Monroe is known for its picturesque downtown square, dominated by the striking Green County Courthouse. The historic red-brick edifice features arched porticos, marble pillars and an eye-catching, 120-foot clock tower. But after snapping some photos, cross the street and check out the impressive variety of locally-owned specialty shops ringing the square.
One such shop is the Artful Gourmet. This kitchen boutique sells plenty of useful items, such as Matcha tea frothers and Atlas pasta machines. But it also carries an intriguing variety of gift items, like colorful macaron sugar scrubs, stencils for creating cappuccino art and boozy bacon barbecue sauce. At JoAnne’s Dress Shop, you can snag brand-name women’s clothing and accessories, from casual to chic, while Zodica Perfumery carries fine fragrances matched to the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Each scent, crafted with organic ingredients, is created to reflect the emotion and season of the sign.
A few doors down, House to Home Designs carries primitive and modern farmhouse pieces. Think hutches, benches, tables and more. The boutique also has rural-life prints by artist Billy Jacobs, environmentally-friendly soy candles produced by the 1803 Candle Company and popular buttered maple syrup- scented candles. Edelweiss Gifts and More is the place for handmade, vintage, repurposed and eclectic goods, like Czech glass jewelry. You’ll also find gourmet foods such as blueberry lemonade jam and spicy-smoky serrano salt from Green County’s Remember When Farm.
On the square’s east side, 213 Mercantile offers handmade signs and décor. It even has a colorful “garland bar” containing dozens of solid and patterned felt balls, plus some specialty shapes. Select your favorites to create your own swag or lei. On the north end of the square, grab some fresh flowers and succulents from Busy Bee Floral, or perhaps a tea and honey gift set. And on the west end, pick up some vintage clothing, accessories and jewelry at Vintage Emporium — or perhaps sell your own.
Now That’s Cheesy
Nearly two dozen festively decorated cheese wedges are scattered around Monroe as part of the city’s “Cheese, Glorious Cheese” public art installation, now in its eleventh year. Decorated by 20 regional artists, the designs on the five-foot-tall wedges celebrate all things Wisconsin, from Bucky Badger to lake life. The wedges will remain in place through Monroe’s famous biennial Cheese Days celebration, taking place Sept. 16-18.
Time to Eat!
Take a break from your shopping by ducking into one of Monroe’s downtown eateries, which offer a tempting array of food and drink. Suiss Haus Food & Spirits is known for its homemade pizzas and hamburgers, crafted from freshly-ground chuck. Grab a stuffed baked potato at Garden Deli, or perhaps a French Toast Crumble doughnut and piña colada smoothie at Sunrise Donut Café. And the goodies at Chocolate Temptation’s espresso and chocolate bar are not to be missed.