in a small package
By Shelby Deering
ABOUT 15 MINUTES FROM THE TOURIST DESTINATION OF LAKE GENEVA, YOU’LL FIND A HAMLET OF JUST OVER 10,000 NESTLED AMONG FARMERS’ FIELDS AND COW PASTURES.
Elkhorn, which received its name from Col. Samuel Phoenix in 1836 after he spotted a pair of “elk horns” in a tree, has a few claims to fame. It’s the seat of Walworth County. It once served as a train stop between Milwaukee and Chicago. And it plays host to the famous Walworth County Fair.
But Elkhorn is much more than that. It harbors its fair share of hidden treasures. I should know—it’s my hometown.
One such treasure is a restaurant that serves up the best Chinese food I’ve ever had—Moy’s. Located in the heart of downtown Elkhorn, the place is nearly always packed with loyal customers. Don’t miss these Chinese classics, like the Sizzling Seafood Wor Bar or the Bali-Maki, strips of beef tenderloin served on bamboo spears. Top it off with a tropical drink, like the Hawaii Pineapple Passion, complete with a tiny umbrella, of course.
The town has a couple of great Italian options as well. Like Sperino’s, where you’ll feel like you’re stepping back in time to a pizza place of yore. Be sure to order the garlic bread—worth every butter-laden carb. Or visit Holi Cannoli for the “Holi Cannoli Cheesecake.” It tastes as good as it sounds.
Now that you undoubtedly have a full stomach, it might be time for a bit of vino. Go to Apple Barn Orchard & Winery where you can sample the winery’s award winning fruit-flavored wines. Strawberry? Blackberry? Rhubarb? They’ve got it all. Elkhorn is also home to some great shopping destinations. From May through September, on the second Sunday of each month (excluding July), the local fairgrounds come alive with vintage flair during the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market. Nearly every square foot of the grounds is taken over by vendors who travel far and wide to be a part of this notable flea market.
You’ll find jewelry, artwork, furniture, books, décor and more. Just be sure to get there early to score the best finds.
During your visit, be sure to stop at Friends on the Square, a charming gift shop meets café, offering coffees, chai, espresso and plenty of ice cream. A scoop of Coconut Almond Joy perhaps? Then browse the boutique, showcasing Thymes bath products and gourmet mustards and everything in between. You should also make a stop at Firefly Art Glass to pick up a beautiful vase or wall art. Or take a class and learn how to work that glass yourself.
Elkhorn also has a fabulous trail for biking and hiking called the White River State Trail, a mainly flat, 19-mile route that runs between Walworth and Racine counties. Perfect for working off that cheesecake and strawberry wine.
After all that eating and walking, you’ll need a place to lay your head down for the night. Camp Wandawega harkens back to the campground of your youth. Stay in a cabin with décor that looks as if it was borrowed from a Wes Anderson movie set.. Try your hand at archery. Or visit the Camp Store for a souvenir. Or if you’re looking for a quiet, low-key venue, look no further than Ye Olde Manor House Bed & Breakfast. Don’t miss the German apple pancakes.If you haven’t gotten enough to eat already.