By Maura Keller | Photo courtesy Main Street Monroe, Inc.
The warm months of summer are a great time to visit Monroe.
Thanks in part to Main Street Monroe, Inc., a locally focused and funded, volunteer driven 501(c)3 nonprofit that works to promote the historic downtown district of Monroe, this charming town is a major draw for those looking for a unique shopping, local events and memorable dining experiences.
The historic downtown district of Monroe is the hub for shopping, and every Saturday starting in May through October, visitors can enjoy a wonderful farmers’ market before wandering along to discover the various boutiques within the downtown area. From home décor to specialty foods to clothing to antiques, the various shops gracing Monroe’s downtown beckon shoppers from near and far.
After working up an appetite shopping the many boutiques, check out the wealth of eateries that range from farm-fresh eats to classic homestyle cooking to pubs and taverns offering hearty fare.
The Monroe Arts Center, which underwent a $5 million-plus renovation and expansion, occupies the historic First Methodist Church building. It was designed by architect Edward Townsend Mix, who is perhaps best known for making use of Milwaukee’s Cream City brick. The building, as well as its adjacent parsonage, are both on the National Register of Historic Places. The church was completed in 1887.
Live music fans will enjoy Main Street Monroe’s summer Concerts on the Square series that runs from June through September. From bluegrass to rock, polka to jazz, these live concerts are local favorites. Live music fans also enjoy the artists who perform throughout the year at Bullquarian Brewhouse — a venue that offers refreshing brews and great eats.
Plan your visit at mainstreetmonroe.org
Considering that Monroe is known as the Swiss Cheese Capital of the U.S., it’s not surprising that the city offers unique dairy delicacies that surprise and delight. If you are looking for some of the state’s finest cheeses, as well as imported cheeses and specialty foods, head over to Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern. Since 1931, this store, which is Wisconsin’s oldest cheese store, has been offering some of the most delicious cheeses in the area thanks to the cheese-producing community of Monroe. For sweet treats, Rainbow Confections, a classic candy store that has a 30-foot-long marble countertop dating back to 1930, offers fresh fudge, gourmet popcorn and candy galore. At Bäckerei Kline, located within Orange Kitten Yarns, Swiss-style baked goods are a must-try for visitors looking for a unique sweet treat. For those looking for healthier options, check out Everest Nutrition, a shop that specializes in energizing teas, protein shakes and coffees. mainstreetmonroe.org/coffee-sweets
Walk down Main Street Monroe and you’re bound to see beautiful historic buildings and features that really wow. A historic walking tour of Monroe is a favorite among locals and visitors. The cornerstone of Monroe’s downtown since 1891 is the architecturally elegant Green County Courthouse. This historic gem boasts a 120-foot clock tower and polished marble pillars. Visitors can also view the original Green County Jail (which is now home to a tavern) and Suisse Haus, a former furniture manufacturing factory built in 1854 that is now one of the area’s most popular restaurants. Celebrating the Swiss heritage of the region, Turner Hall continues to be a cultural touchstone and host to community activities. The 1869 building is listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places. mainstreetmonroe.org/virtualtour