Kenosha is situated on the shores of Lake Michigan approximately one hour north of Chicago and 45 minutes south of Milwaukee. It is a city of about 100,000 people, and is becoming known as a tourist destination with a wide variety of things to do.
This European styled open air market is held on Saturdays between 9 am and 2pm on the Place de Douai and 2nd Avenue between 54th and 56th Streets. In the winter it is held a few blocks away inside the historic Rhode Center for the Arts. Alongside Kenosha’s harbor and lighthouse, Lake Michigan sparkles and the blue waves attract artists.
Booths for handmade soaps and lotions, handmade chocolates, carved wood, paintings, photography, and jewelry are interspersed between heaping vegetable tables, flower stalls, and organic dairy, fish and meat vendors.
Local musicians share their talents. In one area a string quartet from the Kenosha Symphony plays an arrangement by Mozart while a block down the street a folk singer accompanies herself on her acoustic guitar.
The market has worked with the state to find ways that people who use food stamps can purchase fresh foods and meats here. This means that everyone is welcome. It is easy to spend a few hours browsing the booths while eating a pain au chocolat handmade by local nuns!
2. Go to a Museum Kenosha has many museums to choose from, depending on your interests, and several are within walking distance of each other. Here are my top three choices.
When people think of the Civil War, Wisconsin is clearly not the first state that comes to mind! But while battles may not have occurred here, seven states of the upper mid-west provided much of the resources for the Union and a location to train soldiers who were joining the army.
Over one million men from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin served in the Union army, while people at home provided much of the food and raw materials necessary for the northern states to conduct the war.
In addition to teaching about the training camps and how a soldier would have gotten from a small farm to a battle south of the Mason Dixon line, the museum shows the effect of the war on the people living on the western home front by having visitors follow individual stories and narratives before, during, and after the war.
The Kenosha Public Museum is a natural sciences and fine and decorative arts museum. There are over 80,000 collections that include mammoths, world cultures, Native Americans, zoology, geology, fossils, and fine and decorative arts.
There are works by Picasso, Chagall, and Dali, in addition to works by more regionally famous artists. You can see an ancient Chinese bronze goddess and Chinese ivory carvings or spend time learning about Wisconsin salt glazed pottery.
Rotating exhibits mean that you could view a national, juried exhibition of transparent watercolors or a history of baseball exhibit.
And the life-size replica of the Hebior Mammoth, found on a farm in Kenosha County, always impresses. The Hebior mammoth is the largest, most complete mammoth excavated in North America.
The Dinosaur Discovery Museum is the only dinosaur museum to focus on the link between meat-eating dinosaurs and birds. Working with the Carthage Institute of Paleontology, research, field work, educational programs, and an on-site laboratory means that visitors are able to see current, ongoing research in the study of dinosaurs.
3. Take a streetcar ride
Kenosha has seven street cars originally built in the 1950s that make a loop around the harbor and downtown.
Kids and adults enjoy the ride, and experience transportation via streetcar. You can hop off and hop on if you get the all day pass, and it’s a great way to get from the main museum campus to the Dinosaur Museum.
Fare is only $1.00 for ages 13 and older, 50 cents for ages 5 to 12, while ages 4 and younger are free. You can ride all-day for just $3.50.
4. Visit the Jelly Belly Factory
The Jelly Belly Factory provides free tours of the warehouse on the Jelly Belly Express. This cute train travels thru the warehouse to learn how Jelly Belly beans are made. People watch videos of how their favorite candies are made and admire the giant mosaic portraits that are made with Jelly Belly beans. People are astonished by the new exhibit of “Jelly Belly Candy Couture” This is a collection of one-of-a-kind dresses made with thousands of pieces of Jelly Belly jelly beans and other candies.
As the ride ends, tour participants are given free Jelly Belly samples in the Visitor Center and can taste test a wide variety of candies. And of course, there are plenty of items to purchase so that you can remember your day at the Jelly Belly Factory.
Beautiful sandy beaches meet fresh, crisp Lake Michigan. What else needs to be said?
Grab a towel and a blanket and get back to nature!
No matter what you choose to do in Kenosha, you’ll have a great time. So if you’re in the area, stop by and try something new!