Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin: Home of Leinenkugels Beer and My Family

Sometimes the best trips aren’t to exotic places far away, or to see the Seven Wonders of the World. Sometimes the best trips are to visit people important to you that you haven’t seen in awhile. In my case, it was a really long while.

Births and deaths can bring families together. In the past three years both my mother and then my father passed away. In going through their things and reading all the condolences, both mail and online, I realized that I had not seen my mother’s family in over 40 years. I know it sounds like a really long time but I promise I am only 39 and always will be. I used to spend part of my summers on my great Aunt and Uncle’s farm outside Chippewa Falls and in Bloomer with their grandkids. My brothers were 12 and 13  years older than me, I will pause while you take off your shoes to add that high, so having kids my age around was great! I always felt welcomed and loved and time did nothing to dim that feeling. Our first stop was my cousin’s home for a wonderful homemade lunch. The hot beef sandwiches and three bean salad are family recipes from my childhood. I still make them for my family today. We shared photos and stories as if we had been together yesterday. We talked about the Aunts and Uncles and my cousin showed me a book that my grandmother’s sister had kept that details family births deaths and marriages from 1828. Talk about a family treasure. I snapped a few pictures of the pages. That is truly an irreplaceable heirloom.

Handwritten family history

In addition to being the home of my wonderful family, Chippewa Falls is also the home of Leinenkugel’s beer. Leinenkugel’s has been around since 1867 and is found in stores throughout the country today, (https://www.leinie.com/our-story) but, when I was growing up it was just a little brewery with a funny name that was written on the bottles of beer on the table while my aunts and uncle’s played cards. In 2003, the Leinie Lodge was opened and during the summer hundreds of people come through each day to see how the beer is made and sample a little. The Lodge now has over 350,000 members. If you haven’t had the opportunity, I strongly suggest you sample one of their Summer Shandy varieties. They are perfect for a hot summer day.

Leinenkugel's Brewery Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Leinie Lodge Chippewa Falls, Wis
Lamp made from a Leinenkugel beer bottle

After visiting Chippewa’s number one tourist attraction, we were off for our trip down memory lane. My cousins could not have been better tour guides. We visited their daughter and had a wonderful time catching up. We certainly had enough material for a LONG talk. Then we headed to the farm. A lot had changed but enough was the same to make me feel as at home as I did when I was a kid. The farm was a dairy farm in my day but today they grow corn and soybeans. There was an older Golden Retriever. When I visited, the farmyard was patrolled by collies. When I asked about the switch, my cousin said, “You always did love the dogs. You would pet them until the would go lay down.” In addition to the dogs, I LOVED the pigs. I spent hours hanging over the fence in the pig picture trying to pet a little baby piglet. It was truly an idyllic place to run and play, as long as you didn’t have to mess with the chickens!

twin calves on my Uncle's farm
Family farm outside Chippewa Falls, Wis
Collie laying by the porch on dairy farm
Pig pen on the dairy farm

After the farm we were off to visit my cousin in Bloomer. She wasn’t in the same house but her daughter was there and we had a wonderful time sharing stories and memories. My favorite part was when my cousin was asked how she felt about having me stay each summer and her response was “She was just one of the girls.” As a virtually only child, that was quite the compliment.

From there we went to what I remembered as Prince’s Resort. It is now known as Cornell Lake Campground and Resort. The grounds were packed with trailers but the original lodge and cabins are still there. The story told a few times is that I fell off the dock into the lake and my dad had to fish me out by the hair. After that I was on a pretty short leash.

Cornell Lake Resort and Campground

Next stop was to see where the farmhouse was now located. My aunt’s house was purchased years ago and moved to a new site. The pictures of the house being lifted off its foundation and moved down the road were amazing to see. I hope the new family is making wonderful memories in that special house.

Last stop was dinner at Old Abe’s Supper Club https://www.travelwisconsin.com/restaurants/old-abes-supper-club-196860. Located in Jim Falls, Wisconsin, you won’t see another building from the parking lot. Old Abe’s a favorite of locals and visitors alike. The salad bar is fully stocked with homemade soup and pickled beets. The food was fresh and good. I had the Walleye Pike because we don’t get freshwater fish in Florida and it was delicious. The bartenders are friendly and know their regular customers. The atmosphere was comfortable and fun. I even ran into another cousin during dinner.

It had been a long but wonderful day. It just shows that you can go home again and if you are lucky, like I was, they are happy to see you and even invite you back!

Check out the score card for this trip for a summary of points and dollars/spent and earned.

Hilton Honors Points

HGVC Points

Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Beginning Balance

244,141

124,195

Points  Used/Gained                    4815pts                    5350pts
Dollars Used/Gained

$182.22

$475.70

Ending Balance

248,956

129,195

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