Shoreline Travel, Wisconsin Style

Vacations shouldn’t be that much work, right?

Planning that perfect getaway—a little adventure and a lot of relaxation—can be a challenge, especially when it’s for a family full of different interests. Our advice? Drive just two hours north, where there’s something for everyone in Kohler and Sheboygan.

Family fun at The American Club

Kohler has long been a destination for golfers and girlfriend getaways. But The American Club Resort (419 Highland Dr., Kohler, WI, 866-887-8455) offers adventure opportunities that lend themselves to more than just couples and adults. Simply stated, there is great family fun here. If you like outdoor fun, your dance card’s full—you can trapshoot, paddleboard, explore by bike, go horseback riding, canoe, fish, play tennis, swim, work out and of course, golf.

What to do

Golf: While you may not line up a date with your preschooler on Whistling Straits, The American Club’s four courses offer a truly top-notch experience for you and your older kids—and a chance to play where the pros do.


Swim and sun: Sports Core is just a walk, bike or shuttle ride away from your hotel room. Guests can rent a tennis court, take a paddleboard lesson, kayak around Wood Lake or relax on the beach and in the outdoor fireside hot tub.


Nature-based adventure: River Wildlife is great for kids of all ages. Younger ones can fish, canoe and take nature walks, while older kids can try out trapshooting.


Mommy’s morning out: Kohler Waters Spa. Let Dad take the kids golfing or on a nature hike—somewhere. Just so you have two hours to go to the spa and get pampered like you’ve never been before. The Complete Harmony Treatment is 80 minutes of heaven.


Don’t discount the Kohler Design Center. You’d think there is nothing less exciting for kids than a plumbing showroom, but you would be wrong. Turns out, there is a design maven in everyone, including 12-year-old girls and 17-year-old boys. Infinity tubs made everyone’s wish list.

Where to eat

I can’t emphasize this enough: At The American Club, there is not a single place you can go wrong when it comes to a great meal. For families, River Wildlife, Cucina and The Horse & Plow offer the most family-friendly environment, whereas The Immigrant Restaurant and Blackwolf Run offer a more intimate dining experience for couples.

For those that really want to take advantage of the culinary experience, check out the upcoming Food & Wine Experience, October 17-20. Says Chicago chef Tony Mantuano, of Bar Toma, Terzo Piano and Spiaggia fame,  “I love the Kohler Food and Wine Experience for many reasons. One is that it is truly an ‘experience.’ Guests can mingle with the chefs and vice versa like no other event. Two is that it may the most relaxing of any other food and wine event because of its setting within the Kohler campus, and lastly the most important reason is the enthusiasm from each and every guest that attends the weekend; there is a wonderful energy surrounding the event.”

Hitting the Sheboygan shore

If the family is more in the mood for a laid back, “I want to wear my flip flops and bathing suit to breakfast” adventure, Sheboygan is home to the Blue Harbor Resort (725 Blue Harbor Dr., Sheboygan, WI, 920-452-2900), a sophisticated rendition of the classic waterpark and hotel combo.


It’s all about the kids here—parents should check most romantic intentions at the door. That said, when it comes to fulfilling that waterpark adventure on your child’s bucket list, this is the place to do it.


Located on the Lake Michigan shoreline, the view from the lakeside rooms is phenomenal—and the place you can squeeze in a few romantic moments. The Adirondack chairs scattered along the low bluff are where you can escape to enjoy a sunrise with your coffee, and the trail along the shore is perfect for running or walking. With a bocce court, putting surface, and nightly bonfires, the hotel offers more than just water-based mayhem.


What to do

The beauty of Blue Harbor’s location is that there are plenty of activities beyond the waterpark. In addition to strolling Sheboygan’s pier community, there are a number of fishing charters ready to take you and the family out for an adventure. Fancy yourself a mixologist? Try your hand at creating your own lotions and scents at Olivu (511 N. 8th St., Sheboygan, 920-783-0809)

Where to eat

Sheboygan’s dining scene is pretty hot, starting at a cup of joe at the Weather Center Café. (809 Riverfront Dr., Sheboygan, 920-459-9283) You’ll feel like you stepped right into New England at this dockside dive that offers some of the most scrumptious breakfast goodies known to man. The peanut-butter-cup muffin? My god.

Field to Fork Cafe (511 S. 8th St., Sheboygan, 920-694-0322) is one of four restaurants in Sheboygan owned by Stefano and Whitney Viglietti, and it has an outstanding breakfast and lunch menu. Their emphasis on locally sourced ingredients has earned them a cult-like following.


The Black Pig (821 N. 8th St., Sheboygan, 920-457-6565) has that “it” vibe—a classy but casual gastro pub featuring all things pork. Order yourself a Spotted Cow with the BBQ Berkshire Pork & Pineapple Flatbread and thank me later.

City fun on the side

A trip to Sheboygan means traveling through Milwaukee. Don’t make the mistake of saying, “We’ll stop next time.” Instead, book a night at the Brewhouse Suites (1215 N. 10th St., Milwaukee, WI, 414-810-3350) for a true steampunk experience. After the Pabst factory closed in the mid-’90s, the property sat, sadly, vacant. Savvy investors to the rescue have created a one-of-a-kind hotel experience inside the former brewery with amazing suites, each one different than the next.


What to do

Spend a few hours at the Milwaukee Art Museum (600 Art Museum Dr., Milwaukee, WI, 414-224-3200)—but time it right. You don’t want to miss the Burke Brise Soleil in action—a wing-like structure that opens and closes several times a day.