Great Midwest Destinations – Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Great Midwest Destinations – Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Brian Biela

Great Midwest Destinations – Sheboygan, Wisconsin  

Summer is winding down and we are trying to get in some quick day or weekend trips.  Think about Sheboygan and what comes to mind?  Nothing?  Brats?  Small Midwestern city?  Rustbelt?  Harbor town?  Beach?  World-class golf?  Water park?  Art museum?  Epic food??   Surfing???

Sheboygan is all of these and is only a two-hour drive from Chicago and next door to a much more well-known spot – Kohler and the American Club.  Sheboygan is a place that beats to its own drummer and worthy of a trip of its own.  For years we kept our sailboat in Sheboygan and used it as a floating condo and got to know the town and area.  Even though we sold the boat about five years ago, we still make an annual pilgrimage to Sheboygan to visit old friends, shop and most importantly to eat. 

If you need your caffeine fix or a bite to eat, head over to the Weather Center for coffee, roasted by Collectivo in Milwaukee, breakfast or lunch.  To say this place is unique is an understatement, blend together a surf shack and a bakery and out comes the Weather Center with a California vibe.   Everything they offer is delicious.  We tend to get the smoothies, muffins or if we are hungry the breakfast burrito.  At lunch, the Neptune, a tuna salad sub, is a favorite. 

Back to the surfing, every Labor Day the city hosts a festival to start the surfing season.  Yes, most of us are packing up our summer gear and putting away our beach chairs but the surfers are just getting started.  As the weather begins to cool the waves begin to build and Sheboygan becomes the “Malibu of the Midwest.”   If you are going in summer, don’t expect huge waves but you can plan on great paddling and swimming at Deland Park.  You can rent surfboards, kayaks or standup paddles boards at EOS Sports. 

After the beach head up the hill to 8th Street.  This is the hub of Sheboygan where most of the restaurants and shops are located.  On Saturdays, the farmers market is held on 8th Street at Fountain Park where you can get local produce, fresh cheese and breads.  From there head south and be sure to stop by Nest to check out their home furnishings and accessories.   

As you continue your trek south, you will come across a building with a ship protruding from the side.   This is the Above & Beyond Children’s Museum.  Your little ones can play on the Whompamaphone,  go through the Sky Crawl and experiment with the wind tunnel.  We spent many a rainy day here when the boys were little. 

Across the street, art lovers can experience the John Michael Kohler Art Center for contemporary American Art and of course bathrooms.  Not any old bathrooms, but you will need to go there to learn more. 

By now you’ve worked up an appetite and it’s time to eat.  Sheboygan is one of the best kept culinary secrets that is anchored by Stefano Viglietti and his restaurant group.   

Il Ritrovo was the 194th certified restaurant in the world by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana.  What you may ask does that mean?  It means DELICIOUS PIZZA that is truly one of the best in the country.  This is a must-have for our family, in fact, we have been known to make a day trip just to eat here.  Yes, we are obsessed with food. 

If for some reason, we don’t want pizza.  I know, hard to imagine.  We will stop next door at Field to Fork, his café and grocery where they roast their own coffee and make their own bread.  A great choice for breakfast or lunch.  Or we will head down to the river to eat at Duke of Devon, an English gastropub for fish and chips or a burger.  From there wander along the river check out the fishing boats, both commercial and charter, stop in the stores or play a game of mini-golf. 

If you want to spend the night and feel like a splurge, head over to Kohler for a stay at the American Club.  Or if you, or more likely the kids, are in need of waterpark, Blue Harbor Resort is the place to be.  Or if camping next to the lake is more of your thing, there is Kohler-Andrea Park.