Best of Kenosha: International Visitors Edition

5/15/2018 - Anna Hegland

Must see attractions for international visitors to Kenosha, WI
Must see attractions for international visitors to Kenosha, WI
Must see attractions for international visitors to Kenosha, WI
Must see attractions for international visitors to Kenosha, WI
Must see attractions for international visitors to Kenosha, WI

The word “international” probably isn’t one of the first things you think of when you picture Kenosha, is it? Well, I’m here to tell you why it should be. Beyond the fact that Kenosha is home to people from all over the world (just think of the food available, from Danish pastries and Mexican tamales to Italian pastas, German sausages, and Japanese sushi), the city of Kenosha also has “sister cities” across the globe.

A sister city is a uniquely American concept, started by President Eisenhower in the mid-1950s as a way to build connections between individual citizens, cities, counties, and even states in the US and other countries. It’s a way to share and participate in unique cultural heritages, at home and abroad. Here in Kenosha, we have four sister city partnerships, with the cities of Douai, France (recognized at HarborPark's Place de Douai); Wolfenbuttel, Germany (honored at Kenosha's Wolfenbuttel Park); Cosenza, Italy (tied to our Columbus sculpture at HarborPark); and Quezon City, Philippines. Kenosha has regular visits to and from two of our sister cities, where visitors stay with host families, see the local sights, and learn about each city’s history.

The idea of sister cities is even more important to me now that I’m an “international student,” living and working abroad. Being able to share my hometown with people from around the world is such a special privilege and I love being able to tell people about all the cool things Kenosha has to offer. I’m constantly telling my friends in the UK what they absolutely must see when they (finally) visit me in Kenosha — we build itineraries that span all four seasons and include more food than anyone could realistically eat. Today, I wanted to share a few of the stops on my list, which I’ve titled the Best of Kenosha Tour: International Visitors Edition.

First things first, everyone needs to see the lake front. Lake Michigan is such a big part of life in our city, hosting city-wide events and serving up some absolutely lovely views. If possible, take a ride on the Tall Ship Red Witch, a replica Great Lakes schooner. Or set out on a fishing adventure with the Kenosha Charter Boat Association. If boats aren’t your cup of tea, take a ride on one of the electric streetcars, which take you around HarborPark and two of Kenosha’s historic districts. It’s a great way to relax and see the shoreline in style.

The streetcar just so happens to stop right by the Kenosha Public Museum — where you can see the Schaefer and Hebior Mammoth exhibit, which includes the most complete wooly mammoth skeleton ever excavated and was discovered right here in Kenosha County. This museum also tells "The Wisconsin Story" - how climate change developed a variety of ecosystems and led to the evolution of plants and animals in our area, as well as teh Native Americas who settled in our area. From there, it’s easy to pop over to the Civil War Museum, where you can learn about how the seven states which make up the Upper Middle West contributed to the war effort, even though no battles were fought here. Definitely don’t miss the museum’s movie, Seeing the Elephant, which is one of only a few 360 degree movies in the nation! The Civil War Museum focuses on the personal stories of people who contributed to the war effort - before, during, and after the Civil War.

From the museums, it’s easy to walk along the harbor to Harborside Common Grounds, where you can get soup, sandwiches, pastries, tea and coffee, and some super tasty smoothies, all with a great (maybe the best) view. Another nearby stop has to be the Southport Lightstation Museum on Simmons Island, where you can learn about Kenosha’s time as an international port of entry on the Great Lakes, our automanufacturing past, and more. 

I love baseball, so the next place I’d take my friends from abroad would be to a Kenosha Kingfish baseball game. We’d have to have the full ballpark experience, with a hotdog, a cold drink, and a seat on the third base side (where you get the best view of Elvis the Kingfish zip-lining in to start the game). Ideally we’d be able to go on a night where they have fireworks afterwards (my favorite!). 

My pick of restaurants changes regularly. My friends can vouch for the fact that every time I say “someday you should come visit Kenosha,” I name about six different restaurants that we just *have* to eat at. From weekend brunch at Sazzy B, saganaki at Twisted Cuisine, and pot roast at Wine Knot to chocolate bourbon pecan pie at Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery, ice cream at Scoops, and donut kebobs or donut pizza at Mike’s Chicken and Donuts… Kenosha has so many amazing places to eat and dishes to try.

My list of stops on the Kenosha Tour: International Visitors Edition is always evolving; I add more restaurants, get excited for lakefront festivals (Taste of Wisconsin, anyone?), and see new additions to the Fun 101 list that pique my curiosity. While it’s impossible to visit (or eat) everything, I hope this gives you a good starting point — whether you’re a visitor (be it domestic or international) or a Kenosha native. Have fun!

Anna Hegland

Community Blogger

Kenosha Native with a love for baseball, ice cream, and the arts. Studied in Iowa, Italy, and England - returned to her hometown. Works for the Kenosha Public Museum and drinks too many chai lattes.