Three Unique Cultural Destinations for a Wisconsin Road Trip

Jul 7, 2017

Behold, the iconic summer road trip.  Mount Rushmore.  The Grand Canyon.  The Washington Monument.  The 60-foot Jolly Green Giant.  All worthy destinations.

But the minds at Milwaukee Magazine suggest a different spin on the Wisconsin road trip this summer - a cultural one.  "I think people tend to focus on nature-related destinations when they're thinking of typical road trip ideas," says Lindsey Anderson, Milwaukee Magazine's culture editor.  "And those are a lot of fun, too.  But we thought it would be good to present some more culturally focused ideas."

The magazine's July issue is divided into three road trip themes: architecture, theatre, and folk art. While there's no substitute for the full article, here are some suggestions to get you started:

Architecture

Credit AD German Warehouse designed by Frank Lloyd Wright / facebook.com

June marked the 150th anniversary of the birth (in Richland Center, Wisconsin) of Frank Lloyd Wright. To mark Wright's long ties with Wisconsin, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail was inaugurated last year, featuring nine sites along a 200-mile span.  In addition to better-known destinations such as Spring Green's Taliesin and the S.C. Johnson administration building in Racine, the trail also includes a lesser-known destination in Wright's hometown.  Completed in 1921, the A.D. German Warehouse once held sugar, flour, coffee, and tobacco.  Today, it houses a gift shop, theatre, and interpretive exhibits about the architect.  "I think it would be worth the trip to see where [Wright] maybe got a lot of his ideas for his iconic Prairie School of architecture," Anderson suggests.

Theatre

The Peninsula Players Theatre was founded in 1935. They continue their summer season with "Peter and the Starcatcher."
Credit Peninsula Players Theatre / facebook.com

While many traditional theatre companies take a break during the summer, there are other companies for which summer is their season.  People come from around the world to see performances by the American Players Theatre in Spring Green.  But just as significant is the theatre scene in Door County.  It includes a number of companies, such as Fish Creek's Peninsula Players, the oldest summer stock company in the country.  "This is their eighty-second season," Anderson says, "and anyone who goes there will see why they've managed to produce plays for so long, and why people keep coming back."

Folk Art

Wisconsin has traditional world-class art museums.  But there are also unique destinations that feature art that may not have been appreciated in its time.  Among them is the Wisconsin Concrete Park, featuring more than 200 concrete and mixed media sculptures created by Fred Smith, a retired lumberjack and self-taught artist.  It's a long drive from Milwaukee, in the northwoods town of Phillips, but Anderson says it's worth the trip.  "If you're planning a trip further north already," she says, "this would be a great place to occupy several hours."