A great weekend’s journey is right inside our region. Here are some excellent places to play.
The Best of Madison at The Edgewater Hotel
BY LINDSEY GAPEN, ASSISTANT EDITOR
The calming waters of Lake Mendota, whether frozen or flowing, are a beautiful sight to wake up to. The Edgewater at 1001 Wisconsin Place, Madison, Wis., has been offering breathtaking views since opening its doors in 1948.
“We pride ourselves on being in the heart of downtown Madison, with unparalleled lake and State Capitol views,” says Amy Supple, chief operating officer. “A visit to The Edgewater is unlike anything else you’ll find in Madison.”
The Edgewater finished renovation in September 2014, yet for more than 65 years, the hotel has provided guests with waterfront relaxation, al fresco dining and a convenient spot for important meetings. The hotel has even hosted an array of celebrities, including Elvis Presley, Elton John, Bob Hope, Bob Marley and the Dalai Lama.
Located in the heart of the city, The Edgewater is mere steps from the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, as well as the State Capitol. The vibrant energy from the bustling students and downtown community allows guests to enjoy the “Madison Experience” without ever leaving the hotel property.
Also nearby is a plethora of locally owned treasures – from the Madison Children’s Museum to Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, a haven for exotic, hand-crafted fine chocolates. Due to a wealth of amenities right on site, you don’t even need to leave The Edgewater to experience a great getaway.
“We have special events that range from disco skates to UW-Badger tailgates,” Supple says. “There’s a great lineup of live music on weekends in the summer, and our ice rink in the winter months is magical. As a parent, you can have your kids out skating, while you watch from the big screen in our Icehouse restaurant and warm up with a craft beer and a snack. It can’t be beat.”
The Edgewater also offers guest a full-service spa experience, from facials and massages to hair care and makeup services. The exclusive treatments and product lines aren’t available anywhere else.
A full-service wellness center additionally offers private yoga instruction and group classes.
“Imagine doing yoga in The Sky Bar with the lake and capitol views all around,” Supple says. “It’s unique and completely relaxing.”
Guests can also find delicious dining options without having to leave the premises. The Statehouse serves up finer options, such as seafood and steak, while The Statehouse Bar is a creative, casual experience that offers a protein-driven menu with small plates and a focus on sharing.
The Statehouse offers fine dining in the restaurant and casual dining in its bar and grille. The Icehouse is a grab-and-go spot that services everyone enjoying the Plaza and The Ice Rink, while The Boathouse, open limited hours in the winter, offers a waterfront dining option that serves up Wisconsin necessities: cheese curds and craft beer.
“But even more important than our amenities, our dining and our beautiful location, however, is the quality of hospitality that we offer,” Supple says. “Most of all, our people stand out as our most unique asset. We are a great team of people who love Madison, who love sharing the Madison experience with guests, and who love ensuring that they have an amazing time.”
The Best of Rockford in Late Wintertime
BY LINDSEY GAPEN, ASSISTANT EDITOR
March still means winter weather in the Rockford region, so we may as well make the most of it.
“Whether it’s taking part in outdoor recreation or indoor family fun, there are many interactive ways to explore our region and learn about our culture,” says Andrea Mandala, marketing and communications manager for the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Local events are especially great for enjoying unique and memorable experiences with loved ones.”
Cheer on the Rockford IceHogs as they drop the puck at BMO Harris Bank Center this winter season; enjoy “First Fridays” at the beginning of every month with extended hours at art galleries, shops and music venues in the downtown district; and celebrate the end of the winter season at Meltfest 2016 – an annual event with live music, a 5k run/walk, a group bike ride, ice skating and kids activities on March 26 at Prairie Street Brewhouse.
Between these events, be sure to relish the scenic beauty of Rockford’s parks, recreational paths and forest preserves.
“The Rockford Park District and other local businesses, like Rocktown Adventures, offer great outdoor activities like hiking, snowshoeing, snowboarding and snow skiing,” Mandala says. “Since Rockford is known as the ‘Forest City,’ this is a great place to explore nature and admire the changes of the seasons.”
For wintertime comfort food, Mandala recommends Lino’s Restaurant of Rockford – a longstanding Italian favorite with a menu full of pasta, pizza, veal, chicken and fish, plus nightly specials. In addition to fine cuisine, Lino’s offers a sultry atmosphere with “Jazz Night in Old Italy” every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., featuring performers Eddie B. Jazz trio with special guest musicians.
Another favorite of Mandala’s is Stockholm Inn, which serves up Swedish favorites in addition to traditional American food. Enjoy Swedish pancakes with imported lingonberries, Swedish meatballs and other tasty Scandinavian treats.
“When deciding where to dine in the Rockford region, the two things I look for are authentic menu items that can’t be duplicated anywhere else and establishments run by local entrepreneurs who understand the importance of ‘handmade’ and have a cool story to tell about their businesses,” Mandala says. “It’s not only the food that draws me in, it’s the ambiance – historic photos hung on the wall, to generations of family members working together in the same kitchen delivering cherished family recipes to their customers. That’s what makes the experience a memorable one for me.”
New establishments in Rockford include The Bees Knees General Store, 118 First St., a trove of antiques, art, bicycles, books and other eclectic finds; Magpie Restaurant, 307 S. Main St., serving up breakfast and lunch; Bath & Body Fusion, 324 E. State St., selling fresh soaps, oils and other all-natural products; and Sienna’s Kitchen, 223 E. State St., great for grilled paninis, gourmet popcorn and Italian oils.
“It’s exciting to witness and be a part of downtown Rockford’s growth and expansion,” Mandala says.
Pamper Yourself with Some Late Winter Fun at Starved Rock Lodge
BY KATHY CASSTEVENS, MARKETING DIRECTOR, STARVED ROCK LODGE
Late winter months are a time to take care of yourself. You made it through the holidays; the rush of spring planting and cook-outs will be here before you know it. Right now it’s YOU time. Starved Rock Lodge, in Utica, Ill., is the perfect place to make the most of it. Here are some ideas just for YOU:
Book a late winter getaway to Starved Rock Lodge and choose a room at the historic Lodge or a cabin in the woods. Relax in the warmth of the heated indoor pool and spend some time in the hot tub and sauna. The Gift Shop, Cafe and Back Door Lounge are all under one roof. The Lounge has Leinenkugel’s Starved Rock Signature Ale on tap, plus live music every Saturday night from 8 to 11 p.m. The ambiance of the Great Hall, with its massive two-sided fireplace, is a lovely place to play a board game or sit back with a good book.
Treat yourself to a therapeutic massage. Choose from an aromatherapy, Swedish, hot stone or deep-tissue massage in a cozy cabin just steps away from the Lodge. Couples massages are also available. Appointments are necessary and are open to guests and non-guests alike.
Visit the Illinois Waterway Visitor Center, with its fantastic observation deck that enables you to see eagles in flight over the Illinois River.
Paint & Wine Class is offered in the Cafe on March 8. This is a fun way to be creative, have some wine and take home your own work of art at the end of the evening.
Owl Prowl Weekend is March 11-13.
On March 13, learn about maple syruping at 1:30 p.m.
On March 20, celebrate Chief Walks With the Wind at a tribute led by his grandson.
On March 21, 22 & 23 you can enjoy exciting Dueling Pianos performances to the lodge.
“Birds of Prey Live!” is presented March 27 at 1:30 p.m.
Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy winter, and the Lodge has guided hikes each weekend. To learn more about Starved Rock Lodge’s many relaxing activities visit starvedrocklodge.com.