I’m close to my parents, so when they retired to Colorado last year, it was an adjustment. My husband, Erik, and I have two kids—Jason and Mary, aged nine and seven—and we live in Elgin, Illinois, just shy of the Wisconsin border. The kids miss their grandparents, though we’ve discussed how it’s nice to have someone in Colorado to visit. As it turns out, my folks are finding it’s nice to have someone in the Midwest to visit, too: when Mom and Dad came up to see us recently, we made part of their visit a shared weekend getaway. And Beloit, Wisconsin, we discovered, is the perfect family destination.
With the kids already on summer vacation, Erik and I took time off work Friday so that the six of us could get a jump on our weekend adventures. We’d chosen Beloit because we like river towns—not to mention college towns—and Beloit, about an hour’s drive from our home in Elgin, Illinois, is both. Home to Beloit College, the city is situated near the confluence of the Rock River and Turtle Creek. And we’d heard great things about the Ironworks Hotel, which is located in downtown Beloit on the bank of the Rock River. We set out after an early lunch at home; a caravan of two cars, primed for adventure.
Our first stop upon reaching Beloit: the hotel. We were impressed by the hotel’s boutique feel: warm woods and brickwork, with a sophisticated industrial vibe throughout. We’d secured a room with double beds for me, Erik and the kids, and an adjoining room for my folks.
The kids, Mom and I explored around the hotel grounds, while Dad and Erik left for some “guy time” at CheezHead Brewing just a few minutes away. For the remainder of the weekend, they couldn’t stop talking about the excellent selection of house-brewed craft beer and guest taps from other Wisconsin breweries. I’m sure the new outdoor beer garden also helped give a good impression. They were so infatuated, I’m certain they’ll return to explore the Beloit & Beyond Beer Trail.
For dinner, we all met up at The 615 Club and we were immediately charmed by its welcoming atmosphere. My mom grew up in Wisconsin and her childhood was shaped by family visits to supper clubs, so she was tickled to learn that The 615 Club has maintained the supper club tradition of offering a relish tray, bread basket, soup, salad and potato with each entrée—which also delighted our hungry crew!
Outdoor lovers all, we were thrilled when Erik had contacted Paddle Adventure Club to set up a two-hour kayaking adventure for the six of us on Saturday morning. “It seemed like a given,” Erik explained, noting that Men’s Journal had even named Beloit a “Best Paddling Town.” Erik and I have both been under stress at work, and a nature fix seemed like a good way to unwind. Indeed, it was: the cool water reflected the clear skies and the air smelled like summer’s green. Jason, birding book in hand, pointed out several wood ducks along our water trail. Being active outside lifted all of our spirits!
Refreshed and hungry from our excursion on the water, we headed back to land for a meal. Dinner was a treat: in hospitality, taste and fun. Double B Farm & Country Cafe, a real working farm serving fresh farm-to-table home cooking, offers delicious outdoor wood fired pizza Saturday nights only from June through October. The pizza made from farm-fresh ingredients was divine and practically inhaled by our party. The working farm atmosphere, complete with goats, pigs and ducks, was such a fun, unexpected delight for us all.
We decided to hit the Ironworks Golf Lab early for a little indoor golfing on their 3,000-square-foot green. The kids practiced their soccer skills on the HD simulator, pretending to be in the World Cup. Such fun, had by all! We hit The Rock Bar & Grill for lunch, located on the shore of the Rock River. Erik, a huge burger fan, was thrilled by the opportunity to customize his Rock Burger with a Hawaiian bun. Looking out over the water, we happily remembered our kayaking adventures from the day before.
After lunch, Mom and I peeled away for a wine tasting at DC Estate Winery. Grateful for a little girl time, we sipped wine, snacked on fruit and cheese, and enjoyed the gorgeous pond and vineyard views from the outdoor pavilion. Erik and Dad took the kids to burn off a little energy at Beckman Mill County Park. The park’s centerpiece, Beckman Mill, is a grist mill, circa 1868, that has been authentically restored and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The kids ran along the nature trails and skipped rocks on the pond, finally resting to search for fish off the boardwalk.
We decided to splurge on a tasty treat at Flying Pig, where the majority opted for shaved ice, Hawaiian style (that’s with vanilla ice cream on top or bottom). I myself went for the Kooky Cookie, a warm cookie (I chose peanut butter) topped with ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. De-lish!
Full and happy, we realized, with some reluctance, that it was time to return home. My folks were on an early flight to Colorado the next day, and for Erik and me, it was back to work. But that night, tucking the kids in, we reflected on the weekend just past. As my mom noted, “Beloit is a special place! Shall we do it again?”
We’re already planning our next visit.