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Haley & Julia's Historic Road Trip

Haley & I at Wade House Historic Site

The state of Wisconsin has 11 sites that are deemed state historical sites. They are spread across the state and all transport you back to a specific time in Wisconsin’s history. They offer hands-on experiences, education on the state’s settlers’ pasts and ways of life, and really allow you step back in time. This August, my sister and I road tripped ~1,500 miles across the state of Wisconsin in 10 days to visit each historic site! Here are the details:

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May 2022

We were sitting at the iconic Tom’s Burned Down Cafe on Madeline Island, on our first sister trip of the summer, when Haley and I first started talking about trying to visit all of the state Historic Sites. We had just visited Madeline Island Museum for the very first time and were talking about my new Wisconsin Historical Society Membership. There were quite a few sites neither of us had been to, and we were thinking about trying to visit them all in a summer…or better yet…all of them in one trip.

As we continued exploring, the conversation of visiting all the sites came up a few more times. At the time, I was new to pursuing my passion of being a Wisconsin content creator. I have a deep passion for Wisconsin tourism, and I loved the idea of creating travel guides around the historic sites. I typically travel and adventure for the blog with my husband, Hayden, but this particular trip just felt perfect for my sister and me. Haley and I are both adventurous souls and love history so much. I couldn’t imagine doing this trip without her.

I started mentally mapping out the trip before we were even home from that sister trip, and we decided that next summer we were going to give it a shot. We were going to set out on a road trip to visit all 11 historic sites in one go!

The Plan

The more planning I did, the more I realized that this was going to be the biggest project I had ever attempted. There was so much to consider, the biggest thing being cost. How do we spend 10 days on the road promoting tourism and traveling 1,500 miles without going broke? Being a Wisconsin blogger, podcast host, and content creator, I knew this trip had so much potential. But I also knew I was going to need support. We were so lucky to get support from the Wisconsin Historical Society, Kwik Trip, Discover Whitewater, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Oakfire, The Gill Family–our aunt & uncle, Seagull Bay Motel, Bayfield Fruitloop Retreat, All Hands Sailing, Upper Mississippi River Lodging, Explore Cassville, Moon’s Town Pump, Culver’s, Mineral Point Hotel, and Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce. Thank you all so much for contributing to our trip!

This was the absolute trip of a lifetime, and I wouldn’t trade these experiences and memories for the world, but before you get the wrong idea…this trip did not make my sister and I rich and famous. We didn’t receive extensive paychecks, and we did this trip truly because we believe in the impact of the historic sites and wanted to help support the communities they’re in.

The Crew

Now before I get into this incredible 10 day trip, I need to take a moment to say thank you to my amazing sister, Haley Dolata. She is my best friend in the whole wide world and one of the very few people I could spend 10 days in the car with. Her passion for history, enthusiasm for every experience, excellent period outfits, and support she shows me everyday really made this trip special. Thank you, Haley! I love you so much, and I’m so lucky to have a sister that doubles as an adventure buddy.

I also need to take a moment to thank the site directors. Everyone at every site was so kind and really elevated this whole experience for us. A huge thank you to the directors who took time to meet us, show us behind the scenes, and go above and beyond to make sure we were able to experience as much as we could at each stop.

Lastly, I need to shout out Chris Michalski of Shark Attack Studios. Chris is an incredible drone pilot and videographer who shot some really cool footage for us at Old World Wisconsin. Thank you so much for all your work!

Now let’s get into it!

Day 1 - Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023 - Circus World & H.H. Bennett Studio

Our trip began in my hometown, Baraboo, WI. I am lucky enough to live just a 5 minute walk from Circus World Museum, so Haley and I strolled down there right when they opened. On this particular Wednesday, Baraboo had a projected high of 100 degrees, so Circus World was going to be closing early at 1pm. Despite the heat, Haley was dressed to impress in her ringmaster look. One thing to know about my sister is that she has an outfit for EVERYTHING! (We are so different in that way. I am always dressed for comfort and own the pieces I like in multiple colors. So this was completely her thing!) Even in the extreme heat, she was wearing her long sleeved costume with pants to the circus.

Circus World sits in the Ringling Brother’s original circus location and is a National Historic Landmark. These grounds were home to the Ringling Bros Circus from 1884-1918. You can stroll through the museum to learn all about the Ringling family and how the circus became a main form of entertainment in Wisconsin. In addition to the museum hall, you can explore the 7 original buildings, the circus train, and over 260 circus wagons!

We made our way through the hall, around the grounds, and looked at the wagons before making our way to a show under the Big Top. In the summer season, you can see a live circus performance under a real Big Top tent along the Baraboo River. This year’s show was “Go West” themed and packed full of good acts. We saw some incredible acrobats, a contortionist, and some impressive unicycling! It was an incredible start to our trip!

After the circus, we made the short trip to Downtown Baraboo to enjoy some lunch. We loved our meal at Brother’s on Oak–be sure to check out their daily specials! Downtown Baraboo is so charming and would make a great addition to any visit to Circus World Museum.

Our next stop and second historic site of the day was H.H. Bennett Studio in Downtown Wisconsin Dells to meet the man who made the Dells famous. H.H. Bennett Studio & Museum will take you back to a very different Wisconsin Dells. Rather than waterparks and tourist attractions, Bennett photographed the beautiful rock formations of the Wisconsin River, and his iconic photographs helped drive tourism to the area. You learn about his invention of the snapper–an invention that allowed action photos to be taken–and his relationship with the Ho-Chunk Nation. You can even recreate The Leap photo for yourself!

While we were there, Haley had the opportunity to get her tintype photo taken. This is an incredible experience that Hayden and I were able to do last summer, and I was so excited for Haley to do it too! Sitting in H.H. Bennett’s original 1875 studio, she got to get a photo ‘struck.’ This means the photo was taken on a metal sheet and developed right before our eyes. It’s an incredible piece to have displayed in your home, and I can’t recommend it enough!

After exploring H.H. Bennett Studio, we made the drive from Wisconsin Dells to Whitewater, where we got some dinner at Second Salem Brewing. We were lucky to be there on their wing night and snagged an amazing deal! They often offer daily specials and happy hours specials. Second Salem has great beers in addition to their full menu. There’s Beast of Bray Road, Apparition, and a bunch of others with spooky names–an ode to Whitewater’s eerie history!

After a day in the heat, we were feeling exhausted and were so excited to check into our room at Fairfield Inn & Suites. The hotel is so nice and offers free breakfast, a workout room, and a pool. The big perk for us after such a hot day was definitely the nice, spa-like shower to rinse off in before calling it a night!

Day 2 - Thursday, August 24th, 2023 - Black Point Estate & Gardens

We enjoyed our hot breakfast at Fairfield Inn & Suites before making the half hour drive into Lake Geneva. We were very excited to go to Black Point Estate! It was again very hot (by the end of our tour there was a 112 degree heat index) and again Haley had an outfit. She wore a long sleeved, high necked dress and somehow did not pass out or melt! Something cool and unique about visiting Black Point Estate & Gardens is that you have to get there by boat. Tickets are booked through Lake Geneva Boat Tours and they take you on a narrated boat ride out to the mansion. It’s a fascinating ride learning about the interesting history of the area and the massive homes on the lake.

Upon arrival to Black Point, you have to make your way up 100 stairs to the 1888 Victorian mansion. A guided tour will take you through the first two floors of the 13 bedroom summer cottage that once belonged to the Chicago Beer Baron, Conrad Seipp. You can see some of the original furnishings along with additions from later generations and learn how the family lived. In addition to the home, the grounds are also stunning and really give you insight to a lavish summer on Geneva Lake.

We took the morning tour, so our boat left at 10:30am and we returned at 2pm. By the time we got back, we were hungry for lunch and ready to escape the heat for a little bit. We had lunch at Oakfire, a Wisconsin chain with amazing pizza. They’re located so close to the boat dock and have a wonderful patio overlooking the lake. We started with the yummy fried ravioli before sharing a pizza and the meatball sub for lunch. Everything was remarkable! We left so full and can’t wait to go back and try more!

Our last stop in Lake Geneva was Topsy Turvy Brewery. This super cute brewery is right in Downtown Lake Geneva and is in an old church! They have beautiful stained glass windows in the taproom and a massive patio. We enjoyed a beer before making our way back to Whitewater.

On our way back to Whitewater, we stopped at Staller Estate Winery for a flight on their lovely property. There’s a nice patio and they also have wine and chocolate pairings and fun snack plates to enjoy. After our tastings, we made our way back to town to check out some of the spooky spots that gave Whitewater the nickname Second Salem before going to dinner at Fanatico.

Fanatico is located right downtown and serves up massive, delicious portions of Italian food. You’ll leave stuffed, but still be sure to grab one of their beautiful slices of cheesecake to-go! It was with extremely full bellies that we retreated back to our cozy room at Fairfield Inn & Suites for the night. The pool was calling my name after another day in 100+ degree temps, and I was ready for some rest.

Day 3 - Friday, August 25th, 2023 - Old World Wisconsin

We woke up early to be sure we were at Old World Wisconsin nice and early to shoot some fun clips with Shark Attack Studios. We were planning to check out Center Street Cafe, but because we had an early start time, we got goodies from Sweet Spot Cafe. They have amazing pastries and coffee beverages.

Growing up in Mukwonago, WI, Old World Wisconsin is the site Haley and I are most familiar with. We went there for our fourth grade field trip and have gone back many times as adults. We consider ourselves Old World superfans! Needless to say, we were stoked for this day. Haley was ready to go with an 1800s farm look complete with a bonnet. The shoot with Shark Attack went great, and when the grounds opened for the day, we couldn’t have been more excited!

Old World Wisconsin is a living history museum that truly has something for everyone. You get to travel back to the 1800s and see the way European immigrants lived and farmed during Wisconsin’s early history. You can learn about cooking over a wood stove, spinning wool into thread, and different chores that would need to be done as well as stroll through the beautiful gardens. There are also hands-on demonstrations to check out– see work being done at the black smith, ride a high-wheel tricycle, and even sample historic beers in the brewhouse! One of my favorite things about Old World is that each time I visit, there seems to be more to do and see. The property is massive and the daily activities change with the season. Be sure to check out seasonal events like Legends & Lore, Home for the Holidays, and Historic Apprentice Workshops to see the site in full action during each season!

On this particular visit, we learned about canning melons, played games in the yard, and took a lesson at the school house before making our way to the Brewhouse for a historic sample in addition to a pint of a collaborative beer made with a local brewery.

After our visit to Old World Wisconsin, we made our way to Port Washington for some family time. When I was unable to secure lodging for us near Wade House, Haley called up our Aunt Kathleen and asked her if we could stay at their home in Mequon. She did us one better and let us stay on their beautiful boat in the Port Washington Marina! We got some extended family together for a grill out, a boat ride, and some dessert at the adorable Frankie’s Ice Cream. It was such a relaxing evening before getting rocked to sleep by Lake Michigan!

Day 4 - Saturday, August 26th, 2023 - Wade House & Reed School

We woke up on Saturday nice and refreshed and ready to take on the day! Which was definitely for the best because we were about to have a long day. We started by making our way north with a pit stop at Sunday Dough, a Sheboygan doughnut shop I had been wanting to check out for quite some time. We grabbed some sweet treats to fuel us up for our adventures in Greenbush.

Wade House is a stagecoach inn that was built in the mid 1800s. It was a popular pit stop for people traveling from Sheboygan to Fond du Lac. The inn’s grounds are quite large and also feature a blacksmith, turbine powered sawmill, garden, and livestock. You can tour the inn, see the blacksmith at work, and watch the sawmill in action!

When we arrived at the Wade House Visitor Center, we learned that they take visitors out to the inn via horse drawn wagon. But we received special treatment…we got to ride out to the site in an actual stagecoach! It was so much fun and made us feel like we were traveling on a plank road the way people would have traveled to the Wade House in the 1850s! Haley was even dressed like she could have been a guest at the inn. When we arrived at the historic Wade House inn, we started a tour with our guide, Susan, who was a wealth of knowledge and answered all our questions. We were shown the guest rooms, the taproom, the kitchen, and the garden. Wade House was a popular place for people to stop for a meal on their travels and the site still offers tickets to Hearthside Dinners. I would love to go back for one of those events!

Next we went to see the blacksmith. Tim, the blacksmith interpreter, was so knowledgeable and showed us examples of tools a blacksmith at the time would have made. We also got to participate in a blacksmith workshop and make a piece of our own! After that, we made our way over to the turbine powered saw mill. The mill can still be run today off of turbine power and it’s wild to see it in action! After taking the stagecoach back to the Visitor’s Center, our last stop was The Carriage Museum. You can see nearly 100 carriages and vehicles from 1870-1915!

Our short time at Wade House was so much fun! So many smiles and so many memories made!

From Greenbush, we headed to Neillsville and had some lunch on our way. Neillsville sits in Clark County in west central Wisconsin and is home to Reed School. This early 1900s one room schoolhouse represents the 6,000+ schools that once covered Wisconsin where all grades studied in the same room. You can learn about the lesson subjects and the strict rules female teachers had to follow, take a seat in class, and check out some historic school supplies.

Haley was dressed as a school kid in yet another bonnet! We explored the museum in the basement as well as took a seat at the teacher's desk. We loved learning about how this school was so impactful to one student that he went through all the measures to preserve it.

After our time at Reed School, we continued to make our way north. We made one last pit stop at Copper Falls State Park to stretch our legs. We did the Doughboys trail and loved it! We then closed out our 400+ mile day upon arriving in Bayfield at Seagull Bay Motel. Seagull Bay is so cute, sits right on Lake Superior, and has some incredible views. Our room was very nice and had a beautiful mural on one full wall. It had been a long day, and we went to bed almost instantly!

Day 5 - Sunday, August 27th, 2023 - Madeline Island Museum

We were a little slow to get moving on this Sunday morning, but we were very excited to be back in Bayfield and traveling back to Madeline Island where our whole vision for this trip began! We decided to do some exploring on the mainland during the day since the restaurant we wanted to check out after Madeline Island Museum didn’t open until 5pm.

We started our afternoon at Apfelhaus Cidery. We shopped at their farm store before sitting on their beautiful deck, sipping our glasses of cider while enjoying the views of Lake Superior. These ciders were so good!–full of flavor and not overly sweet.

Our next stop was Copper Crow Distillery. This distillery is the first Native-owned distillery, and they serve up some remarkable cocktails. They have a pretty outdoor space and covered patio and an impressive selection of spirits. We tried a variety of drinks and were impressed by them all!

Next, we boarded the ferry to Madeline Island. Haley was once again dressed for the occasion, this time in a racoon tail hat. Our first stop on the Island was the Madeline Island Museum. This historic site celebrates all of the people that have called the island home. They highlight the Ojibwe and all other Native people that have called the island home for hundreds of years prior to the European settlers arriving.

While we were there, the museum had a spectacular art show highlighting the work of Anishinaabe women. It was a moving and incredible installation of 2D & 3D pieces. There were paintings with beadwork, sculptures, and more unique multimedia pieces. After the show, we walked through the old part of the museum to see some original structures and artifacts that were moved there from around the island and learned a bit more about the European settlers and Wisconsin’s fur trading history.

After leaving the museum, we walked over to Miijim for dinner. This was one of the best meals I had ever had! Miijim is an indigenous restaurant that serves modern Ojibwe Medicine with French soul in the form of small plates. We loved getting to share plates because it allowed us to try more things and everything we had was amazing! I highly recommend adding Miijim to your bucket list! I cannot wait to go back there with Hayden.

After that fantastic meal, our lovely friend from All Hands Sailing was able to give us a ride back to the mainland. With limited wind we go to sit back, relax, and take in the Lake Superior sunset and moonlit views. Sailing on the National Lakeshore is such a wonderful experience! We then retreated back to our cozy room at Seagull Bay Motel and called it another really good day!

Day 6 - Monday, August 28th, 2023 - “Rest” Day

I was having so much fun on the trip so far, but I was ready for our day off and getting caught up on some of the behind the scenes work. We checked out of Seagull Bay Motel and made our way to Downtown Bayfield. We started with a caffeinated beverage at Wonderstate Coffee–a Wisconsin chain with great vibes and good drinks. We put our heads down and got some work done before heading to lunch at Morty’s Pub. Morty’s is located right in Downtown Bayfield and has great sandwiches. After lunch, we drove up to Bayfield Winery where we sat outside and sipped a glass of wine while getting even more work done. The outdoor space was so nice and relaxing!

Then it was time to check into our rental for the night, Bayfield Fruitloop Retreat. This beautiful Airbnb is so close to Bayfield and set in the most peaceful wooded area. They have lots of windows and an amazing deck to relax on. I loved the outdoor dining area and nice gas fireplace. I would love to go back and stay here in the fall! I got back to work and enjoyed such a peaceful setting on our ‘rest’ day.

Day 7 - Tuesday, August 29th, 2023 - Drive From Bayfield to Cassville: Wisconsin’s Great River Road

We go up early to start our 400+ mile drive from Bayfield to Cassville. I had planned to take the Great River Road and make a few pit stops along the way. So while we weren’t taking the quickest route, we were taking the fun route! Our first stop, after almost four hours of driving, was Willow River State Park. I had been wanting to see these falls for years, and I can confidently say, they lived up to the hype! They are big and beautiful and you can wade out into ankle deep water at several points. It was a great way to stretch our legs after a long morning in the car.

Our next stop was the legendary Stockholm Pie and General Store. A visit to Stockholm was on my 2023 bucket list, so I was thrilled to get to check it out. In 2022, Stockholm was voted the coziest town in America, and I couldn’t wait to see it for myself. Stockholm Pie is a very famous stop along the Great River Road, and for good reason–the double lemon pie that made them famous is to die for! I loved every single bite. We were bummed our stop had to be so brief, but we had to get back on the road to continue down Highway 35.

Stop #3 was also a place I had been dreaming about visiting for years. Villa Bellezza is one of the highest ranked wineries in the Midwest. It’s absolutely beautiful and you feel as if you’ve been transported right to Italy. I can’t wait to go back and spend more time in the Lake Pepin area, but even this quick stop felt like a dream come true! Villa Bellezza has great wines, an incredible outdoor dining area–the Piazza, and an onsite restaurant.

We then hit about a two hour stretch on the Great River Road before stopping at Culver’s. As if this road trip wasn’t historic enough…Haley and I tried our very first Butterburgers on this pit stop. How embarrassing that at 26 and 29, after living our whole lives in Wisconsin, neither of us had ever had a Butterburger?! We are big Culver’s fans, but until this trip, we were strictly chicken tender girls. Needless to say, the Butterburgers were delicious! We also got some custard to enjoy on our next 45 minute stretch of Highway 35.

Our last pit stop of the day was Wyalusing State Park–another place I was very excited to cross off my Wisconsin Bucket List. This park has a remarkable overlook that presents stunning views of the Mississippi River Valley. I would have loved to spend more time hiking and exploring, but we just took in the views for a moment before jumping back into the car and continuing to make our way south.

We finally made it to Cassville, and I was so excited to be back! I love this little town and was so happy we were going to get to spend two nights there at the amazing Upper Mississippi River Lodging. This was my second time staying there, and it is so nice and cozy! There's a full kitchen, a very comfortable living space, multiple outdoor patios, and a lovely clawfoot tub. We settled in comfortably and grabbed a pizza at Tway’s Lighthouse right up the street before calling it a night.

Day 8 - Wednesday, August 30th, 2023 - Villa Louis

I woke up so happy to be in Cassville! In addition to being in one of my favorite towns, I was going to see my husband for the first time in a week that afternoon! Haley and I woke up extra early to make a quick detour. We made the 40 minute drive into Dubuque, Iowa, so that I could finally shop at The Midwest Girl store in person! The store was better than I imagined it would be and the attention to detail was remarkable. Huge thank you to my sister for buying me a few birthday presents and Marissa for gifting us both some adorable new goodies. I love this brand so much!

When we made our way back to Cassville, I was welcomed with the biggest hug and smile from Hayden, who was in town for work. And I finally got to check out Neighborhood Slush for the first time! This adorable wine bar is a great addition to Cassville. They host fun events, make great boozy and NA slushies, and provide a great atmosphere to hangout and chat. I got a mimosa and Haley tried out the self-serve wine machines. We were getting hungry, so we made our way over to JJ’s Sandbar for some lunch. Hayden got the largest Reuben sandwich I have ever seen and Haley and I enjoyed the daily special, pot pie over biscuits. JJ’s has such big portions for great prices!

It was then time for us to make our way up to Prairie du Chien to visit our next historic site, Villa Louis. It was about a 40 minute drive to the National Historic Landmark. Villa Louis was built over 150 years ago in 1871 for the Dousman Family, a Wisconsin dynasty who were the state’s first millionaires. The home itself is Italian style, but it’s made with Milwaukee’s iconic Cream City bricks. This super luxurious home is incredible! The art collection, detailed furniture, and fancy wallpaper bring a level of elegance we didn’t see at any other site. The site is about 25 acres and includes several historic structures from other moment’s in Prairie du Chien’s long history, including Wisconsin’s only battlefield from the War of 1812.

We took a guided tour with Joe, who was exceptional! He was so knowledgeable and told us so many detailed stories about the Dousman family. He kept us entertained and engaged and pointed out so many pieces in the home. I was fascinated to learn that they still use the Victorian kitchen for events–I would love to go back to dine at one of their Victorian Breakfasts or Christmas teas.

After our tour and exploring the grounds, we made our way back to Cassville with a quick stop at Nelson Dewey State Park. Haley had never been before, and I was excited to show her another great view of the Mighty Mississippi! We made our way back to town to enjoy dinner at Moon’s Town Pump. This restaurant is a must for me everytime I visit Cassville! The portions are huge and everything is delicious. If you happen to be in town on a Saturday, the prime rib sandwich is a must! With very full bellies, we called it a night.

Day 9 - Thursday, August 31st, 2023 - Stonefield & First Capitol

We were sad to check out of the lovely Upper Mississippi River Lodging, but we were excited to visit Stonefield! Stonefield was the name Wisconsin’s first governor, Nelson Dewey, gave to his estate in Cassville. The original house burned down, but you can visit the home that was built in its place, and it’s staged to match the time period that Dewey would’ve lived there. Haley and I took the tour of the home and learned that Dewey’s major impact as governor was creating the Wisconsin State Seal. We also got to see a 1901 farmstead and stroll the replica 1900s farming village to explore all the shops, the saloon, and even the jail! I loved that you could enter each “business” and see all of the props. We also took a walk through the Agricultural Museum and learned about how our state became America’s Dairyland!

We broke up the under one hour drive with a quick lunch at the Potosi Saloon on our way to Belmont. Everything was delicious and the building itself has a fascinating history–at one point it was a bank and you can still see the old safe! Belmont is home to Wisconsin’s First Capitol. Even though Madison has been that state capitol a long time, Wisconsin’s first 40 laws were made in Belmont! (The most important being the decision to make Madison the new capitol.) There are two original structures on site that we explored: one was the Council House where the legislative sessions took place, and the other was the Court House that accommodated the visiting legislators. There is a self guided tour and the exhibits teach you about the important people from Wisconsin’s beginnings and the decisions they made in these buildings.

Please note that First Capitol is open seasonally and typically only open on the weekends. Huge thank you to the site director, Bethany, for allowing us to visit on an off day for our road trip!

After our stop at First Capitol, we made the 15 minute drive to Downtown Mineral Point. The city of Mineral Point was the first city listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971…and for good reason! It is full of beautiful buildings, fascinating history, adorable shops, and great restaurants. We checked into Mineral Point Hotel, a stunning boutique hotel in the heart of Downtown Mineral Point. We enjoyed exploring all of the adorable shops before heading to Popolo for dinner. They had a vast selection of delicious wood fired pizzas to choose from. With full bellies, we retreated back to the splendid hotel patio to get some work done before turning in for the night.

Day 10 - Friday, September 1st, 2023 - My 27th Birthday - Pendarvis

Mineral Point claims to be the most Cornish town in America, and we woke up excited to learn more about that history at Pendarvis! Having been to Mineral Point before, I knew that Red Rooster Cafe in Downtown serves pasties, a traditional Cornish fare, so we decided to head there for breakfast first thing. Their breakfast was delicious and we were excited to learn that they have been serving pasties daily since the 1970s! You can even purchase a frozen one and take it home to bake. We had a little more time to kill before Pendarvis opened, so we stopped into Cafe 43 for a birthday mimosa!

Pedarvis is located just a 10 minute walk from Downtown Mineral Point, and upon arrival, we could not believe that we had made it to our 11th site! It felt surreal, and we agreed it was the perfect ending to our trip since neither of us had been there before.

Pendarvis takes you through some amazing stone buildings that were originally built by Cornish immigrants who came to Mineral Point to mine lead and then later zinc in the early 1800s. We learned about the importance of lead mining in Wisconsin and how we got the name The Badger State. I was fascinated to learn how Bob Neal and Edgar Hellum saved and restored the buildings we were standing in. They took the mining history of the area and turned it into a tourism destination by turning one of the restored buildings into a high demand restaurant that served traditional Cornish pasties!

Another fun take away from our time with Bethany, the site director of First Capitol and Pendarvis, was learning about the Kathleen Ernst novels. This mystery series takes place in Wisconsin and some of the books even take place at the state historic sites, including one at Pendarvis. I have already finished the first 2 books of the 11 book series in a week! I am so thankful she recommended these books to us!

There is so much to see in Mineral Point, so we had to make one last stop before ending the trip. Our grand finale was the American Wine Project, a unique Wisconsin winery. The space is beautiful and the patio is perfect for sipping a glass on a nice fall day. These wines aren’t super fruity like you see at other wineries in the state, but rather have more traditional, bold flavors–which I loved!

From Mineral Point, we headed back to my house in Baraboo, and that was a wrap on our Historic Road Trip!

Where to next?

This was truly a trip of a lifetime. And I don’t say that lightly. I learned so much, got to cross so many places off of my Wisconsin bucket list, and made some great memories with my sister. I feel like I keep getting asked the same question: “Would you do it again?” My answer is yes and no…I hope to visit the sites many more times, but just not all in one road trip.

I hope to continue to learn about the state’s history, expand on our travel guides and recommendations, and experience the incredible events that the sites put on. Most importantly, I hope to encourage others to explore the sites and the fabulous Wisconsin communities they are in.

These travel guides are based on my personal experiences. Please let me know if you have any questions or want more area recommendations by connecting with me here!

Heading to a site? Using one of our guides? Please tag us on social media @ThatWisconsinCouple


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