Monday, September 24, 2012

Vegan on Vacation: Devil's Lake, Wisconsin...

Last week my husband and I took a little impromptu vacation. We were each in need of a bit of a break so we hopped into our little Volkswagen Golf and headed to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin for a few days of peaceful relaxation. Neither one of us had been there before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it was really fantastic. I don’t know how we’ve lived here all this time and yet never been there before.

Devil’s Lake is located just outside of a small town in Wisconsin called Baraboo, roughly three to three and a half hours away from Chicago depending on how fast you drive. Not so very far away, but far enough that once you get there you feel entirely alone in the world. Since my husband is not a camper we stayed at the Wildwood Inn in Baraboo, just a few minutes drive from the lake. The Inn was really cute, and had a log cabin kind of feel. It reminded me very much of the sort of place you’d see in either a movie from the nineteen-fifties or a modern horror movie. Great atmosphere and very quiet. Since it’s currently the off-season there was only one other couple staying at the Inn. The Park, and Devil’s Lake were also virtually free of other people. We hiked for long stretches without running into anyone which was incredible.

Unfortunately the weather was a bit touch and go. Mostly it was in the fifties but it dipped lower then that at some points and with the wind as strong and cold as it was it certainly felt a lot chillier. We hadn’t thought to pack jackets so we were a bit cold hiking along the cliffs but we managed alright. The views are absolutely stunning, and since it was so quiet there you feel very much at peace. There were many times where we picked a quiet spot along the cliffs and just had a nice rest, looking out over the lake. There were some fantastic vantage points from which you could even see beyond the lake to the surrounding town and outlaying areas.

I loved walking along the sandstone cliffs and quartzite boulders. Loved looking at all the amazing rock formations. Devil’s Doorway and Balanced Rock were fantastic, elephant rock, and potholes too. The trees are also starting to shift from their summer greens to their autumn reds and it was already looking beautiful but in another week or two I’m sure it’ll be pure magic there. I also really loved the tumbled rock path, which is exactly what it sounds like, a paved path carved through a field of quartzite boulders that have shaken loose from the cliffs over the millennia. These rocks are massive, and awe-inspiring. There are houses dotting the lake, that have been built amongst these rocks and that’s quite a spectacular sight in itself. I imagine it would be a very peaceful place to live though I’m not sure how thrilled I’d be to live in the trajectory of falling boulders.

As for food - well, small towns are always a worry to vegans aren’t they? My husband and I had the foresight and experience to bring provisions with us. We stopped at the grocery store before heading up and bought ample fruit for breakfast, as well as to take with us on hikes, and some nutrition bars like Luna and Lara bars. We also picked up some very delicious wine to enjoy in our room once our hiking was done for the day. So an assortment of fresh strawberries, bananas, apples, pears, coconut water and bars took care of breakfast and midday snacking.

When it came to dinner we were of course a little worried. Wisconsin however is the land of cheese, and small towns in particular are well known for their emphasis on cheese and meats. However we were able to find a cute little place called The Barn. It was actually just down the street from our Inn, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. An old barn that’s been converted into a bar and restaurant. They are apparently well known for their prime rib, but we’d heard they might have vegetarian options also. So we walked in and asked, and the woman was very gracious and accommodating. She said the food could also be made with oil instead of butter, and no cheese. For vegans there were only a few options. A Mediterranean plate, a portobello sandwich, and spaghetti with marinara. For vegetarians there was also Alfredo, and a vegetable grilled cheese. Be sure to ask if you get the Mediterranean plate for no cheese, and be sure to ask for the portobello sandwich without the tzatziki. Tastes great with a bit of ketchup and mustard!  There is also a Mexican restaurant in the town where the vegetarian and vegan options are virtually endless with a little creative re-organizing.

We also found a fantastic coffee shop called The Coffee Bean Connection. This is a really cool coffee house with a groovy atmosphere and a totally cool, friendly, and helpful staff. This is exactly the sort of place I’d be hanging out in everyday if I lived in town. They have a wide assortment of hot and cold drinks. They do lattes, mochas, and fraps. They do iced coffees, iced teas, hot teas. Everything looks and smells fantastic. They also have signature drinks, and holiday drinks and seasonal drinks. They sell their beans whole, their tea leaves loose, and their various coffee blends ground for anyone who wants to take some home as well. Amazing place! My husband bought several different types of flavored coffee to bring back with us. The best thing is they can make all of their drinks with soy milk! I wasn’t expecting that in a small town. So I got their seasonal pumpkin latte and it tasted amazing, a million times better then Starbucks which is way to sweet and artificial for my taste.

So I highly recommend a trip to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin if you’re into hiking and nature. It’s the perfect place to commune with nature and loose yourself in your thoughts or completely clear yourself of them.

PS: Vegan Mofo is coming up - October 1st. I'm super excited, this will be my second year participating. I got some great feedback on it last year, and I had such a good time doing it. This year I've actually picked a theme so stay tuned, I hope you'll enjoy what i've chosen to do this year!!


  1. Loved, Loved your photos! S.T>

  2. So I live in Baraboo and It's cool to hear about people that enjoy coming here and yes I'm at Coffee bean all the time!!!

    I literally live two blocks away from the Inn you stayed at I'm glad you enjoyed Your Stay!!!

  3. Wow, that's cool! We did have a really good time. Next time I'm in town, or passing through town we'll have to meet up at Coffee Bean :)