Grant County is the ninth largest in Wisconsin but predominantly rural. Its largest town, Platteville, is bolstered by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, but the county seat is in Lancaster.
The county also features Mississippi River towns and a variety of museums and annual events.
The first settlers, who were miners, arrived here in 1827. For two years, it was known as Platte River Digs. Despite the loss of the mining industry, Platteville continued to grow with the addition of Normal School, and later when the railroad came to town. Today, with more than 11,000 people, it is easily the center of the county’s activities.
Check this out: The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums, 405 E. Main St. Visitors can tour the 1845 Bevans Lead Mine, take a ride in a 1931 mine train and learn about the lead and zinc mining of the Upper Mississippi Valley. For more information, go to mining.jamison.museum.
Places to stay: Mound View Inn, 1755 U.S. 151, 608-348-9518; Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, 630 South Water St., 608-348-7373; Walnut Ridge Log Cabin Rental, 2238 County Road A, 608-732-1116.
Don’t miss this: Hometown Festival Week, July 20-28 and the Southwest Music Festival, July 20. There’s an ice cream social, car show and an arts and crafts show, among other activitives. (See schedule on page 57)
Mitchell Rountree Stone Cottage,
- corner of Wisconsin 81 and Madison St., 608-723-4925. Built in 1837 by Rev. Samuel Mitchell, it features two-foot-thick walls of dolomite Galena limestone and many of the Rountree family’s original furnishings.
When you’re hungry: Benvenuto’s, 1621 Progressive Parkway, 608-348-5000; Pizzeria Uno, 155 U.S. 151, 608-348-7808; The Whisky Lounge at Gina’s, 45 N. Second St., 608-348-6505.
A night on the town? The Annex, 230 Dubuque Road, 608-348-7803; Steve’s Pizza Palace, 175 W Main St., 608-348-3136.
More on Platteville: platteville.com
After Grant County was created in 1836, this community won a contest to be county seat a year later. As with nearly every area town, lead was the early reason for coming to Lancaster.
Wisconsin’s first Governor, Nelson Dewey, was from Lancaster and is buried there. Another interesting tidbit: The Patrick Kinney House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is in Lancaster.
With nearly 4,000 residents, it’s one of the larger communities in the Southwest Wisconsin area.
Check this out: The Grant County Courthouse. This copper-domed building was built of red sandstone in the Classical Revival style in 1902. You’ll find it on the dominant downtown square. It also boasts the first Civil War monument in the United States. There’s more history going back to the Civil War inside. For more details, go to tiny.cc/bncnjy
Places to stay: Lancaster Welcome Inn, 420 W. Maple St., 608-723-4162; The Maple Guest House, 445 W. Maple St., 608-331-0813.
Don’t miss this: Cunningham Museum, 129 E. Maple St, Lancaster. It features exhibits about early industry, military heritage, Wisconsin history and transportation heritage. It’s part of the Grant County Historical Society. Call 608-723-4925 for more information.
- Little Britches Rodeo, June 1-2, West Grant Saddle Club, 916 E. Elm St. This will be the third stop for the state-wide youth rodeo series and will include the usual array of rodeo events.
When you’re hungry: Karla’s Kitchen, 103 N. Madison St., 608-723-3393; Twin Dragon, 143 S. Jefferson St., 608-723-4161.
A night on the town? Copper Dome Sports Bar, 126 N. Madison St., 608-723-5263; Doolittle’s Pub & Eatery, 135 S. Jefferson St., 608-723-7676.
More on Lancaster: lancasterwisconsin.com
Cuba City/Dickeyville/Hazel Green
Cuba City calls itself the City of the Presidents, proudly hanging large red, white and blue shields on light poles along Main Street that sport every president’s name and silhouette of his profile. Dickeyville is known for its Grotto, while Hazel Green has its opera house.
Check this out: Dickeyville Grotto, 305 W. Main St. There’s nothing else like it in the tri-states, with its incredible amount of items filling its walls and pillars.
Antiques & Salvage,
- 217 S. Main St., Cuba City, 563-599-1699. It specializes salvaging homes, churches and and schools, but also offers a variety of items such as antique bottles, crocks and glassware.
Places to stay: Coconut Cove Beach Club & Resort, 1549 Bluff Road, Hazel Green, 608-748-5480; Plaza Motel, 203 S. Main St., Dickeyville, 608-568-7562; The Wisconsin Wood INN, 224 S. Main St., Dickeyville, 608-568-7996; Rustic Barn Campground, 3854 Dry Hollow Road, Kieler, 608-568-7797.
Don’t miss this: Hazel Green Opera House, 2130 Main St., 608-732-6404. It’s home to “The Fever River Puppeteers,” who perform marionette and other puppet shows seasonally.
Sinnipee Valley Vineyard & Winery,
- 4547 Timber Lane, 608-568-3212. You’ll find it in the woods close to Kieler, and it offers a nice variety from the vine.
When you’re hungry: Country Heights Supper Club and Motel, 1154 Badger Road, Hazel Green, 608-748-4687; PJs Pub & Hall, 3670 County Road HHH, Kieler, 608-568-3118; Nick’s Cafe, 119 S. Main St., 608-744-3424, Cuba City; Katina’s Kitchen, 205 W. Main St., Dickeyville, 608-568-9965.
A night on the town? Sandy Hook Tavern, 3836 Sandy Hook Road, Hazel Green, 608-748-4728; Main St. Pub and Winery, 22 S. Main St., 608-744-2520, Cuba City; Doolittle’s Pub & Eatery, 112 S. Main St., 608-744-2404, Cuba City; Gooche’s Greenhouse, 3544 County HHH, Kieler, 608-568-3040.
More on Cuba City: tiny.cc/3jhkjy
This town of about 2,500 in north central Grant County boasts Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, dolls, trains and a mammoth mouse, among other things.
Check this out: The Fennimore Railroad Historical Society Museum, 610 Lincoln Ave., features the Wilkinson Collection, an operational 15-foot gauge rail with 700 feet of track; miniature train rides; the “Dinky,” a 1907 Davenport 2-6-0 locomotive and more. For more information, call 608-822-6144.
The Fennimore Doll & Toy Museum,
- 1135 Sixth St., contains classic and collectible dolls and toys from around the world. Some of its displays include spinning tops from around the world, porcelain and bisque dolls, Lone Ranger and Tonto, old farm toys and a specially constructed display with 740 Barbies and accessories. For more info, go to 608-822-4100.
Places to stay: Fenmore Hills Motel, 5821 U.S. 18, 608-822-3281; The Fenway House Hotel, 1096 Lincoln Ave., 608-822-3782, includes the The Silent Woman restaurant.
Don’t miss this: Fennimore Fun Fest, May 31-June 1, at city park on Lafollette St. Highlights include a car show, parade, music, fun run, kickball and tractor pull. tiny.cc/qp9mjy
When you’re hungry: Timothy’s Cafe, 940 Lincoln Ave., 608-822-6331; Friederick’s Family Restaurant, 430 Lincoln Ave., 608-822-7070.
A night on the town? BD’s Eagles Nest, 690 Lincoln Ave., 608-822-6510; Cottonwood Sports Bar, 4716 Green River Road, 608-822-6314.
More on Fennimore: fennimore.com
Despite a population of less than 1,000, this Grant County community is surrounded by outdoors-related activities and sites. And, you can get there by car or by car ferry — across the Mississippi River, where you will embark near Millville, Iowa. A car, van or pickup costs $15 to board. For more information, go to tiny.cc/ovdojy.
Check this out: Stonefield Village. This historic site is made up of four areas, about a mile north of town: There’s an Agricultural Museum, a 1901 Farmstead, a Rural Farming Village and the Governor Nelson Dewey estate. It’s a great place for the family to get away from the hub-bub, and there are a variety of seasonal events. For more details, go to stonefield.wisconsinhistory.org
Places to stay: Upper Miss Lodging, 105 West Amelia St., 608-412-4897; Eagles Roost, 1034 Jack Oak Road, 608-725-5553.
Don’t miss this: Nelson Dewey State Park. This 756-acre park on the Mississippi River offers views, hiking, camping and more. It was named for Wisconsin’s first governor, it is adjacent to Stonefield Village. Check it out at tiny.cc/7ydojy
When you’re hungry: J & J Sandbar, 1110 E. Amelia St., 608-218-3405; Anker Inn Smokehouse, 11008 Wisconsin 133, 608-725-5514.
A night on the town: Vogt’s Town Pump, 118 E. Amelia St, Cassville, 608-725-5175; Silver Spigot Saloon, 116 East Amelia St., 608-725-5703.
More on Cassville: cassville.org
Potosi’s nearly 700 people combine with Tennyson to make around 1,000 in this dual-town layout. Potosi calls itself “The Catfish Capital of Wisconsin,” and its three-mile long Main Street has bragging rights to being the longest Main Street in the world without an intersection.
Check this out: Potosi Brewery, 209 S. Main Street, 608-763-4002. This facility was re-opened in 2008 after 36 years, and includes several interesting aspects. You can check out the National Brewery Museum, Great River Road Interpretive Center, Transportation Museum, a restaurant and Brew Pub. Or take the popular Production Facilities Tour. Also, the Potosi Brewfest takes place Saturday, Aug. 24. For more info, call 608-763-4002 or go to www.potosibrewery.com
Places to stay: Potosi Inn, 102 N. Main St., 608-763-2269; Grant River Recreation Area campground, 3990 Park Lane, 608-763-2140; Pine Point Lodge LLC, 219 S. Main St., 608-763-2767.
Don’t miss this: Whispering Bluffs Winery, 196 S Main St., 608-763-2468. Opened in 2012 across the street from the brewery, the venue offers a variety of wines and daily tastings. You’ll find some intriguing recipes on its website whisperingbluffswinery.com.
When you’re hungry: Potosi Inn, 102 N. Main St. 608-763-2269; Ace’s Pizza, 106 N. Main St., 608-763-4000.
A night on the town? Roadhouse, 310 Roadhouse St., 608-763-2208; Potosi Saloon, 192 S Main St., facebook.com/potosibrewerysaloon; Haverland’s Bar, 125 Tennyson St., 608-763-2373.
More on Potosi/Tennyson: potosi wisconsin.com
Although on the fringe of the Telegraph Herald circulation area, Boscobel provides some sights and events that are worth the hour-long drive.
Check this out: Living History: Military Reenactment Day, Aug. xx. Musket firings, artillery demonstrations and drills are among the highlights at this multi-war extravaganza that will include military re-enactors and encampments from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. For more details, go to tiny.cc/ad7njy
Places to stay: Driftless Lodge, 15119 U.S 61, 608-822-3950; AmericInn, 1700 Elm St., 608-375-8000.
Don’t miss this: Boscobel Hotel and Central House, 1005 Wisconsin Ave., 608-375-4714. Listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, the three-story native limestone landmark was built in 1863 and is known as the “Birthplace of the Gideon Bible.” It includes a restaurant and bar.
When you’re hungry: Mrs. B’s Bakery & Bistro, 800 Elm St., 608-391-1690; China King, 928 Wisconsin Ave., 608-375-5330.
A night on the town? Kim’s Silver Dollar Bar, 910 Wisconsin Ave., 608-375-4650; Double K’s Bar & Grill, 900 Wisconsin Ave., 608-375-5404.