By Kristine Hansen
Reimagined during the ’80s and ’90s by developer Bob Lang (you probably know the LANG company’s illustrated calendars of cute town-and-country scenes), downtown Delafield is expanding its colonial aesthetic for cosmopolitan flair. This includes its boutique hotel, on-trend apparel shops and eateries in artful spaces. The best part? It’s all within walking distance in this town of 7,500.
Check into the 38-room Delafield Hotel, where the edgy-but- elegant décor might surprise you given the building’s traditional façade. Its restaurant, I.d., boasts breakfast dishes like Fat Elvis French Toast, while dinner means everything from kimchi cakes and Nashville Hot Chicken wedge salad to steak or whitefish. Guests can work out at beFitness, a three-story gym next door.
From morning to night, Delafield satisfies picky palates, starting with breakfast (chocolate-chip pancakes and lobster benedict are two hearty choices) at the Lumber Inn. For lighter options, drop into the new Blue Collar Coffee for Ruby Coffee Roasters (a Wisconsin roaster) coffee and espresso drinks, plus breakfast sandwiches and pastries.
Prominently located on Genesee Street, Belfre Kitchen—open since 2016—was once home to a Presbyterian congregation, dating back to 1868. Lunch picks include chicken pot pie, a poke bowl and Prince Edward Island mussels.
For a romantic close to the evening, Zin’s Cali-Italian cuisine features dashes of Wisconsin- sourced ingredients, like a pistachio-apple salad and pinsa (pizza with a cloud-like crust). Naturally, the restaurant’s name- sake wine (Zinfandel, only produced in California) is on the wine list, perfect to sip in the Cream City brick building.
Element Style flaunts on-trend apparel (think chic tops, dresses, shoes and jewelry) at its Genesee Street boutique. Around the corner, Main Street Boutique has more women’s picks—like jeans, leggings, tops and jackets. Across the street, Next Door Boutique carries women’s clothes with flair, funky jewelry and chic blazers, all curated by the owner’s discerning eye. In town on a weekend? Hidden Staircase is an indie bookstore open only on Saturdays, and also sells pottery and greeting cards. Look for the tiny sign next to Blue Collar Coffee.
Don’t leave town without exploring Delafield by water. Clear Water Outdoor rents stand-up paddleboards and kayaks at its stand on Nagawicka Lake (in St. John’s Park) in downtown Delafield.
WALK THIS WAY
Part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, the Lapham Peak Unit is a natural paradise less than a five-minute drive away. The park includes 20 miles of trails full of peaks and valleys perfect for a hike. Climb to the top of the 45-foot wooden observation tower and your reward is panoramic views of how the region’s topography shifted 10,000 years ago. In fact, a four-mile segment of the Ice Age Trail is in the park.
ART AND TUNES
Twice a year, downtown Delafield hosts a Spring Art Walk and a Fall Art Walk, both on Friday evenings. This year’s dates are May 29 and Sept. 11. As a bonus, musicians fill the air with their tunes. From photography to stained glass, art is displayed within shops and boutiques on Milwaukee, Genesee and Wells streets, with some artists selling their wares right out front. Local restaurants and shops stay open late, celebrating the bliss of a beautiful summer or fall night to kick-start the weekend.