I recently spent two days exploring Verona. This Ice Age Trail community is home to a beautiful section of the trail that takes you right past some amazing local businesses. While hiking, I stopped for some incredible food and took in the beautiful views. Here’s how to hike, dine, & drink local in Verona, WI!
I started my adventure at the Wesner Road trailhead. This parking lot is shared with the Prairie Moraine County Park - Dog Park. This off-leash dog park has trails that allow you to hike with your pup without a leash. This park makes for a great adventure within itself, but you can also jump onto the Verona Segment of the IAT. Going north, you get to hike in county parks and cross some hiking and biking trails. The segment is well marked and takes you through pretty prairies and wooded areas.
I hiked just over 4 miles north before stopping at Hodge Podge for a cocktail. This is one of the many businesses just steps from the trail that welcomes hikers. Hodge Podge is located just outside of a trail tunnel, and it was a perfect pit stop with their specialty coffees and craft cocktails. Their cocktail menu was so fun and unique, I just had to try one of their seasonal drinks. It was absolutely delicious! Highly recommend a hiking break for a little sip.
While sipping my delightful cocktail, I got to chatting with the bartender/barista, and she recommended that I check out AzTec Taqueria just a few doors down. I loved their a la cart taco selection–they were delicious and very affordable! After my tacos, I made the very short walk back to the trail, and it was with a full belly that I made my way back towards my car.
I finished my day with over 8.5 miles on the trail that felt like nothing thanks to my relaxing pit stops along the way. I kicked off my boots and decided it was time to sample a local brew. Lake Louie Brewing has a dog-friendly taproom that serves up some incredible beers! The space is so nice and allows you to see into the brewing facility, and their massive patio is very fun during the warmer months. I loved the Infinite Forms, a fruited sour that was absolutely delicious!
The beer hit the spot, and then it was time to check into the hotel and get cleaned up for dinner. I stayed at the Hyatt Place and loved it! My room was so clean and cozy, and I loved that it was pet friendly, had a pool and fitness center, and included a free breakfast. I got cleaned up and made my way to Stone Porch Alehouse for a fish fry.
Stone Porch is a beautiful brewpub with 24 beers on tap. I really enjoyed their French Onion soup as a starter. For my main course, I tried their fish fry. It came with 2 pieces of fried beer batter cod, cornbread, and a choice of two sides. The fish had a light batter that was very good. I chose green beans and seasoned fries as my sides–the portions were so large you couldn’t even tell I ate any of them! Overall, this meal was great. The large portions came at a great price point. I would love to go back and try some of their other specialties sometime. Refueled and excited for tomorrow’s adventure, I retreated back to the hotel and called it a night.
I started my day with breakfast at the hotel. There was an impressive selection of bagels, biscuits & gravy, pancakes, sausage, cereal, yogurt, fruit, and pastries. Everything was so good! I fueled up for another day of hiking. This time, I parked at the McKee Road trailhead, and my friends Alex and Victoria met me there! We decided to head north to do the Madison Segment first. It leads you out of town and through some prairie and wooded areas, but the highlight for me was arriving at University Ridge Golf Course. It was really cool to be hiking the IAT and, all of a sudden, be crossing a very beautiful golf course. We reached the end of the segment right around 3 miles before making our way back to the trailhead, for a total of 6 miles. The trailhead connects right to the Verona Segment, so we continued south to hike the parts of the Verona Segment I didn't see the day prior.
This section was also beautiful and showed off some lovely prairie. About 1.5 miles into the Verona segment, we decided we were ready for lunch. Draft House is just about a block from the trail, so we stopped there. This sports bar offered a variety of food, but we enjoyed the blackened fish tacos and the buffalo chicken dip the most! I highly recommend a stop if you’re looking for a trail side lunch in the area. We decided to head back to the car after lunch and ended with around 10 miles for the day.
After finishing up the hike, I decided to pop over to Epic. This software company is a destination within itself! Their free self-guided tours are offered 10-3 on weekends & 2:30-5 on weekdays. I checked out the campus for the first time this summer after it had been on my Wisconsin bucket list for so long, and it completely lived up to the hype! I spent an hour and a half walking almost 4 miles of their crazy campus and didn’t even see half of it! I walked through the Central Park Campus, Storybook Campus, and Wizards Academy Campus. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, be sure to explore the Wizards Campus–it is incredible!
There is so much to explore in Verona, Wisconsin, and I already can’t wait to go back. Whether you spend a full day exploring Epic, hiking, or just stop by for some great food, Verona has so much to offer!