noticed a lag in business at their chain of video-rental shops during the summer months, when no one wanted to be cooped up inside watching movies. The two put their heads together and found a rather unconventional solution to their problem: tanning beds. They installed a new fleet of skin-bronzing machines and sat back as so many clients flocked to their shop that the brothers were forced to open an entire store just to cater to their clients? tanning demands. This was the birth of Sun Tan City. Today, what started as an experimental side business boasts more than 200 locations across 16 states.
The staff at each location maintains a meticulously clean space, where they show clients to UV beds dubbed fast, faster, fastest, and instant. The beds include features such as facial tanners and self-contained air conditioners. Alternatively, clients can opt for the UV-free, automated VersaSpa system, which swathes physiques in a DHA, plant-based bronzing solution. The liquid reacts naturally with skin?s amino acids, creating an even coat as radiant as the high beams on Helios?s chariot within 46 seconds.
As the sun sets in Holton, wicked things come out to play at the Trail of Terror haunted trail. Zombie butchers, clowns, and more lurk just beyond trees and bushes from dusk until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays in October. The trail's performers also bring to life scenes from classic horror movies such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Motel Hell. For those who survive the trail, onsite vendors sell apparel and tasty snacks at the concession stands. Trail of Terror Holton is not recommended for individuals with heart conditions, and though it maintains an all-ages policy, parental discretion is advised.
The bayous and creeks flowing into the Grand River form an inviting home for wildlife, including eagles that nest in the trees along the shoreline. Perched in their aeries, the birds study the water's surface. Spotting a disturbance, an eagle lifts off and glides toward the water, opening its talons to pluck the prey suspended just beneath the surface.
The team at Lakeshore Kayak Rental lends their kayaks—inspected and certified by the DNR—and other watercraft to help visitors stumble upon sights such as these throughout the gentle Grand River and its connecting waterways. The staff, which includes instructors claiming certifications from the American Canoe Association, provides lessons for beginner kayakers, canoeists, and paddleboarders, and recommends areas for more experienced outdoorsmen to explore. With advanced notice, Lakeshore's crew can also arrange transportation to and from some area lodgings and farther-away launch points. To encourage camaraderie throughout the kayaking community, Lakeshore's team hosts the annual Grand River Kayak Race.
The Coopersville & Marne Railway Company whisks riders back in time aboard passenger cars from the early 1900s, a diesel locomotive built in 1952, and tracks laid in 1858. Trained volunteers dressed in period uniforms welcome passengers, who then set out on a route through scenic fields and family-owned farmlands as a soundtrack of 1800s train music plays in the background. Throughout the ride, the conductor shares stories about the train and its route, filled with glimpses of deer, wild turkeys, and eagles, as well as several flowing creeks. Upon request, passengers may join the engineer in his cab to see how the train works or perform duets of “The Ballad of Casey Jones.”
The railway company regularly hosts special events aboard its trains, including the Great Train Robbery, a Wild West–themed escapade with volunteers playing Jesse James, the Earp brothers, and other legendary figures. To celebrate the holidays, the company operates a Santa train where kids can meet Kris Kringle; a bunny train with a walking, talking Easter bunny; and a fall-themed ride that includes a visit to a pumpkin patch.
Nestled along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Fenn Valley Vineyards & Wine Cellar capitalizes on the water's air-warming capabilities, growing tender grapes and crafting them into award-winning wines. Their 20th annual Wine Festival takes place on the winery's expansive lawn under a 4,000-square-foot tent pitched for the occasion. Revelers deepen the connection between their ears, noses, and throats with classic rock courtesy of The Trace, traditional Mexican fare and barbecue chicken and ribs, and a palate-wowing library of wines. Guests equipped with a souvenir glass can catch a ride on a People Hauler and move between three tasting stations set up throughout the vineyard, choosing between multiple small tastes or one full glass of a Fenn Valley oeno-explosion. Reds include the delicately fruity capriccio and the more robust merlot, while whites delight with an apple-kissed riesling and an ice wine sweeter than a pineapple Gummi Bear hitting a half-court buzzer beater.