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 78,860 (as of 2017), 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. Saying Racine has “nothing to do” is quite the exaggeration; they either have a grudge against someone, or they’re just not involved in the community enough!
Even if you can’t travel, there are so many things to do in Racine as a “tourist.” There’s no shame in going to some place more than once!
I feel most of us living here take advantage of the fact we live by one of the beautiful Great Lakes in the US! I’ve heard so many people just comment in awe at how truly large and magnificent this lake is; we just take it for granted! North Beach is perfect for pictures, family outings, picnics, and workouts. 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 us!
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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! Plus, it’s one of the best photo-ops in Racine; there’s never a bad angle! 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?) Plus, it’s notable to mention that all of the actors are VOLUNTEERS! (And they’re damn good at what they do!).
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!
My family is huge on outdoor activities. Almost everywhere we’ve traveled, we’ve spent part of the vacation hiking in nature. Naturally, that recomendation is going to be added to this list. Here are a few parks to embrace the great outdoors.
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Location: 1700 Liberty St
Riverbend Nature Center
Riverbend Nature Center is perfect for exploring on foot OR in canoe or kayak. Something is so peaceful about floating down a river admiring God’s work in nature.
Location: 3600 N Green Bay Rd, Racine, WI 53404
Pike River Pathway
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My dog would give this park a solid 10/10; she loves all the smells.
Location: Wendi Ct, Mt Pleasant, WI 53406
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 [some of] my favorite local restaurants.
If you’re a fan of cute little cafes, this is it! It’s downtown 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 so many customers have said it tastes like real Italian gelato. After my visit to Italy.. I can agree. Some of the most authentic Italian Gelato you can receive in the USA.
Oh and to top it off, they have special deals all the time for their gelato and coffee and have live music on Fridays often.
Location: 245 Main St, Racine, WI 53404
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. My favorites include their baked goat cheese, Seville crab cakes, almond meatballs, and can’t forget a paella: The Matador. Pick your favorite day and bring your hunny here for a date night!
Location: 418 6th St, Racine, WI 53403
Blue Bear is a delicious brunch spot on the south end of town where everything is made from scratch and locally sourced ingredients. Yes, even the marshmallows in the above picture are made from scratch. This place is perfect for anyone in your group, as a quite a few meals on their menu are vegan and vegetarian friendly and can be made gluten free!
Location: 2920 Taylor Ave, Racine, WI 53405