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Things to do in Waukesha

  • Glacial Drumlin State Park Glacial Drumlin State Park Waukesha, Wisconsin
    One of the most famous areas in the state of Wisconsin is the Kettle Moraine, which is the various formations of debris left from the Wisconsin glacier as it receded from the state and this area over 10,000 years ago. One of those formations is the area known as Glacial Drumlin State Park in Waukesha, Wisconsin. There is a wooded ridge running north to south from Glenbeulab to the Whitewater Lakes, passing through the counties of Sheboyan, Walworth, Washington, Fond du Lac and Waukesha. Sitting between the Great Lakes and the Green Bay lobes, this beautiful areas is speckled with eskers, kettle holes, crevasse fillings, kames, moraines, glacial spillways and drumlins. The land isn't well suited for farming, so it has remained pristine for thousands of years while the area around it grew with settlements, towns, farms and depreciating forests. Soon the residents of this great state realized that unless they made or created some kind of protective status for the moraine, it would eventually become spotted with quarries and summer cottages; which were encroaching on the land even then. The Kettle Moraine State Forest was created to protect this spectacular region and the entire 90 mile length of the ridge was intended to be included. Presently the northern and southern parts of the forest; representing about 25 miles long and a mile or so wide, are finished, and it has become one of the most used and loved natural resources in the Midwest. Unfortunately, there remains the 40 miles of landscaping in between that almost half is privately owned and therefore not protected against lumber cutting, quarrying or wetland preservation. It is very unfortunate that this area is the most beautiful with the best geological features of the moraine. Powder hill at Pike Lake, Scuppernong Creek-Hunter's Lake region, the Kewaskum-West Bend-Green Bay Lobe, the Bark, Scuppernong and Oconomowoc rivers, Loew's Lake, Fox Hill near Cedar Lake, Irish Lake, Holy Hill, Little Switzerland in Slinger, Hogsback Road crevasse filling, Hartland Marsh, Lapham Peak and the Glacial Drumlin trail. There are numerous towns located throughout the area that tell of the historical and ethnic reminders of the past; the Welsh at Wales, Norwegians in Erin, Skoponong settlement in LaGrange, Irish in Erin, Yankees in Delafield and the Germans in Slinger. About 18 miles of this area is owned by different governmental agencies and is thus protected, but the other 21.7 miles is still in private hands. There are unhappy circumstances occurring in the moraine now with the gravel pits, new home developments, logging, and highways to tie it all together. The task force involved in saving the moraine for recreation, aesthetics and environmental integrity admits that these kinds of activities are inevitable, but they know the best uses for many of the areas can be for the people that will come here to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the area. It is these magnificent geological formations that are attracting other businesses, but the greatest care must be taken to make sure that the rest of the moraine and the other pristine regions are left undisturbed. It is equally unfortunate that the trail of the Ice Age scenic trail runs through the very core of the open area. This task force has determined that the various government agencies must handle the overall area, so that most of the moraine will remain intact, with opportunities for future generations to be able to enjoy the beauty, solitude and incredible geological formations of the Kettle Moraine.

  • Minooka Park
    The biggest park in the county of Waukesha is Minooka Park just two miles south of the city center, on the corner of Racine Avenue and Sunset Drive. It is 580 acres of exciting venues with great trails, taking you away from civilization into the tranquil forests of nature. The small 4 acre pond is a marvelous way to spend the day in the hot summer months swimming in the cool waters or relaxing on the beach, playing in the sand. There are miles of beautiful trails that can be walked, jogged, run or biked, with special areas for horseback riding. Magnificent songbirds can be seen occasionally although more often than not, heard; like the scarlet tanagers or the fly catchers. Right now the area is ablaze with the beautiful reds, oranges and yellows of the fall change; and the winter is loved here with the sledding hills, cross-country skiing and skating pond. The pond is open for swimming June through August, weather changes quickly here so you wouldn't want to swim in the cooler waters as the temperature declines. You are allowed to fish the pond which is stocked with trout, bass, crappie, perch and bluegill, in the summer and winter, although the rule is usually catch and release. There are many picnic areas, with some that are covered pavilions that can and should be reserved. The trails are varied for novice to expert and should be exciting since the area is beautiful. Archery ranges are available for those hunters wanting to increase their skills before the season starts. Bridal trails are available from May 1st until November 1st, and are great exercise for horse and rider. The ski trails for the cross-country skiers are always maintained keeping them in excellent shape for the skiers, with 3 exciting loops that total 6 miles of runs.

  • Fox River Park
    The Fox River runs along the city of Waukesha and the park named after the river. Its woods are gorgeous, with various wetlands and wild flowers creating a wonderful area to enjoy nature and all of its marvelous sights, sounds and smells. The wilderness is about 262 acres, with ever changing views and activities that continuously change with the seasons. The spring flowers that bloom are spectacular, while the summer brings the trees to full leafing and creates a canopy of shade that makes the hiking, biking, walking, jogging and running; a fantastic experience that will bring the adventurist out in all people. Fall, a mosaic of brilliant colors, smells and experiences, is a very wonderful time to visit the park. The winters here are just awesome, with the snow and ice offering all types of recreational sports and joys. There are many paved trails that can be used by the bikers and rollerbladers that come here for the solitude and exercise that lifts their spirits exponentially and continues until the next seasonal change. It is especially great for families, as their young ones can learn the tricks of biking riding, rollerblading or just walking casually with their parents, listening to the many songbirds that frequent this area in the spring and summer and looking for all kinds of unusual sights. The picnic areas are always in use, giving families a change to get out of the city bustle and just relax, throw a frisbee or baseball and cook up some wonderful grilled foods. Fishing on the Fox River that runs along the side is another opportunity for families to meld and the catch and release idea is followed here so that many can continue to come here to fish and enjoy the thrill of catching a big one. Remember when you were a youngster and went fishing with your family and you caught you first big fish? It was a moment in time that you would never forget in your life and carry it into your golden years. Every one that has ever fished has had one of this unforgettable moments and they do make for a great tale for your grandkids. The picnic areas do has three pavilions that are supplied with electricity, restrooms, water, fireplace, grills and of course, another favorite; sand volleyball.

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Local Restaurants in Waukesha
  • Albanese Roadhouse & Italian Market
    Albanese's Roadhouse is a fine Italian dining experience with excellent service and a vibrant atmosphere that makes dinner here a totally unique occasion. Serving up fresh traditional Italian food is what make this one of the area's most favorite. In the 1940s, Francis and Joseph Albanese would concoct their own version of the old Italian dinners that were part of the family's history and known only to them. Their son, Dominic, perpetuates that same devotion and care to serving his guests when he opened the restaurant in 1980. Now, Dom's son, Joe has joined the family tradition and there are three generations of food prep and cooking secrets that you can enjoy. The menu is splendid and offers the following; appetizers to start; mozzarella marinara, French fried eggplant, scungilli or conch, and French fried ravioli; antipasto, bruschetta, garlic bread, shrimp cocktail, chicken drummettes, crispy calamari, garlic cheese bread, hay stack onion rings and chicken strips. Soups include; clam chowder, minestrone, and soup du jour. Salads include; Caesar, chicken is romaine lettuce with grilled chicken, tomatoes, pepperoncini and red onions with choice of dressing, antipasto, chef salad with lettuce, pepperoni, black olives, mushrooms, anchovies, onions and choice of dressing, house salad with lettuce, garden mix, tomato, black olive and cucumber. Sandwiches are offered. Pasta entrees include Italian bread and tossed salad; fettuccine Alfred is regular of spinach fettuccine with a blend of parmesan, Romano, butter, and cream topped with parsley, mostaccioli Sorrentina is baked ziti with mozzarella and ricotta cheese topped with meat sauce, homemade spaghetti with choice of meatballs, Italian sausage with mushrooms or meat sauce, spaghetti ala marinara with spaghetti sautéed anchovies, and served with marinara sauce, spaghetti with clam sauce, is regular or spinach noodles in white or red clam sauce, whole wheat linguini with choice of meatballs, meat sauce or mushrooms with Italian sausage, ravioli with beef or cheese, meatballs, meat sauce or mushrooms with Italian sausage, tortellini with beef or cheese, choice of meatballs, meat sauce or mushrooms with Italian sausage, portabella mushrooms ravioli with choice of meatballs, meat sauce or mushrooms with Italian sausage, lasagna with meat or spinach is layers of the thin noodles interlaced with ricotta cheese, meat sauce, mozzarella and Romano cheese and then oven baked.

  • Machine Shed
    This restaurant serves up great down home cooked food that sticks to your ribs and is always made from the freshest locally harvested ingredients. Warm ups include; burnt ends is pork and beef cooked low and slow in their old fashioned hardwood smoker, topped with their house BBQ sauce and served hot and tender; pan fried chicken livers is breaded and simmered with fresh mushrooms and sherry; farmhand battered mushrooms are jumbo mushroom caps hand battered in their own Hidden Valley Original ranch recipe served with BBQ or ranch style dressing; county fair onion rings is a full pound of fresh thinly sliced onion rings hand-breaded and served with their tangy Blue Ribbon sauce; dairy fresh white cheddar melts are mild white cheddar battered in their special seasonings then lightly fried and served with house BBQ or ranch style dressing. Heartland starters include; state fair shrimp is plump and tasty shrimp stuffed, wrapped with bacon and skewered, grilled and basted with house BBQ sauce; chicken is tenderloins wrapped in bacon and basted with their marinade served with Blue Ribbon sauce; shed sampler is a combo of county fair onion rings, cheddar melts, heartland starters, state fair shrimp and farmhand battered mushrooms; steak is grilled beef medallions wrapped in bacon, basted with sweet BBQ sauce and served on a bed of grilled onions; hand battered chicken tenders is strips of real chicken breast tenders hand-battered in special Hidden Valley Original ranch recipe and served with French fries or sweet potato fries. Soups include; French onion is rich beef broth loaded with caramelized onions and topped with French bread and melted Swiss cheese; soup of the day is made fresh daily; Shed's World famous baked potato soup is creamy white chowder loaded with tender Idaho's red potatoes then topped with Colby cheese and crisp bacon; and hearty chili is topped with Colby cheese. The Garden Harvest offers; spinach salad is tender spinach tossed with a raspberry vinaigrette with roasted red peppers, red onions, squash, topped with grilled sliced portabella mushrooms and garlic seasoned pecans; grilled chicken Caesar is Caesar dipped greens tossed with fresh Asiago cheese and croutons topped with tomato and your choice of lemon-peppered or blackened chicken breast; smoked turkey salad is smoked turkey on a bed of spring greens tossed in our own sweet bacon dressing topped with candied pecans and Iowa Maytag bleu cheese; country fried chicken tender salad with the Shed's hand-battered chicken tenders atop fresh greens tossed with honey mustard dressing, cheddar cheese, tomato and egg; ranch chicken salad is fresh greens tossed with ranch salsa topped with diced tomatoes, Colby cheese, blackened chicken breast, sour cream, black bean and corn salsa and crispy tortilla chips. They have oven roasted prime ribs, hand rubbed with fresh herbs and spices, then roasted slow and low in their special ovens; served with beef au jus and a creamy horseradish sauce; come 10, 16 or 24 ounces. Choice cut steaks offered are; aged, cut fresh each day by butcher and is USDA choice grain fed beef and charbroiled to your tastes, can add parmesan butter crust, sautéed onions, or loaded baked potato, sautéed mushrooms and onions, button mushrooms or four golden fried shrimp; steak is 7, 10, 16 ounces in Haybaler top sirloin. Cattlemen's choice is the Haybaler top sirloin stuffed with homemade dressing of Swiss cheese, mushrooms, bread crumbs, garlic and spices, topped with Pioneer sauce; comes with 7, 10 16 ounce steaks. Ribeye is hand trimmed Delmonico style in 10 or 14 ounces. New York strip steak is 12 ounce gentlemen's cut and bacon wrapped filed mignon is 9 ounces. Blue Ribbon combos include; steak & shrimp, steak & chicken tenders or steak & grilled chicken. In the Plowman's Fare menu is the parmesan crusted America's cut is filet mignon pork; Pioneer is grilled pork tenderloins; Heartland delight is whole pork tenderloins; double cut Iowa pork chop; roasted stuffed Iowa chop. Farm Style Favorites include; pan-fried chicken; classic fried chicken; roast turkey and dressing; baked ham; tangy tenderloin; old fashioned pot roast; roast pork loin; Plowman's meatloaf; chicken tender dinner; full pound chicken liver dinner or burnt ends dinner with pork and beef ends.

Fettucini Alfredo Albanese Roadhouse Waukesha, Wisconsin


Spaghetti & meatballs Albanese Roadhouse Waukesha, Wisconsin


Lasagna Albanese Roadhouse Waukesha, Wisconsin


Portabella Mushroom Ravioli Albanese Waukesha, Wisconsin


Blackened chicken Machine Shed Waukesha, Wisconsin


Top sirloin Machine Shed Waukesha, Wisconsin


Ribeye Machine Shed Waukesha, Wisconsin


Steak & Shrimp Machine Shed Waukesha, Wisconsin


Steak & Chicken Machine Shed Waukesha, Wisconsin

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  • Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum Waukesha County Historical Society & Museum Waukesha, Wisconsin
    The historical society is close to being the same age as the 1893 courthouse that it now occupies in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The society began in 1906, and the museum housed in the courthouse started in 1913 by John H. A. Lacher. The county's board of directors put one room in the basement aside for the museum's collections, but the museum didn't officially open until 1914. It needed to expand in 1920 because of the amount of items that were coming in and it did it again in 1936. Edith Tallmadge was made the curator in 1934, and she started a cataloging system to handle all the items in the museum's collection. The courthouse itself had to grow in 1938, adding a new jail, county boardroom, municipal court and register of deeds office; while the museum stayed the same. The county left the building in 1958, and the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission took over most of the space; with the museum still sharing until 2002. The city took over the museum's costs in 1964. The old courthouse was made a National Historic Site in 1975, since it was a prime example of the Richardson Romanesque style and also near the site of a big turtle shaped mound, with these mounds and various architectural styles being included in the museum's exhibits. The historical society received the Rueben Thwaite Award from the state historical society in 1980, and it published an award winning book titled "From Farmland to Freeways" in 1984; which depicted life in the Waukesha County area. The county's sesquicentennial was helped by the society in 1996, and the most popular item of the celebration was the SesquiScroll, which involved all the area's people signing a big roll of paper and then locked inside a time capsule that will be opened in 2046. The Wisconsin sesquicentennial was two years later and the society coordinated the county's events in that wonderful statewide celebration. Also during the year 1996, the historical society assisted the Wisconsin Heritage Tourism department to develop an audiotape tour and book about the Welsh Hills of Waukesha County and a year later the state historical society asked the county's society to give info about its marker program at a state conference. In 1999, the county historical society had a standing room only exhibit open for Lunt-Fontanne. During those 90s, the society and county talked about the society taking over the running of the museum, and in 2000 it happened. The biggest exhibit that it has opened was the "A Nation Divided, A County United During the American Civil War" in 2001; with the Waukesha County Technical College, Wisconsin Land Surveyors and Altrusa Club helping with various other temporary exhibits. The museum and historical society have continued to open new exhibits and gain popularity, and did buy the courthouse in 2002 for one dollar. Renovation of the courthouse is continuing, and it will also have the biggest project and exhibit about one of its favorite sons; Les Paul.

  • Retzer Nature Center
    The Retzer Nature Center is devoted to giving hand-on outdoor and environmental educational chances to the schools, families and adults in the Waukesha County area through public and private venues. The center tries to create an appreciation and awareness of the environment we live in to all those patronizing the center as well as all those who visit its beautiful grounds. Some of the marvelous features that are showcased here include a touch and discover area, a walk-through prairie underground, teaching animals and native fish. This engaging center was originally the retirement home and acreage of Florence and John Retzer. John bought the 90 acre parcel from the Federal Land Bank in 1938, and they started infusing the land with over 26,000 shrubs, flowers and trees; with much of the growth coming from the Wisconsin Conservation Department, and today are a marvel to enjoy. In 1973, Florence bequeathed the land and home to the county for park purposes; in hopes of having it preserved for the future generations that would come here for various reasons, but all loving the environment. The county park system started the nature center in 1974, and was able to add land plots to it in 1980 and 1984, so that now the center encompasses 335 acres. It continues to focus on environmental issues, community restoration, wildlife habitat improvement, and natural land management. Most of the prairies are back to their pristine condition, with a new butterfly and rain garden being added.

May 12, 2011