In her new novel, The Simplicity of Cider, (on sale now from our sister company, Simon & Schuster), Amy Reichert gives readers a taste of the Midwest through the eyes of a gifted cider-maker at a careworn orchard in Wisconsin. Below, Amy shares her favorite Midwestern small towns, perfect for a vacation or day-trip after diving into The Simplicity of Cider.
There’s an imaginary line northeast of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin where life slows down and you’re surrounded by apple and cherry orchards, pristine state forests, and charming small towns full of quaint shops and delicious restaurants. Take the car Ferry to Washington Island, sample the pear cider at the Island Orchard Cider tasting room in Ellison Bay, or conquer the enormous sundae at Wilson’s in Ephraim. Don’t forget to witness the exciting flames bursting around fish boil’s cauldron—the area’s signature meal of whitefish and potatoes. Door County is the perfect place to hike, bike, and shop, or simply watch the beautiful water from the perfect chair.
Across the state from Chicago, almost into Iowa, is the charming former-mining town of Galena. Surrounded by rolling hills, this little burg has undergone some serious reinvention with exceptional antique stores, boutiques, and local pottery as well as a wide variety of small inns and bed & breakfasts. Take cooking and art classes, then watch the sunset from the sky in a hot air balloon. Explore U.S. and Native American history, hike the nearby trails for stunning vistas—especially in the fall, and finish your day at one of the many amazing restaurants.
Tucked into the kettle moraines, the hills and dips left behind when the last glacier melted, is Delafield, a perfect base for fall foliage viewing, scenic bike rides, or strolling the many boutiques and gift shops. Down the road is Ten Chimneys, a National Historic Landmark home of Broadway’s Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, which is open to visitors who want a peek at their art collection and personal mementos, or attend An Evening in the Drawing Room featuring nationally-renowned cabaret artists. You can golf like the pros at nearby Erin Hills Golf Course, home to the 2017 U.S. Open. For a classic Wisconsin tradition, arrive early for the Friday night fish fry at Stolley’s Hog Alley.
Nestled between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan in the Straights of Mackinac, Mackinac Island is like stepping back in time. You’ll need to take a ferry to explore this quiet island where the rumble of car motors is replaced by the clip-clopping of horses’ hooves. Stay at the Grand Hotel (or just visit it) where the movie Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, was filmed and set. Make sure to sample all the famous Mackinac Island fudge, ride a bike, or kayak the waters surrounding the island.
On the breathtaking banks of the St. Croix River, Stillwater boasts a cozy downtown full of antique shops and bookstores. Wander the streets to gander at the charming Victorian homes or hop in the local gondola (yep, straight from Venice) to experience the city by water. There’s something fun to do all year round—cross country ski and hike the local trails, celebrate the area’s historic timber industry at the annual Lumberjack Days, or join the Foodies on Foot tour with samples from the best restaurants and shops in Stillwater.