MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Listening for a deal

If you belong to public radio or another arts organization, check your benefits before traveling.

Historic downtown in Cedarburg, WI

© Beth Gauper

The Washington House in Cedarburg offers two nights for the price of one to members of Wisconsin and Chicago public radio.

Before you head out the door, check to see what deals are waiting for you – because all you have to do is ask.

Many people know that their AAA card gets them a 10 percent discount at most hotels. But I suspect many members of public radio and other arts organizations  have forgotten about the great deals they can get on inns, restaurants and entertainment.

If you’re a member of Minnesota Public Radio or Wisconsin Public Radio, you can get two nights for the price of one at Fitger’s in Duluth, which has downhill and cross-country skiing right in the city.

If you’re a member of Wisconsin Public Radio or Chicago Public Radio, you can get 2-for-1 deals, even on weekends, at the cool Holiday Music Motel in Sturgeon Bay, which already is very inexpensive; or Jack’s Lake B&B in western Wisconsin, an eco-retreat close to the Chippewa Moraine ice-age center and its snowshoeing trails.

If you like trains and are a member of Wisconsin Public Radio, you get a 2-for-1 any time at the Whistle Stop Inn in northwest Minnesota, where accommodations are in three turn-of-the-century train cars.

Deals are most generous in winter and midweek, when you can get 2-for-1 deals at places in popular weekend destinations, such as the Washington House Inn in Cedarburg, Wis.; the Candlelight Inn in Red Wing, Minn.; and the Golden Oaks Mansion in Lake Geneva, Wis.

If you travel, or even get around town a lot, the MemberCard quickly can pay for itself, because each one includes 2-for-1 deals at more than 50 inns and 200 restaurants. Cost is a $120 yearly membership in Wisconsin or Chicago radio, and for an extra $6.75, you can order up to three cards for other locations, too. Many public-television stations also give it as a premium.

Entertainment deals also are good. In Chicago, 2-for-1 deals include Kingston Mines, Blue Chicago, Second City comedy club and Steppenwolf Theatre.

In Wisconsin, they include musical revues at Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield, tickets to the Peninsula Music Festival in Door County, Hillside Studio tours at Taliesen in Spring Green, admission to the Milwaukee Art Museum and Circus World Museum in Baraboo and 50 other attractions.

Deals for Minnesota Public Radio members are not as good, because they don’t have to meet the $120 threshold. Usually, the deals are for 10 to 15 percent off lodgings and restaurant meals.

But they do include the Fitger’s deal, good every day from November through May and midweek in summer, and 2-for-1 tours of Glensheen mansion in Duluth. In Lanesboro, they include a 2-for-1 midweek stay at the Hillcrest Hide-Away B&B and 2-for-1 tickets to the Commonweal Theatre.

Iowa Public Television also offers the MemberCard, which includes deals at more than 400 restaurants and three dozen inns.

If you're a member of public television, a museum, an orchestra or other non-profit arts organization, you may be eligible for discounts in your home state and around the nation, too. Check your member benefits.

For more about deals, see Cornucopia of coupons.

Last updated on January 30, 2013