Pack up the car and go!

Last week on this page we offered suggestions for folks who were spending their spring break weeks in Hinsdale and wanted to take a trip or two into the city.

Today we're taking a different tack and looking at three possibilities for weekend getaways - either to finish off this week or for another weekend this spring or summer. All three are nearby and come endorsed by trusted sources who live or work here.

Milwaukee, Wis.

Distance: 93 miles

Drive time: 90 minutes

Even though Bill Facinelli has traveled the world, one of the places he really enjoys is Milwaukee, just 90 minutes away.

"It's just a wonderful town. There's so much going on there," said Facinelli, who is a member of The Hinsdalean's reader advisory board.

The old Summerfest concert series (now Milwaukee Fest) and Irish Fest were among the reasons for his first visits.

"I've got a very close friend that is an Irish artist. She does jewelry," he said. "She's been exhibiting for years at Irish Fest."

He and his wife, Bonnie, often make day trips to the city (they did so just two days before this interview), but when they want to stay overnight, they enjoy the Pfister Hotel.

"That was a real gem," he said. "It's an old, old hotel, but it's been refurbished and they have this wonderful cocktail lounge on the top floor."

He suggested The Lakefront Brewery as a great spot for lunch and Harbor House Restaurant on the water for dinner.

Asked for suggestions of three fun things to do in Milwaukee, Facinelli produced a list of eight.

"There is so much to do, it is difficult to limit it to just three," he wrote.

Here are his recommendations.

1. Milwaukee Art Museum

2. Pabst Mansion

3. Harley Davidson Museum

4. Historic Third Ward (shops, bars, restaurants, galleries and entertainment)

5. Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery

6. Glorioso's Italian Market

7. Milwaukee Public Market

8. The Fonz statue on the RiverWalk

Mississippi River towns

Distance: 161 miles (to Galena)

Drive time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

John Kokoris, marketing/outreach/data manager at the Hinsdale Public Library, said his love of towns along the Mississippi River grew out of necessity.

"When my wife and I were younger, we didn't have a lot of time off, so we would frequently get in the car and explore nearby," Kokoris said. "We'd go for short road trips."

He believes much of Illinois is overlooked by its residents.

"It's so cliché to complain about how our state is flat and boring and nothing but cornfields," he said. "There is so much beauty and history and culture to explore if you're only willing to look. So many people pack up and leave the state the first chance they get, and that's a big mistake."

While Galena, just off the river, is a popular tourist destination, Kokoris and his wife, Elissa, prefer staying in a little town called Savanna or camping at the nearby Mississippi Palisades.

"They call Savanna the 'blue collar Galena,' " he said. "i think it's home to the world's tallest motorcycle bar - a three-story biker bar." That would be Poopy's Pub.

He also suggested exploring Dubuque (Iowa) and Nauvoo, looking for eagles on the dams or the islands of Sabula and watching the sun set over the river from one of the bluffs.

Kokoris believes camping can enhance the experience of visiting a new - or familiar - destination.

"It's just a whole new way to experience the great outdoors," he said. "Things are different when the sun goes down.

"Camping is also a way to catch a glimpse of what like was like for our ancestors thousands of years ago, sitting around the fire and being out in the elements," he added.

Kokoris presented a program earlier this month at the library on roadtripping to southern Illinois. He will discuss Mississippi River adventures at the library June 26.

"This is the time of year where you get that itch to get out of town," he said.

Lake Geneva, Wis.

Distance: 84 miles

Drive time: 90 minutes

Roger Clemens started visiting Lake Geneva in the early 1970s when he was a teen.

"I was in college when my folks bought a place. When they passed away, we inherited it," he said.

"We just love the area," his wife, Anne, said. "There's so much to do."

One of their favorite activities is walking the 21.5-mile path around the lake.

"It's one of the very few lakes in the country that you can walk around an entire lake through people's property," Anne said.

Roger has made the full trip around the lake three times; Anne has once. It takes about seven hours of serious walking - or about 12 hours with stops for lunch and ice cream.

"It's just so different depending on which section you're taking - the ups and downs, close to houses, far from houses," Anne said.

In addition to picking up the path in downtown Lake Geneva, it can be accessed from Big Foot Beach State Park. The park itself is worth a visit.

"It's amazing," Anne said. "You would never know from the road the whole property is back there."

The park is great for swimming in the lake or hiking in the woods, Roger said.

They also enjoy taking boat tours on the lake. From the Riviera Pavilion, visitors can choose a narrated cruise, with some offering a meal, ice cream sundaes or a view of the sunset. The Clemens enjoy the mail delivery tour at 10 a.m.

"Everybody cheers. It's fun, and the people who actually have their mail being delivered come out to the pier and watch," Anne said.

With a second home on the lake, the Clemens never need a place to stay. But they know people who have stayed at The Cove and Comfort Suites in Lake Geneva and The Abbey in Fontana.

For a trip back in time to an old-fashioned Wisconsin supper club, the couple enjoys dining at Mars on Lake Como. Other favorite eateries are Gordy's and Chuck's in Fontana and Pier 290 in Williams Bay.

"You can sit out on the lakefront with an adult beverage and watch the people walk by on the shore path," Roger said.

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean