The Four-Hour Rule: Kohler, WI
Wisconsin does decadence in exactly one place. This is it.
When caught between summer and the holidays, it’s good to have a weekend jaunt at the ready. You will at some point need three days to unwind and rejuvenate yourself.
The land of cheese and brats might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think luxury getaway, but Kohler, Wisconsin, is a true gem hidden in the Badger State. Foodies, golfers, nature lovers and art enthusiasts can all find respite in the quiet town, which is less than three hours from Chicago.
If you can’t figure out why the name sounds familiar, Kohler was built as a company town for the global bath and kitchen creator Kohler Co. The Village of Kohler was actually engineered as one of the first planned communities in America by the same firm that designed New York’s Central Park.
The 2,000-person hamlet is romantic, idyllic, luxurious and on the more expensive side of things — it wins awards for a reason.
But if decadence alone doesn’t pique your interest, work the timing so you can indulge in the annual Kohler Food & Wine Festival, one of the Midwest’s best.
Image via Kohler
Eat: Kohler Food & Wine Festival
Head up north October 18 through 21 and you’ll hit Kohler Food & Wine, when celebrity chefs descend on the quaint Wisconsin town for “the Midwest’s premiere immersive culinary experience.” There are seminars, demonstrations, libation experts and sampling sessions galore. If you’re into the Food Network, the festival boasts all-stars including Amanda Freitag (Chopped judge), Fabio Viviani (Top Chef Fan Favorite, Siena Tavern, Prime & Provisions) and cast members from America’s Test Kitchen.
Inspect the schedule and try to choose between sessions like “A Toast to Macarons” or “Five Gin and Tonics to Save Your Life”. Buy tickets ahead and book packages online to build the perfect festival lineup for you and your date. They had us at “Spirits District”.
419 Highland Drive, Kohler, WI 53044
Also check out: The Blind Horse
Kohler American Club Hotel (3 images)
Images via Kohler
Stay: The American Club
You have to stay at Kohler’s iconic Five Star, Five Diamond resort. This hotel IS Kohler. Originally built as a dormitory for immigrant workers and their families, in 1981 the property was transformed into a world-class luxury resort. Dark hallways invite you to rooms with classic wood furnishings. Each bathroom is unique and fully equipped with high-end Kohler fixtures. The old school rooms are so cozy, you’d sooner think you’re in rural England than the middle of dairyland.
If you can’t make it for the festival, no worries, delicious food is at every turn in the hotel. Wear a jacket to dinner at the Immigrant Restaurant, voted the #1 Hotel Restaurant by USA Today, then grab a nightcap at The Horse & Plow before heading to bed.
In the morning, bounce between the property’s secret gardens (fountains, gazebos and courtyards abound) before you head into the woods for self-guided hiking. You can even purchase a fishing, shooting or horseback riding excursion right from the front desk.
Looking to do more pampering than walking? The Carriage House next door houses Kohler Waters Spa, one of only 60 five-star spas in the world. The Rain Man massage is designed for men and combines hot stones with what looks like a five-headed shower aimed directly at your back. And these people know how to build shower heads.
There’s so much to do at the resort, you won’t need to go elsewhere, but if you insist, read on for our recommendations throughout the area.
419 Highland Drive, Kohler, WI 53044
Image via 3 Sheeps Brewing
Drink: 3 Sheeps Brewing Company
The bold beermaker uses ingredients that range from novel (Sorachi hops in their Mexican lager) to the expected but delicious (coffee, cocoa nibs and vanilla in their maplewood imperial stout). The true beer enthusiast can’t skip the chance to sip one of 3 Sheeps BOTTLED nitro beers, which is still considered a rarity in the industry. The laid-back taproom offers 17 pours, so check online ahead of your trip to see the latest tap list and grab tickets for a brewery tour.
3 Sheeps Brewing Company, 1837 North Ave. Sheboygan, WI 53083
Also check out: Plymouth Brewing Company
Image via Kohler / Whistling Straits
Play: Whistling Straits Golf Course
Golfers cannot skip the chance to play a round on this world-renowned championship course. The Straits is famed for its rugged, links-style Pete Dye design and is on the list of America’s greatest courses. Prepare to be the best kind of dominated by the club that hosted the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships and the 2007 U.S. Senior Open. You’ll enjoy the 2020 Ryder Cup even more when you can relive your round shot-by-shot.
Not a golfer? Go for the view and stay for the food. Blackwolf Run Restaurant does American fare, whilst Whistling Straits Restaurant offers Irish and British favorites.
N8501 Lakeshore Road, Sheboygan, WI 53083
Also check out: Blackwolf Run
Image via Kohler
Ogle: Kohler Design Center
Expand your Midwest pride as you take in a bit of history or just oogle at the futuristic showroom at the Kohler Design Center. You can even take a factory tour to see how a bathtub is made and learn how Kohler became a global force from its humble beginnings as a foundry in 1873.
101 Upper Road, Kohler, WI 53044
Also check out: Kohler Art Walk
Image via Getty
Stroll: Downtown Sheboygan
10 minutes from Kohler you enter the joyful, bustling town on the water. Urbanites will feel at home surrounded by food trucks, a farmer’s market, street-art and a healthy serving of museums. Stop in the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and as with anything bearing the Kohler name, don’t forget to check out the bathrooms. Tour enthusiasts can add a shipwreck or BYOB pedal tours to their itineraries. If you’re travelling with kids, don’t skip the Above & Beyond Children’s Museum.
Also check out: Terry Andrae State Park
See the world from your inbox.
Sign up for The Journey, our Travel newsletter.