Amur tigers stretch out in the sun, red kangaroos hop leisurely along, and orangutans groom each other in the shade while tree pythons and box turtles roam their tanks, oblivious of each other and everything outside. Nearby, budgies, storks, cormorants, and screech owls roost on perches and soar over the heads of their human visitors. These creatures join a menagerie of more than 250 animals—representing 76 different species—that mingle across 32 acres of natural habitat at the Racine Zoo. Together with their staff counterparts, these animals speak to the zoo’s efforts toward conservation and strengthening the bond between humans and their wild neighbors.
Though they can get up close to animal enclosures, visitors also explore more immersive wildlife education through seasonal and year-round attractions. Giraffe encounters allow guests to participate in the supervised feeding of a masai giraffe, and Animal Chats prompt visitors to ask questions of the caretakers, such as how they feed the zoo's carnivores and which of the herbivores prefer italian dressing. At the Benstead Discovery Center, guests greet reptiles and amphibians and watch fish swim in a 2,000-gallon saltwater tank. In the open-air Norco Aviary, visitors can behave as flocks of Australian budgies, rosellas, or cockatiels. Children, meanwhile, frolic across the two-story climbing structure, slides, and zipline at the PlayZoo Playground, or board a colorful, seasonal miniature express train.
Tucked along the east side of the bay, Shorewood Golf Course’s 2,792-yard, nine-hole layout challenges club-swingers with unforgiving fairways and small, breaking greens whose impressive upkeep earned the course an appearance and maintenance award in 2009. Since the first post-putt strut in 1931, the course’s oak- and hickory-lined fairways have invited players to overcome undulating terrain both scenic and demanding. The zenith of these hilly hazards is found on the 492-yard par 5 fourth hole, where golfers must overcome a dogleg right off the tee before hitting multiple shots to the green located at the end of a narrow fairway that encourages conga lines along its gradual incline. After a day out in the sun, golfers can adjourn to the course’s restaurant to munch on pizza and sandwiches or enjoy a frosty beverage.
Course at a Glance:
As the bartender looks up from his stool, he sees the world around him has started to spin. But drinking on the job isn't to blame: the scenery shifts around him as the mobile Pedal Tavern rolls down the streets of Milwaukee, powered by the cycling feet of up to 15 of his friends. Ten seats with bicycle-style pedals, plus five seats for non-pedaling passengers, circle up around the wooden bar-in-the-round where the “bartender”—actually one of the passengers—leads the carousing and doles out snacks the group has packed. A flat roof shades passengers as a Pedal Tavern employee steers the craft around corners and curves. Though there's no alcohol onboard the Pedal Tavern itself—in line with current legislation—the bars and taverns along routes in the Third Ward and Walker's Point pour beers and cocktails, including perpetual happy-hour specials for Pedal Tavern riders.
Resting beneath natural light from the skylights mounted above it, the hulking figure of the 1.2 million-pound Union Pacific Big Boy cloaks visitors in a shadow that stretches for nearly 50 yards. As guests ascend the monstrous cab of this steam locomotive, they enter the centerpiece of the National Railroad Museum, a chamber echoing with more than 150 years of American railroading history.
After exiting Big Boy, guests can view a computer-generated porter that recounts how African-American rail workers formed the nation's first all-black labor union, and another stop invites passengers to view inside a portion of General Eisenhower's WWII command train. Elsewhere in the museum, various collections are housed with more than 15,000 photographs, archives such as maps and engineering drawings, and more than 5,000 artifacts including uniforms and tools.
The National Railroad Museum has over 60 pieces of rolling stock, including diesel, steam, and electric locomotives, and passenger and freight cars. Among these are some of the most influential and unique pieces in railroading history, including a number of items that pertain to the state of Wisconsin.
Other must-sees of the museum include General Motors’ experimental Aerotrain; the streamlined Pennsylvania Railroad No. 4890, a GG-1 electric locomotive; and the Frederick Bauer Drumhead Collection, the largest, single collection of railroad drumheads known to exist in the United States. Most facilities are accessible, except where rolling stock cannot be altered due to their historic nature. The Museum’s train ride is accessible, and a wheelchair lift is available.
A train ride is offered on a daily basis from May through September and guided tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Museum also hosts a variety of special events for all ages.
Scenically located on the banks of Saint Croix River, Nova boasts more than a century of history, dating back to pre-Prohibition years, as well as a selection of scrumptious, seasonal cuisine and more than 200 bottles of wine. For dinner, after an appetizer of andouille quesadillas ($9), traditional tastes can try hand-tossed pizzas ($12–$14), pastas, or burgers, and adventurous eaters can brawl with the Fighting Bison, a 12-ounce bison rib eye rubbed with blackened seasoning and gorgonzola to hide its battle scars ($21). Become fast friends with Johnny Boy, a pan-fried and almond-crusted walleye swimming in blueberry tarragon sauce ($18), or Georgie Porgie, a soy-braised, all-natural pork tenderloin paired with vegetables and rice ($20).
Being a health-conscious foodie can be a challenge, because it’s not always easy to determine the history of how and where food is produced. The owners of Armstrong Apples Orchard and Winery have created such a narrative for their clients, growing fruit deeply rooted in their commitments to community and homegrown produce.
Sixteen years ago, they planted their first apple orchard, calling on friends and neighbors aged 8 to 80 for help. Since then, the farm has expanded and now grows 14 varieties of apples, peaches, pears, and grapes, which they serve fresh, baked into pies and turnovers, and pressed into their award-winning wine. Of these libations, apple wine is the owners' specialty, and it ranges from the very dry—best paired with meat—to the cinnamon sweet—best paired with Halloween costumes.
In addition to fresh fruit, baked goods, and adult beverages, the farm boasts entertainment for kids and adults alike, including a playscape and a zorb ball, which is a 12-foot high hamster-ball-like contraption that guests climb inside to travel across an open 5-acre field.
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