"Wisconsin-Happy Festival State", by Eve Phillips. My husband and I love to travel in the state of Wisconsin where we live and get great pictures on the way. My name is Laurie Kutil and photography has become a great passion of mine since 2010. One thing I have learned in researching each town before visiting it is that, "Every town has it's story". When I do uncover those stories by connecting with local residents, our experience becomes so much richer. In turn, sharing the stories with you brings me joy :)
We were too early for the blueberries, but not too early for the hospitality of this friendly community and other visitors in the area. We began our morning in the nearby Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The staff there are exceptional and were clearly enthusiastic about being there.
Just before we finished our tour I asked where a good place for lunch would be in Paradise. They said without hesitation, The Berry Patch Bakery and Restaurant. They knew about the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” song by Jimmy Buffett and took advantage of that by selling t-shirts. I got one!
Let’s explore the businesses downtown while we are here. See all businesses listed in the Chamber of Commerce.
Sadly it was time to leave Michigan but we weren’t leaving without seeing as much as we could on our way to Crivitz, WI. This was our route through the U.P.
It was a real thrill crossing the Mackinac Bridge for the first time. The agency charged with the upkeep of the bridge and safety of people crossing is theMackinac Bridge Authority. They have offices in both St. Ignace and Mackinaw City.
There is a $4.00 toll payable on the St. Ignace side, which helps pay for maintenance and professional drivers. They drive people across the bridge in bad conditions or if you have a fear of bridges. Tune your radio to 530 or 1610 AM to hear a broadcast on bridge conditions. If there are good conditions, you hear a welcoming message to the Upper Peninsula (U.P.).
The sunrise was beautiful as we crossed the bridge. I apologize for not having a video of that, the camera was misbehaving. Enjoy these photos of our crossing though!
We left Mackinaw City about 6 AM to have breakfast at the St. Ignace Truck Stop. First though, we could not resist a selfie at the Big Boy next door! Next time we will eat there.
The truck stop was great too, still glad we stopped there.
After breakfast we continued on, passing what I thought was a lighthouse the day before. We found out that it was a lookout tower attraction, $1.00 admission as part of a souvenir store called Curio Fair. Maybe we can stop there on our next visit.
We also drove by Castle Rock, we didn’t stop this time.
We continue on, our next stop is the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Paradise. Here we saw MANY great displays, including one dedicated to the Edmund Fitzgerald. Gordon Lightfoot’s song “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” figured prominently here.
They knew about the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” song by Jimmy Buffett and took advantage of that by selling t-shirts. I got one!
We also enjoyed talking to some of the other patrons eating there. One couple we met suggested visiting Tahquamenon Falls State Park to see the waterfalls. The day pass was $9.00 to be able to see both falls. We took them up on their suggestion and did go after lunch. We ran into them there too! The falls were beautiful and were worth the visit. We went to the Upper Falls first.
And now the Lower Falls.
Lets see both falls in action!
By this time it was 3:40 PM and it was time to move on. We passed through other communities on our way to Crivitz.
We have reached the entry into the U.P., Menominee. This is how we will enter Michigan on a return trip and skip the car ferry. We discovered we could get to St. Ignace in a day from Madison by entering Michigan from here. Menominee also has a well-stocked Welcome Center to pick up literature on ALL of Michigan. We actually visited Menominee on our way home, also the last lighthouse we saw.
We arrived in Crivitz at about 7:30 PM. A long but fun day.
Headlands International Dark Sky Park is one of the few Dark Sky certified sites in the United States. If you can’t get here, this Light Pollution Map can help you find your local spot of darkness. We just went to see it in the day on our visit. It is open 24/7 365, free admission. Donations are happily accepted!
There are big things going on here, making this special park more accessible for workshops and events in the future. We could not see the whole park due to the new Observatory under construction right now, a telescope will be housed there and rooms for groups to gather.
We walked down to the shore where the sky viewing is located. To keep the skies dark, only red flashlights are allowed. We got our red LED flashlights from Ebay. Here is the Bortle Dark Sky Scale, the Headlands darkness levels can be found here.
Now to the shoreline!
After passing though the gap in the trees, we see the new Observatory building under construction. I look forward to seeing it completed next year!
Also this interesting structure I thought was another lighthouse. We found out the next day after we crossed that it was a lookout tower attraction, $1.00 admission as part of a souvenir store called Curio Fair. Maybe we can stop there on our next visit.
What a good time and we learned a lot about the early history at this crucial Straits of Mackinac Lighhouse. Stop in if you can!
Manistee is a city of 6,226 and is the county seat of Manistee County. We only a saw a little since we were just staying overnight here before going to Mackinaw City the next morning. It’s 25 minutes from Ludington and is of course, another port city. The sun was getting low since it was after 7:30 PM by this point. We did want to see the light house so we went to First Street Beach. Unfortunately, it was under wraps for some restoration work.
There was still plenty to see here, this is a beautiful park and even has a walking path that we saw many people using this evening.
There is also a beautiful marina here called Harbor Village and a Coast Guard station is located here as well.
On display to the right of the buildings.
Also a Lions Club concession stand and pavilion, complete with lion.
On the other side of the pavilion is a ship propeller and plaque. It was from the S.S. Glen. When I was walking around I saw Al looking at them, he appeared to be saluting. He actually was trying to block the setting sun while reading the plaque.
We were getting hungry and asked some passing walkers what would be a good place for dinner. Without hesitation they said T.J.’s Pub in the historic Ramsdell Inn downtown. Now I see how it got it’s slogan, “Victorian Port City”.
And here we are! What a beautiful building at the heart of downtown!
A few steps down and you are in! We had a great dinner in a relaxing setting at the end of the day. This crystal decanter reflected the light in the room beautifully. The french dip and chips hit the spot too.
What a great dinner, it was time to go to our hotel, Microtel not not far from here.
Also known as America’s Kringle Capital, Racine is one of the many beautiful Wisconsin Harbor Towns on the shore of Lake Michigan. We didn’t waste any time acquiring one of the delicious Danish pastry. We entered Racine on the west side and made our way to Bendtsen’s Bakery, providing Kringles to Racine for four generations, since 1934. We enjoyed the Turtle Kringle. They ship too!
Racine also has a statue unique to the state, if not the country. On the grounds of Gateway Technical College is a statue of Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd. It depicts them before he became President. Mary Todd had been in Racine in June 1867 to see Racine College, which had been recommended for her son Tad.
Racine Light Stations
A very important service protecting ships and boats on Lake Michigan for over 100 years. The one below is managed by the Coast Guard.
The Racine Reef Lighthouse is also equipped with a warning horn, protecting boaters from a limestone reef in the area. Here is what is sounds like.
Finding this Light (directions provided by terrypepper.com) “From I-94, take Hwy 20 east. Hwy 20 eventually becomes Washington Ave. Follow Washington Ave. to Hwy 32, and head north on Hwy 32. Turn right on Christopher Columbus Causeway, and follow around the marina until the road ends in a parking area. Walk the short distance to the lighthouse at the marina entrance.”
There is also an info board telling more about the light station.
Wind Point has a marker and a museum open during the summer.
We ate a meal at three restaurants and got a snack at another place during our visit. Lunch on Saturday was at Kewpie Lunch, open since the 1920’s. Yes, the theme is Kewpie Dolls. They have great food too!
We had dinner at Apple Holler, with a country theme. Lots of fun with many activities for kids and adults alike. Wonderful food there too.
On Sunday morning, we enjoyed brunch at Reefpoint Brew House, quite a nice menu there and a view of the Marina from the large windows.
Frank Lloyd Wright in Racine
He had a large presence in Racine, including company buildings. There is one house designed by him, the Hardy House. It’s located in the Southside Historic District.
Also Wingspread, which we took a free tour of! You have to book this tour in advance. S.C. Johnson and his family lived here originally. Due to high demand, we scheduled our tour about a month before our trip. You can also book a tour of SC Johnson Research Tower as well, they are just five miles apart. The tower looks beautiful at night! Book your tour(s) here.
Also on the site is the beautiful Golden Rondelle Theatre and Fortaleza Hall, where a Sikorsky S-38 amphibious aircraft is displayed.
We had been to Racine before, but it was all the way back in 1998, before we were married. We were very active scuba divers back then and we took a dive in the quarry here. We got a sketch of what you can find underwater in the quarry, facing north.
Across from Mound Cemetery (where we also visited), George Washington and other soldiers are honored. A cannon is also at the park.
At Mound Cemetery, we saw a marker commemorating Revolutionary War soldiers buried there.
Racine Harbor Park
Over by the lake and Marina, this park has a walking path along the lake, plus an elevated platform where you can see both the Breakwater light station, the other one across from it, and the Racine Reef lighthouse as well. You can eat at the Reefpoint Brew House too out by the Marina.
Near the Racine Zoo is another marker (2131 N. Main), describing the cream-colored brick that many of the buildings are built from.