Getting the flavor of...
A thriving Wisconsin river town
Even when driving on Interstate 94, it’s easy to miss Eau Claire, Wis., said Bill Hammond in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. But head into the core of this old lumber town, now a city of 68,000, and you’ll find “a thriving, active, happy place in the midst of a remarkable rejuvenation.” My hometown went into decline decades ago when its steel plant and huge Uniroyal tire factory closed. Now, 30 miles of hiking trails run through Eau Claire, and a farmers’ market, established where the steel plant once stood, attracts 7,000 visitors a week. Nearby, restaurants, cafés, and craft breweries keep popping up, and the city is about to build a major performing arts center. You “must” visit the Joynt, a legendary hippie bar on Water Street, the hub of Eau Claire nightlife. Or stop by Ray’s Place. This knotty-pine tavern is “the real deal,” serving little more than split pea soup and hot beef sandwiches with sinus-clearing horseradish mustard.
Gloucester’s timeless glow
It’s been more than a century since the harbor at Gloucester, Mass., was immortalized by painters Fitz Henry Lane and Winslow Homer, yet “artists have never stopped coming,” said Patricia Harris and David Lyon in The Boston Globe. Today, many painters still live and work at the Rocky Neck Art Colony, where “an artistic timelessness” endures. The Rocky Neck Historic Art Trail, a downloadable walking tour, offers a great way to explore this cluster of homes, studios, and galleries, as well as the overlooks where Edward Hopper and Marsden Hartley once painted land- and seascapes. The tour’s route “traipses the length and breadth of the stony neck, prowling along wharves and peeping down rights of way to beaches.” It’s more than a nostalgia trip. “At every turn, there is another studio, another gallery, or an artist painting in the open air.” Taking in the salty harbor and the picturesque coves, you may want to start painting, too.