Resting on central Mexico's Pacific coast against the backdrop of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Puerto Vallarta has become a popular destination partially for this picturesque landscape, but also for its mild climate, with average high temperatures around 81 degrees in March. Fishing boats and scuba divers explore the depths of Banderas Bay, and ziplines whiz through tropical forest canopy. The former port town also holds on to its historical charm by preserving its cobblestone streets and 19th-century churches. In Viejo Vallarta, the city's Old Town, artists peddle shawls and piñatas, and mariachi bands serenade couples dancing on Plaza Principal.
In 1853, with pieces of buff sandstone hauled from a nearby quarry, Able Dunning and his wife erected a Greek Revival farmhouse on University Avenue in Madison. They called the house Mapleside, and it sat for 117 years like a stoic grandmother, surveying the surrounding landscape as spring’s innumerable rows of crops gave way to winter’s barren fields.
After efforts to save the historic building failed, community members joined forces to create the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation. Today, the independent, nonprofit organization continues to preserve the city's historic character through efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and rehabilitate buildings. Its annual activities focus on educating residents about Madison’s past through the buildings that endure as monuments to bygone eras. The hope is that a new generation of activists might be inspired to take up the mantle of preservation after a historic architecture tour of State Street, Bascom Hill, or Bucky Badger’s slowly eroding burrow.
The eclectic organizers at Red Frog Events take a lighthearted and fun-focused approach to building their adventurous events, such as obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, and themed bar crawls, to connect city dwellers with local neighborhoods. Their creative, interactive offerings include regularly occurring competitions such as the Warrior Dash, Great Urban Race, and Beach Dash, the proceeds from which usually benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Like the idea of having a pet rock, their events have grown more popular annually, and frequently spring up in cities across the United States.
Those who shudder to remember the Shadow Manor Haunted House may want to hide under their beds. For although the legendary haunt may have faded into oblivion, a vastly expanded 7,000-square-foot portal to the profane has risen to take its place. The heinous Dr. Goffman rules more than half the bedeviled romping grounds, a blood-spattered surgeon waiting to terrify his patients, first by performing tortuous procedures, and then later by mailing them their bill. Those who manage to check out must then don 3-D glasses before venturing through a whirling tunnel. The swirling vortex leads to the harlequin-haunted Psycho Circus, where weird clowns caper with tortuous intent, ushering their audience through disorienting neon rooms. To keep the screams coming, Shadow Manor has also added two new attractions, including the evocatively named Slaughter House and a meandering path through a mysterious cornfield and haunted wood.
The Waldvogel family has been planting pumpkins without incident each fall for the past 25 years. This year, however, something peculiar happened. Their 10-acre pumpkin patch yielded pink pumpkins. Before you blame the supernatural or last spring's pink-lemonade spill, know that the Waldvogels grew the pumpkins to promote awareness of breast cancer and raise money for breast-cancer research.
Once you've taken the complimentary hayride out to the pumpkin patch and picked a pumpkin—pink or orange—there's still plenty to do around the farm. Youngsters can sample the 16 attractions, including a 6-acre corn maze, a train ride, and a miniature golf course. Older visitors can browse the market's squash and jams, the bakery's apple pies, and the apple kitchen's fixings for creating your own caramel apple.
Situated inside a renovated historical building, Northleaf Winery pays tribute to the location’s agricultural past while bottling more than a dozen wines. Fragrant samples of peppery zinfandel and floral pinot grigio are poured at the wooden tasting bar, which hosts open tastings and private pairings of wine and artisanal chocolates or cheese. Next door, the bistro and market stocks a tempting selection of Wisconsin cheeses and party trays, along with fresh salads and build-your-own grilled sandwiches with included blueprints.