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Winter Wine Walk - Tips and Tricks from a Veteran Walker

Nothing says the Holiday Season is upon us more than the Downtown Baraboo Winter Wine Walk! It's something my girlfriends and I have done a few times and one we always have a blast at (not to mention it's a great "Mommy's Night Out" event!). It's the perfect way to kick off the holiday season and everything is always so bright and festive around Downtown Baraboo! Looking for some tips and tricks to enjoy the event to the fullest? I hope these will help!

Get Your Glasses BEFORE the Wine Walk Starts!

fun on the Downtown Baraboo Wine Walk

You'll be able to pick up your glasses, along with the official Wine Walk route, anytime after 9am at Bekah Kate's the day of the wine walk, so make sure you take advantage of this! You don't want to waste any of your precious wine walk time waiting in line for your glass!

Another hint... if you are going with a group and not everyone can pick up their glasses beforehand, no problem! Just make sure that whoever can pick up glasses early brings all of the group's tickets with them. They will than be given a glass, wristband and route for each ticket that is presented. I can't stress enough how great it is to save that time by picking up your items BEFORE the Wine Walk Starts!

Dress Warm!

While you will be spending lots of time indoors at the various stores and Downtown Baraboo locations that are participating in the wine walk, you'll also be spending a decent amount of time walking from one to the other! That means that you'll be outside and since it's November, that means there is a good chance it's going to be pretty chilly. Dress appropriately and make sure you don't freeze your fun-loving face off while you're sipping wine all night!

Wear Comfortable Shoes!

Because you'll be walking to and fro, all around Downtown Baraboo, wearing comfy shoes is a must! It's not the time to bring out those super cute heels you've been dying to try on a night out without the kids, unless you want to hold up the rest of your group all night! Take a cue from the weatherman, too. It has snowed before during the Winter Wine Walk (snow?!), so check the weather to make sure your shoes will be appropriate for the evening. You want to enjoy yourself and who wants to come home with blisters after a fun night out?!

fun on the Downtown Baraboo Wine Walk

Bring Cash!

Let's face it. Downtown Baraboo shops have some of the cutest stuff around! And there is a pretty good chance you are going to find something at some point that you're just going to HAVE to HAVE! Make sure you bring cash and your wallet so you're prepared! Many of the locations during the wine walk also offer some great sales and discounts on items they have around their stores, too, so it's a great time to pick up a few Christmas presents for those special people on your list (or just fun stuff for yourself!).

And even better... if you don't want to drag around your stash all night, just ask the store to hang onto it for you! They are great about making sure they have your items held behind counters for you to pick up later that night or the next morning.

Quick Tip: Found a few wines that you simply can't live without once the wine walk is over? Head over to Bekah Kate's! They tend to carry many of the wines that are found on the course of the night through the wine walk! These will pair greatly with your holiday get-togethers that are coming up right around the corner!

Plan Your Route BEFORE You Start!

If you aren't aware, the Winter Wine Walk has about 25-30 locations that are a part of the event. That's a lot and it makes it nearly impossible to get to each and every one between 6 and 9 p.m., no matter how much you want to! I know my friends and I always have favorites that we like to make sure we make it to, so why not have a quick get together with your group and decide which locations are MUST VISITS when it's time to walk?

You'll also be finding out which wines will be at which locations once you pick up your wine glasses earlier in the day, so if your group has a favorite winery, or something you are interested in trying out, make sure to mark it down ahead of time so you don't miss it! Than, plot which locations are close to each other so you can make a relatively easy “walk” that will require fewer zig-zags around the downtown area during your evening!

Because who doesn't like to be efficient in their wine walk consumption?!

Plan on Finding a Safe Ride Before You Step Out Your Front Door!

fun on the Downtown Baraboo Wine Walk

My girlfriends and I tend to finish the night at a local watering hole in Baraboo, where we may grab a late night dinner, continue our Girl's Night Out, or meet our hubbies who were doing their own bonding over the course of the night! So it's always a good idea to make sure we have a plan to get home before we start the night, rather than when we are done checking out the yummy wine and cocktails around Downtown Baraboo!

Bar Buddies is a great option for those of you who are close by. They do a great job making sure you get home safely and it's an inexpensive way to stay safe! Otherwise, there are cabs that can be scheduled, as well, and you will find a lot of information on safe ride options in the wine booklet you'll receive when you pick up your wine glass that day!

I'm so excited for the Winter Wine Walk to arrive! I can already see all the twinkly lights, fun location activities and of course... that delicious wine that is awaiting all of us! I hope you all have a great time and stay safe! I guarantee you'll be back again and again, thanks to every location's fun holiday atmosphere, fantastic snacks and sales, and of course... the wine!!!

Farmer's Market Tips for Families

Downtown Baraboo Farmer's Market

Who can deny the fresh, colorful and delicious goodness that comes from the Downtown Baraboo Farmers' Market?! It is one of our favorite staples in the Baraboo community as a family and my children absolutely love to head on down to see what kind of treats they can come home with as often as possible.

Many Saturdays during the spring through fall, we head down to the Baraboo Farmers' Market to see what we can find, in season. Whether it's delicious, fresh strawberries early in the summer or perfect locally grown sweet corn towards the fall, many of the items we purchase are used for our weekly meals at home!

Veggies can be a tough sell for kids sometimes (as many parents can attest to) so I always love to have my kids pick out a fresh veggie that they can claim as “their pick” to have with dinner. That way, I know they are excited to eat it and I also know it's coming from a local farm, as fresh as can be!

It's also been a great way to introduce the kids to healthy eating habits that will hopefully follow them through life. They always get a kick out of trying to figure out what some of the veggies are that they aren't familiar with and I love and appreciate that the vendors are always so sweet and patient with their endless questions! Many times, a vendor will even let the kids take a little “sample” of a fruit or veggie that they may not be the most familiar with, just to show them how yummy it is fresh out of the garden!

And of course, many times there are fresh bakery items that the kids are excited to sample and ask Mom to bring home, too!

Another thing I love, as a mom, is the fact that there are herbs and veggies that are often available to purchase for my own garden, too! We have a fresh herb garden at home, along with some smaller vegetables. My children love helping me pick out what we're going to plant from the Farmers' Market. It's great to get them involved in agriculture at a young age, and to teach them what gardening is about. They are always so proud and happy when they get to “harvest” things from our own garden that we originally purchased from the Baraboo Farmers' Market!

On Wednesdays, once the school year starts, I try to make it down to the Farmer's Market after dropping the kids off at school. What a perfect time to do a little “grocery shopping” and it's always easy to quick grab a few items (even some fresh flowers!) to use for the remainder of the week's meals. A favorite pastime is to quick grab a fresh coffee at Coffee Bean, than head on down to the square to see what vendors are there on Wednesday morning to purchase! It's a great little “Mommy Time-Out” for me and gets me all prepped for the rest of the week's meals at home!

The Baraboo Farmers' Market is one of my family's most favorite things to attend on a regular basis throughout the year. We are so blessed to have direct access to local farmers and growers and we love knowing that food that is crossing our table is local and healthy! If you haven't headed down to the Farmers' Market yet, make sure you give it a try. You definitely won't regret it!

Christmas Light Parade

Downtown Baraboo Christmas Light Parade

Ahhh… the Holiday Season! It’s always important when you are a parent to find fun (and cheap) things to do around the holidays. I know those priorities are high on our list. That’s what makes the Christmas Light Parade in Downtown Baraboo so amazing! We want to give a special Thank you to our long time Sponsor Baraboo Pizza Ranch this parade would not be possible without the support from Ken and Mary and the whole Baraboo Pizza Ranch Gang.

Situated right in Downtown Baraboo, this parade is such a fun event to take the kids to and make a night out of it. The parade itself starts at 6pm, so you’ll still make it home for bedtime without a problem. The kids absolutely love that it’s a “nighttime” event, because it makes everything feel more festive with all of the lights. Christmas lights are sparkling all over and all of the floats are twinkling with lights from one end of the parade to the other. It’s gorgeous!

Floats are primarily designed by area businesses, churches, and organizations and we always end up seeing many people we know walking or riding through the parade route or… handing out candy! Because it just wouldn’t be a proper parade without people handing out candy. It's a big favorite with my kiddos! Every year, the parade features a different theme that we enjoy seeing played out on all of the floats coming down the route. This year’s theme looks like it won’t disappoint, either and we’re excited to see “Celebrate the Magic of Christmas in Downtown Baraboo” come to life!

One thing we always make sure to do before the parade starts is to head over to Vintage Port Deli, Coffee & Catering, CoffeeBean Connection, or Green Vine for some warm hot chocolate or apple cider, whichever one may be more craved at that point in time! Why do we make sure we do this? Because it can be COLD during the Christmas Light Parade and it’s important to have something warm to hold onto for the next hour!

Which means, parents, it is super important to bundle the little ones up really good. Between getting there early to grab your spot, waiting for the parade to start, and admiring all the float)s as they go by, you’re going to be out in the elements for awhile. Prepare in advance and wear warm clothes! We usually even bring a few blankets to bundle up under for some extra warmth and so far, we’ve needed them each and every year we’ve went.

Downtown Baraboo Christmas Light Parade

Along with blankets, we generally bring our folding chairs so we’re nice and comfortable for the duration of our fun night out. It’s never quite as comfortable to sit on the sidewalk, and in our experience, parking isn’t too much of a problem where it would be too prohibitive to carry our chairs downtown. Our general hot spot to sit at is right across the street from the Al Ringling Theater. The kids love seeing the lights come on at the end of the parade and it is about as magical as you can get during the holiday season!

Another big perk of sitting near this location? At the end of the parade, you get to get nice and close to the Big Man himself… that’s right, Santa! Santa and Mrs. Claus are the last big things on the parade route, which makes the anticipation and excitement palpable for my kids. They simply CAN’T WAIT! So when he is finally spotted, you better believe everyone is on their feet, ready for the big finale!

And what is the big finale? Santa, himself, (with some much needed help from the Baraboo Fire Department) lights up the Christmas Tree on the Al Ringling Theater! It is nothing short of spectacular and brings all the feels each and every year. Once he comes down the ladder he is always happy to meet with the kiddos, take some quick pictures and wish everyone a Merry Christmas! It is, by far, my kids’ favorite part of the night!

Also, the Al Ringling Theater will open afterwards and offer some fun for the family. Santa is planning on heading into the theater to check out the FREE Family Magic Show that is going to be presented this year, and than he’s going to get to visit with all of the kiddos to hear what they want for Christmas. The kids love it and it’s HEAVEN to grab a seat inside and warm up for a little bit while we enjoy more FREE holiday fun!

Afterwards (or even before the parade starts), we generally will grab dinner at a local Downtown Baraboo restaurant. Whether it’s Baraboo Burger Company , which is conveniently located right by where we sit, or Little Village Cafe , it’s a great way to end the night with a full belly!

Thank You Pizza Ranch of Baraboo

By the way… another quick tip. If you’re looking for a way to finish up some Christmas shopping (or if you’re just getting started), tonight might be a great night to get in on the action! Many of the shops and stores downtown stay open a bit longer during the holiday season, particularly for the Christmas Light Parade. What better time to quick run into a few of the stores, like Just Imagine Toys and The Labyrinth Games to see what you can knock out since you’re downtown, anyways?! If you’re struggling with your Christmas list this year, Gift Cards are always a win-win, too.

This is one of my favorite events as a parent that Downtown Baraboo has to offer! The weather may be cold this time of the year, but with the lights and overall excitement of the Holiday season, it’s always a great way to spend a family night out and about together. Just remember to bundle up. Who knows… your kids may even want to cuddle up with you to keep a little extra warm and what parent doesn’t love that?! And of course… That Santa guy is there!