If cold weather and fewer hours of daylight tempt you to stay home, read on. There’s no need to hibernate quite yet.
Open on 1.3 acres between Memorial Union and the Red Gym at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, along Lake Mendota, is the new and art-rich Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Alumni Park.
Timeless words of wisdom and images, cut out of a 7-foot-tall steel cone and 80-foot-long steel panel, look fine on a cloudy day. At night and in sunshine, artistic expression deepens because of light and shadow interplay.
Look for a sculpture of Bucky Badger sitting on a pile of books and exhibits that note the accomplishments of 120-plus alums. Progress Point, a new observation area, juts out over the lake. There’s a lot going on in this relatively small space that used to be a boring parking lot. alumnipark.com
New at the Milwaukee County Zoo is a baby gorilla named Zahra (Swahili for “blossom”), now about 2 months old. Look for the toddler and her mom, Naku, on public exhibit at the 200-acre zoo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on days when it seems appropriate for them.
Other cute zoo babies include Kazi (which means “labor”), a giraffe born during Labor Day weekend. milwaukeezoo.org, 414-771-3040
Although outdoor performances at American Players Theatre, near Spring Green, ended last month, the lineup for 2018 is set. On the docket for the June 9 to Oct. 14 season are “As You Like It” and “Measure for Measure” by William Shakespeare, “Born Yesterday” by Garson Kanin, “The Recruiting Officer” by George Farquhar and “Heartbreak House” by George Bernard Shaw.
On stage on APT’s smaller and indoor Touchstone Theatre until Nov. 19 is “Creditors,” a psychological thriller. americanplayers.org, 608-588-2361
New holiday spa treatments at The Edgewater in Madison include a Bourbon Marshmallow Body Treatment (exfoliation with a mix of rice bran oil, pecan whiskey and brown sugar; then a drizzling of hot marshmallow butter) and the Peppermint Bark Bliss Pedicure (a foot bath of Candy Cane Champagne, sea salt scrub, slathering of chocolate and more).
The 202-room hotel faces Lake Mendota and recently won a Readers’ Choice Award from Condé Nast Traveler as sixth best hotel in the Midwest. theedgewater.com, 608-535-8200
Also making the Condé Nast cut: The Pfister Hotel (fourth) and Kimpton Journeyman Hotel (12th), both in Milwaukee, and Inn on Woodlake (18th) in Kohler. Top Wisconsin resorts were The American Club, Kohler (first), Sundara Inn and Spa, Wisconsin Dells (fifth) and Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, Lake Geneva (seventh). cntraveler.com/travel-awards
Dinner and a show
Dorf Haus, a supper club with authentic German fare, is the biggest draw in little Roxbury (after St. Norbert’s Catholic Church). Residents of the Dane County town of 1,700 know they could wait an hour or longer for dinner on weekends because the restaurant usually does not accept reservations.
That changes during afternoon and evening dinner theater shows on Nov. 18, 19, 25 and 26. “Happy Holidays from the Homefront” is a Driftless Area Reperatory Theater production that revisits songs from the golden days of radio. A $42 ticket includes the show and dinner. foodspot.com, 608-643-3980
Narrated boat cruises on Geneva Lake typically end as weather cools, but the new Santa Cruise is an exception. Forty-minute rides on the heated Grand Belle, which looks like an old-time steamer, float past lakefront light displays and pretend to transform a part of the Lake Geneva area into the North Pole.
The outings, at dusk or later from Thanksgiving to Dec. 30, begin in Williams Bay with a walk past trees decorated for the Twelve Charities of Christmas. Tickets are $25 (less for senior citizens and children). “Naughty or Nice” tours, at 8:30 p.m. on weekends, are for adults only. santacruiselakegeneva.com, 800-345-1020
Black Friday options
No need to feel forced to shop on Black Friday, Nov. 24. You have other options.
The sixth annual Black Friday Beerfest at the 20-acre Harley-Davidson Museum campus in Milwaukee showcases hard ciders to stouts from the Midwest’s craft brewers. The 4 to 7 p.m. event happens inside The Garage. Tickets are only sold online. It’s $45 for general admission and $60 for VIP treatment, which means early entry and other perks. H-DMuseum.com, 414-287-2789
“Black Friday Fun” at the Milwaukee Public Museum means strolling the holiday-decorated Streets of Old Milwaukee and European Village galleries.
Less gentle and on exhibit at the museum until Jan. 1 is “Weapons: Beyond the Blade,” featuring about 180 artifacts from the museum’s archives. Curator Dawn Scher Thomae says each has in some way shaped human history. In the show are items from more than 50 countries, modern-day to 10,000 BC. mpm.edu, 414-278-2702
Ugly sweater contests
The Monarch Lounge in the Hilton Milwaukee City Center sponsors an Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest on Fridays, Nov. 24 to Dec. 22. Top prize: a gift card to the hotel’s Milwaukee ChopHouse. Expect one-half off on drinks and appetizers from 4:30 to 7 p.m. hiltonmilwaukee.com, 414-271-7250
Opening Nov. 17 in the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton, is “Asylum: Out of the Shadows,” the stories of eight people who lived or worked at the former Outagamie County Asylum for the Insane.
The study of behavior and mental health aims to ease the stigma associated with mental illness. The exhibit closes June 3. myhistorymuseum.org, 920-735-9370
‘Monsters’ on display
“Permian Monsters: Life Before the Dinosaurs” is a new exhibit at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay. It showcases full-sized models and fossilized skeletons of creatures that existed millions of years before T. Rex and his pals.
The traveling exhibit is up until Jan. 28 and is a mix of art and science, featuring the work of artist Julius Csotonyi. nevillepublicmuseum.com, 920-448-4460