My wife and I have always been the kind that likes to take trips somewhere…whether it be just driving somewhere for a weekend or taking the longer weeklong vacation. Our anniversary is May 31, so this year we decided to take an extended trip with a longer vacation later in the year. Being from Illinois, we do have several options available to us that are within reasonable driving distance. Our decision this year was to go to Chicago, IL.

After a little bit of research by my wife, she found an outlet mall a little over an hour North, in Kenosha, WI (actually, I think the mall is in Pleasant Prairie, WI, but it seemed to be the same city). Once I looked at the Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets store listing, I was perfectly fine with going. The North Face, Under Armour, Bass (I love their t-shirts), Calphalon Kitchen Outlet (yes, I love to cook), Nike, Harry and David, and lots more.

The outlet mall definitely did not disappoint. We planned to spend 2 half-days there. The first day, since it was Memorial Day weekend, it was absolutely crazy! The weather was beautiful….and there had to be hundreds and hundreds of visitors. I think it took 10-15 minutes to find a parking spot. Once we did and started walking around it wasn’t so bad. The mall has a good layout so it didn’t seem too overly crowded. The next day, however, we lucked out. A storm moved in, and it rained for a good portion of the time we were at the mall. It was still busy, but nothing like the day before. The mall had mostly covered walking, so it didn’t bother us at all. Overall, definitely one of the better outlet malls we’ve been too.

We arrived in Kenosha/Pleasant Prairie on a Saturday, did some shopping, and for dinner we headed to a place called The Brat Stop. Looking at the menu, it seemed like a decent choice, as the website touts “regional cuisine” and seemed to be known for its highly recognizable visitors (directly from The Brat Stop website) – “Micheal [sic] Jordan, Phil Jackson, Tony Kukoc, Al McGuire, Tom Arnold, Steven Tyler, Willard Scott, Bette Midler, Shelly Fairchild, Tommy Thompson, Russ Feingold”. Not just a bar/restaurant, The Brat Stop also has live entertainment, and Memorial Day weekend just so happened to be “Brat Stock”. Over 50 bands on 2 stages…didn’t seem like a bad option to go eat dinner and relax, considering the bands that have played there over the years (directly from The Brat Stop website) – “The Charlie Daniels Band, Styx, B.T.O., Cheap Trick, Foghat, The Guess Who, Nazareth, Molly Hatchet, Joan Jett, Holland, Bad Boy, Night Ranger, Loverboy, Jackyl, Eddie Money, 38 Special, Ratt, Warrant, Saxon, Tracy Byrd, Great White, Mark Wills, Jo Dee Messina, Neal McCoy, Wade Hayes, Trace Adkins, Chris Cagle, Shinedown and Sugar Land”.

Once we walked in, I was extremely disappointed. The place seemed very dark, not the cleanest, and seemed to be broken up into several different sections. From where we were seated, we could hear the band that was on stage, and I’m glad we couldn’t see them. The music they chose to play were good selections, but the performance was not good at all! From the few faint claps, it was obvious that there weren’t many fans (or maybe there were very few people in the crowd!).

As for the food, well, let’s say I don’t ever think we’d go back given the opportunity. We tried an appetizer sampler to start with. It has cheese sticks, chicken tenders, breaded mushrooms, fried cheese balls, onion rings, and jalapeno poppers. It wasn’t terrible, but it was your average frozen variety of appetizers. For our meals, I got a pizza (pepperoni, sausage, and onions) and the wife got a Wisconsin grilled cheese. The pizza was just ok, almost tasted like it was frozen as well. The grilled cheese got a “it’s pretty good”, but it’s Wisconsin, how can they mess up a grilled cheese? On a scale of 1-10, I’d give The Brat Stop a very low 2. Seemed like a good idea for a venue, but seems to be past its prime (assuming the place had a prime)!

Part II next week will include more from Kenosha, along with our visit to Chicago!

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Bob Inferapels partners with Cheri Nobel to write a weekly column on entertainment and recreational activities. Read all of Bob's articles in The Playground.

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