Winter road trip to Beloit, Wisconsin

Beloit, WI offers visitors a beatific experience.

While road tripping around southern Wisconsin this winter, I discovered the beatific city of Beloit. Located just across the northern border of Illinois, this pleasantly unexpected town reinforced my passion for discovering those hidden gems of the road. Beloit is a small city of about 35,000, but offers visitors some amenities they might not expect, but will certainly appreciate.

Downtown Beloit WI by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

My road trip to Beloit started off by flying into Milwaukee and renting a car. With three route options to choose from, I ended up picking the one in the middle. A short drive on I-94, then veering off to highway 67 south, took me into Janesville. I continued south on highway 51 right into Beloit. It’s not a very long drive, maybe 2 hours, but it took me about three with a few scenic stops along the way. As I drove south, I passed several farms, one with a silo and a large red barn that I really wanted to photograph, but found no place to pull over. The blanket of fresh white snow in the fields really made the red structure pop against the mostly blue sky.

When I arrived in Beloit I checked into the Ironworks Hotel, which I found to be uniquely amazing. I don’t know if this hotel was inspired and dedicated to the American industrial age, or if the hotel is actually on the site of an old steel mill/foundry. Either way, the industrial feel throughout the property really resonated with me. I thoroughly enjoy staying at boutique properties that have their own unique flair. It’s such a refreshing experience from that of the standardized look/feel of the larger corporate hotel chains.

Ironworks Hotel Beloit exterior by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

My suite continued that industrial charm, but with an air of sophistication that featured many high-end amenities. The space was divided by a two-way gas fireplace, on each side was a large flat-screen T.V. The room had ample space with a sitting area that had rich leather and iron integrated furnishings. The two-way fireplace made the bedroom area quite cozy and the adjacent bathroom showcased a frosted glass wall where the shower is located…it was a nice design element.

A suite at the Ironworks Hotel in Beloit by Mike Shubic - MikesRoadTrip.com

My only criticism was the lack-luster pillows and the fact that they had no pillow menu. I prefer goose down pillows (or a high quality down alternative). For this quality level hotel, a pillow menu is a must! I brought this to the attention of the general manager, so hopefully implementation will be considered for future guests.

Ironworks Hotel in Beloit room suite by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

The Ironworks Hotel is situated on the banks of the Rock River, which from my room provided some lovely views. Also within the hotel is the Merril & Houston’s steak joint. The food was good enough, however I think there is room for improvement, especially when it comes to the presentation. Personally I didn’t think the quality and presentation matched that of the price, or the sophistication of the restaurant and hotel.

  • I started off with the crab cakes which were quite good, perhaps a touch too salty. Not a large portion, but that was okay, the cakes were full of crabmeat…it was a perfect starter.

Crab Cakes at Merrill & Houston’s in Beloit WI by Mike Shubic at MikesRoadTrip.com

  • The bread they served was warm, but it was just a generic bread. Unless it’s of the artisan variety, I typically don’t eat bread. The salad had some nice mixed greens, but was only accompanied by some tomatoes and cucumber, which were cut much too thick. Nothing remarkable about the side-salad.
  • The center-cut Filet I ordered however was cooked to perfection and had great flavor.

Filet at Merrill & Houston’s in Beloit by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

The atmosphere of the restaurant sort of reminded me of a combination between an old Chicago steakhouse and the T.V. show Cheers. There were nice rustic hardwood floors and old black and white pictures paying tribute to Beloit hanging from the distressed brick walls.

Situated right in downtown Beloit, the Ironworks is walking distance to some great shops and restaurants, with a boardwalk running along the Rock River. While in town I ate at Lucy’s #7 for lunch one day, which is a gourmet burger bar with 50s retro decor. Lucy’s burgers are made with a twist, they are stuffed (rather than placed on top at the end) with many of the ingredients and then cooked on the grill. The result is an outstanding and flavorful burger. The fries and indulgent malts are pretty tasty too!

Burger at Lucy's #7 Burger Bar in Beloit WI by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

Just next door to Lucy’s is an amazing sushi place. You certainly would not think of a small town in Wisconsin having great sushi, but they do. I had an opportunity to speak with Brian Park, the owner and head chef at Zen Sushi & Grill. Brian was telling me that all his seafood is flown in fresh daily. As a matter of fact, Brian owns several restaurants in nearby cities, including Chicago and Milwaukee. He was actually lured to Beloit by Diane Hendricks, owner of the very successful ABC Supply Company. Apparently Ms. Hendricks is taking her wealth and investing it in Beloit and trying to put her hometown on the map. I would say she is doing a stellar job from what I experienced. As a matter of fact, I later learned that the Ironworks Hotel is her creation.

Sushi roll at Zen Sushi in Beloit WI by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

The atmosphere at Zen Sushi is modern and refined, with great lighting and artistically presented sushi cuisine. The attention to detail with both the space of the restaurant, as well as the food, is quite impressive. I did not expect this level of sophistication in a small town like Beloit. Each item I ordered was like a work of art, from the way the food was presented, to the amazing canvas of dishware used.

For breakfast one morning I drove out to the countryside and had a home-cooked meal at Double B’s. This is a real working farm, offering simple, but freshly made grub. This is a local-hangout and a neat experience, especially for those into the ever-growing agri-tourism niche.

Double B’s farm and restaurant in Beloit by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

Not far from Beloit, across the border into Illinois is a hidden gem of an attraction, the Historic Auto Attractions Museum. I’ve been to a number of auto museums, but this one is one really stands out, not just for the cars, but for the historical significance of the complementary artifacts. The museum is much more than the sum of its cars. It is curated with documents and other artifacts that help tell a broader story. It’s an impressive display, from presidential cars, vehicles from world leaders (both famous and infamous), T.V. and movie cars, to the original Big Foot Ford Truck.

Al Capone truck at Historic Auto Attractions Museum by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

Some of the highlight vehicles for me were the Batman Returns car, which is simply a work of art, the Colonel Sanders (of KFC) 1939 V-12 Lincoln Limousine and the Back to the Future Delorean. If only the Flux-Capacitor was operational.

Coronal Sanders (of KFC) 1939 V-12 Lincoln Limousine by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

One of the highlights for me on my road trip to Beloit WI was the Beckman Mill, which is located at the 50-acre Beckman Mill County Park. I am really into history and photography, so I enjoyed taking photos of this amazingly well restored 1868 grist mill. All the old equipment and artifacts at the museum beckon the photographer in me. In addition to the Mill itself, there is also a new dam, mill pond, fish ladder, foot bridge, saw mill display, 1840s cooperage, visitor center, gift shop, creamery, blacksmith shop, picnic shelter, vintage garden and a nature trail. It’s really a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

Beloit Beckman Mill by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

Inside Beckman Mill by Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com

Just after my trip from Beloit I was having dinner with some friends in Scottsdale who are from the Chicago area. I was telling them about my recent trip to southern Wisconsin and mentioned what a wonderful time I had in Beloit. After I described my experience, they enthusiastically indicated that they would likely take a family road trip there this summer. Interestingly, as close as Beloit is to Chicago, they had never heard of the city. Beloit is one of those proverbial hidden gems that I enjoy sharing with my readers, because even those nearby may not be familiar.

If you’ve ever been to Beloit, Wisconsin, please leave a comment below and share your experience and/or favorite things to do. Click here to see more of my photos from Beloit WI.

Related Posts

27 Comments

  1. Janet
    January 20, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Thanks for visiting! We live outside of town, but have enjoyed seeing this city rise. You discovered some great restaurants. I would also recommend the 615 Club for a traditional supper club experience, visit the art shop across from Lucy’s and visit the upstairs “My apartment”. Set up like a real apartment but everything is for sale! February is a very well known film festival and in the summer the entire downtown is a farmers market every Saturday. Much more to do here, that is just a taste!

  2. Heather Hansen
    January 21, 2017 at 1:54 am

    Beloit really is a gem! Other things to consider is the great farmers market downtown during May-October and the Beloit Fine Arts Incubator! They have art openings the first Friday of every month. Free to the public with light snacks and drinks. Pottery classes available!

  3. Tony & Beth Bonasera
    January 21, 2017 at 3:00 am

    Thank you for sharing about some of same wonderful places we discovered as we looked for a new home that we would convert into our bed and breakfast. Beloit won us over in a few visits as we experienced their weekly Farmers Market and strolled through the Beloit College campus. We agree, it is one of the stateline area hidden gems.

  4. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 21, 2017 at 4:11 am

    Hi Janet, it was my pleasure. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing a few other things for visitors to experience. I hope I can come back to Beloit one of these days and see another season. Cheers, Mike

  5. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 21, 2017 at 4:11 am

    I agree Heather! Thank you so much for sharing some additional activities. All the best, Mike

  6. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 21, 2017 at 4:12 am

    Hi Tony and Beth…indeed a gem of a city. Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. What is the name of your B&B? Cheers, Mike

  7. Rosanna
    January 21, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I grew up in Beloit and it’s nice to see something written about it from an outsider point of view. Although I haven’t been back in over a year I hear so much updating from the Hendricks family. One place you should check out is a park called Big Hills. There are trails and parks. It’s a great place to go and it’s beautiful during the fall when the leaves change colors.

  8. Rod Gottfredsen
    January 22, 2017 at 3:58 am

    Thanks for showcasing our fine city. We love it here and it’s so nice to see others are learning about us and helping uncover this hidden gem on the Rock River. I own the Barber Shop that is next to the Candy Store in your photo of our brick paved State Street. If your ever back this way, stop in and say hi. I’ll treat you to an ice cream cone next door. Rod the Barber / Austins Barber Shop established 1917.

  9. Shelley Arnold
    January 22, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I am from Durand, IL, and have many relatives who have lived in Beloit, and some who are still there, so I have visited Beloit many times down through the years. Thank you for sharing this delightful journal of your stay in the Beloit area. (Sierra Vista, AZ)

  10. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 23, 2017 at 3:05 am

    Hi Rosanna, thank you so much for stopping by and sharing some additional information on Beloit. I would love to see it in the Fall, I bet it is beautiful. Cheers, Mike

  11. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 23, 2017 at 3:06 am

    Oh, it was my pleasure Rod, such a fine city indeed. I’d love to come back to see it in a different season one of these days. Ha, I appreciate the offer, I might just do that. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to post a comment. Cheers!

  12. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 23, 2017 at 3:07 am

    Hi Shelley! Oh, it was my pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to post a comment. One of my best friends is from Sierra Vista! 😉 All the best, Mike

  13. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 23, 2017 at 3:37 am

    Hi Kristy! Oh, it was my pleasure, I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for the suggestion and for taking the time to post a comment. I have several places to check out on my list next time I visit. I appreciate ya sharing your suggestion. All the best, Mike

  14. lori
    January 23, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    On your next visit, if in the fall, the Apple Hut is snuggled in between Beloit and Janesville nearly adjacent to Big Hill Park. A great day trip!

  15. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 23, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    Hi Lori, thank you so much for the suggestion. I will certainly keep it in mind. Thanks for stopping by! Cheers, Mike

  16. Jaime DeMontigny
    January 25, 2017 at 3:09 am

    I am so glad you enjoyed your visit in Beloit. I’ve lived here most of my life and it is amazing to see how beautiful it has become. I think those of us that have lived here “forever” sometimes take for granted how much there is to see & do. Thank you for helping me remember how wonderful my hometown is!

  17. Kristy Pearson-McLaughlin
    January 27, 2017 at 2:37 am

    Thanks for visiting Mike! As a Beloit resident this was so fun to read. We really do have a special little city. Next time you visit, if you enjoy vintage decor, stop by Vintage Bliss. We offer a unique shopping experience and 10,000 square feet of over 40 of the areas most talented people in the business. You can check us out on Facebook here:
    http://www.facebook.com/vintageblissdecor1
    Happy travels!

  18. Patty
    January 28, 2017 at 4:10 am

    Next time stop in at the Bushel and Peck or the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays during the warmer months!

  19. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 28, 2017 at 5:35 am

    Hi Patty, thank you so much for the suggestion! I will make a note. Mike

  20. Joanna
    January 29, 2017 at 2:01 am

    I was born and raised in Beloit, Wisconsin. It has grown in the last 20 years with ABC Supply Company founding their company on the Rock River. It remains a beautiful place to raise a family.

    We are nestled smack dab in the middle of Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago.

    I hope your followers take in the sights Beloit has to offer.

    Joanna

  21. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 29, 2017 at 4:33 am

    Hi Joanna, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment. All the best, Mike

  22. Amy
    January 30, 2017 at 12:16 am

    My son had his senior photos taken at Beckman Mill, only 2.5 miles from my house. Many weekends spent fishing there and field trips through school. Glad you enjoyed!

  23. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    January 30, 2017 at 4:34 am

    Hi Amy, thank you for stopping by and sharing. Cheers, Mike

  24. Betsy
    March 1, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Love your fresh insights into our wonderful town. Downtown Beloit has been transforming itself into a terrific destination. Please visit us at the Villager Gallery and My Apartmentment@429 for unique one-of-a-kind shopping.

  25. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    March 2, 2017 at 9:10 pm

    Thanks so much for stopping by Betsy. I truly enjoyed Beloit…wonderful place!

  26. Jeanne Cole
    March 7, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    I have enjoyed Beloit most of my life and am glad you did too. I hope it stays the open friendly community it is now. I love the short drive to Chicago and Milwaukee to enjoy metropolitan entertainment.

  27. Mike Shubic
    Mike Shubic
    March 7, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Hi Jeanne…thanks so much for stopping by and reading. Beloit is such a lovely town! I’d love to visit in the summer one of these days. Cheers, Mike

Leave A Comment

*