On beautiful October fall day, we decided to take a trip to Monroe, Wisconsin following rural roads through one leg of our Wisconsin Cheese Country Scenic Drive (see our Map). Our trip began at Hwy 78 west of Mount Horeb and proceeded south. We experienced some decent views of Blue Mounds and some nice color shots along the ridge heading towards the burg of Daleyville and later along the route to Blanchardville.
We continued south on Hwy 78 another 8 miles to the village of Argyle. A little northwest of the village is the Yellowstone Golf Course and Gnarly Oak Restaurant. We had read online of their “senior fall special” green fee and cart for $13 so Jo and I packed our clubs to give the course a try. A bonus was some nice color in the trees surrounding the course.
Yellowstone Golf Course Review. It is a links style course with only a sprinkling of trees here and there lining the fairways. But the course is surrounded by woods so it is not as open as some links style courses. They have 3 sets of tees (Blue – 3158 yards for longer hitters; White – 2766 yards for the regular Men’s tees; and Red – 2324 for Ladies Tees) . We found the fairways, tee boxes, and sand traps were in decent condition and the greens offered some challenge but had fair pen placements. Overall a well-maintained course and I liked the variety of holes, each one with a distinct character. The #1 handicap hole is the Par 5 #6 playing 545 yards from the Blue Tees and 512 yards from the White Tees. I saved some of my best drives and shots for this hole and managed to par it! Every tee box had a nice graphic of the hole layout but we found a few gave mis-information, indicating a fairly straight shot towards the green from the tee when the hole actually had a pronounced dog leg. So some golfers new to the course will get some surprises. The club house is the Gnarly Oak Restaurant and Bar, set in an attractive log chalet style building on a hill overlooking the course. They have Friday Fish Frys 12 months a year; we plan to catch one of them next golf season as we do plan to return for golfing; it’s a fun course and decent rates. By the way, the restaurant also offers Ribs, Steaks, and Shrimp dinners as well as occasional buffets. http://yellowstonegolf.com/
Another interesting Argyle attraction is the Toy Train Barn, about 3 miles east on Highway 81, provides fun for the entire family and an ever-expanding layout. Here, you’ll see an extensive collection of model train layouts in the barn, plus a 12″ gauge railroad that visitors are able to ride known as the Argyle & Eastern Railroad, built on 18 scenic hilly acres (near the highest point in Green County) that include a natural springs and creek. The Argyle & Eastern Railroad features a turntable, water tower, depots. There are many curves and trestles, semaphore signals, wig-wags etc. Retired train engineer Buck Guthrie built and runs the attraction. Among other trains, the museum features Buck’s extensive collection of American Flyer model trains (which is the model train I ran as a kid). We were anxious to get to Monroe before the Minhas Brewery closed so we didn’t have time to stop on this trip. But the Toy Train Barn is on our must see for the future. (Update: We made good on our promise to visit! See our pictures, article, and video on Visiting the Toy Train Barn)
Our main Cheese Country Scenic Drive route continues through Wiota to the village of Gratiot and then to the historic town of Shullsburg (see our Scenic Drive Map). On this day, however, we drove to Monroe (via Hwy 81) which is Wisconsin’s Cheese Capital. Along the route you’ll see several large dairy farms nestled in the hills. You’ll also pass the Klondike Cheese Co http://www.klondikecheese.com/ a huge operation producing Muenster, Brick, Havarti and Feta Cheeses as well as Greek Style Yogurt. Unfortunately there is no retail store at the facility nor do they offer tours due to sanitation, health and safety standards.
Arriving in Monroe Wisconsin
Monroe, the unofficial capitol of Cheese Country and a town steeped in Swiss Heritage, has done an excellent job preserving the viability of their downtown square, anchored by the historic courthouse. Some of Monroe’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment venues are located around the square. One of our favorites is Baumgartner’s Tavern and Cheese Store, a Monroe institution.
Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern is located across from the courthouse in the city square. Baumgartners offers a large variety of cheeses produced under their private label by a number of Monroe area Cheesemakers. They are Wisconsin’s oldest cheese store, open since 1931. The adjacent Tavern, offers a ton of atmosphere & nostalgia, some terrific Swiss and German sandwiches, and 24 beers on tap. Fast and friendly service. In the past I’ve had their terrific Reuben sandwich. On our latest visit I went with their smoked bratwurst with kraut and onions. Jo elected their all beef hot dog with a side of cole slaw. The sandwiches came with a dill pickle and a hunk of Muenster cheese. Both were tasty and topped off with cold pints of beer. Funky atmosphere with swiss and beer memorabilia hanging from everywhere. Good food, good brews, supurb service, and a fun experience.
Cheese lovers will also want to stop at another Monroe institution, the Alp and Dell Cheese Store, 657 2nd Street. Here you can peruse a wide selection of locally produced cheese and sausages. From a total of over 100 different cheeses you are able to taste many of them in their store. They are also the flagship store for Roth Kase Cheese Factory. Viewing windows provide an opportunity to see Roth cheese being made.
♦ See our more extensive profile of things to see and do in Monroe, Wisconsin with pictures and links to attractions.
Southwest Wisconsin Scenic Drives
Ross, November 2016