Grab a cup of locally brewed coffee, and let's explore some of the best things to do in West Bend, Wisconsin.
Discover Enigmatic History at Lizard Mound State Park
You should have seen the excitement in my kids' eyes when we set foot in Lizard Mound State Park for our weekend adventure.
This park, the newest addition to Wisconsin's state parks, is an absolute gem hiding in plain sight.
As we began our journey on the 1-mile loop, the looming mounds seemed to transport us back in time.
The mounds are not just simple hills, they are an entire history lesson wrapped in nature's embrace.
The signage around the park gives a fascinating insight into their origins and significance, making the walk not just a physical but also an intellectual exercise.
The shapes of the mounds left us intrigued and had us wishing we had stopped by the gazebo first to get an overview before delving into the mystery of the mounds.
The park isn't just about the mounds, though.
Along the trail, we found ourselves amongst raspberry bushes, offering a sweet surprise to our little excursion.
Despite being a historical site of such importance, Lizard Mound State Park was surprisingly not crowded - a perfect place for a serene day out with the family.
I'm eager to see how the state will upgrade this park in the future.
But for now, it's a beautiful piece of Wisconsin's past that is waiting to be explored.
Pamper Yourself at Hidden Serenity Bed and Breakfast
You know, there's not much that compares to the tranquility of a weekend escape to Hidden Serenity Bed and Breakfast.
Nestled among the woods, this charming, country-chic B&B offers the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure.
From the moment you pull into the grounds, you're welcomed with a sense of peace and serenity.
The hosts are the friendliest people you'll ever meet, and they have a knack for making you feel right at home.
Whether you're in for a relaxing spa treatment or ready to hit their private trails, Hidden Serenity Bed and Breakfast always makes your experience remarkable.
Ah, their rooms! They're just so cozy and comfortable.
The view of the forest from the balcony is simply serene, making you forget all about the stress of daily life.
And the best part? You wake up to the most delicious breakfast you could ever imagine.
Oh, and if you're up for it, don't miss their evening bonfire.
It's the perfect way to end the day, especially after a good game at their tennis court.
The charm of Hidden Serenity lies in these little details and the way Sally and Chris make sure everything is perfect.
It's no wonder I can't wait to make my next reservation!
It truly is a gem in our community and a reason to plan a staycation.
Hidden Serenity has everything you need for a wonderful, relaxing getaway right in our own backyard.
Play Balls at Ridge Run Park East
Ever since I moved to the neighborhood, Ridge Run Park East has always been my sanctuary.
A place where the heart skips a beat, not out of fear, but in awe of the beauty that engulfs it.
This breathtaking park never fails to amaze me with its abundant amenities - a fun playground, vast sports fields, scenic trails, and even a fishing spot!
My family and I have spent countless hours here, playing, running, fishing, and just enjoying each other's company.
Our dog, Daisy, loves it too!
She could play fetch all day and still not get bored.
As the seasons change, so do the opportunities for fun.
The lighted sledding hill transforms winter evenings into a magical wonderland of fun.
No matter the season, there's always something to do at Ridge Run Park East.
Our recent evening visit was unforgettable.
As the sun dipped below the horizon, a raccoon made its appearance.
We watched it scurry up a tree, carrying its treasures from the garbage can.
It served as a gentle reminder that we share this world with nature, and it's our duty to keep it clean.
Ridge Run Park East also hosts our yearly church picnic.
We rent the spacious covered pavilion and enjoy a day of fellowship, food, and laughter.
Despite a few misunderstandings this year, we were able to turn the situation around and extend our hand in friendship with other park-goers.
One of my favorite features of the park is its beautiful trails.
Recently, I ventured on a spontaneous hike and was rewarded with amazing views and tranquility.
The sights were breathtaking, and the aura of serenity was almost tangible.
Buy Souvenirs from Savoring Thyme
Walking into Savoring Thyme is like stepping into a treasure chest full of gems.
This beautiful boutique has a charm that's impossible to resist.
From the moment you set foot in the store, you're transported into a world full of whimsical charm and eclectic variety.
A cornucopia of delightful items awaits in every corner — clothing that runs the gamut from quirky to chic, greeting cards that perfectly encapsulate the sentiment you're trying to express, adorable baby items, and an array of stunning jewelry.
I've been known to lose myself amidst the garden accessories and candles, and I'm perpetually in awe of the assortment of kitchen gadgets.
Every piece in the home decor section seems to call out to me, promising to add that special touch to my living space.
The staff at Savoring Thyme is the cherry on top of this delightful experience.
They're always friendly and helpful, ready to assist without hovering around you.
Their knack for going above and beyond is evident in the way they attend to customers.
For the gentlemen out there, this spot simplifies your shopping experience.
It’s a one-stop shop for all your gifting needs — be it edible delights, unique kitchen utensils, clothing, or special decorations.
And if that isn’t enough, there’s always something to treat yourself to.
When decisions get tricky, the gift cards come to the rescue.
I’ve often used them as a quick and easy solution for last-minute presents.
Immerse in Local Artistry at the Museum of Wisconsin Art
I've always had a deep appreciation for art, but nothing compares to the joy I feel when I'm able to connect with the artwork of my fellow Wisconsinites.
The Museum of Wisconsin Art has always been a hub for us locals to showcase our work and I've always made it a point to visit as often as I can.
I remember the last time I was there, it was during the bustling Chalk Festival.
The Museum of Wisconsin Art was alive with visitors and artists alike, filled to the brim with vibrant colors and life.
The hallways echoed with the hum of admiration, comments on the intricate detailing of chalk art, and even the excited squeals of children at the sight of bubbles!
There were food stands and even a spot to enjoy a cold beer.
It felt more like a community celebration than an event.
Apart from the Chalk Festival, the museum regularly organizes special exhibits showcasing unique collections.
One of the best parts about the museum is that the admission fee gets you a year-long membership, and the cost varies depending on your party size.
It's a wonderful initiative that encourages frequent visits, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the world of art and continuously learn and grow.
And, of course, let's not forget the gift shop.
It's a little universe of its own filled with trinkets and memorabilia related to the current exhibits, and it's always exciting to bring a piece of the museum home with me.
The Museum of Wisconsin Art is more than just an exhibition center.
It's a place of learning, discovery, and community.
A place where local artists are celebrated and where we can all come together to appreciate the beauty of art.
It is truly a gem in the heart of West Bend, a testament to the rich artistry in Wisconsin.
Stroll through Lac Lawrann Conservancy
What better way to spend a day than immersing oneself in the raw beauty of nature?
Just recently, I decided to venture into the Lac Lawrann Conservancy, a place that offers a perfect blend of structure and wilderness.
The trails are captivating, with certain portions just wide enough for a single file.
I relished the sense of adventure as the foliage crept onto the paths, giving me the thrill of traversing through the wild.
My hike to Rainbow Lake was serene, and the easy-going pace helped me unwind and soak in the tranquility.
The Esker trail, with its high vantage point, gave me a striking view of the lower portions of the conservancy, truly a sight to behold.
Just a word of caution, though - it can get a bit buggy due to the water bodies nearby.
So, do remember to carry ample mosquito spray.
What sets Lac Lawrann Conservancy apart is not just its natural beauty but also the engaging programs it offers.
I recall the time when I took my great-granddaughters to this amazing class on raising butterflies.
Each child was given a caterpillar and a cage, and they had the unique experience of nurturing it into a butterfly.
It was fascinating, though a tad long.
There's a lot more to explore at Lac Lawrann Conservancy.
And did I mention the wildflower sale they host annually the day before Mother's Day?
The selection is vast, and it's a beautiful sight to see the array of perennials and native wildflowers.
They even have options for building rentals and hosting special school tours.
Catch a Play at the Historic West Bend Theatre
I remember when I first set foot in the newly restored Historic West Bend Theatre.
The grandeur of the place left me speechless.
Trust me, they've done a commendable job with the restoration.
And it's not just the aesthetics, even the facilities are top-notch.
The lavatories, believe it or not, are a sight to behold.
Although I must admit, the doors could use some rethinking.
They open inwards, which can be a bit tricky for those of us who are on the larger side.
A minor hitch, nonetheless.
Now, let's talk about the bar and concession area.
It's just fabulous!
Whether you want to catch a quick snack before the movie or you're planning to sip on a cocktail, this place has got you covered.
Plus, the staff is super friendly and always ready to serve you.
One of the most charming aspects of the Historic West Bend Theatre is its unique floor plan.
It has cozy corners and spacious areas, all designed with utmost care and attention to detail.
It's also located in the heart of West Bend, making it easily accessible for everyone.
From movies to live performances, the theatre has something for every entertainment lover.
As someone who has attended a number of shows here, I can vouch for the quality they deliver.
This iconic theatre has become a landmark in our city and a must-visit if you're in or around the area.
So, the next time you're wondering what to do on a Friday night, I highly recommend checking out a show or a movie at the Historic West Bend Theatre.
You won't be disappointed.
Discover History at the Tower Heritage Center
Once you've lived in a place for a while, it's easy to overlook its hidden gems.
The Tower Heritage Center is one such treasure in our city.
It's not just a historical center; it's a place that holds the memories and the stories of our ancestors.
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending a bridal shower there.
The architecture of the place, with its beautifully preserved old-world charm, was nothing short of spectacular.
What makes the Tower Heritage Center special, though, is not just its beauty but its rich history.
Each room in the museum is filled with historical items that remind us of our roots.
The bridal shower became not just a celebration of the future but also a tribute to the past.
This is not just a place for special events.
We, locals, love to visit the Tower Heritage Center when the farmers market is too crowded, or the weather isn't favorable.
It's a great place to spend a day learning about the history of our city and its people.
The Tower Heritage Center is a hidden gem that I urge all locals and visitors to explore at least once.
Go Skiing through Fox Hill Ski Area
The thrill of skiing never attracted me, but the allure of the great outdoors has always been undeniable.
I found myself, quite accidentally, at Fox Hill Ski Area, a place usually buzzing with ski enthusiasts.
To my surprise, it was the non-skiing features that truly captured my heart.
The criss-crossing trails, usually taken over by skiers during the peak season, transform into inviting paths for running and hiking during the off-peak months.
The variety and challenge these trails offer is remarkable - from gentle meandering paths to steeper inclines that pump your adrenaline, you're definitely in for a great workout.
The lush greenery that flanks these trails is a sight to behold.
However, this beautiful vista does come with its share of pesky bugs.
I've taken to carrying bug spray with me on my hikes.
It's a small price to pay for the privilege of appreciating the breathtaking natural beauty on offer.
One thing that truly sets Fox Hill Ski Area apart is its status as a private club.
This means it's usually not as crowded as public parks and offers an exclusive and peaceful retreat for those lucky enough to have access.
A Saturday Tradition at West Bend Farmers Market
Every Saturday, as the early morning sun peeks over the horizon, my day begins with a trip to West Bend Farmers Market.
It's more than just a market, it's a place where the community comes together.
The sight of fresh produce laid out in colorful arrays and the sound of vendors making their pitches always energizes me.
It's a vibrant and lively place, teeming with so many vendors selling everything you could think of - from seasonal fruits and vegetables to homemade jams, bread, honey, and even artisan crafts!
The layout is easy to navigate, and each week, I discover something new and interesting.
West Bend Farmers Market is also a great place to get involved in family activities.
There's always something happening - a live band playing, a cooking demonstration, or a children's event.
That's one of the things I appreciate about it, there's always a genuine sense of community.
Grab a Good Read at West Bend Community Memorial Library
I find myself venturing towards the West Bend Community Memorial Library at least once a week, if not more.
It's become a sort of sanctuary for me and my son.
As soon as you step inside, you're welcomed by a vast space filled with knowledge.
It's wonderfully bright and exceptionally clean, which sets a great atmosphere for learning or diving deep into a good read.
The staff too are friendly, always ready to assist with any queries, or when we need to make copies.
I can't help but adore West Bend Community Memorial Library.
The majority of the librarians are absolute sweethearts, always willing to help out.
It's become a regular part of our lives, and we're thankful for the service they provide to our little community.
Make a Splash at Regner Park
Every time I step into Regner Park, it feels like I'm stepping into a sanctuary of nature.
Nothing beats the thrill of meandering through the trails, basking in the beauty of the woods.
More often than not, I come across wildlife.
One morning, I was even lucky enough to come across a doe and her fawns, a sight that made me feel a deep connection with the natural world around me.
The park in West Bend is small enough so you never feel lost.
As a parent, I appreciate the fact that the playground areas and the beach pool are kept clean and well-maintained.
One of my favorite features of Regner Park is the swimming pond.
It's always sparkling clean and surrounded by a beach and shaded areas - the perfect setup for a lazy summer day.
The park management has done a fantastic job to ensure safety, with plenty of lifeguards on duty at all times.
I wouldn't want my 5-year-old playing anywhere else!
But the fun doesn't stop there!
The splash pad is a hit with the kids, and their laughter always fills the air.
Regner Park is a treasure trove of outdoor fun, and the best part is that admission is truly affordable.
Just $4 for kids and $5 for adults, a steal for a day full of fun and memories!
The park truly embodies the spirit of West Bend and never fails to provide a great time, no matter the season.
Have Animal Encounters at Shalom Wildlife Zoo
One of the things I love about living here is the access to beautiful wildlife.
Picture this: over 400 local and exotic animals spread across a sprawling 100 acres.
Makes you want to grab your walking shoes and head out, right?
That's what I did! I decided to spend my Sunday at the Shalom Wildlife Zoo.
Now let me tell you, this isn't your typical zoo.
The animals are not just confined to small cages.
They have all the freedom to roam about in their natural habitat.
Visiting the Shalom Wildlife Zoo makes you feel like you're actually venturing into the wild.
What I love the most is that you have the option to feed the animals.
They sell buckets of fresh fruits and vegetables for you to offer.
It's an incredible experience being able to interact with the animals up close.
And if you can't walk long distances, they've got you covered!
You can rent a golf cart and drive around the zoo at your leisure.
It's perfect for those who have mobility issues or just want to relax while exploring the zoo.
Another fantastic aspect is the on-site restaurant.
Trust me, after walking (or driving!) around, you're going to need some refreshments.
I visited on a weekend afternoon.
Despite it being quite busy, it didn't feel overly crowded at all.
It was a buzzing, lively atmosphere.
Plus, the souvenir shop is a treasure trove of keepsakes to remember your visit by, and the staff is incredibly friendly.
They are always ready to help and make your visit memorable.
And to end your day on a sweet note, they even give you an ice cream!
Catch a Softball Game at Quaas Creek Park
I must admit, I've been living in West Bend for a while now, and it was only recently that I stumbled upon the treasure that is Quaas Creek Park.
I attended a friend's daughter's softball game, and the park sparked my interest right away.
The lush greenery and well-maintained landscape was a pleasant surprise, and the park's serenity was a nice change from the city's hustle and bustle.
Quaas Creek Park is not just a regular park; it's a play haven with sprawling softball fields, a large playground for the little ones, and courts for pickleball and basketball enthusiasts.
The park is nestled in the Southeast corner of the city, accessible from Decorah's baseball fields and the subdivisions on the park's west side.
One of my favorite features of the park is the walking trails.
There's something especially calming about strolling near the Milwaukee River, with the landscape's sounds acting as a natural soundtrack.
The boardwalk takes you through the woods, providing a refreshing retreat from the city's concrete structures.
Play Disc Golf at Sandy Knoll County Park
Every good morning should start with a visit to the Sandy Knoll County Park. It's my local go-to spot for a variety of outdoor activities.
The disc golf store near the parking lot has reasonable prices and an amazing array of discs from a variety of manufacturers.
I often find myself browsing and marveling at the vast array of options before I start my game.
It's disc golf heaven for an enthusiast like me.
The disc golf course itself is a delight.
It's well maintained with astroturf tee pads and clear signage at each one.
I always know exactly where I'm supposed to be throwing.
The course presents a great mix of challenges and shot shapes that test my skills in a fun way.
The course starts in the woods, it's serene and quiet, just perfect for the start of the game.
Then it moves out into the open until hole 12, and then back into the woods.
The pro pads are impressively long compared to the recreation pads, offering a different angle and fresh perspective on the course.
It's one of my personal top 10, for sure.
Sandy Knoll County Park isn't just about disc golf.
There's a nice little dog park that's always well kept, where I often take my Golden Retriever for a romp.
There are also some short hiking trails, though I'd love to see better signage for these.
A marked boardwalk is currently closed due to safety reasons, but hopefully, it'll be back in action soon.
And let's not forget about the pretty little beach.
It's a quaint spot to unwind after a day of disc golf, walking my dog, and hiking.
Have a Family Day at the Washington County Fair Park & Conference Center
It's that time of year again when the aromatic scent of fair food fills the air, and the sounds of laughter and excitement echo throughout my hometown.
I'm talking about the annual Wash Co Fair at the Washington County Fair Park & Conference Center.
Our family tradition begins with savoring the reasonably priced food available at the numerous stalls.
From hot dogs to cotton candy, there's always a plethora of culinary delights to choose from.
The rides, oh, the rides!
They are a pulsating mix of thrill and fun designed to cater to all age groups.
Last year, we had tickets to a Chevelle concert, which was coinciding with the fair.
The best part was that the concert tickets also covered our entry to the fair!
We decided to arrive early, soaking in the vibrant atmosphere and enjoying the rides before the concert.
On one occasion, we decided to try something a little different and attend the Circus at the Washington County Fair.
The early show was our pick, and although seating was slightly cramped, it was definitely worth it.
The circus ran for almost three hours, with an intermission, and it was a fun-filled night.
The only minor letdown was the lack of a large variety of animals in the show.
Navigate the Waters of Big Cedar Lake
The moonlight shimmering on the surface of Big Cedar Lake has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
Being a full-time dweller in this tight-knit community, I have a love-hate relationship with our lake.
The lake, with its vast expanse and breathtaking inlets, is nothing short of a paradise.
The winding shoreline paints a picturesque scene that draws many to its beauty.
Yet, access to this gem is not as easy as you might expect.
Weekends here can be quite a hassle.
The main launch often closes after the parking lot fills up, leaving many boaters high and dry until a parking spot opens up.
There's something about Big Cedar Lake that keeps me here.
The serenity of the water, the camaraderie among locals, and the stunning beauty that surrounds us - it's a unique place that holds a special charm for those who call it home.
Enjoy Craft Beer at Riverside Brewery & Restaurant
With each new dawn, I am reminded of the beauty of my hometown, especially my favorite place - Riverside Brewery & Restaurant.
Nestled along the riverfront, it's my go-to spot for both the love of food and the warmth of a friendly environment.
Walking into this charming spot, you're instantly greeted by a cozy atmosphere.
It might seem small at first glance, but don't let that fool you.
There's an expansive lower level, complete with its own bar and a beautiful walkout view of the river.
I've spent countless evenings there, sipping on their house-crafted beers and lovingly prepared sodas.
The food, where do I begin?
From the succulent burgers to the finely crafted wraps and more, their menu is nothing short of delightful.
Their Reuben - it's a dish that brings back memories of childhood, with each bite better than the last.
The chicken panini is also a treat not to be missed.
To start, their potato skins and chili will never disappoint.
And did I mention the beers?
They're a dream come true for any craft beer aficionado.
Riverside Brewery & Restaurant is also home to a Wisconsin tradition - a Friday fish fry.
Basking in the pleasant din of friendly chatter, I've enjoyed many a Friday evening here, savoring the crispy breaded walleye and cod served piping hot.
But what truly sets Riverside Brewery & Restaurant apart for me is the effort they put into providing an unforgettable dining experience.
It's all in the details – from their service, which is always top-notch, to their speedy delivery of both food and beverages.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Practice Wildlife Photography at Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve
Living in the vicinity of Lake Michigan has its perks, and one of the most significant is the proximity to the Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve.
The picturesque 73-acre landscape, with its undulating terrain and dramatic views, serves as my personal escape from the din of daily life.
Each hike here feels new, with the ever-changing seasons dressing the preserve in fresh shades of charm.
The breathtaking views of the glistening Lake Michigan never fail to thrill my senses.
The trails are perfect for a leisurely stroll or an invigorating jog, and the fact that they are dog-friendly makes them a hit among pet owners like me.
The path is quite easy to navigate, even for those with strollers, and there are benches strategically placed for anyone wishing to sit and soak in the scenery.
Following the trail leads you to a stairway that descends to the lake, a treat for the adventurous souls.
But the true gem of this preserve is its picturesque picnic spots.
Nestled amidst nature, these spots provide an idyllic setting for family outings or romantic dates.
And the best part?
Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve is free to enter, with ample free parking spaces available.
One unique feature of this preserve is its accessibility.
Despite some parts of the trail being unpaved, making it a bit bumpy, it's manageable for most.
I've often recommended this place to friends visiting the area, and they've all been amazed by its beauty and tranquility.
Just a word of advice, though: keep your camera handy.
The preserve is teeming with wildlife, and it's not unusual to spot a deer gracing the trails.
And, of course, the views of the lake are a photographer's delight.
If you are in the area, do visit the Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve.
It's a little slice of paradise that is sure to leave you mesmerized.
Discover Local Fauna and Flora at Embracing Nature at Riveredge Nature Center
I'm always on the lookout for new trails to explore, and when I stumbled upon Riveredge Nature Center, I knew I had found a gem.
Stepping into Riveredge is like stepping into another world - a world where the noise of the city is replaced by the rustling of leaves and the chattering of birds.
Every visit to this private nature preserve offers a unique experience.
One of my favorite activities is the mushroom walk through the grounds.
The trails are simply stunning, showcasing an unexpected diversity in the scenery.
The lush greenery is dotted with a myriad of mushroom species - some as small as a button, others towering like miniature skyscrapers.
It's a fascinating exploration of the fascinating fungi world.
Of course, the trails are not just for mushroom enthusiasts.
They are well-kept and are prime spots for bird-watching and wildlife spotting.
It's a peaceful escape, ideal for clearing the mind and rejuvenating the spirit.
While the trails are a major draw, the Riveredge Nature Center is more than just trails.
The Maple Sugar events are a sweet treat, the Yulelog dinner is a warm celebration of the winter season, and the summer camps are a delight for the young ones.
And let's not forget the shop.
It stocks some pretty awesome merchandise.
I particularly love the native wildflower seeds they sell - a perfect way to support our local pollinators.
Being a member of Riveredge for the last eight years has been a fulfilling experience.
From the Frothy Forage to the nature-based school programs for kids, it's been a journey of discovery and learning.
The Riveredge Nature Center is a treasure in our community, a haven for wildlife, and a sanctuary for those seeking peace in nature.
Living in West Bend, Wisconsin, is an adventure filled with endless experiences.
It's hard to pick favorites, but the tranquility of the Shalom Wildlife Zoo and the historical richness of the Tower Heritage Center are must-visits.
West Bend is indeed a treasure trove of surprises, a perfect mix of nature, culture, and history.