Worth the Drive: Ripon

From its well-preserved architecture to its rich historical heritage, visitors will soon discover why this lively college town was named one of Budget Travel Magazine’s Coolest Small Towns in America and recently ranked top 25 in America’s Main Streets contest.


Dining To-Do List 

These eateries will keep you fueled morning to night

Breakfast: Mr. & Mrs. P’s Eatery focuses on scratch-made Midwestern fare. Open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday, locals especially love the a.m. offerings such as eggs benedict, omelettes and pancakes. A large bakery case is filled to the brim with treats from the in-house bakery. Don’t leave without picking up something special for dessert. For a real hometown experience, visit Kristina’s Cafe. Known for hearty breakfast options, prompt coffee refills and staff who calls customers by name, Kristina’s makes visitors feel like they’ve stepped on the set of “Cheers.” 

Lunch: Serving Colectivo Coffee, Mugs Coffeehouse is a cozy place for a midday refuel. The menu offers breakfast items served all day, daily soups and specialty sandwiches that range from traditional (like the teriyaki chicken wrap) to whimsical (like the grilled PB&B – peanut butter, banana, honey and chocolate chips panini-pressed on white bread). With a bakery selection that changes daily, there’s no shortage of sweet treats to top things off. In the mood for something a little spicier? Try El Fogon Mexican Grill for authentic Mexican cuisine and one of the best margaritas in town. Enjoy $2 house margs on Mondays or score them two-for-one on Tuesdays. 

Dinner: The “Texas-inspired, Wisconsin-spirited” J’s BBQ is a must-stop for any food fan. All the meats are smoked fresh in-house daily. From the smoked brisket to the famous homestyle mac n’ cheese, everyone is sure to find something to enjoy, even vegans and vegetarians. (Use the handy dietary guide on their website as a reference.) Brewery, beer hall and restaurant, Knuth Brewing Co. is another foodie destination that serves up eats as good as their brews. Menu highlights include wood-fired pizzas, mixing bowl salads, paninis and scratch-made desserts. Of course your meal wouldn’t be complete without a Knuth brew to pair it with. Select from a variety of house beers, ranging from a blonde ale to coffee stout. 

Meal You’ll Remember: Roadhouse Pizza

When hunger strikes, nothing satisfies quite like a traditional, thin crust pizza and a pint. Roadhouse Pizza, marked by a nostalgic neon arrow, serves up all that in addition to a substantial sandwich, hoagie and appetizer menu. The pizza joint has been a Ripon icon since 1978. Weekends are prime for live music lovers, as the restaurant hosts local bands and musicians to serenade diners. Make sure to snap a picture of the infamous Roadhouse Pizza mural, depicting gnomes, trolls and a pastoral setting, in the main dining room. 

Drink Up: Mascoutin Valley Craft Beverage Trail

The Mascoutin Valley Craft Beverage Trail celebrates the wines, beers, ciders, mead and spirits being handcrafted in East Central Wisconsin, the homeland of the Mascoutin Indians. It includes stops in Ripon (Knuth Brewing Co. and Vines and Rushes WInery) as well as in nearby Eureka (Hendricks Family Distillery) and Omro (Rushford Meadery and WInery). Visit for a suggested itinerary. 

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Worth the Drive

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