Chicago Athlete on the Road: Pewaukee, WI


If you are looking for a late summer, drivable, run-cation, keep reading! Pewaukee, Wisconsin is just an hour over the state line and is a slice of paradise designed to keep your family moving the entire time.

On Sunday, July 24th, my family and I participated in the Jingle Bell Jog, a fun Christmas in July themed race in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. The race started and ended at the Ingleside Hotel, an indoor waterpark hotel filled with fun for families.

Runners parked in the hotel parking lot and walked a short distance to the start/finish area. The race began at 9 AM and offered runners a 5K or 10K option. The 5K loop began in the hotel’s courtyard area and looped through the Christmas drive-through area. There were several adorable buildings that made up the Christmas village for the holiday drive-through. There was even a gas station with pumps!

The course looped through the Christmas Village and back to the Lake Country Trail, that borders the hotel. This trail is one of my favorites, as it is flat, paved and well maintained. Runners then circled back through the Christmas village to the start/finish area. 10K runners went back out for a second loop on the same course. Shade covered most of the course and there was an aid station at the turn around.

All runners received a fun, Christmas themed, short sleeved T-shirt. There was live music and a breakfast buffet at the finish line. Awards were handed out immediately following the race to age group winners. Christmas music played throughout the morning creating a festive environment for runners. There was a mist in the air which kept things cool and although the humidity was high, it was pleasant to run in.

This is the first year for this race and I thought they did an excellent job. The race was presented by Christmas Clearing Council and proceeds supported their mission to benefit local children in need at Christmas. Last year 4,888 children received help at Christmas time from one of the Christmas Clearing Council programs. This amazing organization works closely with Ingleside Hotel on a variety of events including their Christmas Drive-Thru experience, which you can book tickets for now.

Silver Circle Sporting Events handled the timing and registration. The course was unique and scenic. It was a fun way to spend the morning with my family. Not only did I enjoy the course, but my children did as well.

Following the race, we headed to Milwaukee County Zoo to put some more steps into our day. This large zoo has everything from aquatic life to small mammals to an epic animatronic dragon display.

The adorable out door displays allow zoo patrons to see the creatures in a natural habitat jumping, running, and sometimes even interacting with the public.

The indoor displays were all open and featured everything from big cats to alligators.

We happened to be there during a special animatronic display that the zoo is currently featuring for the summer. The exhibit runs until September 5th features an enchanting mythical world where you can encounter more than 15 awesome animatronic creatures found in cultures throughout the world. They move, make noises, and have amazing special effects surrounding them. Walking through this enchantment was a real treat.

After the zoo, we headed back to the Ingleside Hotel to enjoy everything it has to offer. If you are not familiar with this hotel, you definitely need to check it out. it’s close enough for a day trip or an overnight stay for Chicago families. It keeps you active and constantly moving.

The mega waterpark has three waterslides that exit the building and go through the exterior, before weaving back inside to shoot you off into into a zero depth or 4-foot area. There is also an entire play area for children that includes a bucket that dumps several gallons of water every half hour or so.

The lifeguards are absolutely incredible. Not only do they send people down safely, but they continuously monitor the pool area to ensure that everyone is safe. I happened to be there during the evening on Sunday when a safety check was performed and was overly impressed with the rapid response of these incredible lifeguards. This hotel not only provides a fun activity for families, but also a safe one.

These slides are incredibly fun for kids, but also for adults as well. Plus there were 60 plus stairs to climb each time you wanted to enjoy the slide, ensuring that you burned several calories on your way up!

After the water park, we relaxed in a luxurious hotel room, complete with two queen beds that were full of fluff. After a morning 5K, several miles walked through the zoo, and a huge water park, not only were the kids exhausted, but the adults were as well. This was truly a family friendly, active run-cation that didn’t waste a minute.

The next day, our family visited downtown Pewaukee. This hidden gem of a community is so fun and charming. We began with The Chocolate Factory, which is a local ice cream chain that has decadent ice cream creations for everyone to enjoy. From a turtle sundae to a banana split, to several gluten-free and healthier options of ice cream, this shop was so cute and fun for all to enjoy. We had our ice cream sitting outside along the lakefront.

Then we walked through the downtown area and enjoyed the shops. They were the boutiques, a coffee shop, and even a local cycle shop. The area was dog friendly and full of families enjoying the outdoors. The beach is soft sand and the water is warm enough to enjoy.

If you are looking for a local treasure, I highly encourage you to check out the Ingleside Hotel and visit downtown Pewaukee. The lakefront is hidden and seemingly appears out of nowhere as you approach the downtown area. It’s small, quaint and filled with fun.

You can get your work out by running along the lakefront or the local trail that borders the hotel. There are also several organized races in the area that you can sign up for. I would highly encourage you to sign up for the Jingle Bell Jog next year for a festive fun race in July that supports a great cause.

As we round the midpoint of the summer, see if you can fit in a run-cation of your own before the kids head back to school. And watch for Chicago Athlete to be on the road again soon with some fun family vacations that you can do in a weekend.

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Mandi has been running for over 25 years and has participated in the Chicago, Detroit, and Boston Marathons. Mandi regularly competes in regional events and enjoys being a part of several running groups including CARA and the Badgerland Striders. She is a co-host on the Ten Junk Miles podcast and looks forward to hosting the Chicago Athlete Podcast. An RRCA certified coach and Les Mills certified instructor, Mandi is also a coach with Chicago Athlete Coaching. Mandi is a local government attorney by weekday and race warrior by weekend.


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