Posts Categorized: Driftless Day Trips

Fall Art Trips: Vesterheim Skål Exhibit!

Fall is the loveliest season around here (we think). So we put together a little list of events to add to your calendar! Go ahead and hit the road this fall for some fun art trips in the Driftless Region! Next: Vesterheim “Skål! Scandinavian Spirits” Exhibit

skal_vesterheim

Vesterheim “Skål! Scandinavian Sprits” exhibit / Free Thursdays
Opening reception September 10, 2016, Exhibit runs through December 31, 2016
Free admission first Thursdays of the month
vesterheim.org

Who said museums and alcohol don’t mix? Maybe no one, eh?!

Alcohol has long inspired art and arguments – hopefully it inspires you to check out the new exhibit, Skål, at Vesterheim Museum in Decorah (save the drinking for a non-driving time, though).

Curated by the Museum of Danish America and presented by Aalborg and Linie Aquavits, this traveling exhibition shares the history and traditions of drinking culture in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, and how those traditions carried into the U.S. with immigrants. The exhibition focuses on beer and aquavit – the traditional flavored spirit of Scandinavia that means “the water of life.”

Drinking traditions offer one way for Scandinavian Americans to connect to their heritage. Scandinavians have brewed beer for over 1,500 years. In pre-Christian times, the Norse god Odin was credited with teaching humans how to brew beer, and drinking beer was often involved in worship and as offering to the deities. Beer was part of battle victory celebrations and sometimes drinking challenges. In the 1500s, distilled liquor became known through Scandinavia as a medical cure-all. Early distilling efforts often produced awful flavors, so herbs and other plants were used to improve the taste – creating what is now known as aquavit. Cool!

The exhibit name, Skål, is a traditional Scandinavian drinking “cheers” proclamation.

Watch for classes  – Lexi from the Old Ballard Liquor Company in Seattle, Washington, will teach two workshops about aquavit in October. Skål!

Added bonus: We just love that every first Thursday of the month at Vesterheim includes free admission to the museum!

FYI: Through 33,000 artifacts and 12 historic buildings, Vesterheim, the national Norwegian-American museum and heritage center in Decorah, Iowa, shares the most comprehensive collection of Norwegian-American artifacts in the world.

Driftless Day Trips: Cassville / Potosi

DriftlessDayTrip_GuttenbergTopPhoto

By Aryn Henning Nichols • Photos by Inspire(d) unless noted • Originally published in the Fall 2015 Inspire(d)

WhatsDriftlessDayTripDriving south down Highway 52 toward Guttenberg, Iowa, it’s hard not to let out a little sigh. The valleys and farmland and big blue sky make the miles tick by faster than you’d hope.

The town of Guttenberg doesn’t actually come into view until the very last minute. No matter which way you enter, you come up over a hill or to a spot where the trees open and you’re greeted by this sweet little town way down in the valley, and truly amazing views of the Mississippi. Gotta get a pic? Scenic lookouts on the both the north and south side of town offer great selfies opportunities (don’t hate – we’re big fans of the family selfie!).

SPOTlight: Guttenberg

Guttenberg is snuggled right up to the Mississippi – the historic main street, River Park Drive, runs along the bank of the river. We packed a picnic and made a stop at a park near Lock and Dam 10. It was super fun to watch the boats and barges pass through the dam as we munched on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There’s also a viewing platform available for an even closer look.

Picnic

History buffs can check out the National Register of Historic Places Lockmaster House Heritage Museum nearby. It now only houses memorabilia – it’s the last remaining lockmaster house on the Upper Mississippi River.

South of Lock and Dam 10, just down River Park Drive, is the Aquarium and Fish Hatchery (generally open 9 am – 3 pm May – October). It’s a quaint little one-room affair, operated by biologists with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Exhibits include a large selection of live Mississippi River creatures – catfish, turtles, mussels, trout, and other fun fish – plus some cool historical displays.

GuttenbergBand_SheilaTomkins
Photo courtsey Sheila Tomkins

Guttenberg is a German town through-and-through, and celebrates GermanFest each fall September 23-24, 2016 marks the 26th anniversary of the event! The family-friendly Fest includes an arts and crafts market, biergarten, kraut cook-off, hog roast, homemade beer tasting, live music, a 5K walk/run, wiener dog races, and more! www.guttenbergiowa.net

FerryWIndow2

From there, we were off to catch the ferry. We had hoped Roxie would also catch a nap, but alas…it wasn’t meant to be (yet). Just a few miles south of Guttenberg, there’s a sign directing you left to the Cassville Ferry. You’ll take some gravel that’ll seem almost like dirt roads…but know you’re on the right path. Just enjoy the scenery (and stop stressing already)!

CassvilleFerryBenjiRoxieFerry_Lolli

SPOTlight: Cassville Ferry

After passing by small farms and large fields, you’ll finally arrive at a gravel parking area next to the river – this is the Iowa side of the Cassville Ferry!

The Pride of Cassville Car Ferry – the oldest operating ferry service in the state of Wisconsin – connects two National Scenic Byways; the (Wisconsin) Great River Road and the Iowa Great River Road. It began in 1833 and continues today, making the same trip back and forth across the Mississippi.

The very first governor of Wisconsin, a then 23-year-old Nelson Dewey, made his first trip across the Mississippi to reach the tiny village of Cassville. He settled there in 1836 and attempted to turn Cassville into a metropolis. It never quite made it – Cassville is just shy of 1,000 people – but it’s a cute little town and the Ferry is definitely a fun way to get from Iowa to Wisconsin (or vice versa).

FamilyFerryWe had Roxie press the button and soon saw the ferry chugging our way. You drive aboard, give the friendly employees your fare, and enjoy the ride!

Details:
Cassville Ferry
Fall hours: September 8 to October 25
Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
10AM to 8PM
(7 days a week Memorial Day to Labor Day – check website for current hours)

From Cassville, (Wisconsin now, remember) we headed southeast on the Great River Road to Potosi. It was time for a beer! (Also a nap, but alas…not yet.)

Potosi

According to Wikipedia, Potosi is known as the “the Catfish Capital of Wisconsin,” because of its annual Catfish Festival in August, but when you arrive in Potosi, most would say it’s the Potosi Brewery (and The National Brewery Museum and Library) that you notice first. Another one of those pretty little towns nestled in the beauty of the Driftless Region, Potosi is truly a village – fewer than 700 people call it home – but that doesn’t mean it’s not busy at the main attraction, Potosi Brewing.

PotosiOutsidePotosi1

SPOTlight: Potosi Brewing

The Potosi Brewing Company began in 1852. At its peak, it was the fifth largest brewery in Wisconsin, shipping beers such as Good Old Potosi, Holiday, Garten Brau, and Augsburger throughout the United States. But business slowed, and it closed its doors in 1972. In 1995, after a terrible fire that took out almost a whole block of buildings, a man named Gary David bought the property and began restoration, rebuilding for three years before finally being able to assess the brewery itself.

In 1999, after a prompt by his wife, Madonna, David proposed a community meeting in hopes of bringing the public in on the restoration process. The meeting was incredibly well attended by the public and brought forth suggestions as well as support, and eventually led to the 2000 formation of the Potosi Brewery Foundation. In January of 2001, the Potosi Brewery building was donated to the Potosi Foundation, and the brewery property was officially transferred. Following a $7.5 million restoration, the Potosi Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and sole owner of the Potosi Brewing Company, reopened the brewery in 2008. The Potosi Foundation’s mission is to support historical and educational initiatives, and charitable causes.

To cap things off (pun!) in 2004 the Potosi Foundation was selected by the American Breweriana Association to be the home to its national museum.

Potosi Brewery now crafts and distributes a variety of beers throughout the region. We had some yummy tasters while Roxie checked out the koi pond, and the pub serves up tasty food ranging from brats and burgers to flatbreads and pasta. The building itself is beautiful and fun to wander around, and you can also tour the National Brewery Museum.

Beerkoipond

The National Brewery Museum is a joint venture between the Potosi Foundation and the American Breweriana Association. It showcases a collection of beer bottles and cans, glasses, trays, coasters, advertising materials and other items relating to breweriana collectibles.

FYI: Breweriana commonly refers to any article containing a brewery name or brand name, usually in connection to collecting them as a hobby.

P.S. There’s also live music through mid-September out on the Potosi patio!

Scenery_Potosi

Back in the car, we headed toward Dubuque. NOW it was time for Roxie’s nap (thank goodness).

Along the way:
Dickyville Grotto
One Catholic Priest, Father Matthias Wernerus, built this amazing place between the years 1925-1930. There’s no official record, but they say nearly 200 tons of rock were gathered from the Dakotas, Iowa, and nearby Wisconsin quarries to build it. Most of the site’s structures are covered in shells, stones, tiles, wood, glass, gems, and geodes donated by area parishioners.

IowaWelcome

Dubuque

While this could certainly be a one-day trip, with an almost-three-year-old in tow, we decided to spend the night in Dubuque. There are several great options. Our favorites are the historic Hotel Julien right downtown and the Grand Harbor – right on the riverwalk – this place has a riverboat-themed waterpark and is a fun option for a family overnight (especially in the cold months)!

If you do opt for the overnight, make sure to check out our Dubuque Driftless Day Trip for details on what to do while you’re in town (Highlights: Mississippi River Aquarium, Fenelon Elevator, L. May Eatery, and more.)

The next day, we got back on the road, this time headed northwest to check out another spot off the beaten path: Park Farm Winery.

Along the way:
Field of Dreams movie site – You know the story: If you build it, they will come. And apparently, so will the tourists and locals, for many years!

ParkFarmVines

SPOTlight: Park Farm Winery, Bankston, Iowa

Once again, we’ve taken you on a path that seems a little too far out of the way. And it’s kind of true. Because once you arrive at Park Farm Winery, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another country! There’s the trademark Driftless rolling hills and valleys, but with the bonus beauty of rows upon rows of grapes. It’s just lovely.

ParkFarmOutsideParkFarmInside

Established in 2005, Park Farm is a family owned and operated winery near Bankston, Iowa. The chateau-inspired vineyard is home to a tasting room, wood-fired pizza oven, and event venue. The 11-acre estate grows specific ‘cold climate’ grape cultivars that produce great wine and withstand the harsh winters of the Upper Midwest.

Folks can grab some wine tasters (or just a glass of whatever they love), head out on the balcony, and enjoy the view while munching on a wood-fired pizza. It’s a pretty great spot.

Pizza

Check website for current hours.

It was finally time to head north, back to Decorah. We had a blast on this Driftless Day Trip and hope you are inspire(d) to head out on your own. Hit us up at on social media @iloveinspired if you do, and stay tuned for more Driftless Day Trips! Enjoy! – Aryn (and Benji and Roxie too)

Fall Art Trips Series

fallarttours_weblayout2

By Aryn Henning Nichols

In our humble opinions, if the roads are good to go, it’s a perfect time for us to go… on a road trip! And fall in the Driftless Region is an especially nice time to hit the road – the leaves are techno-coloring out, the air is crisp, and there always seems to be some sort of fun event or new place to check out – and lots of great arts and cultural events. To this we say: Yes! Score!

We love supporting the arts, and there are tons of amazing artists to support here. Participating in events like these is a perfect way to support the arts and artists directly (and can also be a great time to purchase some meaningful holiday gifts)!

So we put together a fun little arts and culture road trip list for fall – check out the whole series to get ideas on your calendars and get out during the loveliest season!

1. Driftless Area Art Festival

2. Vesterheim “Skål! Scandinavian Spirits” Exhibit

3. Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour

4. Driftless Film Festival

5. Lanesboro Arts Center

Wondering what to pack? Check out our art trip packing list!

fallarttrips_packinglist

(Click above for larger version)

Feeling like you’re digging the art fun? Add these art-y Driftless places to your list too:

fallarttours_additionalarty

ArtHaus
Decorah, Iowa
arthausdecorah.org

Guttenberg Creativity Center
Guttenberg, Iowa
www.guttenbergcreativitycenter.com

McGregor/Marquette Center for the Arts
McGregor, Iowa
www.mmam.org

The Pump House
La Crosse, Wisconsin
www.thepumphouse.org

Rochester Art Center
Rochester, Minnesota
rochesterartcenter.org

Minnesota Marine Art Museum
Winona, Minnesota
www.mmam.org

———————————-

Pictured at very top: husband and wife team Nate and Hallie Evans run their company, Allamakee Wood Fired Pottery, at the end of a beautiful road in rural, you guess it – Allamakee county! Their pottery – tableware, vases, pots, and more – is lovely with gorgeous designs and cool, earthy colors – we especially love their line of kids’ cups – and the setting of their home and studio is equally lovely. When we ventured out there last fall during the Northeast Iowa Artists Studio Tour, Roxie got to play out in the yard with the Evans’ boys while we checked out the studio space and giant kiln…and there was even tasty soup on for tour-goers! (iowaarttour.com) / Photo by Benji Nichols