The Kenosha Area is a fantastic city for a staycation! How many restaurants, museums, stores, attractions or sights have you been wanting to check out, or haven’t visited in a while, but just haven't found the time to do so? Or maybe you're looking for something to do with the family for spring break so you don’t have to hear them say “We're bored.” Staycations are the solution for not breaking the bank and still having a great time. Recently, I took my children on a Saturday to Sunday staycation in Kenosha and we had a blast!
We started out our adventure at one of Kenosha's most famous eateries, Franks Diner. This lunch car diner has been in Kenosha since 1926! If you haven't been there, it's a must - definitely an icon for tourists, given it’s Food Network “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” fame. Franks is known for their hearty portions of food and the staffs’ sassy attitude in the bustling little dining car. While the Garbage Plate usually gets top billing among travelers, Franks also has awesome pancakes and incredible cinnamon rolls! It's a dining experience like no other! Pro Tip: the door SLIDES to open. You'll thank me for that once you get there – don’t push or pull. Ha.
Next, we headed over to Kenosha's popular Saturday morning farmers market. During the summer, Kenosha HarborMarket operates outdoors and features over 150 vendors. What some do not know is that the market still operates during the winter months. Mid-October through mid-May, the market can be found in the lobby of the Rhode Center for the Arts (the beautiful building has been a theater in Kenosha since 1927). It is just a few blocks from Franks Diner, so we enjoyed a brisk walk over to shop. You can find Kenosha's finest homemade/ homegrown produce, prepared foods, baked goods, and even fresh meats and cheeses. Tayla, my daughter, decided to purchase some locally made soap and I bought a homemade apple pie. There really is something for everyone and the atmosphere is so pleasant with friendly people and live music.
While we were downtown, we decided to check out Kenosha’s streetcars. We were able to board a car right outside the Rhode, which was perfect as we were leaving the market. We hopped on for a ride over to the Dinosaur Discovery Museum. The dinosaur museum is housed within one of Kenosha's four historical districts, and the building used to be the Kenosha Post Office. Now, you can find life-sized displays of dinosaur fossils and even participate in hands-on activities. We went to the Dino Dig where kids can be junior paleontologists and excavate dinosaur fossils on their own. We then jumped back on the streetcar for our next adventure.
Also on the streetcar line, Mike's Donuts & Chicken was another destination of choice for our staycation group. We enjoyed the most delectable donuts! My son, Joseph, had a maple donut with an entire strip of praline bacon on it. I had a decaf vanilla soy latte and it was perfect to warm me up on a chilly day. The donut shop is a fun place and the donuts in the display case are almost as fun to look at, as they are to eat!
Leaving downtown, we got in the car and headed to Pleasant Prairie to explore the Jelly Belly Visitor Center. We took the free warehouse tour on the Jelly Belly express train. It was an educational tour – we learned about the company history, from how they got started to where they are now. Also, the videos throughout the tour showcase the process of making jelly beans and a few other candies that the Jelly Belly company produces. There is even Jelly Belly art throughout the building to see. Yes, these are Jelly Belly mosaics made with thousands of Jelly Belly beans intricately placed to create images. If you haven't been there in a while, you may want to stop in. New art includes actual candy couture gowns made out of Jelly Belly beans! After the tour you get a free bag of Jelly Belly beans and can shop at the candy store where you will find some great deals on candy. Pro Tip: Check out the sample counter to try any flavor you want before you purchase!
Just up the road, Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets was our next stop. This is the infamous outlet mall that boasts over 90 designers and name brand stores. We did a little shopping and got some amazing deals! Tayla found an outfit at Justice (every pre-teen’s dream store), Joseph got a pair of pants from Reebok, and I found three shirts from Gap. Best part? It all cost less than $40 total! You can sign up online for their free VIP shoppers club to get even more deals and coupons, too!
It was now just time to check into our hotel. We got a room at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Pleasant Prairie. It sounds silly to stay at a hotel when staying home, but it was meant to be a mini vacation and that means POOL TIME! The hotel was so nice! The room was spacious and clean, the indoor heated pool was perfect, the hot tub was relaxing, and the staff was kind and accommodating. We swam until we were all prunes – great family time; we had so much fun together. Once we were back in our room we all snuggled up and watched movies until we fell asleep. The next morning we rolled out of bed and wore our pajamas down to an amazing complimentary breakfast in the hotel common area. The real winner was the pancake machine – you just push a button and pancake batter pours onto to a conveyor belt that cooked your pancake and then dropped it right onto your plate! The children loved making their own pancakes and I'll admit it, I was completely fascinated by it, too. After breakfast the kids swam again, almost right up until checkout!
Our last stop of our staycation was lunch at Mason's Eatery & Pub. It's a nice restaurant with a sports bar kind of feel. There was a large bar, 45 big screen TVs and 2 projectors. The staff was friendly and attentive and they even give kids their own tablets to use for free. I'm a big advocate for table time being family time but figured that since we were on "vacation" I could let some rules slide. The food was delicious and the children even got a huge blue cotton candy for dessert that came with their meal. So needless to say they had a great time there, too. Mason’s is locally-owned and operated – which is a nice option in an area surrounded by chain restaurants. They feature a number of dishes that are made entirely from scratch in their kitchen, too. Plus, it’s not far from I-94 and many of the hotels in the area, so it’s a great location!
Our staycation was perfect we were able to be tourists in our own town, experience some new places together, get out of the house - away from chores and everyday life. Most importantly, we got to spend time together as a family. Staycations are great too because you can invite friends and family to experience it with you, either for your entire "trip" or just parts of it. This was our winter staycation and I'm already looking forward to our summer one! In the mean time, I hope our staycation gave you ideas for your own staycation plans or even for your Spring Break trips. Kenosha is a convenient destination from Chicago and Milwaukee, so it’s a great place to add-on to another getaway, or even a place for a weekend away! Happy Planning!
Rockin’ the single mom life with an 8yo girl and 10yo boy. Always on the go Kenosha Native who knows how to find fun on a budget any day of the week.