During the 2011 college football season, the Wisconsin Badgers and the Oregon Ducks combined to score a whopping 1,112 points. And each team did so at nearly the same clip—the Badgers put up 564 points to the Ducks’ 548. So it’s a natural fit that the two heavyweight teams will battle January 2 in the 2012 Rose Bowl, a game that pundits predict will be one of the highest-scoring Rose Bowls in history. To get an up-close view of the offensive fireworks, Badger Trips has tailored comprehensive travel packages: after tailgating and getting amped up at team pep rallies, fans will attend the Rose Bowl itself.On the morning of New Year’s Eve, Badger fans will board a private, chartered jet from Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) in Madison direct to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The long trip is made breezy thanks to a stylish aircraft: travels can sink into plush seats and watch movies, listen to music, and play video games on the entertainment systems.Once on the ground, travelers will be taken by shuttle to the Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, a Four Diamond retreat situated atop historical Bunker Hill. For three nights, guests can take advantage of all the Omni has to offer, whether they wish to camp out in recently renovated deluxe rooms, ease pre-game anxiety at the onsite spa, or debate the merits of the wishbone offense at the romantic Noé Restaurant, voted Best Romantic Restaurant by the Los Angeles Times Readers Choice Awards. Leading up to the big game, fans can use shuttle services to freely hop to and from various festivities and sightseeing opportunities: on Saturday there’s a massive group pep rally and on Sunday a four-hour tour of Los Angeles and a group viewing of the Green Bay Packers game. Check out a detailed trip itinerary here.On Monday morning, buses board for Pasadena to the storied Rose Parade, which is followed by the Badger Huddle—a massive tailgate that serves beers, brats, and a spread of snacks. And then, finally, the main event kicks off at 2 p.m., when the University of Wisconsin will compete to be crowned Rose Bowl champion. Established in 1902, the Rose Bowl is known as the “Granddaddy of Them All” and, outside of fishing marshmallows from cereal, is the oldest bowl game known to man. At the center of the legendary 90,000-seat stadium, players such as Wisconsin Badger running back Montee Ball—who has scored 38 touchdowns this season—will look to turn in a legendary performance to join Wisconsin alum and Heisman Trophy-winner Alan Ameche in the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.
Travelers follow Jo Daviess County's sprawling fields and undulating hills toward Massbach Ridge Winery’s 18+ acre estate. Founded by the Harmston family in 2003, the winery’s proprietors select grapes grown in Jo Daviess County to concoct their batches of reds and whites. Members of the winery family escort guests on impromptu tours before rendezvousing in the tasting room or on the patio for samplings. The outdoor patio grants a heightened view of the vineyards below, which visitors can wander through on quests for vine-ripe copies of The Grapes of Wrath. In addition to its frequent tastings and tour sessions, Massbach Ridge Winery hosts a number of wine-related events each year.
A lot has changed for the Spahn family over the years. Starting out as a vineyard that strictly grew grapes for nearby wineries, Rocky Waters Vineyard—established by Jared and Phyllis Spahn in 1994—soon became much more. From their 112 acres, they now harvest 25 to create 14 varietals throughout the year. Working with guidance from local winemaker Philippe Coquard, the Spahns have crafted their own wines since 2004. They range in style from the full-bodied Homestead red to the sweet, fruity Cedar Lakes blush.
To winemaker Alwyn Fitzgerald, The Fisher King isn't just a medieval legend; he represents a way of life. According to Arthurian myth, as the wounded Fisher King grew stronger in the spring and into the summer, so did the surrounding land and harvest. Inspired by this relationship between man and Earth, Alwyn founded Fisher King Winery in spite of the Midwest's temperamental climate. There, he hand-processes the local, cold-hardy grapes that give his small-batch wines a light yet complex flavor profile. His decision to use mostly Midwestern grapes in his winemaking process has certainly paid off: his Blue Rapture white wine won a gold medal at the U.S. National Wine Competition, as well as a Best of Class and double-gold award at the International Eastern Wine Competition in 2013.
Outside of Fisher King Winery, a hanging sign with gold letters depicts the company's mythological namesake. Inside, large windows provide a glimpse of the tanks and pipes in the production area, where Alwyn and his family produce their award-winning Blue Rapture wine, alongside other dry-to-sweet red and white varietals. The tasting room's hardwood bar and tables give visitors a place to sip popular wines by the flight, glass, or bottle, and nibble on local artisan cheeses. Fisher King Winery also hosts regular live performances from local and regional musicians.
The Great Urban Race is a one-day event pitting teams of two against one another in a race combining physical challenges, scavenger hunts, and puzzles. Up to 700 twosomes will traverse 4 to 8 miles of Toronto terrain on foot and by public transportation as they solve 12 challenging clues in a fun quest to reach the finish line first. Sample clues and challenges from past Great Urban Races include charades, bubble-gum chewing, pig Latin deciphering, bicycle races, and word scrambles, making this race ideal for competitive eaters and cryptographers alike. Teams are encouraged to dress up in matching outfits, and prizes will be awarded for best costume. Prizes are also given for race results, with $300 going to first place, $200 to second place, and $100 to third place. The top 25 teams will qualify for the National Championship in New Orleans in November, with the top three teams receiving free entry. Each participant gets a T-shirt and postrace refreshments of fruit, granola bars, and a run through a Perrier sprinkler. Read over the rules and FAQs for more information.
The Wisconsin Historical Society preserves the knowledge, artifacts, and historic sites that have popped up over the course of Wisconsin's tenure as a territory and state. Peruse the hallowed halls of history in the historical museum, the First Capitol, or the Wade House, an 1844 settlement home. Click here to see a full listing of the sites maintained by the society.