One of my mom’s favorite day trips from Chicago is to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It’s only about an hour and a half to two hours to get there so we drove up with the Joson family, with a few stops along the way.
Our first stop was to Racine, WI where we visited family owned Bendsten’s Bakery to pick up a Danish pastry called a Kringle. It is oblong shape, sweet, and flaky, and can be filled with various fillings and toppings. We opted for a caramel pecan one (as we were told it’s one of the more popular flavors.) The Kringle is known as the Wisconsin state pastry, and brought to Racine by Danish settlers many years ago.
We took our Kringle with us to the coast to Wind Point Light House, one of the oldest and tallest light houses on the Great Lakes. We enjoyed a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan, and savored our Kringle in the garden overlooking the water. Mason and I enjoyed playing on the rocks lining the shore, while my younger sister and Mason’s sister enjoyed playing in the sand.
Our next stop was to Milwaukee where we visited the Milwaukee public market during lunch. It reminds me a bit of the Ferry Building in San Francisco, however, more shops and little restaurant stalls. One of the things on our ‘to do’ list was to sample Wisconsin cheese, and that we did! We enjoyed fried cheese curds, for each cheese curds, grilled cheese, and tomato soup. You could say we definitely had our fill!
With our bellies full, we decided to walk off our cheese samplings with a tour at Pabst Mansion. It was the home of German born Frederick Pabst, founder of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. He actually actually inherited the company from his father in law to which he changed it to his namesake. Walking around the house was interesting as the decor is from that time period, so intricate and full of detail. The wallpaper was even hand painted– that’s how much money these people had! There was a separate staircase, living space, as well as dining area for the help. It just shows how different times used to be. My favorite places of the house was this pink room, which was very feminine and someplace Mrs. Pabst would entertain her friends. This was a woman’s only space, very pink, gold and lavish in decor, and somewhere women would have tea or chit chat (wearing those huge uncomfortable looking dresses and petticoats!)
We rounded off our day trip to Wisconsin with a quick stop at Basilica St. Josephat. It is one of 82 minor basilicas found in the United States. It is modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and has one of the largest copper domes in the world. It is a great example of Polish style church architecture found around the Great Lakes, and is designated as a historical place in Milwaukee.
You’d think after a day trip to Wisconsin, we would’ve had our fill on historical places to see and things to do. Nope! The near two hour drive back to Chicago was prime nap time, giving us a moment to recharge and squeeze in a couple more sites in Chicago.
We started off at the Cloudgate sculpture, more famously known as “the bean.” It is a public installation created by Indian born British artist, Anish Kapoor. The nickname stems from the bean like shape of the enormous reflective sculpture, and is a popular spot for taking taking photos. If you stand in just the right spot, you could take an amazing photo with the Chicago skyline right behind you! My sisters and I enjoy standing directly under the bean, and projecting our voices, hearing it echo in different ways depending on where you point your voice.
Since we were so close to Maggie Daley Park (literally a stone’s throw away,) we had to share it with Mason and his family. It has truly become one of my family’s treasured spots! We spent so much time at the huge pirate playground, climbing and creating our own parkour paths, imagining every type of world our minds took us. It was so fun to get “lost” in our imaginations together.
Since we had worked up quite an appetite, another deep dish pizza trial was in order. We decided to try out Giordano’s this time around as its one of the deep dish pizza contenders known in Chicago. Our verdict? Lou Malnati’s is the real winner! The defining factor? The crust makes it amazing (although we do give Giordano’s some credit with their inventive toppings.)