The Midwest is widely known for its cool autumns and long winters. The region also likes to celebrate these seasons in its own way. Downtown Chicago proudly displays Christmas decorations on every corner while Green Bay celebrates the Packers in every way you can imagine. The City of Racine has its own traditions over the seasons. The annual Holiday Parade in November and the “Party on the Sidewalk” in September mark the transition to fall.
The most celebrated season in Racine is summer. The town offers a multitude of events ranging from taco trucks to salmon fishing. The July 4 parade draws tens of thousands of people, as do the fireworks over North Beach. Plus, there are a variety of activities for families and visitors to suit all types of summer weather.
For starters, there is the Racine zoo, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The zoo is home to a variety of animals from around the world such as the endearing fennec foxes of the deserts of North Africa and the acrobatic spider monkeys of South America. A particular highlight is watching the two giraffes roam for the leaves against a suburban backdrop. There’s also a petting zoo where kids can pet llamas, visit goats, and meet parakeets. The zoo also hosts adult and family events, including the “Animal Crackers” jazz showcase during the months of July and August. Children two and under can enter for free, while adult tickets are $11 and tickets for children under 15 are $9.
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At the water’s edge
For those who want to get active or bask in the sun, North Beach is your destination. Considered Wisconsin’s best family beach, North Beach is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and features volleyball nets, lounge chairs, and the Kid’s Cove children’s play area. A taco stand decorated with a mosaic mural offers tacos along with candy, soft drinks, water, and “rolling tacos” (with Fritos, cheese, and taco meat in a bag fries). Arrive early to avoid the crowds.
Boaters will find marinas in the beautiful downtown lakefront. Reefpoint Marina offers accommodation for boats and Anchors Away sells essential sailing supplies. Two public hot tubs and a heated outdoor pool offer beautiful views of Lake Michigan. For barbecue lovers, the nearby Reefpoint Brew House offers a wide selection of steaks, ribs and fish as well as live music on Friday and Saturday evenings from 7.30pm to 11.30pm. The lunch and brunch crowd are also treated to live music on Sundays starting at noon. at 16 o’clock. It is also a resting place for commercial fishermen.
If the beach gets too crowded or the kids want more water activities, Racine also has its own impressive water park. The SC Johnson Aquatic Center, located in Pritchard Park and operated by the YMCA, is a colorful adventure park with slides, pools and a small playground. During the summer, the park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday with a night opening at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Daily admission for families is $20 for non-residents of Racine while a season pass is $99.
arts and culture
Outdoor attractions for patrons of the arts include the annual Root Art Guild Hungry Artist Fair on Sunday, August 7, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., on the historic Dekoven Center grounds. Surrounded by beautiful Victorian architecture, the fair features a variety of crafts and paintings for sale as well as treats such as popcorn, various nut flavors and shrimp tacos. Visitors can also enjoy live music and participate in auctions. Proceeds from sales go to the local Racine Art Guild scholarship fund, a great cause!
Racine also offers many indoor activities for rainy or sunny summer days. There is a wide assortment of museums and theaters for visitors to spend an afternoon. The Racine Heritage Museum is a great place to explore the city’s stories of immigrant communities, sports stars, and even marching bands. The most poignant exhibit tells the harrowing story of Joshua Glover, a slave who escaped to Canada with the help of Racine’s abolitionists. Another popular attraction is the museum’s mummy, “Malty”, purchased by William Horlick Jr, the inventor of malted milk, in 1902. The museum is open weekdays 10am-5pm, Saturdays 10am-3pm and noon at 15h. on Sunday.
The Racine art museum is also worth a visit. Built in 2001, RAM holds the largest collection of contemporary crafts in the United States with 9,500 pieces. Current exhibitions include ‘In the Round’, an extensive collection of unique pottery and sculpture from around the world, and ‘Playful/Pensive’, a thought-provoking homage to art presented through a playful lens. The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission $7 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.
The newest gallery in town is the Mahogany Gallery in downtown Racine. Founded by artist and activist Scott Terry, this gallery promotes activism while showcasing groundbreaking African-American art. The gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and features stunning works of art that carry important messages for all of us.
A great way to spend a summer evening is to attend Racine’s most popular theater, The Racine Theater Guild. This summer, the theater will host Stephen Sondheim’s fantasy In the woods July 15 to July 31. A must in the musical canon since 1986, In the woods is a poignant tale of family dynamics, folklore and curses. The eerie atmosphere and strong sense of drama should bring an autumnal breeze in midsummer. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, and $15 for students. There will also be economy evenings with tickets at $3 off regular prices.
Something for everyone
Racine will be a particularly exciting destination this summer with the arrival of two new events. The first is the Racine Harbor Market in Monument Square from 4.30pm to 7.30pm on the last Thursday of every summer month. Inspired by the nearby Kenosha Harbor Market, this event will introduce people to the variety of cuisines and businesses within the community. It’s a great opportunity for visitors to meet new people and learn about various cultures.
There’s also the Racine Public Library’s 125th Anniversary Block Party on July 16 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The library offers multiple services to the community, including tax assistance, youth clubs and several other programs. This event will celebrate and introduce many people to a beloved and vibrant community institution.
Racine is a diverse town with something for everyone. Residents take pride in displaying the city’s working-class history alongside spaces for cultural expression. The places written here exemplify the city’s attributes of generosity, culture and diversity. With its balance of tradition and taste, Racine is a gem of southeastern Wisconsin summer fun.