Going to Cedarburg can feel a lot like stepping back in time. Anchored by the Cedar Creek Settlement on Washington Avenue, this riverfront town 40 minutes north of Milwaukee, features many stone buildings—including the Washington House Inn—built from limestone and fieldstone between the 1840s and early 1900s. It has a thriving downtown with many restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlors, confectionary stores, gift shops, clothing and antique stores along with a vintage movie theater and an arts center. All of these make this a popular day-trip or weekend destination for residents of Milwaukee and Chicago.
The town’s covered bridge, built in 1876, is one of the last remaining examples in the entire state.
The main reason for my visit was to attend the Covered Bridge Art Studio Tour that is held annually in mid-October. Here you can visit open studios and galleries in Cedarburg and in nearby Grafton, Port Washington along with Mequon/Thiensville, Newburg and Saukville. I highly recommend that you come up at this time.
I was very impressed with the art, the beauty of the area along with the wonderful restaurants and hotels. My top recommendations include:
Where to Eat and Drink in Cedarburg
Anvil Pub & Grill: Upon my arrival in town I immediately went for lunch at this casual restaurant located in a restored 19th-century blacksmith’s shop in the The Shops of Cedar Creek Settlement. The barbecue duck sandwich was really outstanding as was the atmosphere. N70 W6340 Bridge Rd. (website contains malware)
Brandywine Restaurant: This is an upscale restaurant downtown that is located in an historic building from 1862. They have a locally sourced, seasonally inspired menu. I had an excellent dinner there with local friends. It is a popular spot so make sure to book your reservation before. Lounge dining in the back room is available and is a great option for a larger group. W61 N480 Washington Ave.
Union House Restaurant & Bar: This is a downtown bar and restaurant that is known for its craft cocktails and small plate tapas menu. I really enjoyed the grilled shrimp with butter, white wine and garlic and the three Greek turkey sliders with feta, spinach and Tzatziki sauce on brioche buns. The traditional Wisconsin brandy old fashioned was the perfect cocktail with my meal. W62N559 Washington Ave.
Java House: This is a cozy coffee house since 1992 that is located in an historic home built over 115 years ago. W63 N653 Washington Ave.
Fiddleheads Coffee: This is another great downtown coffee shop that is part of a larger Wisconsin company with stores in Milwaukee and eight other cities. Along with coffee and tea drinks, there is also a food menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches. They have a nice outdoor patio that is perfect during the warmer months. 120 N. Main St.
Chiselled Grape Winery: This local winery is home of the award-winning Sexy Signature Series of wines. You can taste their reds, whites or Rosé wines by the flight or glass along with charcuterie. I really enjoyed the full-bodied Malbec. W64 N713 Washington Ave.
Handen Distillery: I enjoyed my visit to this local distillery at W62 N590, Washington Ave. They make two gins, one vodka, two bourbons and a whiskey blend. I recommend the Port Barrel Finished Bourbon. It is aged in used Port barrels from Portugal.
The Shinery Moonshine House is a fun spot to visit. They make a number of moonshines and their Boon Dog Whiskey. I really enjoyed the pumpkin moonshine mixed with a warm apple cider. They are based in Appleton, WI. W63 N678 Washington Ave.
Rebellion Brewing Company: This is a local brewery located in the historic Cedarburg Mill along Cedar Creek. Here you can sample some of the ales, IPAs, porters and stouts. I loved the light American Blonde Ale. You can also order food, wine and cocktails. They have an outdoor Beer Garden along the creek where there is live music on Fridays during the summer months. The Cedarburg Mill, from 1855, is located at N57 W6172 Portland Rd.
Cedar Creek Winery: Cedar Creek Winery is a family-run winery located in the historic Cedar Creek Settlement in downtown Cedarburg at N70 W6340 Bridge Road. They make a number of whites, fruit and blush wines, reds and a rosé. They tend to be on the sweeter side.
North 48 degree Bar & Lounge: Located downtown is this craft cocktail and craft beer bar. They feature a large menu of cocktails, beer, wine and bourbon. They have a limited food menu of pizza only. W62 N599 Washington Ave.
Wayne’s Drive-In: Not to be missed is this drive-in with a classic 50’s retro diner theme complete with checkered floors and red vinyl booths and stools. They are known for their burgers, shakes and ice cream. 1331 Covered Bridge Rd.
Amy’s Candy Kitchen is local candy shop that specializes in caramel apples. I enjoyed the chocolate bark that I bought. W62N579 Washington Ave.
Lakeside Cookie Company: Make sure to stop in this local bakery and cookie shop. I loved the peanut butter and chocolate cookie served warm on a chilly fall day. They are located at W63 N706 Washington Ave. in the historic Bridge Mill Building. You can also take baking classes and buy baking and decorating supplies.
The Creamy Pig: Make sure to stop in at this deli for their homemade ice cream and custard. The bourbon peach was a great choice on a sunny fall day! W62 N601 Washington Ave.
On my next trip I would like to try Maxwell’s and North 48° Bar & Lounge:
Maxwell’s: Established in1983 Maxwell’s is a casual downtown bar and grill. They offer a fish fry on Fridays. The menu looks great! W63N699 Washington Ave.
North 48° Bar & Lounge: Located downtown is this craft cocktail and craft beer bar. They feature a large menu of cocktails, beer, wine and bourbon. They have a limited food menu of pizza only. W62N599 Washington Ave.
What to Do in Cedarburg
The Shops of Cedar Creek Settlement: Located in downtown Cedarburg on Cedar Creek, this is a restored woolen mill from 1864 that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It contains several restaurants, a winery, and galleries and shops of fine art, pottery, jewelry, clothing, antiques and gifts.
You will find the Anvil Pub & Grill, where I had a wonderful lunch, the Cedar Creek Winery & Wine Store and Cream & Crepe Café for soups, salads, sandwiches along with savory and dessert crepes. I enjoyed the Door County cherry gelato.
There is also Cedarburg Emporium gift shop and Cedar Creek Apothecary for home goods and décor, seasonal items, books, coffee and tea plus clothing and accessories.
Cedarburg Cultural Center. The Cedarburg Cultural Center is an art and cultural center offering art classes, art exhibitions, entertainment including jazz performances and comedy shows. There is Finally Friday Art & Music once a month where you can experience, live music, art, cocktails and DIY craft projects. I really enjoyed hearing a bluegrass concert with a group from Milwaukee while enjoying a curated show by the Cedarburg Artists Guild. W62 N546 Washington Ave.
Covered Bridge Art Studio Tour: Sponsored by the Cedarburg Artists Guild, this annual Fall event is held annually in mid-October. Here you can visit open studios and galleries in Cedarburg and in nearby Grafton, Port Washington along with Mequon/Thiensville, Newburg and Saukville. I highly recommend that you visit at this time. You can tour locations in the downtown areas as well as drive through the countryside to visit the studios and workplaces of the participating artists. I recommend printing out the map from their website and watching the videos of the various artists. In that way, you can pick and choose the ones you want to see.
The Cedarburg Art Museum, at W63 N675 Washington Ave. was founded in 2013. It features art exhibitions with an emphasis on collecting, exhibiting, and creating an historical record of regional art that serves as a platform for local artists to showcase their talent. I enjoyed the art that was featured while in town. It is located in a really lovely 1898 red brick Victorian Home. During the summer months, there is the Summer Beer Garden featuring live music along with beer and wine.
The Irish Boutique of Cedarburg: This is an attractive store selling jewelry, sweaters, clothing, accessories, food and gifts. I have been to their location in Long Grove, IL many times in the past. W63 N680 Washington Ave.
Pineapple House: Located at W63 N712 Washington Ave., this store specializes in handcrafted home décor items from local artisans.
Up the Creek: This is a cute home décor and gift shop at W63 N698 Washington Ave.
Pink Llama Gallery: As part of the art walk, I enjoyed visiting this gallery and seeing its glass items, jewelry, paintings, fiber art, sculptures and pottery. W62N580 Washington Ave.
Rivoli Theater: This historic downtown theater from 1936, today has current films to watch. In late October and early November each year there is Broadway on Washington, A Movie Musical Film Festival. W62 N567 Washington Ave.
Wisconsin Museum of Quilts & Fiber Arts: East of downtown at N50 W50 Portland Rd. is this local museum that is housed in a repurposed 1850s farmstead. The WMQFA is dedicated to educating the public about the artistic, cultural, historic and social importance of quilts and fiber arts. You can visit the current exhibits, attend a lecture or take a class or workshop on topics including quilting, knitting, needle felting, beading, embellishment, fabric painting and dying, wearable art, rug hooking, basket weaving, paper making, mixed media art, hand appliqué, and machine appliqué. I was very impressed with the quality of the works on exhibition.
Cedarburg Mill: Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, this historic limestone grist mill from 1855, is located in downtown Cedarburg at N58 W6181, Columbia Rd. on the west bank of Cedar Creek. Today, it is home to Rebellion Brewing.
Cedarburg Covered Bridge: Not to be missed is The Covered Bridge, three miles north of downtown, in the 12-acre Covered Bridge County Park. It is the last remaining covered bridge in the state and was built in 1876 to cross Cedar Creek. It is 120 ft. long and is made of pine with oak lattices. In addition to nature trails, the park is also a popular spot for bird watching, fishing, canoe access points and picnicking. 1700 Covered Bridge Rd.
Where to Stay in Cedarburg
Washington House Inn: I highly recommend staying at this 34 room hotel in an historic building from 1886, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has 29 rooms in the main inn and five more in a separate building, called The Schroeder House, three doors north. It has lovely rooms featuring antiques. The rate includes a wine and cheese reception every afternoon and a lovely breakfast in the morning in their large dining room. I really enjoyed the John Weber room on the second floor. There is free parking in the lot behind the hotel. I also loved the fact that you can walk to many of the best shops and restaurants downtown without having to drive. W62 N573 Washington Ave.
Grafton is a small town, incorporated in 1896, located northeast of Cedarburg and 20 miles north of Milwaukee. It is a charming town to visit and see its small downtown and historic architecture. I drove up for lunch and to tour some artist studios during the Covered Bridge Art Studio Tour.
Milwaukee Ale House: Located on the Milwaukee River, this brewpub has a rustic interior and beautiful outdoor deck overlooking the river. They feature a number of beers from their brewery in Milwaukee as well as others from microbreweries around the country. They have a large food menu for lunch and dinner for burgers, flatbreads, sandwiches and entrees as well as Sunday brunch. I enjoyed a great reuben sandwich for lunch. 1208 13th Ave.
Grafton Arts Mill: The Arts Mill is located in the historic Grafton Mill and houses more than fourteen artists’ studios on the second floor as well as on the lower level near the river. These working studios surround The Arts Mill Boutique which features a variety of unique items for sale from these artists. You might check out their website for events, exhibitions and art and photography classes. 1300 14th Ave.
Located on the first floor is the Grafton Arts Mill Coffee Roastery. This is a coffee shop and bakery and is a great spot to stop by before or after you tour the galleries and boutique upstairs. I had a great cookie for my dessert after lunch nearby.
Also in the Arts Mill is the The 024 Taproom which offers craft cocktails and beer with a beautiful outdoor patio.
NSeven Coffee Company: Located downtown, NSeven Coffee Company is a local coffee shop with both coffee and tea drinks, as well as breakfast and lunch food items. I enjoyed a great latte when I arrived in town. 1307 Wisconsin Ave.
Port Washington is a town on Lake Michigan 30 minutes north of Milwaukee. It has a lovely harbor and lighthouse along with a downtown that is lined with shops and restaurants. You can browse a stylish boutique, enjoy a cold Wisconsin beer and eat a tasty cheeseburger.
I drove up to tour some artist studios during the Covered Bridge Art Studio Tour.
Make sure to walk along the docks to see the boats and see the historic lighthouse.
Nearby is The Beacon Restaurant & Bar. This is a contemporary restaurant with beautiful views of the harbor. I went for brunch and enjoyed the experience. They are open for breakfast and also for lunch, dinner and for a fish fry on Fridays. They also have an outdoor garden patio and lake view deck. 135 E. Grand Ave.
After lunch I enjoyed walking the main street, N. Franklin St., to view the historic architecture and downtown businesses.