By Susan Brauer
“This is the exit,” I said, my mouth watering, anticipating delicious pies we’d seen touted on numerous billboards along Interstate 94 as we drove through Wisconsin.
My husband Mark and I were on a weekend road trip from our home in Minnesota through rural Wisconsin in search of vacation spots that each of us remembered from our childhood. Our first stop was lunch at the Norske Nook in Osseo, which specializes in Scandinavian comfort food. I happily dug into a delicious pork lefse wrap (a kind of Norwegian burrito) while Mark contentedly munched on what was billed as a Wisconsin Rueben. Of course, we finished our meal off with a piece of the much-promoted, delicious, award-winning pie.
Fun Fact: You can order authentic Scandinavian lefse from the Norske Nook online for delivery anywhere in the 50 United States. https://norskenook.com/buy-norske-nook-lefse-online/
Location: There are four locations in central and western Wisconsin. https://norskenook.com/norwegian-restaurant-bakery-gift-shop-locations/
The first night of our trip, after driving past the lake that I recalled vacationing on as a child, we stayed in the quiet town of Coloma where I had booked a room at the small, colonial Coloma Hotel. When we arrived, I found a note in the office instructing us to call a cell phone number. It was answered by the owner, who was “out on the lake fishing” and “would come right in.”
The nine-room Coloma Hotel was built in 1876 when hotels were often small and cozy. Although it has, of course, been updated over time with all of the comfortable rooms including cable TV, coffee makers, refrigerators, and free, high-speed Wi-Fi, it maintains the quaint ambiance that you’d expect from a small-town hotel in rural Wisconsin. Rooms with twin, full, or queen beds run from $40 to $55 per night and include continental breakfast.
Fun Fact: You can rent the entire hotel for $360 per night, which includes all nine bedrooms and baths and use of the living room, deck, and gazebo.
Location: 132 Main Street in Coloma, WI (http://colomahotel.com/)
The next morning, we took off to relive vacation memories from my husband’s childhood, when his family would pile into the car with their camping gear and head to Devil’s Lake State Park. I had found and booked a room at The WilloWood Inn, just south of downtown Baraboo and close to the main entrance of the park. The inn describes itself as a “quaint, comfortable, affordable, mom and pop motel.” I’d had to call to make the reservation, because as they say on their website, “Part of the vintage charm of WilloWood Inn is that you MUST TALK TO A HUMAN to reserve a room.” As we pulled up, I instantly fell in love with the classic ’70s motel in its woodsy setting and the kaleidoscope of color created by the brightly painted vintage metal lawn chairs outside every room. The 15 rooms and one cottage, all with a different theme (we stayed in the American Apple Room), include TVs, refrigerators, free coffee/tea, AC, and Wi-Fi. Rooms run from $50 for a single unit in low season to $150 for the 2-bedroom cottage during high season.
Fun Fact: Kids under 16 stay free with family.
Location: S5509 County Road DL, Baraboo, WI (http://www.willowoodinn.com/index.html)
As the weekend came to an end Mark and I agreed that our road trip through rural Wisconsin had truly been like traveling back in time. Heading for home, we reminisced about favorite moments as billboards along the Wisconsin interstate advertising our childhood memories of campgrounds, motels, and award-winning pies disappeared in the rearview mirror.
If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.