Picture Your Kenosha by Meridith Jumisko

Picture Your Kenosha by Meridith Jumisko

Explore your town!

Meridith Jumisko is Public Relations Manager at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. Contact her at MJ@VisitKenosha.com or drop her a tweet @MJ_Kenosha.

FUN 101 COVID-19 Edition 

By Meridith Jumisko, Public Relations Director at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau  

Just as our local restaurants, shops, and attractions are adapting to the times, so is the team at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. We have just published our second COVID-19 edition of FUN 101. This time, it’s our Fall/Winter FUN 101 COVID-19 Edition: 101 Things to See & Do in the Kenosha Area.   

Is your household going stir crazy and looking for ideas of things to do? After your family vacation was nixed this year, could you use a staycation? Are you new to the area and wondering how to spend your leisure time? Do you need a reminder of some of the local places that could use your support right now? Be sure to consult our FUN 101 list! You could even create a family scavenger hunt from this list. We got you started with 101 ideas, what you do with them is up to you! Get creative!  

Since 2010, we have produced the popular FUN 101 list: 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under (Many are FREE!) in the Kenosha Area. The list started in June 2010 as a one-time sample story for media on our website. We wanted to show how much there is to experience here – at a very affordable price. In 2012, we started producing the list twice a year online and in brochure format – for the fall/winter and spring/summer months.  

Within days of receiving delivery of the brochures this past spring, numerous items on the original Spring/Summer 2020 FUN101 list were impacted by COVID-19, making the list obsolete. Conceding to the times, we threw that list out the window and created a COVID-19 edition in May.   

Like the May list, this new Fall/Winter list includes all price ranges – including many FREE items. The list is about seasonal activities, recreation opportunities, landmarks, and attractions, as well as ‘ supporting locally owned shops and restaurants. It’s about in-person activities, new places, to-go dining options, online shopping, virtual experiences, the great outdoors, and even non-monetary ways to support local businesses. The list is currently only published online; it can be found at www.VisitKenosha.com/FUN101 

Even with 101 items on the list, it’s still only a sampling. We partner with more than 130 local restaurants, craft breweries, museums, art galleries, retail establishments, recreation spaces, hotels, and attractions that come together to represent the many unique experiences that bring visitors to our community and give local residents a wonderful quality of life. Our local businesses are continuing to pivot and adjust to the trying circumstances that 2020 has presented. Let’s all do what we can to give them support to keep going.   

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town as you Shop Local, Dine Local, and Play Local! Please remember your mask and maintain social distancing when in public; be respectful of the safety restrictions that individual places are setting; be patient as everyone is adjusting to new operations.  

Check out VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop and more insider tips. 

Meridith Jumisko

Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Public Relations Director

MJ@VisitKenosha.com

(262) 654-7307 ext. 13

Tweet to @MJ_KenoshaPR

(This article first appeared in the October 24th 2020 issue of the Smart Reader publication)

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Positive Local Business News
 

By Meridith Jumisko, Public Relations Director at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau  

There is no doubt this is an uncertain time for Kenosha’s locally owned businesses and organizations. And yet, progress continues. Here is a sampling of what’s new this year. 

This was the first summer that the Kenosha Community Sailing Center (located at the Kenosha Yacht Cluboffered kayak, fishing kayak, and stand up paddle board rentals. Also this summer, the new Kenosha Public Market debutedIts indoor season starts October 10 at Lakefront Dugout, 620 59th Street. You can shop in person on Saturdays or via the KPM2GO Online Store.  

Exciting food shop updates include: a local franchise of Beef Jerky Experience has opened at Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets. You can explore over 100 varieties of hand-crafted jerky! Also, Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery’s mini pies are now available in all 13 Sendik’s Food Market locations in the Milwaukee area. At the time of this writing, we’re awaiting news on where their next local physical location will be after their shop closed in late September. 

In restaurant news, El Camino Kitchen is now open at 9900 77th Streetoff of Highway 50. The restaurant offers a SoCal menu with Mexican favorites, gourmet burgers, wings, rice bowls, margaritas, craft beer, and more. Its sister restaurants are La Fogata Mexican Grill and Waterfront Warehouse, under the Roots Hospitality Group. 

The dining venue at The Apis Hotel & Restaurant has opened at 614 56th Street in Downtown Kenosha – complete with a rooftop deck. Led by Executive Chef Danielle Weybright, the focus is on fresh ingredients and shareable plates. Its sister restaurants are Buzz Café, Sazzy B, and The Garage, of the Grease & Honey Restaurant Group. Also new this year in the same neighborhood is The Down Town’R Saloon at 707 56th Street. The restaurant features Southwest cuisine, craft cocktails, and a rooftop bar. Its sister restaurant is Kaiser’s Pizza & Pub.  

Another historic Downtown Kenosha location is seeing new life: the former Barden’s building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 58th Street. Upper East has opened on the second floor. This is an urban wedding and events venue owned by Culinary Infusion, Inc., which also operates Circa on Seventh. On the first floor is the new location of PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co., which has relocated from down the block. The larger space allows the craft brewery to operate a restaurant and have five times its current brewing capacity. 

Our local museums also have news to share. Back in early March, before the Kenosha History Center closed due to the pandemic, a Bain wagon was welcomed into its permanent collection. During the late 19th century, the Bain Wagon Company of Kenosha was one of the largest wagon companies in the world. (This museum has not yet re-opened.) 

The Kenosha Public Museum has re-opened with new visitor policies in place for safety. A new exhibit at the museum is open through October 30: Masters of Their Era – Prints from the Ronald L. and Mary K. Ruble Collection. The show features prominent regional and international artists significant to the advancement of modern printmaking. Selections from the show, along with additional prints, will be donated to the museum. 

Shop Local, Dine Local, and Play Local! Please remember your mask and maintain social distancing when in public; be respectful of the safety restrictions that individual places are setting; be patient as everyone is adjusting to new operations. 

Check out VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop. 

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Support Local Small Businesses
By Meridith Jumisko, Public Relations Director at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

A lot has happened and changed in our community since my last column. Yet something that never changes is the need to support locally owned, small businesses.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create nearly two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. Locally owned businesses are the backbone of a community. They distinguish one community from another, provide jobs, attract visitors, and contribute to the local economy. Local businesses also support area school, community, and charity events. Many are family-owned with multiple generations on staff.

In my experience as a shopper, the owners of small businesses are dedicated to providing excellent customer service. They are often working on-site, whether it’s greeting you at the door, cooking for you, pouring your drink, serving you ice cream, making your popcorn, wrapping your purchase, or facilitating a custom product order.

It’s typically the owner that chooses what to carry in the business. They are the ones meeting with potential vendors, going on buying trips, or taking down barns to salvage wood. That last one is what Scott Buell does for his reclaimed business Against the Grain Creative Concepts. Sisters Barb DeBerge and Kim DeBerge emphasize they seek out interesting handcrafted gifts and accessories to reflect their customer’s unique style at DeBerge’s Framing and Gallery.

Locally owned restaurants often source their fresh ingredients locally. They may grow their own produce like Villa D’Carlo does or select it at a local farmers market like Chef Danielle Weybright from The Apis Hotel & Restaurant does. The Apis also grows ingredients in their kitchen. Live micro greens adorn the walls, which are then cut fresh to garnish most dishes. Homemade, handmade, and made-from-scratch are often the terms used to describe the menu items of local restaurants. The Coffee Pot owners Janis Barnhill and Julie Zorn often note their secret ingredient is cooking with love.

How can you support local businesses? Visit the shops and restaurants for in-person shopping and dining. If you’re not comfortable doing that right now, consider curbside pick-up, delivery, takeout, and online shopping. Yes, even small businesses offer these services. More do now than earlier in the year due to the need created by the pandemic. Purchase gift cards. Let your favorite businesses know you appreciate them. Drop them a line on Facebook; give them a glowing online review.

Entrepreneurs are used to facing challenges along the way to realizing their dream, as they make new goals, adapt to the times, grow, and try to stay relevant. However, 2020 has put challenges in their path like never before. Yet they are persevering, being creative, and doing all they can to stay open for years to come. For small business owners, this isn’t just a job – it’s their life, their passion, their vision. So let’s do our part to help them!

Shop Local, Dine Local, and Play Local! Please remember your mask and maintain social distancing when in public; be respectful of the safety restrictions that individual places are setting; be patient as everyone is adjusting to new operations.

Check out VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop.

(This article first appeared in the Sept. 25th issue of the Smart Reader

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Another historic Downtown Kenosha location is seeing new life: the former Barden’s building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 58thStreet. Upper East has just opened on the second floor. This is an urban wedding and events venue owned by Culinary Infusion, Inc., which also operates Circa on Seventh. On the first floor will be PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co., which will open next month after relocatingfrom down the block. The larger space will allow the craft brewery to operate a restaurant and have five times its current brewing capacity.

Our local museums also have news to share. Back in early March, before the Kenosha History Center closed due to the pandemic, a Bain wagon was welcomed into its permanent collection. During the late 19th century, the Bain Wagon Company of Kenosha was one of the largest wagon companies in the world. (This museum has not yet re-opened.)

The Kenosha Public Museum has re-opened with new visitor policies in place for safety. A new exhibit at the museum is open through October 30: Masters of Their Era – Prints from the Ronald L. and Mary K. Ruble Collection. The show features prominent regional and international artists significant to the advancement of modern printmaking. Selections from the show, along with additional prints, will be donated to the museum and the Kenosha Public Museum South Gallery is being renamed the Ronald L. and Mary K. Ruble Gallery.

Shop Local, Dine Local, and Play Local! Please remember your mask and maintain social distancing when in public; be respectful of the safety restrictions that individual places are setting; be patient as everyone is adjusting to new operations.

Check out VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop.

 

It was almost my one-year anniversary working for the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau when a cool new attraction opened in our area: Jelly Belly Visitor Center. The year was 2001. There weren’t all the attractions, sweet shops, and activities available like we have today. So it was especially exciting to have a free place like Jelly Belly to promote to families!

Jelly Belly Candy Company, a family owned and operated business, announced last month that Jelly Belly Visitor Center is closing. The final sale is going on now, while supplies last. The company has been a long-time partner of the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau – even before the center opened. We will greatly miss the staff and the attraction!

Right now, I want to think about the happy memories I have of the place. You may have some of your own aboard the Jelly Belly Express! First and foremost, Jelly Belly was one of the first places I ever took my two oldest nephews to. It was a special outing for just the three of us. I’ve gone there with most of my family members over the years. As well as with friends (including for the Halloween event one year, which was very busy!!) and members of the media that I brought there.

I didn’t go on the tour EVERY time I visited – just nearly every time! Who could resist the hat? Or the sample bag of candy you got at the end of the tour? I couldn’t! I went when The Longaberger Company had its basket events there. I would go to the store to buy stocking stuffers and to stock up on my favorite flavors. It was an extra-special treat every time I encountered Mr. Jelly Belly!

During my presentations to third graders about how to Be A Tourist In Your Own Town, the group would get so excited when I discussed Jelly Belly. The students would love to tell me their favorite flavor of the BeanBoozled® jelly beans! As part of the presentation series, the students could enter our essay contest by writing and drawing about their favorite place to visit in Kenosha County. Needless to say, I have read countless essays about Jelly Belly!

In 2017, more fun activities were added to the center. I enjoyed playing the Bean Blitz game, trying out the Smell Stations, and learning even more about the candy company. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the memorable Santa events as well! But for all of our collective favorite memories of Jelly Belly, it will be hard to top the memory of those who got married there. At least one couple did!

Every time I stood in the middle of Jelly Belly Visitor Center’s store, looking around at the bus groups and families, all in their Jelly Belly tour hats still, I would feel like a tourist. I felt like I was on vacation – just having fun in a candy store. In the end, that’s what it was all about. Having fun in a candy store. And I still have every single hat from all the tours I went on.

As always, check out our website VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop!

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Explore Kenosha’s Historic Districts 

Kenosha is a community rich with history and culture. Be A Tourist In Your Own Town and enjoy a walking, biking, or driving tour of our four historic districts. Appreciate the beauty of historic homes, buildings, and landmarks that have been preserved and treasured by our community for over a century. Each district has its own guide, including maps, property histories, photos, and more which can be found on the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website: VisitKenosha.com/Things-To-Do/Historic-Districts.

The Library Park, Third Avenue, and Civic Center historic districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, while the Pearl Street one is listed as a locally designated historic district. You’ll find a variety of architecture styles in the four historic districts: Neo-Classical Revival, Gothic, Georgian Revival, Beaux Arts, Greek Revival, Tudor Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate, and more. 

The Civic Center Historic District (56th Street and Sheridan Road) is significant because it was the culmination of two movements of city reform during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century: the movement to physically improve the city and the movement to politically reform the city. It represents a significant event in the history of community planning development in Kenosha and in Wisconsin. The Civic Center was designed to be a unit and most of the buildings were built for a public purpose.  

The Pearl Street Historic District (55th Street and 11th Avenue) began as an extension of the western edge of downtown and was located in an area that had a mixture of commercial and residential buildings. Four buildings are in the district, including the William Seymour House and the Maple House. Both were most popular as a boarding house and saloon that catered to railroad workers and travelers from the adjacent railroad tracks.  

The Library Park Historic District (Seventh Avenue and 59th Place) contains many examples of nineteenth century and early twentieth century architecture. Shortly after the first settlers arrived here in 1835, the land around Library Park was acquired by Charles Durkee and George Kimball. Both donated a portion of their land for a New England type commons, which was first known as “City Park” or, simply, “The Commons.” Settlement around the park continued until available lots were almost entirely occupied by 1861. 

Highlights in this district include: Simmons Library, which was designed by architect Daniel J. Burnham and opened in 1900. A plaque notes the 1915 birthplace of acclaimed actor, writer, director, and producer Orson Welles. The site of an Underground Railroad stop is also marked with a plaque. The Kenosha History Center offers guided walking tours of this district on select dates during the year.

The Third Avenue Historic District (63rd Street and Third Avenue) is Kenosha’s early twentieth century “mansion” district, consisting primarily of large period revival homes on lots that sit along the Lake Michigan shore. Most of the land was part of the real estate holdings of Charles Durkee. Not only is the architecture of the district important, but the Kemper Center complex contributes significantly to the history of education in the community, and many prominent industrialists made this district their home.  

Check out our website VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop!

The story originally appeared in the July 30, 2020 print edition of Smart Reader

Access the water in Kenosha

Kenosha is a Wisconsin Harbor Town – and Lake Michigan is one of our major attractions for out-of-town visitors. We are always hearing positive feedback from travelers on how beautiful our lakefront is.Perhaps you’ve lived here in Kenosha County all your life and have never been on Lake Michigan. Or maybe you rarely even see our Great Lake! This is the perfect summer to explore what’s close to home while staying safe and social distancing amid the pandemic. 

Our Lake Michigan and inland beaches will get you close to the water. Even better though is experiencing a lake from a kayak, charter fishing boat, stand-up paddleboard, sailboat, or even a tall ship. You don’t have any of those laying around in your garage or parking spot? No problem! You have options.

You can rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak at the Kenosha Community Sailing Center located at the Kenosha Yacht Club.Kayaking does not require any formal training. I’ve been told the kayaks being rented are recreational, sit-on-top styled, very stable, and perfect for beginners.Stand-up paddleboarding is great for anyone wanting a good core workout. The rentals are available 10 am – 7pm, Thursday through Sunday, and must be booked online. The sailing center also offers sailing lessons for adults and youths and features radio control boating events.

If you have your own kayak, take advantage of the local access points on the Lake Michigan Water Trail and the Fox River Water Trail. There are maps available online.

No prior fishing experience is required to book and enjoy a charter fishing excursion with the Kenosha Charter Boat Association. Your captain and crew will set bait and cast lines for you, chat with you about Lake Michigan and fishing history in the Kenosha Area, teach you how to reel in fish, and net your catch for you. Charters can be booked in five or six hour outings, and each boat can accommodate up to six guests. Captains will clean your catch for you, and your filets will be bagged for you to take home or to a local restaurant that will cook your fish for you. The crew will even share some of their favorite recipes and freezing tips with you!

Enjoy sailing excursions on the Tall Ship Red Witch or with Sail Away Charters. You can expect some awesome photo opportunities when you are out on Lake Michigan – whether you are out early enough for the sunrise while fishing, out on a sunset sail with Captain Andrew on the Red Witch or his other boat: America’s Cup Sailboat Jakab, or any time in between. (You can submit your favorite pictures to our online Picture Your Kenosha Photo Contest at VisitKenosha.com!)

While this isn’t a typical Kenosha summer, there is still a lot to see and do here! Check out our website VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop!

The story originally appeared in the July 16, 2020 print edition of Smart Reader

Capturing Summer Memories

If you’re venturing out of the house this summer, be on the lookout for great photo opportunities. The ongoing Picture Your Kenosha Photo Contest, sponsored by the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, is an opportunity for you to show visitors what a wonderful place the Kenosha Area is, no matter the season. 

We are always building our photo library, to use in our online and print marketing efforts. Photos help draw tourists to the community. Tourism, in turn, makes a positive impact on the local economy. The photos should be taken at a public place in Kenosha County. Think photos of recreational activities, landmarks, parks, and attractions.

  Some ideas include photos of fishing or sailing on Lake Michigan, biking on one of the bike trails, or kayaking on the Fox River. Take pics of the incredible architecture found in Kenosha’s four historic districts, signature dishes of local restaurants, or sunrises over Lake Michigan. Submit photos of your family posing beside a mural on the side of a building or next to a sculpture in the Sculpture Walk. And we can never have too many Southport Lighthouse or North Pier Lighthouse photos!

Digital photos may be submitted online in a few quick steps. To enter the contest, log on to the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s website at VisitKenosha.com (look under Offers at the top of the page). In early January, all photos submitted during 2020 will be judged. The individuals who submit the top photos will be awarded dinner for two at an area restaurant. Photos will be judged based on content and quality. 

Another way to share your photos with us is by using an I (Heart) Kenosha frame. Pick up your free frame at the I-94 Visitor Information Center and start taking pics of your favorite spaces, places, food, and fun. Then use the #KenoshaFun hashtag to share your framed photos with us on social media. Note, the frame also doubles as a magnet!

If you’ve been specifically documenting the pandemic, feel free to share those photos with the Kenosha History Center so that future generations can learn from these historic times. Some ideas are photos of visiting with family on Zoom or through a window instead of in person, of paper hearts your family created for your front window or a business window, of a birthday parade that went through your neighborhood, of handwritten thank you notes, of at-home haircuts, of flowers you received, or of a food delivery you ordered from a local restaurant. 

While this isn’t a typical Kenosha summer, there is still a lot to see and do here! Check out our website VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop!

Please remember to maintain social distancing when in public and also be respectful of the safety restrictions that individual places are setting.
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Activities This Summer In Kenosha 

Yes, many events are not taking place in Kenosha and beyond this summer due to the global pandemic. However, I am choosing to focus on the many fun activities that are still happening in Kenosha. This summer is a great opportunity to Be A Tourist In Your Own Town! 

Boundless Adventures, Wilmot Raceway, Brighton Dale Links, Petrifying Springs Golf Course, the Kenosha Charter Boat Association, Wilmot Flea Market, Alpaca Art Pottery Painting, and the family-friendly Petrifying Spring Biergarten await you. Kenosha HarborMarket will open its season on June 27. Also on June 27, the new Kenosha Public Market will make its debut at Veterans Memorial Park, 625 52nd Street.

The Tall Ship Red Witch is expected to start sailing in July. Art galleries are re-opening. You can walk at a park or nature sanctuary, such as Hawthorn HollowPlay disc golf at one of the dedicated disc golf courses. Bring your pooch to a dog park. Enjoy a bike trail or a water trail. Sit and enjoy a sunrise over Lake Michigan. Learn to sail with the Kenosha Community Sailing Center at the Kenosha Yacht Club. Also this summer, the sailing center will be launching kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals. 

As the summer progresses, the museums are expected to re-open. Until then, check out the engaging content on their Facebook pages and websites. The Kenosha Public Museum has summer camp boxes available for you to order right now. The Public Museum’s website also has a Kids Activity Page that covers a variety of topics pertinent to the missions of the Kenosha Public Museum, Civil War Museum, and Dinosaur Discovery Museum. The Kenosha History Center and Southport Light Station Museum also have great content online.

Also be sure to dine and shop local. Our small businesses need us now more than ever! And this is the season to enjoy outdoor dining! Speaking of outdoors … have you visited The Crow’s Nest rooftop bar at The Stella Hotel & Ballroom or The Lakeside Deck at Wyndham Garden – Kenosha Harborside yetAlso in Downtown Kenosha is a new restaurant at 707 56th StreetThe Down Town’R Saloon features Southwest cuisine and craft cocktails.

Something to look forward to later this summer is PUBLIC Craft Brewing Co. moving to a new, expanded location inside the former Barden’s Department Store at 628 58th Street. August is the tentative time frame for that. Meanwhile, Apis Hotel & Restaurant will be opening soon at 614 56th Street. The Isermann Brothers opened Kenosha’s first true department store at this location in 1895.

This is just a small sampling of available activities, as businesses continue to adjust their operations. Consult our website VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, shopping, and event updates. View our FUN 101 list – the COVID-19 version at VisitKenosha.com/FUN101. Included are 101 at-home experiences, to-go items, and outdoor activities. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop!

Do you have friends or family visiting this summer, but you aren’t so sure you want them staying with you? Keep social distancing in mind by booking them a stay at one of Kenosha’s hotels (VisitKenosha.com/Stay)! Or maybe you’re the one traveling? Let our staff at the I-94 Visitor Information Center assist you with your Wisconsin vacation plans!

Please remember to maintain social distancing when in public; be respectful of the safety restrictions that individual places are setting; be patient as everyone is adjusting to new operations. Enjoy!
(This article first appeared in the June 19th, 2020 issue of the Smart reader)
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Summer in Kenosha

This will certainly be a year – and a summer – to remember. Summer in Kenosha, and likely everywhere, will not be the same as years past. Many events are postponed or canceled. Restaurants, shops, and attractions continue to re-open, but may look and feel different for awhileNot all are open yet as some business owners and staff members continue to consider what works for their space as far as social distancing and safety goes. Summer is still going to happen; you may just have to replace some of your favorite activities with new ones. Dig out your bike, take up golf, teach the kids how to fish. Here are some ideas for you, Kenosha-style:

Walk, bike, or drive through Kenosha’s four historic districts. The birthplace of Orson Welles is in the Library Park district. Enjoy the Sculpture Walk, which runs along the harbor and features a dozen works of art. Go for a drive around town and take the time to enjoy the stunning murals that adorn the exterior of many buildings. Enjoy the dinosaur sculptures outside the Dinosaur Discovery Museum.

Take photos of the 1866 Southport Lighthouse and North Pier Lighthouse – and submit your best pix to our online Picture Your Kenosha Photo Contest! Pick a park – or walk around your neighborhood – to get in your 10,000 steps. Go birding in your backyard or at a local park. Enjoy a round of golf at Brighton Dale Links or Petrifying Springs Golf Course.  Play disc golf at Fox River Park, Lincoln Park, or Silver Lake Park. 

There are more than 130 miles of bike trails to enjoy in Kenosha County, including the Kenosha County Bike Trail, the Pike Bike Trail, and mountain bike trails at Silver Lake Park. Bike, drive, walk, rollerblade, or sit and relax along the Lake Michigan shore. Go Fish! Consider booking a charter fishing excursion for your family with the Kenosha Charter Boat Association. Have a kayak, canoe, or stand up paddle board? Experience the Lake Michigan Water Trail or Fox River Water Trail. 

Continue to support local restaurants and shops, whether in person or with an online order. Give a positive online review for your favorite local business or attraction. Visit the attractions as they re-open; Be A Tourist In Your Own Town!  Many of the events that are not happening this summer are organized by local, volunteer-led non-profit organizations. Consider donating to those groups to show your support! Or donate to any local organization for that matter, if you are able.

You’ll find even more ideas on our FUN 101 list – the COVID-19 version. Our original Spring/Summer FUN101 list was greatly affected by COVID-19, so we have replaced that list. The new list of 101 Things To See & Do includes at-home experiences, to-go items, and outdoor activities. Please remember to maintain social distancing when in public. Also keep in mind that this list is subject to change as businesses continue to adjust their operations. The list can be viewed at VisitKenosha.com/FUN101.

Use our website VisitKenosha.com – and sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter – to stay on top of attraction, dining, and shopping updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest scoop!

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Kenosha Trivia 

Whether you’re a long-time Kenosha resident or a newbie to the area, you’ll have fun with the Kenosha Area Activity Book that our staff at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau developed this spring. It’s for all ages and includes coloring, photo quizzes, puzzles, and other activities. There are also 50 trivia questions related to Kenosha! Here are just a few of the trivia questions:

Name the first mammoth that was found east of the Mississippi River butchered by people. It proved Native Americans were in North America 1,500 years earlier than previously thought. Hint: it was excavated in Kenosha County and is featured at the Kenosha Public Museum.

The Dinosaur Discovery Museum opened in 2006. What previously occupied the building?

How many lighthouses does Kenosha have?

Name Kenosha’s four historic districts.

How did Lemon Street Gallery get its name?

In 1900, what Kenosha building opened that was designed by architect Daniel J. Burnham, the leader of design for the World’s Columbian Exposition of Chicago in 1893?

The television show 3rd Rock From The Sun featured a 1962 Rambler American 400 Convertible. This car is now part of which Kenosha museum’s collection (though not currently on display)?

Name the mascot of the Kenosha Kingfish baseball team.

Name the actor from Kenosha who starred in “The Avengers”.

Name the two teammates from Kenosha’s Bradford High School football team who currently play in the National Football League.

What acclaimed actor, writer, director, and producer was born in Kenosha in 1915?

What “Happy Days” actor was from Kenosha?

The Civil War Museum features the 360-degree movie “Seeing the Elephant” in The Fiery Trial exhibit. Which recognized broadcast journalist narrated the movie?

What three-time NASCAR champion competed at Wilmot Raceway in 2019?

Name the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team that played at two different locations in Kenosha, including Simmons Field.

You’ll find the answers to these questions, more trivia, and additional fun in the Kenosha Area Activity Book on our website VisitKenosha.com; there are links to it from the home page. While on our website, you can sign up for our Visit Kenosha Monthly Newsletter to stay on top of attraction, dining, and shopping updates. Also follow Visit Kenosha on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for the latest updates! Feel free to reach our staff by Facebook Messenger, Twitter, or email at Info@VisitKenosha.com.

(This article first appeared in the 5/21/20 issues of Smart Reader)

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Support Our Local Businesses 

The local businesses that make our community unique to visitors are the same businesses that we love. Locally owned restaurants and shops can be found throughout the Kenosha Area. These businesses employ our friends and family. These businesses also support local fundraisers and non-profit organizations.  Right now, tourism isn’t possible. So now more than ever our local businesses need us to get them through this pandemic. By supporting local businesses, we are all playing a key role in rebuilding our own community.

During this difficult time, our local businesses and attractions continue to be creative and resilient.  Some never closed and instead quickly adapted to the new environment. Some adjusted their operations and re-opened later. Some are on the sidelines, waiting patiently and prepping for the day they can re-open.

Near the top of our website VisitKenosha.com, you’ll find a COVID-19 Update box with a link to a page on our site. This page is updated regularly to reflect the status of our partner businesses. You’ll see what restaurants – and shops – are offering takeout, curbside pick-up, and delivery services. Places that have never offered delivery before are now. Captain Mike’s offers cookout kits, which include everything you need to make Captain’s amazing burgers when you want them! And two restaurants – Franks Diner and The Garage – have changed from being cash-only businesses to accepting credit cards. 

Some shops – like Jack Andrea – have online stores. Sandy’s Popper is delivering your ice cream and popcorn orders directly to you. Alpaca Art Pottery Painting is now offering Grab & Go Pottery Painting Kits. To and From Gift Shop is offering contactless curbside pick-up, while Equinox botanical boutique offers window shopping with contactless pickup. These are just a few examples. You can also support local businesses by purchasing gift cards online (or via phone) for future use.

Many of our partners are also offering at-home entertainment. The Kenosha Public Museum’s Wednesday morning program for preschoolers – Museum Munchkins – now Live Streams on Facebook. The Civil War Museum, Dinosaur Discovery Museum, and Kenosha History Center are also engaging people with videos, photos, and activities on their Facebook pages. Go to kenoshapublicmuseum.org for a link to family activities. Studio Moonfall is offering free printable coloring pages on its Facebook page. UW-Parkside has its Ranger Cub Activity Book online, while our own Kenosha Area Activity Book is at VisitKenosha.com.

Here’s a special shout-out to just a few of the Kenosha businesses that are doing great deeds during this health crisis: Grab’s Burger Bar is offering free meals for Kenosha Unified students. Century Pub & Eatery has donated food for seniors, people in need, and clients of the Kenosha Literacy Council. Captain Mike’s donated food and Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery donated pies to local health care workers. Mason’s Eatery & Pub, Casa Capri, Rustic Road Brewing Company, Sazzy B, Franks Diner, and Waterfront Warehouse donated food to members of Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. Tuscany Bistro Bar & Grill donated food to clients of Women & Children’s Horizons, Inc. The Lettering Machine, a local embroidery and screen-printing shop, is offering a free Kenosha Support Squad t-shirt to people that shop at five locally owned small businesses in Kenosha County. Kenosha-based Jockey International, Inc. donated Personal Protective Equipment to first responders and health care workers across the country, including the Kenosha Fire Department.

Please note that the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Visitor Information Centers are closed. Our staff is actively working from home, so feel free to reach us by Facebook Messenger, Twitter, or email at Info@VisitKenosha.com. We encourage you to continue to check VisitKenosha.com for the latest updates. And remember: our local businesses do a lot for our community. Now we need the community to support our local businesses.

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Support Our Local Businesses 

(This story first appeared in the April 30th issue of the Smart Reader)

The local businesses that make our community unique to visitors are the same businesses that we love. Locally owned restaurants and shops can be found throughout the Kenosha Area. These businesses employ our friends and family. These businesses also support local fundraisers and non-profit organizations.  Right now, tourism isn’t possible. So now more than ever our local businesses need us to get them through this pandemic. By supporting local businesses, we are all playing a key role in rebuilding our own community.

May 3-9 is National Travel & Tourism Week. While the pandemic and its impact on tourism greatly changes the tone and messaging of the week for us here at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, we still have much to recognize. During this difficult time, our local businesses and attractions continue to be creative and resilient.  Some never closed and instead quickly adapted to the new environment. Some adjusted their operations and re-opened later. Some are on the sidelines, waiting patiently and prepping for the day they can re-open.

Near the top of our website VisitKenosha.com, you’ll find a COVID-19 Update box with a link to a page on our site. This page is updated regularly to reflect the status of our partner businesses. You’ll see what restaurants – and shops – are offering takeout, curbside pick-up, and delivery services. Places that have never offered delivery before are now. Captain Mike’s offers cookout kits, which include everything you need to make Captain’s amazing burgers when you want them! And two restaurants – Franks Diner and The Garage – have changed from being cash-only businesses to accepting credit cards. 

Some shops – like Jack Andrea – have online stores. Sandy’s Popper is delivering your ice cream and popcorn orders directly to you. Alpaca Art Pottery Painting is now offering Grab & Go Pottery Painting Kits. To and From Gift Shop is offering contactless curbside pick-up, while Equinox botanical boutique offers window shopping with contactless pickup. These are just a few examples. You can also support local businesses by purchasing gift cards online (or via phone) for future use.

Many of our partners are also offering at-home entertainment. The Kenosha Public Museum’s Wednesday morning program for preschoolers – Museum Munchkins – now Live Streams on Facebook. The Civil War Museum, Dinosaur Discovery Museum, and Kenosha History Center are also engaging people with videos, photos, and activities on their Facebook pages. Go to kenoshapublicmuseum.org for a link to family activities. Studio Moonfall is offering free printable coloring pages on its Facebook page. UW-Parkside has its Ranger Cub Activity Book online, while our own Kenosha Area Activity Book is at VisitKenosha.com.

Here’s a special shout-out to just a few of the Kenosha businesses that are doing great deeds during this health crisis: Grab’s Burger Bar is offering free meals for Kenosha Unified students. Century Pub & Eatery has donated food for seniors, people in need, and clients of the Kenosha Literacy Council. Captain Mike’s donated food and Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery donated pies to local health care workers. Mason’s Eatery & Pub, Casa Capri, Rustic Road Brewing Company, Sazzy B, Franks Diner, and Waterfront Warehouse donated food to members of Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. Tuscany Bistro Bar & Grill donated food to clients of Women & Children’s Horizons, Inc. The Lettering Machine, a local embroidery and screen-printing shop, is offering a free Kenosha Support Squad t-shirt to people that shop at five locally owned small businesses in Kenosha County. Kenosha-based Jockey International, Inc. is donating Personal Protective Equipment to first responders and health care workers across the country, including the Kenosha Fire Department.

Please note that the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Visitor Information Centers are closed. Our staff is actively working from home, so feel free to reach us by Facebook Messenger, Twitter, or email at Info@VisitKenosha.com. We encourage you to continue to check VisitKenosha.com for the latest updates. And remember: our local businesses do a lot for our community. Now we need the
community to support our local businesses.

The local businesses that make our community unique to visitors are the same businesses that we love. Locally owned restaurants and shops can be found throughout the Kenosha Area. These businesses employ our friends and family. These businesses also support local fundraisers and non-profit organizations.  Right now, tourism isn’t possible. So now more than ever our local businesses need us to get them through this pandemic. By supporting local businesses, we are all playing a key role in rebuilding our own community.

May 3-9 is National Travel & Tourism Week. While the pandemic and its impact on tourism greatly changes the tone and messaging of the week for us here at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, we still have much to recognize. During this difficult time, our local businesses and attractions continue to be creative and resilient.  Some never closed and instead quickly adapted to the new environment. Some adjusted their operations and re-opened later. Some are on the sidelines, waiting patiently and prepping for the day they can re-open.

Near the top of our website VisitKenosha.com, you’ll find a COVID-19 Update box with a link to a page on our site. This page is updated regularly to reflect the status of our partner businesses. You’ll see what restaurants – and shops – are offering takeout, curbside pick-up, and delivery services. Places that have never offered delivery before are now. Captain Mike’s offers cookout kits, which include everything you need to make Captain’s amazing burgers when you want them! And two restaurants – Franks Diner and The Garage – have changed from being cash-only businesses to accepting credit cards. 

Some shops – like Jack Andrea – have online stores. Sandy’s Popper is delivering your ice cream and popcorn orders directly to you. Alpaca Art Pottery Painting is now offering Grab & Go Pottery Painting Kits. To and From Gift Shop is offering contactless curbside pick-up, while Equinox botanical boutique offers window shopping with contactless pickup. These are just a few examples. You can also support local businesses by purchasing gift cards online (or via phone) for future use.

Many of our partners are also offering at-home entertainment. The Kenosha Public Museum’s Wednesday morning program for preschoolers – Museum Munchkins – now Live Streams on Facebook. The Civil War Museum, Dinosaur Discovery Museum, and Kenosha History Center are also engaging people with videos, photos, and activities on their Facebook pages. Go to kenoshapublicmuseum.org for a link to family activities. Studio Moonfall is offering free printable coloring pages on its Facebook page. UW-Parkside has its Ranger Cub Activity Book online, while our own Kenosha Area Activity Book is at VisitKenosha.com.

Here’s a special shout-out to just a few of the Kenosha businesses that are doing great deeds during this health crisis: Grab’s Burger Bar is offering free meals for Kenosha Unified students. Century Pub & Eatery has donated food for seniors, people in need, and clients of the Kenosha Literacy Council. Captain Mike’s donated food and Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery donated pies to local health care workers. Mason’s Eatery & Pub, Casa Capri, Rustic Road Brewing Company, Sazzy B, Franks Diner, and Waterfront Warehouse donated food to members of Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. Tuscany Bistro Bar & Grill donated food to clients of Women & Children’s Horizons, Inc. The Lettering Machine, a local embroidery and screen-printing shop, is offering a free Kenosha Support Squad t-shirt to people that shop at five locally owned small businesses in Kenosha County. Kenosha-based Jockey International, Inc. is donating Personal Protective Equipment to first responders and health care workers across the country, including the Kenosha Fire Department.

Please note that the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Visitor Information Centers are closed. Our staff is actively working from home, so feel free to reach us by Facebook Messenger, Twitter, or email at Info@VisitKenosha.com. We encourage you to continue to check VisitKenosha.com for the latest updates. And remember: our local businesses do a lot for our community. Now we need the
community to support our local businesses.

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Spring and Summer fun in Kenosha

This story originally appeared in the March 12th, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.

In Kenosha each year, there are the early signs of Spring. Like Big Star Drive-In opening for the season. Golfers heading back out to the golf courses. More runners and walkers gravitating to the lakefront. The electric streetcars running seven days a week again. And the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau releasing its new Spring/Summer FUN 101 list. This is our list of 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under (Many are FREE!). FUN 101 is updated twice a year – for the fall/winter and spring/summer months. The 2020 Spring/Summer list is NOW available!

Looking for fun on a budget? Ideas of what to do when the kids are home during Spring Break or summer vacation? Do you have friends or family visiting from out of town? Are you in charge of arranging a group outing for seniors or scouts? Or perhaps you’re planning a birthday party or a girls’ night out. The list includes events, seasonal activities, attractions, shops, recreation opportunities, restaurants, landmarks, and more.

Use the FUN 101 list to discover – and/or re-discover – what is in your backyard! Be A Tourist In Your Own Town and enjoy affordable adventures close to home. Take pride in what your hometown offers. Perhaps you’ll find a new hobby or volunteer opportunity.

Did you know there are at least SEVEN local outdoor summer concert series that are FREE? The dates for Lincoln Park Live, Twilight Jazz, Tuesdays At The Shell, Peanut Butter & Jam, and the new Bristol Woods Park one are on the FUN 101 list. Also mentioned are the Kenosha Pops concerts and the summer concert series at the Petrifying Spring Biergarten.

The Crow’s Nest – the rooftop bar at The Stella Hotel & Ballroom – gets a shout-out. The newly re-opened Anderson Arts Center is also featured. Bike trails and water trails are mentioned, as are historic district walking tours, beaches, and drive-ins. The Electric Streetcar, Lakefront Trolley, and Metra train are included. Wilmot Flea Market, Kenosha ArtMarket, Kenosha HarborMarket, and more Farmer Markets are on the list. FUN 101 will also have you climbing a lighthouse, bringing your classic car to cruise-in nights, playing disc golf, and dining in the Garden of Eatin’.

What’s listed first this year? That would be the Kenosha Homecoming Car Show. It’s believed that there is no larger AMC show in the world. Close to 1,000 cars were on display in 2017, when the show was last held. The Kenosha History Center organizes the week of events, July 21-26. The car show is on July 25; it’s free for spectators. There will be visitors from around the world staying at our hotels, dining at local restaurants, and checking out the sights. You can too!

The FUN 101 list is available online at VisitKenosha.com/FUN101. The list is also offered as a print piece. You can pick up the brochure at one of our Visitor Information Centers: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha or at I-94 & Hwy. 165. The brochure serves as a seasonal companion to the annual Kenosha Area Visitors Guide. You can reach us by phone at (262) 654-7307 with questions.

I hope you enjoy this edition of FUN 101. I spearhead the project, and list each item with you – the reader – in mind. I want to show the variety of activities that are available here. And keep in mind – this is a $10 & under list. That means there are additional attractions to visit and be proud of! Now go find and enjoy your #KenoshaFun!

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Capturing Kenosha in photos

This story originally appeared in the February 27th, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.

Do you love to take photos? This year, consider submitting your best photos of Kenosha to the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Picture Your Kenosha Photo Contest. This is an opportunity for you to show off your hometown! Start thinking of your favorite places and Be A Tourist In Your Own Town. Put yourself in the shoes of our visitors – what should they see when they are here? Then share your favorite pix with us and you could win dinner for two!

We’ve all heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words” – right? Well, photos help draw tourists to the community. Tourism, in turn, provides jobs, lowers personal taxes, improves our local economy, and provides a positive community image, which is critical for economic development. In 2018, visitor spending in Kenosha County reached a record $227.8 million – an increase of 6.7% over the prior year. Kenosha County currently ranks 18th out of 72 Wisconsin counties for annual visitor spending. Did you know that without the state and local taxes generated by tourism, each Wisconsin household would need to pay an additional $680 in taxes to maintain the current level of government services? As you can see, tourism is important! (2019 figures will be released in May.)

Last month, we announced the winners of the 2019 Picture Your Kenosha Photo Contest. The first-place photo – “Sails up at sunrise” – was taken during the Kenosha Tall Ships Festival by Jeff Hansen of Kenosha. The second-place photo – “Ollie” – was taken near Kenosha Creative Space in Downtown Kenosha by Samantha Vaughn of Kenosha. The third-place photo – “Learning Opportunities” – was taken of the bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and John Hay at Carthage College by Tom Coates of Kenosha. Next January, we could be announcing your name as a winner and you could be on your way to a delicious dining experience! Twisted Cuisine, Tuscany Bistro Bar & Grill, and La Fogata Mexican Grill were sponsors of the 2019 contest.

We are particularly interested in photos of recreational activities, landmarks, festivals, events, and attractions. We welcome photos from any season. Examples include photos of sledding or skiing in the winter, playing at a dog park or golfing in the spring, fishing or enjoying a concert in the park during the summer, and biking or visiting a market in the fall. The key is that the photos should be taken at a public place where visitors can go and experience what’s shown in the photo.

Digital photos may be submitted online in a few quick and easy steps. Everyone is eligible to enter the contest, however the photos must be taken in Kenosha County. To enter the contest, log on to our website at VisitKenosha.com/offers/photo-contest. Print photos or a CD of photos may be submitted as well, with an entry form.

Each photo submitted has the chance to be used on VisitKenosha.com, in the Kenosha Area Visitors Guide, and in other marketing, to promote the Kenosha Area as a fun and exciting place for out-of-town visitors. At the end of the year, all photos submitted during 2020 will be judged. The individuals who submit the top photos will be awarded dinner for two at an area restaurant. Photos will be judged based on content and quality.

Learn more about what you can see and do in the Kenosha Area at VisitKenosha.com or call us at (262) 654-7307. Pick up a 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide at one of our Visitor Information Centers: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha or at I-94 & Hwy. 165. You can also view the Visitors Guide on our website.

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Upcoming local food & beverage events

This story originally appeared in the February 13th, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.

While the 2020 edition of Kenosha Restaurant Week is now in our rearview mirror, there are still many more fun food and beverage events to look forward to in the Kenosha Area this year! Mark these events on your calendar now:

The 20th Great Kenosha Area Pizza Bakeoff is on February 23 at Parkway Chateau, which is located at the north end of Brat Stop. Sample and vote for your favorite pizzas while also raising funds for kids’ programs in and around the Kenosha Area.

Taking a brief break from its winter hibernation, the Petrifying Springs Biergarten will be open the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day. Among the activities planned there is the Leprechaun & Lederhosen .1K Beer Run on March 14. It’s promoted as a “grueling”, straight, flat 100-meter course. The event supports the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha.

The 20th annual Bowls & Books Soup Fest Contest is March 25 at Rhode Center for the Arts. You get to taste and score each soup, served up by local restaurants. All proceeds go toward the continued renovation of the historic Rhode Center for the Arts, which is the home of Lakeside Players, a non-profit community theatre group that formed in 1973.

The Kenosha History Center Mac & Cheese Throwdown is a new family-friendly event on April 4. It takes place at the Wyndham Garden – Kenosha Harborside. Taste and vote for your favorite mac & cheese that’s provided by local restaurants. Help preserve Kenosha County history at the same time!

The Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival happens on April 25 at Brat Stop and Parkway Chateau. This fun-filled event features a variety of Wisconsin cheeses, some of the most sought-after beers from Wisconsin and beyond as well as great live music. The annual event supports the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha. If you have friends or family attending the event from out-of-town – or if you want to turn the event into a mini staycation – a few local hotels are offering packages which include a hotel stay and tickets.

Kenosha Craft Beer Week is May 9-17. The Kenosha County Dairy Breakfast is June 20 at Weis-Way  Dairy. The Kiwanis Club of Western Kenosha produces its 12th annual Taste of Wisconsin July 24-26. Proceeds benefit local charities and community programs. Border War Beer Fest is August 1. This is a benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha and is co-produced by BrewFest Partners. Who loves sweet corn like I do? The family-friendly Jerry Smith Sweet Corn Fest is August 8-9. Meanwhile, Cheese-A-Palooza is September 5-6.

Many Oktoberfest events take place in September. Here are the dates and locations that we know of so far: September 11-12 at House of Gerhard, September 12 at Old Settlers Park, September 18-20 at the Petrifying Springs Biergarten, and September 26 at Kemper Center. Looking even further ahead, the Kenosha History Center Chili Cook-Off is October 17.

Go to VisitKenosha.com/Events for details on these and many more events. For more information about fun in Kenosha, you can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165. Be sure to pick up our 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide!

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Plan your event in Kenosha

This story originally appeared in the January 16, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.

Here at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, we are often contacted about event space. When it comes to planning the perfect special event in the Kenosha Area, our team is here to help. From sports tournaments, conferences, and corporate meetings to weddings, reunions, and group tours, we’ve got the expertise to find just the right venue for your needs.

If you’re planning a wedding, party, meeting or other special event this year, we have some venue ideas for you. Many of these options are in historic buildings or offer additional amenities such as museum exhibits to explore.

Our hotels with abundant event space include The Stella Hotel & Ballroom and Wyndham Garden-Kenosha Harborside. Country Inn & Suites and Hampton Inn & Suites each have a meeting room for modest sized groups. Consider Carthage College or University of Wisconsin-Parkside for large event spaces with ample technology access.

Banquet facilities include Circa on Seventh, Kemper Center, and Parkway Chateau at Brat Stop. Unique venues also include The Civil War Museum, Fusion-Kenosha Performing Arts Association, GFWC Woman’s Club of Kenosha, Italian American Supper Club, Kenosha Creative Space, and the Kenosha Public Museum.

The O at Backyard Dream Studios offers day passes or memberships for individuals and professionals in a co-office space setting, with space to meet with clients, work quietly, and conference room access. In its off-season, Wilmot Mountain has indoor and outdoor facilities available for weddings, banquets, 5K runs, meetings, and much more.

Numerous restaurants offer private rooms for gathering. Please keep in mind that many restaurants will open outside of normal hours to accommodate special events and groups, and also offer catering off-site.

Looking for more fun party ideas? The Kenosha YMCA offers a variety of party packages. Depending on your interests, you can have a pool party, an obstacle course festivity, a dance party, a science-themed gathering, or a rock-climbing adventure. Birthday parties for all ages can be held at Robin’s Nest Cakery. Or you can have a pie-making party at Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery.

We also have many icebreaker, team-building, and pre- and post- meeting activities for your event. Zipline and climb at Boundless Adventures, sail on the Tall Ship Red Witch, ride the Electric Streetcar, paint at Alpaca Art Pottery Painting or Pinot’s Palette, laugh together at the Kenosha Comedy Club, fish with the Kenosha Charter Boat Association, go snow tubing at Wilmot Mountain, visit a local brewery or Petrifying Springs Biergarten, attend a Kenosha Kingfish baseball game, or enjoy a round of golf. The options are endless (and, of course, depend on the time of year).

You need not leave town to have a fun event! Contact us today for event planning assistance! Log on to VisitKenosha.com for details on these and more places. You can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165.  Our new 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide is now available.

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A year for celebrating!

This story originally appeared in the January 2, 2020 edition of The Smart Reader.

Happy New Year! This month, the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s NEW 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide debuts. Intended for visitors to our community, residents will also find the guide helpful to Be A Tourist In Your Own Town! Here’s a sneak peek! On page seven of the new guide, we recognize these important 2020 milestones:

DeBerge’s Framing and Gallery turns 130 years old. Established in 1890, Henry W. DeBerge’s great-granddaughters now run the shop. Meanwhile, it’s 100 years for the Kenosha County Fair. The Centennial Celebration will be part of this year’s fair Aug. 19-23.

Also turning 100 is Simmons Field! Many baseball players have played here since 1920. Teams such as the Kenosha Twins, Kenosha Kings, Kenosha Chiefs, Kenosha Kroakers, and Kenosha Mammoths have called Simmons Field home – as have the Kenosha Comets, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League team (which we learned about in the movie “A League of Their Own”). The pop group NSync even played a charity softball game here – my sister and I were there! The Kenosha Kingfish opens their seventh season at Simmons Field on May 26.

The Kenosha YMCA is celebrating its 90th year. Here’s a fun fact: automaker Charles Nash and his wife were instrumental in the formation of the Kenosha YMCA in 1930. The Kenosha Symphony Orchestra is in the midst of its 80th season. The organization was established in 1940. Two concerts remain this season: Broadway Comes To Kenosha on March 14 and a Celebration of Beethoven is on May 2.

Tenuta’s Delicatessen turns 70 years old on April 1. In 1920, John N. Tenuta left Italy to seek his fortune in the United States. He opened the old-fashioned Italian deli in 1950. Today, the third generation runs the shop. Also 70 years old is the Kenosha Art Association. In existence since 1950, this organization is dedicated to art enrichment in the community.

Electric Streetcar service returned to Kenosha 20 years ago this June. From 1903 to 1932, electric rail was a regular mode of transportation in Kenosha. In honor of the 20th anniversary, we offer a “Name That Streetcar” quiz on page 21 of the 2020 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide. Test your streetcar knowledge! Each Kenosha streetcar has a name and color scheme that represents the legacy of streetcar transportation in North America. We give you the opportunity to match the streetcar’s color scheme to its name.

The Southport Light Station Museum is celebrating 10 years. After years of extensive remodeling and renovation, the 1867 Light Station keeper’s house opened in May 2010 as a maritime museum, paired with the 1866 Southport Lighthouse that’s open for tower climbs. Both features are open seasonally.

Congratulations to all! Once our new Visitors Guide is available, you can find it at VisitKenosha.com, numerous places around town, and at our two Visitor Information Centers: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165.  You can also call us at (262) 654-7307 with any questions.

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Winter Break in Kenosha

This story originally appeared in the Smart Reader, December 19th, 2019

Whether you call it Winter Recess, Winter Break, or Christmas Break, it’s a great time to set aside the normal routine, get up without an alarm, unplug from the office, relax with family, and have fun. I firmly believe in taking one every year – hey, it’s not just for kids!
Given my job, I can give you many ideas of what to do during this time. I could give you 101 ideas! Be sure to check out our current FUN 101 list: 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under (Many are FREE!). It’s available at VisitKenosha.com/FUN101. And that’s just a start!

Our website is full of ideas of places to dine, shop, and play at. Here are a few options: Wilmot Mountain is a great place for winter fun! The resort boasts 120 skiable acres, 23 unique trails, a newly transformed terrain park, a 22-lane tubing area, a state-of-the-art ski school, and three places to eat. The attraction welcomes newcomers while also catering to seasoned skiers and riders. A Kids New Year’s Eve Bash will be held on Dec. 31.
If you’re not outdoorsy, you have your pick of local museums to visit! The Rambler Gallery at the Kenosha History Center has two new exhibits and a new set of cars on display. The AMC Design Studio features two clay concept models by a team of former AMC designers as it takes a look at the design side of our local automotive history. The museum also debuts its first dedicated exhibit on the impact of engine manufacturing in Kenosha, thanks to generous donations of artifacts, photographs, and more from UAW Local 72. Also view two rare Kenosha automobiles: a Nash Pickup – they didn’t make many – and the one-of-a-kind 1972 Gremlin “Voyageur”.
Meanwhile, the annual Frost Fest with free family activities takes place at the Kenosha Public Museum from 1 to 4 p.m. on Dec 27 and 30. The theme on Dec. 27 is Norwegian Traditions, while on Dec. 30, discover how people around the world celebrate the New Year. Make decorations for your own celebration! Just as entertaining and educational are visits to the nearby Civil War Museum and Dinosaur Discovery Museum. Take a ride aboard the Electric Streetcar while you’re in Downtown Kenosha!

Going out for a treat is also a fun outing! Have a malt at the vintage soda fountain counter at Jack Andrea. Enjoy a shake at Bristol 45 Diner. Go for ice cream at Sandy’s Popper or Scoops Ice Cream and Candy. Pick your favorite pie flavor at Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery. Enjoy a cupcake at Robin’s Nest Cakery or a smoothie at Nutrition Revolution.

Be A Tourist In Your Own Town! Log on to VisitKenosha.com for details on these and more places. You can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 1

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Shop Kenosha

This story originally appeared in the Smart Reader, December 5, 2019

Are you scurrying about looking for presents and stocking stuffers? Whether you want to shop local, shop small, or just shop unique – I have ideas!

We list numerous locally owned shops at VisitKenosha.com/Shop. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to Seebecks. Also known as Seebeck Gallery, the shop owned by Vicki and Jon Seebeck is closing at the end of this month after 27 years in business. We thank the Seebecks for all they have done in the community!

More places to shop include Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets (80+ stores) and Jelly Belly Visitor Center. Museum gift shops carry a variety of Kenosha keepsakes as well as items related to each museum’s mission. For example, the Kenosha History Center has AMC and lighthouse clothing, among other gifts.

Art galleries offer handmade gifts. Lemon Street Gallery & Artspace is hosting the Artistree Giftable Art Show & Sale through Dec. 24. You can also find handmade gifts at Kenosha Winter HarborMarket on Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. inside the Kenosha Masonic Center at 115 56th Street. The market takes place on two days with expanded hours (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.) Dec. 7-8 as part of Kenosha HarborHoliday – International Market & Festival. The market will be outdoors in heated tents on pavement east of the Kenosha Public Museum and Civil War Museum. There will be more than 50 food, gift, and produce vendors. Be sure to go INSIDE the museums as well, as there will be more vendors – especially at the International Holiday Faire inside the Kenosha Public Museum. It will feature foods, gifts, and crafts from around the world.

Give the gift of an experience! I love to give – and receive – restaurant gift cards. Did you know the Kenosha Charter Boat Association offers gift certificates? A Wilmot Mountain gift card would also look great under the tree, just as a Kenosha Kingfish gift card would be a hit. The baseball team opens their seventh season at Historic Simmons Field on May 26. Or hit a hole in one with gift cards to Brighton Dale Links and Petrifying Springs Golf Course. It’s never too early to think spring!

Surprise your family and friends with tickets to an upcoming Lakeside Players production at Rhode Center for the Arts – or to a Kenosha Symphony Concert. The Bristol Renaissance Faire’s Holidazzle Ticket Sale continues through Jan. 6; the new season opens July 11. Do you know country music fans? I sure do!! Tickets are on sale now for next summer’s Country Thunder. Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Kane Brown, and Dustin Lynch are among the stars who will be here July 16-19.

And there you have it. Just a few ideas to get you started – and closer to being finished – with your shopping! Log on to VisitKenosha.com for details and even more ideas. For more information you can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165.

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Local Holiday Events

This story originally appeared in the Smart Reader, November 21, 2019

I can’t decide which events I look forward to more – outdoor summer ones like the Kenosha County Fair or holiday ones like Kenosha HarborHoliday! Luckily a ton of great events take place in Kenosha County throughout the year to entertain us all. I should know as I oversee the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Event Calendar! Numerous holiday events are listed at VisitKenosha.com/Events; here are a just a few to get you started. 

The UW-Parkside Winter Arts and Crafts Fair is Nov. 23. This one is always a big one! Meanwhile, Artistree takes place at Lemon Street Gallery & Artspace, Nov. 27 – Dec. 24. This is a juried one-of-a-kind giftable art show. Each year, between 32 and 40 artists have their artwork for sale. 

Lightin’ Up! Downtown happens Nov. 29 in Downtown Kenosha. The City of Kenosha Christmas Tree Lighting takes place outside on the west side of the Kenosha Public Museum. Musical entertainment begins at 4 p.m., then Santa and Mayor Antaramian will count down to the tree lighting at 5 p.m. Santa will be at Rhode Center for the Arts following the tree lighting. Downtown businesses will stay open late with special sales and promotions, family-friendly activities, and more.

Christmas at Kemper is a series of holiday events (many are free) at the historic Kemper Center, which includes Durkee Mansion. The festivities begin with a gala on Nov. 30. Note: all of the events will take place at Kemper Center’s main complex this year (some changed from Anderson Arts Center). The Lakeside Players production of Miracle on 34th St. – A Live Musical Radio Play takes place Dec. 6-8 and Dec. 13-15 at Rhode Center for the Arts.

Kenosha HarborHoliday – International Market & Festival is Dec. 7-8. This year’s expanded two-day event showcases the celebrations and flavors of the holiday season across cultures. It’s a combination of indoor and outdoor events offering fun and food for the entire family, plus holiday shopping. Enjoy a special edition of Kenosha HarborMarket in two outdoor heated tents on pavement east of the museums, the Kenosha Public Museum’s International Holiday Faire, the Civil War Museum’s Victorian Christmas, family activities provided by the Kenosha Public Library, free rides with storytellers aboard the Electric Streetcars, art activities, and much more. There will be living history presentations, live music, and a holiday reception with President Abraham Lincoln. Mrs. Claus will help kids write letters to Santa – and I hear Santa himself will make a cameo appearance at the Kenosha Public Museum on the afternoon of Dec. 8.

Speaking of Santa, he will be at Jelly Belly Visitor Center on Dec. 7 from 1 to 3 p.m. The same day, the Holiday Boutique Sale takes place at Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum. The Kenosha Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert is Dec. 14 at the Ralph J. Houghton Performance Center at Reuther High School, while the Kenosha Pops Concert Band presents its free Christmas concert on the same evening at Carthage College. 

Log on to VisitKenosha.com/Events for details on these events and many more. For more information you can also call us at (262) 654-7307 or visit one of the two Visitor Information Centers that we staff: at 600 – 52nd Street, Suite 140 in Downtown Kenosha and at I-94 & Hwy. 165.


Visitors Bureau is collecting warm winter clothing items

This article originally appeared in The Smart Reader, November 7th, 2019

For the ninth year, the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s two Visitor Information Centers are serving as collection sites for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s annual Big Bundle Up charity drive. You’re invited to drop off new or gently used coats, sweaters, hats, and mittens. All donations, accepted now through November 25 at our two centers, will stay in the community and be distributed to those in need through ELCA Outreach Center.

Our I-94 Visitor Information Center is located at the southeast corner of I-94 and Hwy. 165, at 10519 – 120th Ave. This time of year, it’s staffed Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Downtown Visitor Information Center is staffed Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please note if you have donated Big Bundle Up items in the past at our Downtown location, we are now at a new address. We are in the Harborview Office Center at 600 52nd Street, Suite 140. This is north of the City of Kenosha Municipal Building.

When you drop off a donation, be sure to pick up a Kenosha Area Visitors Guide and our Fall/Winter FUN 101 brochure: 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under – Many are FREE! We also carry the brochures of local attractions, shops, restaurants, and hotels. Let us be your resource to discover or re-discover the many great things we have to do here. Be A Tourist In Your Own Town! And that’s not all! The I-94 Visitor Information Center carries 350 different publications for destinations, attractions, and events throughout the state. Let us help you plan your next Wisconsin vacation!

This year, the Civil War Museum is also a collection site for Big Bundle Up, in conjunction with its current special exhibit: “Hold Your Horses!”. This is a display of Civil War Museum artifacts and history surrounding the First Regiment Wisconsin Cavalry. These soldiers trained in Kenosha on the grounds of Green Ridge Cemetery from November 1861 to March 1862.  “Their commanders put out requests in the local paper for citizens to donate any winter clothing, blankets, hats, mittens, etc. to the men as they were ill equipped to handle the winter weather,” according to Doug Dammann, Education Manager for the Kenosha Public Museums. Big Bundle Up at the Civil War Museum is a continuation of those efforts to support people in need!

In its first eight years, the program has collected 155,893 warm winter items statewide to help families in need. In addition to the KACVB’s two locations, other collection sites are located throughout the state. The KACVB has collected more than 10,400 items. 

The charity drive started in December 2011 as The Great Lakes Mitten Campaign and involved Michigan – as the “mitten state” is one of its nicknames. In light of all the buzz that surrounded the image of a Wisconsin-shaped mitten on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s website TravelWisconsin.com and its social media sites, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and Michigan’s tourism brand Pure Michigan joined forces to collect mittens for charity.

So when you’re getting out your winter clothing or shopping the early holiday sales, please consider the Big Bundle Up. Think of the people who can’t afford warm clothing this winter. They thank you – and the Visitors Bureau thanks you – for your donation.

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Explore Kenosha!

This article originally appeared in The Smart Reader, October 24th, 2019

Are you familiar with the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (KACVB)? We are a private, not-for-profit corporation that was established in 1986 as the official destination marketing organization for Kenosha County. We are the ones that publish the Kenosha Area Visitors Guide, and have an awesome event calendar – with a lot more information – at VisitKenosha.com. We also keep you in the know about #KenoshaFun on social media and provide helpful information at two Visitor Information Centers.

Our mission is to increase visitor appreciation of and spending in Kenosha County, thus improving the economy of the region. Tourism is a real thing here! Visitor spending in Kenosha County continued its upward trend in 2018, reaching a record $227.8 million – an increase of 6.7% over the prior year. Kenosha County currently ranks 18th out of 72 Wisconsin counties for annual visitor spending. Tourism provides jobs, lowers personal taxes, improves our local economy, and provides a positive community image, which is critical for economic development. We promote the Kenosha Area as a fun, friendly, refreshing, and affordable overnight tourism destination to individuals, groups, and businesses throughout the world. We also encourage local residents to Be A Tourist In Your Own Town!

As you explore Kenosha, be sure to use our 2019 Kenosha Area Visitors Guide and VisitKenosha.com as your reference guides! Also check out our NEW Fall/Winter FUN 101 list: 101 Things to See & Do for $10 & Under – Many are FREE! Available online, this list will give you many ideas of how you can experience Kenosha like a tourist. The list is also available in brochure format at our Visitor Information Centers.

The list is updated twice a year – for the fall/winter and spring/summer months. A variety of affordable activities and events are listed. You can refer to the list when entertaining out-of-town family and friends, planning a date night, or organizing a play date for the kids. Use the list to discover places that are new to you or to reacquaint yourself with long-time favorites. Be reminded that there are numerous attractions, parks, restaurants, shops, and events to enjoy close to home.

If you’re looking for #KenoshaFun, we have you covered! Find your fun at VisitKenosha.com. Our website has the event calendar, two e-newsletters you can sign up for, the online Visitors Guide, the FUN 101 list, our blog that community members contribute to, and much more. There’s also a photo contest you can enter online: we want your photos of local recreational activities, landmarks, festivals and events, and attractions. Think of public places where visitors can go. Help us show tourists what a wonderful place the Kenosha Area is, and you could win dinner for two at a local restaurant! Be sure to follow Visit Kenosha on social media to receive updates about events and more.

You can also stop by one of our Visitor Information Centers. The Downtown Kenosha location offers Kenosha Area brochures at 600 52nd Street, Suite 140. We also staff the Visitor Information Center at I-94 & Hwy. 165. The center carries 350 different publications for destinations, attractions, and events throughout the state. Stop at our I-94 location the first Friday of each month between noon and 3 p.m. for First Fridays – a mini expo with area businesses/attractions. You can also call us for information at (262) 654-7307.

 

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Kenosha Tourism Through The Years

By Meridith Jumisko, Public Relations Director at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Here at the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, we encourage you to support our local businesses during and after this difficult time. We recommend you use our website VisitKenosha.com as a resource. As we eagerly wait for there to be travel and tourism again, let’s look at some of Kenosha’s major tourism developments over the past 35 years or so.

The Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau was established in 1986 and published its first Kenosha Area Visitors Guide in 1987. In 1988, Lakeside Marketplace (now Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets) opened. Two years later, Dairyland Greyhound Park would open.

In June 2000, Electric Streetcar service returned to Kenosha. The following year, Jelly Belly Visitor Center opened – and so began my collection of paper hats from taking many free tours aboard the Jelly Belly Express over the years! In September 2001, the new Kenosha Public Museum building opened at HarborPark. I remember thinking at the time how much larger it was compared to its original space – which is now the Dinosaur Discovery Museum!

The Kenosha History Center opened at a new location on Simmons Island in 2001. With the move from a mansion on Third Avenue, the Kenosha County Historic Society’s museum could now showcase the community’s automotive history with car exhibits. In 2003Kenosha HarborMarket was startedthe indoor winter market would start five years later

In 2006, the Dinosaur Discovery Museum opened. The Carthage Institute of Paleontology’s paleontology lab is housed in the museum’s lower level. The Civil War Museum opened in 2008. Yes, we’ve had people ask why there’s such a museum in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This museum shares unique personal stories as it focuses on the contributions of the Upper Middle West – Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Michigan – to the Civil War. These states played a vital role by providing troops and supplies to the cause, even though no battles were fought in this region. 

In 2009, the Wisconsin Marathon made its debut, as did Taste of Wisconsin™. This is the same year when the Kenosha Area Convention & Visitors Bureau started staffing the I-94 Visitor Information CenterThe seasonal Southport Light Station Museum opened in 2010. After years of extensive renovation, the 1867 Light Station keeper’s house opened as a maritime museum featuring artifacts, maps, and information about Kenosha’s important 19th century harbor. A feature of the museum is the 1866 Southport Lighthouse tower, which is available to climb part of the year.

In 2011, the Sculpture Walk debuted along Kenosha’s harbor. The Bristol Renaissance Faire celebrated 25 years in 2012. Downtown Kenosha was designated a Wisconsin Main Street Community in 2013. Kenosha Kingfish played its inaugural season at a renovated Simmons Field in 2014.

Dream Playground was built at Petzke Park in 2015, while the Washington Park Velodrome was renovated in 2015-2016. Tall Ship Red Witch sailing excursions were first offered in Kenosha in 2016. That same year, Vail Resorts unveiled more than $13 Million worth of improvements at Wilmot MountainAdditions have recently been added to county parks: the Petrifying Springs Biergarten opened in 2017 and Boundless Adventures at Bristol Woods Park opened in 2019. 

In 2019, a $4.3 million preservation and modernization project took place at Anderson Arts Center and Kenosha ArtMarket debuted at Union Park. Which brings us to the present day. Our attractions, restaurants, shops, and hotels remain committed to the community and will be ready when the world returns to its regularly scheduled programming.

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