“Two women friends and I want to do a weekend getaway in the next few weeks,” the note began. “Our wish list (though we can live without some of it) would be for a B&B or cabin, perhaps hot tub or access to a nearby spa, beautiful spot to walk, yummy restaurants and cool shops to browse.”
The email from Lynn Danielson of Madison arrived at an opportune time. ’Tis the season to consider a getaway with girlfriends, particularly if “November” means “deer hunting” in your household.
The hunt for a fun overnight can encompass many moods, directions and price ranges. Size up these possibilities.
Appleton. Several motels offer room discounts, shuttles to the Fox River Mall or other incentives at www.foxcities.org. Not on the list but worthy of attention: Copperleaf Boutique Hotel downtown; check out Girls Night Out at www.copperleafhotel.com/packages.phtml.
The Copperleaf is pricier than many competitors but good value. Girls Night Out, roughly $175 per person for a foursome, includes an hour of spa services per person, a hot breakfast and the makings for a private Happy Hour. An easy walk away is Lombardi’s Steakhouse, The History Museum’s extensive Houdini exhibit and boutique shopping (check out unpredictable Sparkadoodles).
For an outdoorsy fix, head to High Cliff State Park, which overlooks Lake Winnebago.
Door County. Chef Janice Thomas will customize a class for foodies, or sign up for one of the sessions already on her docket at Savory Spoon Cooking School, Ellison Bay. Class topics, such as Holiday Candy Making on Nov. 29, are listed at www.savoryspoon.com.
In Sister Bay, chef Terri Milligan teaches one floor above her scrumptious fine dining restaurant, The Inn at Kristofer’s. Coming Nov. 29: Tis the Season, a holiday cooking demo and luncheon. See www.innatkristofers.com.
Where to stay? Lodging discounts are commonplace at this time of year, dubbed the Quiet Season. Peruse www.doorcounty.com. Also expect less elbowing at the shops that remain open, and near-total tranquility at four nearby state parks: Newport, Peninsula, Potawatomi and Whitefish Dunes.
Mineral Point. Lovers of artwork and history gravitate to this pretty and welcoming Cornish community. The entire lead mining town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Shake Rag Alley Art Center, where the oldest buildings have been lovingly preserved, presents art workshops during much of the year (check the schedule at www.shakeragalley.com).
Also in the Shake Rag area are two Mousehole Apartments, each two bedrooms and perfect for late-night gabbing. See www.mineralpointlodging.com. A more remote option: Maple Wood Lodge, a three-bedroom log cabin on a private and 26-acre nature preserve; see www.maplewoodlodge.com.
Meander through art galleries and studios. Kick back with a tap of Kristal Weiss at the Brewery Creek brew-pub, then order pickled herring, a walnut burger, Horseradish Cream Steak or other appetizing options. For a traditional Cornish pasty (meat pie), head to the Red Rooster Café, but save room for figgyhobbin (a Cornish raisin-nut dessert). For more: www.mineralpoint.com.
Princeton. Inventive shopkeepers operate under the radar in this Green Lake County community of 1,500 residents. Some are inspired by the success of native Tracy Porter, whose home furnishing and clothing/accessory designs appear in Target and Neiman Marcus nationwide.
Embellished, The Green Willow, daiseye and Amish House are among the stores that fill beautiful old buildings on Water Street. Some places abbreviate hours of operation until spring. For more: www.princetonwi.com.
Pick up Viennese pastry at Renard’s European Bakeshop, or lunch on a spicy New Orleans Muffaletta sandwich at Once in a Blue Moon. Head 10 miles east, to Green Lake’s Grey Rock Restaurant, for fine dining. Also at the Heidel House Resort (www.heidelhouse.com) is Evensong Spa, whose indoor labyrinth and peaceful views of woods and wildlife make for a relaxing place to spend the day.
To soak up more of the natural world, book a room at the intimate, family-run Mecan River Outfitters and Lodge, near Princeton. Outside the cozy log building are 10 miles of pristine hiking/skiing trails. For more: www.mecanriveroutfitters.com.
Wisconsin Dells. If you can visit between Sunday and Thursday, Sundara Spa has an excellent overnight rate of $249 for a “lifestyle villa,” a roomy condo with soothing décor that sleeps eight. It’s a great way to taste luxury but adhere to a tight budget; prepare your own gourmet meal in the villa’s huge, modern kitchen.
See Girlfriends’ Getaways at www.sundaraspa.com/promotions/girlfriend.html. Price includes breakfast and access to Sundara fitness and spa areas, where a steamy outdoor pool stays open all year.
The best shopping outlet is the Tanger Factory Outlet Center. Get back to nature by heading to Devil’s Lake State Park. For more: www.wisdells.com.
After severe flooding in June, I wrote about the friendly and unconventional Roxbury Tavern, a rural Dane County oasis that is off of Hwy. 12 and a couple of miles from the Wisconsin River. I look forward to signing books there from 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14. The band Mud Music plays from 5-7 p.m.
Check out www.midwestfeatures.com for other book signing events.
Causes Mary Bergin Supports
First Unitarian Society of Madison
Wisconsin Public Radio
REAP (Research, Education, Action & Policy on) Food Group