I’ve never been a lover of shopping. For me, holiday shopping was something I have always tried to do in one day and have never been a participant in the day after Thanksgiving craze. As a matter of fact, I truly only like shopping for groceries, kitchen stuff, art supplies and books. This year, I am totally fine with avoiding shopping malls but I greatly miss our local book stores and browsing through the paper scented aisles.
So, what I will do to make up for that is to hike, hike and hike some more or at the very least, find interesting parks to walk through.
Most of us will have small holiday celebrations but even these can feel overwhelming and stressful. I want to share with you some places you can go that might be in your neighborhood or even close to home where you can get some fresh air, chill out and give yourself some much needed time to refresh your mind, body and soul.
In the Kenosha and Racine area lies Petrifying Springs. It runs along Hwy 31 with access on Hwy A or further south on Petrifying Springs road, near UW Parkside.
We spent much time in Pets when I was young, hiking, tobogganing and picnicking. We thought it was great then but it has even more to offer now. More trails to hike, a paved bike trail, beer garden in warm weather and an added dog park. In winter, you can cross country ski, snowshoe and dare the sledding hill. There used to be a tree at the bottom, right in the middle with tires tied around it providing a false sense of security. But only once do I know of anyone hitting the tree, and my sister can tell you that was the end of our old toboggan.
A bit further north east of Hwy 32/31 there is a lovely lake front park set high on a bluff. Lake Vista Park has a pretty view and gently sloping trail down the bluff to a small beach. It’s a good place to park and make your way south over to Bender Park for a quick hike through some prairie and small woods.
In South Milwaukee there exists a gem of forest containing 2 parks with a couple or 3 miles of hiking/biking trails. I’m talking about historic Grant Park with its 7 Bridges trails and the wilder Warnimont park. They both have paved bike paths and hiking trails that sport awesome views of lake Michigan. Note that in winter some areas can be dangerous and also a warning that the bluffs along the lake are becoming more and more unstable as the lake seems to be taking possession of the land.
Working our way in to the urban area of Milwaukee, Lake Shore State Park is a convenient little walk on a man made Island across from the Summeriest grounds. If this isn’t enough walk for you, you can keep on going through to Veterans Park all the way past Bradford Beach. There is parking on the east end of Erie Street near the light house, on Clybourn street and all along Lake Drive.
Then there is one of my favorite places in Milwaukee. Lake Park offers picturesque everything. Trails through woods, beach access, a stream running through a ravine, an old man made rock waterfall, a Native American burial mound (the loss of others in the park is not a proud fact of Milwaukee history), beautifully constructed bridges and a lighthouse you can tour.
On the north side we are really lucky to have Havenwoods State Park. It is a wonderful green space escape from urban life very close to home. It has a nice expanse of trails running through revitalized prairie, woods and wetlands. Located at 6141 Hopkins street just west of Sherman Blvd. with a paved parking lot, nature center and community garden.
The west side of Milwaukee has a good paved bike path, part of the Hank Aaron trail system, that follows the Menomonee river past Milwaukee stadium. It shares Three Bridges Park with Mitchel Park and The Milwaukee Domes. All good places to explore any time of the year. Of course the domes are desirable most winters and sports the Milwaukee Winter Indoor Farmers Market. Food lovers will love shopping at this market!
North of the city on the lake side of Mequon is the magic of Lions Den Gorge. This small park is a fun reprieve from daily life with wood bridges and stairways taking you through the gorge to the beach below. You’ll find this park on Ulao pkwy and Hwy C. Last time I was there, admittedly several years ago, there was only a small parking lot so avoid peak times. Morning is best. Also, I’m pretty certain it is closed in winter for the bridges and stairs get very iced from snowfall.
West and north of Milwaukee is Hansen Park and the old Milwaukee County Grounds. These are both desirable excursions for their proximity to MKE but also, the old grounds include remains of the former structures and garden walkways. It can be a little creepy, possible ghostly residents, so bring a friend!
In Wauwatosa there are so many parks, parkways and pretty neighborhoods, including the village, that I’ll have to write a post on the city alone. But, for this posts purpose, check out Jacobus Park located on the Honey Creek Parkway and 63rd street. It’s just an all around cool spot to visit. One word of advice, if you want to tour the village, park your car and make it a walking tour. The streets can be surprisingly curious.
Back south but still west in Franklin is Whitnall Park, with hiking trails and water ways its delightful. For the holidays it puts up a spectacular drive through light festival, but it isn’t free. Tickets are available here…
Not far from Whitnall Park is the Franklin spur of the OakLeaf bike trail. You can access the trail from 68th street or Drexel Ave just shy of 66th street. This is a super bike trail running through south east Wisconsin, but this spurr is one of my favorite sections. It follows the root river meandering along and over it with boardwalk bridges. It is a popular bike trail so be prepared to see a lot of bicyclist’s year round and move off the trail as needed.
I hope these give you at least one option to vacate from these stressful times and that they give you some peace of mind knowing that nature continues to supply us with everything we need to live joyfully and it is only lying dormant, waiting to spring forth in its own time.
Happy Thankful days!