Traveling is fun and exciting, but not everyone can do it whether it be because of time, finances, kids, or even some level of fear. Living in Racine, WI, everyone has heard at least one person say, “I hate Racine; there is nothing to do here!” Racine is on the smaller side though, with a population of about 77,742 (as of 2015), compared to Milwaukee which has a population of 600,155 people. Though when it comes to small towns, Racine is FAR from little! My mother grew up in the small town of Alpena, MI before moving to Milwaukee at 18. Alpena has a population of 10,175 as of 2015, and there are even smaller towns. I strongly feel “nothing to do” is quite the exaggeration from people who perhaps have some sort of vendetta against Racine (to be quite blunt!) or they don’t know much about this town!
Even if you can’t travel, there are many things you can do in Racine as a “tourist,” here are a few of my personal favorites!
I feel most of us living here take advantage of the fact we live by one of the beautiful Great Lakes in the US! If you’re a fan of some fun in the sun, definitely spend a day at North Beach in the summer! Our beach is 50 acres and has 2,500 feet of shoreline, and it has been rated as one of the Top 5 Best Freshwater beaches by USA today and one of Top 10 Family Friendly Beaches. Go Racine! Not to mention, it’s close to my next honorable mention.
Our beloved North Beach is very close to our lovely downtown area! Downtown Racine encompasses a lot of different things for you to do! There are about 45 restaurants, pubs, and bars you can grab some food, a drink, or dessert, ranging from casual to classy, and over 40 different shops! Plus, they’re all local businesses! Who doesn’t love supporting our own local community?
Not to mention, Downtown Racine does a fantastic job at putting together events for our community. First Fridays ranges from April through December; this is when shops are open later, there is live music, and some of the different businesses join in on the fun and have deals and discounts! They also have Party on the Pavement, various art walks/fairs in the summer, German Fest, St. Patrick’s Day and a Christmas Parade, and ice and snow sculptures in the winter.
Wind Point Lighthouse
Seeing the Wind Point Lighthouse is another excellent way to be a tourist in our home town! Our lighthouse was built in the late 1800s; there’s a lot of rich history behind it. It was lit for the first time November 15, 1880, and it still continues to be lit today! They offer tours on the first Sunday of the month from June to October. They also have a cute little park and beach area and a shop that you can wander around, make a little purchase, and relax.
Racine Theatre Guild
You don’t have to go to Milwaukee or Chicago to enjoy live plays and musicals! Our very own Racine Theatre Guild puts on fabulous live plays. They’ve been around since 1938 and has been at their Northwestern Ave location since 1976 where they seat 405 people! (How’s that for a small town?) I grew up going to the “Packy Plays” that the Racine Theatre Guild puts on for young children. Packy is an adorable elephant that makes an introduction to each play. These plays gave me a love for live theatre! They’re cute, entertaining, and about an hour long (perfect for a child’s attention span). The RTG has a variety of categories for other live plays for adults including comedy, musicals, drama, and more! This reminds me… I believe I’m well overdue to see a play in town!
River Bend Nature Center
My family is huge on outdoor activities. Everywhere we’ve traveled, we’ve spent some of the time hiking. Naturally, I’m going to recommend River Bend Nature Center for a hike in the woods or kayaking down Root River! Something is so peaceful about floating down a river admiring God’s work in nature.
Favorite Local Restaurants
You can’t truly be a “tourist” without trying the local restaurants, right? Please, SKIP OLIVE GARDEN AND APPLEBEES. Let me tell you about my favorite local restaurants:
Divino Gelato Café
If you’re a fan of cute little cafes, this is it! Its down town on the corner of Main St. & 3rd. The building is gorgeous on the inside with intricate detailing on the walls and ceiling. I always recommend this place to those who haven’t gone, and if you have? Go again. They have wonderful coffee, sandwiches, soups, home made macarons, and home made Italian gelato! They make their gelato from scratch in the back kitchen, and their recipe truly is the real deal. The owners learned to make this delicious treat in Italy, and I’ve heard many people say it tastes like real Italian gelato. What a treat that we have this in little old Racine! Oh and to top it off, they have special deals all the time for their gelato and coffee and live music frequently!
Olde Madrid is downtown on 6th st. It’s a cute Spanish restaurant that serves delicious tapas and paella! Tapas are smaller dishes, typically appetizer sized ) that you share with a group of people. They have a variety of cold and hot tapas, even vegetarian friendly options. To those wary of trying anything outside the burger and pasta realm, do not fear! I was an extremely picky eater as a child, and to this day there are some foods I still won’t touch, and I’ve found I loved many dishes here. My favorites include their baked goat cheese, Seville crab cakes, Spanish meatballs, and can’t forget a paella: The Matador. Pick your favorite day and bring your hunny here for a date night!