Kenosha is a great little city that offers some very unique attractions and restaurants that will make you want to come back again and again. It’s located right on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee.
Being right on the shores of Lake Michigan, which sets a beautiful backdrop to the city, the lakefront just inspires you to be outside. There’s a great bike/walking path that hugs the shoreline that offers a great way to get some exercise and take in some beautiful views of the lake.
One of the beautiful views is the Kenosha Light House. It’s so iconic and stands proudly at the entrance to the harbor.
The lakefront plays host to tons of things during the summer and even winter months. From food festivals to marathons to concerts, its a great place to find something going on or just to grab a cup of coffee and sit on one of the benches that faces the lake.
Our absolute favorite event of the summer in Kenosha is the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Here you let fantasy rule as you step back into the renaissance period and watch knights duel, jousters joust, and jesters jest.
Feel free to participate in the action by digging out any type of costume you can find, we’ve seen everything from a very impressive Queen Elizabeth to Link from the Legend of Zelda.
The Bristol Renn Faire offers amazing food, fascinating shows, great shops, and one of the best people-watching atmospheres there is. This is a must-stop if you are visiting Kenosha in the summer.
For more information on the Bristol Renaissance Faire, visit their website at renfair.com/bristol.
Kenosha has a collegiate summer league baseball team called the Kenosha Kingfish. Games are very affordable and are a great way to spend a summer’s evening with the family. You can get great seats, food and drink without breaking the bank.
They also put on a great fireworks display after weekend games and usually have fun entertainment throughout the games. It’s a very entertaining experience.
For more info on the Kingfish including schedules, check out northwoodsleague.com/kenosha-kingfish.
Each Saturday from mid-May through mid-October, the Kenosha HarborMarket takes place down near the lakefront. What started out as a farmer’s market blossomed into a small business explosion event that has record attendance every year.
Stop by for some fresh picked vegetables, fresh cuts of meat, locally handcrafted items such as clothing, jewelry, or knick-knacks. Or come for breakfast or lunch as fresh bakery items are sold along with large smoker grills producing fall-off-the-bone ribs and some of the tastiest barbecue around.
This is one of our favorite events throughout the summer and try to get there each week.
For more info on the HarborMarket, check out www.kenoshaharbormarket.com.
Jelly Belly Factory Tours
We all know and love Jelly Belly jelly beans. There is a Jelly Belly factory and visitor center in Kenosha that offers free tours and tastings of this delicious treat. It’s about a 35 minute tour that zooms you around a part of the factory on a tram car giving you a glimpse of the company’s history.
You end up at the gift shop where there is every flavor imaginable along with the discounted “Belly Flops” up for sale. These are the ones that didn’t pass quality control due to the shape, but still taste just fine.
For more information on Jelly Belly and to find info on their tours, check their website at www.jellybelly.com.
Kenosha is home to some great golf courses that are very affordable. There are 2 county courses, Petrifying Springs and Brighton Dale Links, 1 municipal city course, a couple of public courses, Maplecrest Country Club and Bristol Oaks as well as the private Kenosha Country Club that is not open to the public.
You’ll be able to enjoy lush greenery in the summer and spectacular fall foliage in the fall, which is my favorite time to hit the links in Kenosha.
We’ve noticed that Kenosha is trying to be a more dog-friendly city in the recent years. Everything from bowls of water outside downtown shops to offering doggy bags at local parks.
They’ve also added several very nice dog parks in and around town. The parks are fenced in and offer a large area for dogs to run off-leash and play with other friendly canines. There are separate sections for large and small dogs, so everyone can feel comfortable.
There is small fee for your dog to enjoy the park which goes toward maintenance of the parks.
Jerry Smith Pumpkin Farm
Our favorite family thing to do in the fall is to visit the Jerry Smith Pumpkin Farm. They put on quite a display of pumpkins in various character scenes. They have several things to do there, including hay rides, a giant pumpkin bouncy pillow, a corn maze, petting zoo, and haunted forest, just to name a few.
Warm up with a hot cider and have a fresh baked sugar cookie as you stroll the pumpkin patch with your family. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon!
For more information, check out their website at www.smithpumpkinfarm.com.
Mike’s Chicken & Donuts
Throughout our travels, we are constantly looking for the best donut in the country. I’m not talking about Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m talking gourmet donuts with crazy flavors like the Flonut (a rootbeer float donut, obviously).
Mike’s Chicken & Donuts is Kenosha’s entrant in our elusive search. They have some great stuff. Along with donuts, they serve chicken in wing, drum, and thigh-form and have tons of sauces to complement it.
There are other great Mike’s locations throughout Kenosha that offer a twist on your average bar. Definitely check them out mikelikesbeer.com.
One of the more controversial things in the city is the streetcar. We love it, but the haters say it was a huge waste of money by the city.
The street car costs $1 and goes in a loop near the lakefront. It’s a hop-on, hop-off type of ride. Our kids like to ride it around, so when they’re happy, I’m happy.
Maybe not the most financially sound investment, but take a ride for yourself and you be the judge.
One thing you have to know about Kenosha is that during it’s heyday, it was home to a huge engine plant at which probably one-third of the city worked. It started as Nash Motors, then AMC, and ultimately it was bought by Chrysler. This was from 1902 until the plant closed in 2010.
During that time, downtown Kenosha was also booming. It was filled with local shops, restaurants and bars. What a place to have a shop with the beautiful lakefront behind it.
Since the close of the plant, downtown fell hard. There were more vacant storefronts than occupied ones. However, in the recent years, downtown is seeing a revival. Now there are very unique stores, delicious restaurants, and great bars.
In the summer it’s a great place to walk up and down the streets and check out all it has to offer.
Kenosha has two great breweries that offer several flavors of tasty craft brew: Public Craft Brewing and Rustic Road Brewery.
Public has a great brown ale that is my favorite, but it’s hard to choose just one! For information on Public, check their website at www.publiccraftbrewing.com.
The other great brewery in Kenosha is Rustic Road Brewing Company. Just down the street from Public, Rustic Road is another great craft beer brewery. They offer blond ales to very hoppy IPA’s to, one of my favorites, the double chocolate milk stout.
For more information on Rustic Road, check out www.rusticbrewing.com.
These two breweries are great stops when looking for local flavor craft beers.
In a town of quirkiness, Frank’s Diner may take the cake. This small diner has been featured on several Food Network and even Travel Channel shows.
It’s specialty is called the Garbage Plate which is a hodgepodge of eggs, hashbrowns, green peppers, onions and your preference of as many meats and cheeses as you’d like, each at an additional charge. Pair that with a hearty Bloody Mary, and you’ll be off to a great day!
For more info on Frank’s, check out www.franksdinerkenosha.com.
Another couple of quirky throw-back restaurants are Big Star and The Spot Drive-Ins. These are two drive-in restaurants where you pull up, park your car, and a server comes out to take your order and serve your food.
It’s a blast from the past and definitely a local favorite. Choosing between Big Star and The Spot is kind of like choosing between Pepsi and Coke. I love them both, but some people have a specific favorite.
If you like shopping, the Premium Outlets is the place for you. With almost 100 stores, with big names like Nike, North Face, Calvin Klein and Under Armour, you’re bound to find something you’ll love. Also being an outlet mall, you’re bound to save a few bucks off retail.
For more information, including a list of stores, check out www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/pleasant-prairie.
When visiting the Midwest, add Kenosha to your list of stops. Being smack dab between Milwaukee and Chicago, you’re bound to drive close to Kenosha, so jump off the highway and check out this beautiful lakefront city.