Travel the countryside in search of “Barn Quilts” throughout the counties of Calumet, Winnebago and Fond du Lac. The rural roads beckon you in search of these winsome paintings of quilt squares on the side of barns. See how many you can “collect” along the way.
Your first stop on your cultural exploration of the region surrounding Lake Winnebago is The Plaid Squirrel Gallery and Gifts in Brothertown. Reclaimed, recovered, recycled pieces by local artisans are waiting for you to discover. If you happen to be traveling by motorcycle this stop is a must for shopping for bike inspired folk art! Then it’s on to New Holstein – a rural prairie community founded around the railroad freight and passenger stations. Visit The Timm House built in 1873, one of the Midwest’s finest remaining “stick-style” Victorian homes (May – October). Then on to the Ariens Company Museum located in the company’s original manufacturing plant in downtown Brillion. This museum features the best of the Midwestern manufacturing culture with a full-scale replica of Henry Ariens’ garage – the building where the first Arien tiller took shape.
End your day back on Lake Winnebago at High Cliff State Park to breathe in the culture of doing nothing except enjoying the view!
Rise and shine to venture on to two lighthouses. Bray’s Point (Rockwell) Lighthouse is where the Fox River enters Lake Winnebago. Built by former Wisconsin Senator William Bray in 1909 to mark the shallow dangerous reefs just off-shore, he assumed the role of keeper lighting the lamp each night. This lighthouse sits on private land so just do a drive by! Located in Asylum Point Park (named for its neighboring mental institution) Asylum Point Lighthouse is on the western shore of Lake Winnebago just north of Oshkosh. Then travel on to the Paine Art Center & Garden. Revered as an “American Castle,” this 1920’s mansion is home to historic interiors, an exceptional art collection and flourishing gardens. Spend the afternoon at the Oshkosh Public Museum to connect with the region’s heritage and the natural history of the Winnebago waterway. Permanent and changing exhibits offer you a unique glimpse into to the past.
Recognized as one of Wisconsin’s Historic Main Street Communities, Ripon boasts a casual, edgy and artsy mix of Italianate historic store fronts in a downtown Watson Street Historic District. Explore this college town a little more and you’ll find Victorian “painted ladies” in the residential area south of downtown.
Travel south to Waupun and the Horicon Marsh, a Wetland of International Importance and the Marsh Haven Nature Center. Stop for a stroll on the floating boardwalk for bird watching and nature gazing. Or see the collection of statues in this “City of Sculpture”.
Then wander back north as no road trip to the area would be complete without a stop at Kelley Country Creamery in Eden. The shop overlooks the family homestead and the cows who give the milk to make these delicious ice cream confections. The family was honored to have Kelley’s named the Best Ice Cream Parlor in America by Good Morning America.
After a cozy night’s sleep in one of Fond du Lac’s many lodging establishments its up and out for a photo op at Lakeside Park’s Lighthouse. Climb the observation tower for an impressive view of Lake Winnebago. Stop in at Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts for their permanent and changing exhibits. Before leaving the area don’t’ miss the Kristmas Kringle Shoppe to stroll through two floors of decorated trees, unique Christmas ornaments and wreaths and everything holiday. You can take home a lighthouse or a barn ornament to hang on your tree and remind you of the trip!