Arts-happy Chicagoans love Spring Green, Wis., for its attractions both quirky and aesthetic (Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio, anyone?), but a large part of this spot’s getaway appeal for families is the ability to get there fast—yet still feel like the weekend’s been spent a world away.
The House on the Rock
A tour of Alex Jordan’s 14-room house built on Deer Shelter Rock scoffs at reality, especially the gravity-defying Infinity Room and the world’s largest carousel. You won’t be able to process every single sight in this cavern of wonders on your first go, but you’ll have a heck of a great time trying.
5754 State Road 23, Spring Green
Cave of the Mounds
This National Natural Landmark was accidentally discovered in 1939 during limestone quarrying; further exploration revealed a world under their feet. The one-hour tour showcases dazzling crystal formations and fossils straight out of sci-fi novels, yet also thankfully offers secure and lighted walkways for the less intrepid among us.
2975 Cave of the Mounds Road, Blue Mounds
Housed in the historic State Bank of Spring Green, it features fresh bites—including gluten-free and vegetarian items—and it’s also kid-friendly. (Their mac ‘n’ cheese bears no resemblance to the boxed stuff, and the kids’ menu boasts a side salad worthy of any adult palate.)
134 W. Jefferson St., Spring Green
Want a little muscle car with your milkshake? The vibe of this retro carhop joint is half the fun; the attached play lot, spicy “rumble sauce” and exceptional root beer floats are just neato bonuses.
E4851 U.S. Hwy. 14, Spring Green
The resort is tucked onto a lush golf course and surrounded by beautiful woodlands. The spacious suites make traveling with kids feel like an actual vacation, and the spa and two swimming pools redefine “a little something for everyone.”
400 Springs Drive, Spring Green
Mere moments from the actual House on the Rock itself, this comfy option has a major perk for kiddos: one of the pools features a 45-foot-long submarine. (No judgment here, grownups.)
3591 State Road 23, Dodgeville
The country’s second largest outdoor theater dedicated to the classics, APT is easily the most magical. The recently renovated 1,088-seat The Hill amphitheater and the 201-seat indoor Touchstone Theatre grace the 110 acres of stunning forests and meadows. (Traversing the moonlit path to the hillside theater alone is something pretty special.) Nine rotating shows run the gamut from sparkling Shakespeare to French farce and back to Russian drama, and the core company works with the industry’s absolute best—many of whom reside in Chicago when not “playing in the woods.”
5950 Golf Course Road, Spring Green