Follow me in the upcoming months as I explore different activities that help set Sheboygan apart from the rest. I created a list of 10 activities, in no particular order, of things that make Sheboygan, Sheboygan. Believe it or not, there are so many unique things to do and see. So unique, that you just might add a few of these ideas to YOUR bucket list.
As I complete each item on my list, I’ll share photos and experiences right here.
Look for my check marks! ✔
✔ 1. Fall Colors From the Towers
The Sheboygan area is fortunate enough to have two observation towers where you can see for miles! The pictures I’ve seen from summer are breathtaking. I can only image how spectacular it is at the change of the season, when all the fall colors are at their peak!
Broughton Sheboygan Marsh Park & Tower
Broughton Sheboygan Marsh Park is an 80-ft, newly-opened, wooden observation tower that is the tallest in the state and provides a spectacular view of the Marsh. Experience the beautiful wildlife, landscape and recreational opportunities, such as access to the Sheboygan County snowmobile trail system, rowboat/canoe rentals, fishing, golfing, campsites, picnic areas, and a full menu restaurant.
Parnell Tower is the highest point of elevation in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. At 60-feet tall, this tower offers a panoramic view of the surrounding forest up to 25 miles. After you see the area from above, hike the 3.5-mile trail that also overlaps part of the Ice Age National Trail.
✔ 2. Wishing I Was Charter Fishing
Charter fishing is something everyone should get a chance to do. Fishing may not be for everyone but sometimes it can be fun to ride along and watch everyone’s excitement when they catch a fish. It’s true you can go Great Lake fishing in many areas on Lake Michigan; I went when I was younger. However, it is not everyday that you get a chance to troll for quality Trout and Salmon aboard Wisconsin’s all-time largest charter fishing fleet.
I don’t always wake up before the crack of dawn, but when I do it usually involves an outdoor sporting activity! My parents and I hopped aboard one of Dumper Dan’s charter boats and slowly made our way out to open water. Most people would probably prefer to go later in the day but it was not too bad since we got to watch a beautiful sunrise.
About an hour into trolling we had our first bite! Because my mom had never gone charter fishing before, my dad and I decided to let her reel first. About 10 mins in her arms started to get tired and it was up to me to take over. (One handy tip I discovered, relax your hand. Don’t squeeze the rod or your hand goes a little numb). It took me an extra 10-15 mins of fighting the fish before I landed it safely in the boat. Even though it was super slimy, I was really excited and couldn’t wait to hold it up for a picture. Funny story: because the fish was so slimy I accidentally dropped it. Oops!!
Unfortunately, that was the only fish we were lucky enough to catch. But I wasn’t too upset. We at least caught one and I was able to spend time on the water with my mom and dad.
✔ 3. Who knew, Olivü 426?
Caitlin Brotz is owner of Olivü 426, located in Downtown Sheboygan. This all natural business all started when a close friend, Adam, suffered from severe burns. The hospital advised him not to use store bought products, as they wanted him to use something that would promote healing, rather than just lubrication. Unfortunately, most store bought lotion contained alcohol and would irritate his grafted skin. Caitlin eagerly got to work making a lip balm for Adam. She researched various oils in hopes of finding one that would help heal him with minimal scarring, and it worked.
Over time she started developing more and more products such as lotions and soaps. Other products are designed for your face, body, hair, and lips. Olivü 426 has grown into something amazing, making it a one of a kind. There really is no place like it anywhere else!
Visit their website or stop in and see them.
I spent the day with Caitlin talking about her new products, some of her favorite products, and her best sellers! As Caitlin mentioned in the video below, “there is inspiration all around us.” This was clearly evident after hearing how passionate she is about her business and the products her and her staff are constantly creating. Each item in the store is hand-poured daily or weekly by their staff to assure a fresh, high quality product at an affordable price. After a quick interview, I had the pleasure of learning how to mix and pour my soon to be blueberry bubblegum flavored lip balm.
✔ 4. Strive to Scuba Dive
Sailing Education Association of Sheboygan (SEAS) just had their Open House & Shipwreck Presentation August 8th and it has enhanced my excitement about Shipwrecks in Lake Michigan. The opportunity to see one is definitely a can’t miss, especially when you want to scuba dive!
It’s estimated that there are nearly 6,000 shipwrecks in the Great Lakes creating underwater time capsules. Because of Lake Michigan’s cold and fresh water, these shipwrecks are some of the best-preserved shipwrecks in the world.
Learn more about diving
Click on the link to learn more about different shipwrecks in Lake Michigan. Discover the coordinates of multiple shipwrecks and learn if they are technical, recreational, or expedition dives. In addition, call or text to schedule a dive trip:
Well, I did it! Striving to scuba dive finally paid off! Thanks to Tamara Thomsen and her staff from the Wisconsin Historical Society, I was able to dive at the site of the Montgomery shipwreck. But first, we had to find it. Although this shipwreck has coordinates, unlike others in Lake Michigan, you still need a radar to detect the wreck. It took us a few tries going back and forth with the boat but eventually we found it!
As we started to get the equipment ready, I accepted the challenge of squeezing into the rest of my super tight wet suit. Although the ladies kept reassuring me that the suit would feel better once I was in the water, I couldn’t help but feel like Randy from “A Christmas Story,” unable to move from so many layers. Let’s just say, they make putting on scuba diving equipment look easier in the movies.
Once I was given proper instructions and understood the equipment, I headed to the side of the boat and took a back roll into the murky water. As I followed the anchor line down to the ship, it took me a few seconds to adjust to the pressure and my surroundings. Once I figured it out, there was no stopping me from looking at the entire 136-foot wooden schooner. The structure was incredibly preserved, considering it sank in 1890. As I explored the wreck I was able to see structures such as the mainmast step, the centerboard, the bow, and different planking for the ceiling and outer hull. It was definitely surreal; I was swimming next to and even touching history!
Watch the video and see what it was like for me during my dive!
✔ 5. Peek at the Potties
When you think of bathrooms, you probably don’t think of art. But at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, everything is art! Each year, thousands of visitors walk through the museum to experience world-class exhibitions and performances. But one aspect that has everyone talking are their stunning washrooms! Each one is uniquely designed, so don’t be surprised if you see me weaving in and out of them all!
I had a chance to go “peek at the potties!” Immediately as you walk into the building you’ll see washrooms to the left. To my surprise, it is acceptable to look in both the men’s and women’s washrooms. In fact, it is encouraged. So, do not be surprised if you see someone of the opposite sex in the wrong washroom; it is normal. Take your time while you are in there. I found it fascinating to look over all the craftsmanship, the details, and the imagination that went into designing each one. And since I was already there, I figured I’d “peek” at the rest of the museum.
✔ 6. Learn to Surf
Can you really surf in Sheboygan? Absolutely! We’re not the Fresh Water Surf Capitol of the World for nothing. Because of its location and geography, Sheboygan has some of the best waves on the Great Lakes. But what’s the catch? The best time to surf is in the winter. While there are opportunities to go surfing in the summer (which I’d prefer), I am looking for the best experience and the biggest waves. Fingers crossed and wish me (and the other crazies) luck!
I finally caught some waves thanks to EOS Surf! My arms felt like noodles afterwards but it was well worth it and I can’t wait to catch more waves!
Before you start surfing, you must know this: surfing is a complex sport. It can be very challenging but it is certainly an enjoyable learning process. I strongly recommend scheduling lessons from EOS Surf Shop. They regularly surf and it is the best way to get advice from people who know what they are talking about.
If you take lessons as I did, EOS will handle everything from getting you sized with a wet-suit to the right board size.
When you get down by the water, it is important to go through all the moves you plan on doing in the water: balancing, paddling, and the pop up. Learning to balance and center yourself on the board was the most difficult part for me. I kept lying too far up or too far back on the board which resulted in it sinking or me rolling off (several times). Even before venturing into the water, try your pop up a few times. Your instructor will give you further advice but this pop up position should be swift and seamless. When you first enter the water practice the techniques I mentioned on smaller waves before tackling larger ones. You’ll feel my comfortable knowing the motions.
At first, it may seem overwhelming but ask questions and just have fun! Surfing is a sport of trial and error. Practice and time are your best friend; they will make you better!
Believe me, you will fall, and fall, and fall… and then you’ll fall some more. The waves will knock you down, you’ll get frustrated, and you’ll even get some bruises. If you get tired, which you will, head to shore and relax. You can always pick up where you left off when your body is ready. It’s all part of the game and when you finally stand up and ride your first wave; it’ll all be worth it.
“The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun!” -Phil Edwards
✔ 7. Never to Late to Try the Brat Plate
When German immigrants settled in Sheboygan, they brought along two of their favorite things: brats and beer. When it comes to the manufacturing, preparation, and ingestion of brats, we are in first place.
A bratwurst (or “brat”) is a sausage usually composed of veal, pork or beef. The name is derived from Old High German Brätwurst, from brät-, which is finely chopped meat and Wurst, or sausage. Bratwurst is usually grilled or fried, and sometimes (or always) cooked in broth or beer. It is “the meat that made Sheboygan famous.”
✔ 8. Take the Polar Plunge
It happens every year since 1973, and even the bitter cold of winter can’t stop it. On January 1, people line up along the frigid waters of Lake Michigan with only one thing on their minds – jumping in. It sounds crazy, but that doesn’t stop anyone from dressing up in costumes, yelling “It’s not cold enough!”, and taking the plunge. This will be one way of bringing in the New Year for me!!
✔ 9. Dine at Stefano’s
“Stefano Viglietti is a self-taught chef who owns and operates four restaurants with his wife, Whitney, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Stefano is passionate about educating and instilling a love for quality in both customers and staff. Stefano has provided outstanding learning experiences for his employees through sponsored trips to Italy, helping to expand knowledge and appreciation for authentic Italian cuisine.”
If you read my blog “Some of the Best Food in Sheboygan” you’ll know I was fortunate enough to dine at Stefano’s already. For those of you who are visiting Sheboygan, locals will recommend it quite often and tell you, “you have to dine there.” People come from all over to devour his food. While I was waiting to be seated, I spoke with an older couple that drove all the way from Chicago to celebrate their 50th anniversary. At one point they mentioned, they have been dining at Stefano’s for 12 years now. They are just one example but I think it is safe to say that the drive is worth it. The food is spectacular and you won’t find anything quite like it nearby.
✔ 10. Sail like an Olympian
As one of the five U.S Olympic Training centers, Sheboygan has been and continues to be a host to all different levels of sailing competition. This summer we will host the 2018 Para World Sailing Championship! (September 16th-22nd). However, when I give sailing a try, it will be a more relaxed atmosphere than a competition, but it will be neat to be on the same waters as these athletes.
I chose the “First Sail” session because well, I knew absolutely nothing about sailing! It introduces sailing in a casual way and motivates newcomers to continue sailing. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous showing up to the docks because I was going to be in an itty-bitty boat on a large body of water. But, I was reassured that the boat we were taking was a “taaank” (in other words, it’s almost impossible to tip). My nerves were soon replaced with excitement since I was going to get hands-on learning that covers topics such as, how a sail works, parts of a sailboat, points of sail, and important safety guidelines.
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