By Jessica Steinhoff
With connections to Frank Lloyd Wright and Shakespeare, tiny Spring Green is a cultural heavy- weight located just over 30 miles west of Madison. Here are some of the best places to explore.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin estate features buildings from many stages of the architectural innovator’s career. The view from his bedroom looks like a Japanese woodblock print, thanks to his clever window design. For a more unusual display of creativity, head to House on the Rock and its indoor carousel, which has 269 animals, 20,000 lights and a host of mannequin angels.
For an arts and culture fix, the Wyoming Valley Cultural Arts Center presents performances and exhibits inside a Wright-designed building. Handmade stoneware is the specialty of Wilson Creek Pottery, which offers classes and a memorable shopping experience.
Speaking of shopping, Convivio proffers table linens from across the globe, wines and cocktail supplies, and bold espresso drinks. Half a block away and across the street is the can’t-miss Arcadia Books, a book store that feels like it belongs in a major metropolitan city but with a cozy, small-town vibe. Find all of the latest best-sellers, a great kid’s section and The Paper Crane Coffeehouse that serves coffee, tea, sandwiches, salads and even beer and wine. Operated by the same family since 1916, Nina’s Department & Variety Store attracts gift-givers with natural-fiber yarns and classic toys and games. Yet another shopping destination is the Spring Green General Store that also has a cafe that uses handcrafted cheeses, Wisconsin cherries and locally produced grains.
Regional ingredients enliven classic English dishes at Freddy Valentine’s, a pub known for its craft beers and martinis. On Fridays, the town’s best pizza party happens at the White School, a historic building with a photography studio and a wood-fired oven.
Experience the region’s beauty with challenging hikes and panoramic views of the Wisconsin River amid the bluffs of Tower Hill State Park. Wind down with a concert at the Sh*tty Barn, a rustic yet intimate venue where Jeremy Messersmith, Jesse Dayton and others have performed.
SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY
With a 1,000-seat outdoor theater, a Shakespearean focus and stellar actors, American Players Theatre, aka APT, is a must-visit. You can also witness APT members’ talents at karaoke night at The Shed, a local bar/restaurant. Or, visit the ventures of APT alums.
APT actors abound in Two Crows Theatre Company which performs at Slowpoke Lounge & Cabaret. Meanwhile, Arcadia Books also offers author events and a well-curated selection of literature, biographies and the Bard’s plays.
R&R BY THE RIVER
Spring Green pairs the Wisconsin River’s beauty with nods to its most famous resident: Frank Lloyd Wright. Designed by J.C. Caraway, one of Wright’s apprentices, the Usonian Inn boasts eco-friendly features. At Wisconsin Riverside Resort you can sleep in a cabin, rent a kayak and play in a pond equipped with a trampoline. Enjoy a cocktail, some prime rib and people-watching by the river at the resort’s restaurant.