By Nicole Gruter
Nestled within southern Wisconsin’s bucolic rolling hills lies a small town big on attractions. What began as a mining town in the 1820s, Mineral Point has transformed into an enchanting destination for lovers of culture, early American history and old-world charm.
The town’s creative flair can be experienced through its thriving art scene wherein artists live, create and sell exquisite works in every medium. From rustic folk to fine art, the variety and craftsmanship are inspiring. Gallery nights (normally held the first weekends in April, June, August and December) invite visitors to shop over 20 galleries until 9 p.m. And each October, curious visitors get a behind-the-scenes look at how artists create their work when the vivacious artistic community opens its galleries and studios for the Fall Art Tour.
Mineral Point’s strong historic preservation movement is highlighted within the area’s lodging. Beautifully refurbished boutique hotels and rustic homes-turned-bed-and-breakfasts provide uniquely eclectic choices for where to rest your head. The first city in Wisconsin listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mineral Point’s exceptional architecture can be fully admired during the Historic Preservation Celebration held every first weekend in May.
An incredible array of historic sites is packed into just a few square miles. Pendarvis State Historic Site, a collection of restored buildings from early Wisconsin’s mining community, the Mineral Point Railroad Depot (Wisconsin’s oldest) and the gorgeous Mineral Point Opera House are but a few examples of how this distinctive city preserves its past with purpose.
Along the downtown streets and beyond, you’ll find distinct culinary delights including Red Rooster’s traditional pasties (stemming from the area’s Cornish immigrants), Popolo’s wood-fired pizzas, and of course, Wisconsin’s cornerstone: internationally award-winning Hook’s cheese, made right in Mineral Point. Many restaurants also feature locally- sourced meats and greens, along with the occasional local musician.
SHAKE RAG ALLEY CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Ever wanted to try blacksmithing, print-making or creative writing? Immerse yourself first-hand in Mineral Point’s artistic culture. The center offers a huge array of workshops and custom retreats in the visual, performing and literary arts for both adults and children. Historic on-site lodging and site rentals include a log cabin, the refurbished Coach House and an 1850’s cut-stone cottage. Lush gardens with a natural spring-fed stream inspire the imagination.
MINERAL POINT BLUES & ROOTS FESTIVAL
Now in its second year, this late August event has expanded to two days and two stages of national and regional musical acts. The festival benefits the Mineral Point Historical Society and the Mineral Point Music Boosters. Bring a chair and enjoy fantastic entertainment performed on the beautiful grounds of Orchard Lawn, an authentically restored Italianate mansion. No carry-ins are allowed, but there’s no need with the on-site beer, wine, hard cider and food trucks.