Shopping Towns

  • Old World Christmas markets

    Named for the Christ child, the markets traditionally start on the first Sunday of Advent, with shoppers warming up with hot spiced wine while browsing at garland-draped timber kiosks.

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  • Jolly Cedarburg

    When a small town is about as pleasing as can be, what else can it do? Why, make sure everyone notices, of course. In 1972, an old Yankee mill town just north of Milwaukee started a Wine & Harvest Festival. Two years later, it started Winter Festival.

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  • Fish Creek in Door County

    It's known as Door County's shopping town, and if people think that's too much of a good thing — well, they're in the minority, judging by throngs on the streets. It's also the gateway to the wildly popular Peninsula State Park. This big park is more like a resort, with a beach, boat rentals, playgrounds, tennis court and golf course, plus a theater, lighthouse, bike trails and one of the state's best-known hiking trails.

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  • Galena getaway

    In the grand scheme of things, Galena, Ill., was destined to be a flash in the pan. The flash came from the shiny lead sulfide upon which the town's fortunes were built in the 1830s, '40s and '50s; galena is the Latin word for the ore. It made many people rich, and in the 1850s, Galena, three miles from the Mississippi, was the busiest port between St. Paul and St. Louis.

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  • 20 great shopping towns

    Some people may guess that lakes or bicycle trails are the chief attraction for travelers in the Upper Midwest. Other might say museums, state parks or stadiums. Wrong, wrong and wrong. The No. 1 attraction in travel is . . . shops. is sightseeing for a lot of people. On vacation, they shop not as they would at the local mall, but as if had all the time in the world to browse, stroll and sample.

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  • Getaway on the St. Croix

    From the beginning, the St. Croix River has shaped Hudson's identity. The first settlers came by canoe on the fur-trade highway. The first steamboat docked in 1847, and soon logs were floating down the St. Croix to sawmills in Hudson and its neighbor on the Minnesota side, Stillwater.

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  • Old World Christmas at the Osthoff

    No one knows how to celebrate Christmas like the Germans. It's thanks to them that Americans decorate Christmas trees, hang wreaths and put nutcrackers on mantels. Because of them, we bake gingerbread men, open Advent calendars and fill stockings with treats. Still, not every German Christmas tradition has crossed the Atlantic.

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  • Beauty in Mineral Point

    Since its earliest days, the people of Mineral Point have created beauty out of nothing. The territory later became known as the badger state, and the town became Mineral Point, the nucleus around which Wisconsin developed.

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  • Prize-hunting in Princeton

    The last years have been busier than ever for the market: For a buck or two, anyone can find a treasure, even if it's a bag of marbles or a freshly baked pastry.

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  • Bicycling and shopping vacations

    As often as not, vacationing couples find they're in a mixed marriage: One likes to shop, one likes to bike or hike. What to do? I've seen dozens of men patiently waiting on benches as their wives and girlfriends scour the shops. But it needn't be an either/or proposition. Pick one of the destinations below, and you'll find both great shopping and great riding (or running, or skating) routes, plus great restaurants in which to relax afterward.

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  • Shopping in Madison

    In Madison, a visitor is exposed to many messages: Resist corporate globalization. Fight for social justice. Housing is a RIGHT! But when I was there one November, no one said anything against materialism.

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  • Shopping at the Megamall

    Twin Citians can boast all they want about their quality of life, their lakes and their urban civility. But the only thing most people in other states and countries really want to know about is the Mall of America, and the very interesting fact that there's no tax on clothing and shoes in Minnesota. Opened in 1992, the megamall was an instant hit, attracting eager shoppers from all over the world, most arriving with empty suitcases they can stuff with deals.

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  • Bargain-hunting in Stillwater

    When spring is a tease and days are gray, only one sport always comes through: Shopping. And where better to shop than Stillwater? The little village on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River has a Main Street that’s chockablock with antiques, books and bibelots from around the globe, filling every inch of storefronts once occupied by the blacksmiths and haberdashers and apothecaries of the logging era.

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  • Wisconsin's birthday town

    People converge on Spring Green, Wis., for many good reasons: To admire Frank Lloyd Wright masterpieces. To hear Shakespeare at American Players Theatre. To see world-class kitsch at House on the Rock. But what brought me to Spring Green? Free stuff. Spring Green calls itself "The Birthday Town,'' because people celebrating birthdays can go around to its businesses collecting free loot, like trick-or-treaters. It's like having another holiday, except you're the only one who gets to celebrate it.

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  • Power shopping in southwest Wisconsin

    Down comforters, to nestle all snug on a bed. Fleece stockings, to wear with care. Bowlsful of jelly, and a shop full of toys. "Wow, I've never done this before,'' marveled my friend Mary, looking on as three of us tried futilely to close the lid of the bulging car-top carrier. "I've heard about women who do this.''

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