first i drink the coffee… then i do the things

Sheboygan’s Top Coffee Shops

If you are anything like me coffee is a must first thing in the morning. I am a bit spoiled and don’t apologize when I say that most mornings my husband brings me my coffee in bed.  Now there are a few times in which this is unacceptable. Those are the days when he leaves for work before 5 AM… well now to think of it that is the only time this is unacceptable. I know, I know, I’m a lucky lady, and I am, don’t get me wrong, but truth be told he has just known me long enough to know who I am first thing in the morning. He really just doesn’t want to be punched in the throat to start his day. 😉

Based on the introductory paragraph, you may have put together the fact that I am not a morning person, and well if you didn’t, it’s okay I will slow down a bit for you to catch up.




I love the idea of being up with the sunrise. I love watching the day begin in bright colors as the sun comes up for the day.  I am also probably, my most productive self first thing in the morning. I love the feeling of starting the day fresh with it’s endless possibilities ahead… I just need some coffee to get me going.

On the most brutal of mornings, (Monday- Friday), I love the feel and nostalgia a great cup of coffee can provoke, and lets face it coffee shop coffee just tastes better.  Coffee houses have a way to  to inflict rest & relaxation on me. They encourage solitude and time to connect with God without the distractions of home.   They motivate me to play a board game, to read a new book, enhance my creative side, and enjoy the simplicity of the sounds that arise from behind the counter as the baristas work to perfect that cup of steaming hot goodness.

If you are ever in Sheboygan (and trust me you should be, I love our little Midwest town) these area coffee shops are a must see! Not only is the coffee wonderful but the atmospheres are inspiring.

1. The Green House

My all time favorite.  It is technically located in Kohler (Sheboygan county), so I had to think about whether or not I was going to include this one, but then I thought what the heck it’s my blog so dang it I did! This place honestly speaks to my soul. I think that it may have been designed entirely for me. The rich history of Kohler is something to write home about in and of itself.  There is something about but the deep colors, live plants and the feeling of being in Europe that make my heart flutter a bit. All of this, of course, makes sense when you consider the heritage of this quaint beauty.

The Green House was literally dismantled from the north of England and transported back to Kohler. They then rebuilt this solarium piece by piece.

The snow falling outside as you look through the stained glass is mesmerizing and makes for a perfect place to play a board game, read a book or enjoy a conversation with a friend.

The menu does not disappoint. They boast a selection of sweet treats including European pastries, deli sandwiches, warm teas, homemade ice cream and of course espresso drinks to warm you.



2. Paradigm

Paradigm comes in a close 2nd and technically 1st in Sheboygan.

When you enter this locally owned and operated coffee shop you immediately become enveloped in its quirky atmosphere.  The feel of Bohemia is in its mismatched furniture pieces and old world signage.

The bikes hanging as wall décor pays perfect homage to the not-for-profit bicycle recycling program housed in the basement. Gifting those in need a wonderful way to propel themselves through the streets of this beautiful city.

The almost floor to ceiling black framed windows open to the down town, let in the sights and sounds of a wonderful Wisconsin summer.

The food here though!

The Food at paradigm is not comparable to any other coffee shop in town. Hands down some of my favorite vegetarian/vegan food. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu but some definite must tries include;

Hello Bello Portabello: roasted peppers and onions, smoked provolone, and horseradish sauce on a ciabatta.

BBQ Jack: barbecued jackfruit, garlic mayo, bbq sauce, and black pepper slaw on a ciabatta.

Oh! and any of those freshly baked treats from the glass case on your right that taunt you as you order.

Entertainment is in no short supply here either. Sprinkled throughout random stops for coffee is a guitarist, a poetry reading or a local singer/songwriter up on stage.

For a more formal listing of who takes the stage next, check out the live music & upcoming events page

I would be completely amiss if I didn’t mention the tattoo shop that overlooks all of this!  Honestly where else can you go to get a cup o’ joe and a tat all in the same place? Maybe Paradigm is #1 after all!

Check out Chicory Root tattoo studio. Kayla, the owner of Chicory Root, has a soft hand as she uses beautiful muted earth tones to create art. She is a beautiful human being on the inside and out, and while you are there ask her about the Chicory Root. 🙂


3. Glas

I’m Irish…need I say more?

“Glas” literally translates to ‘green’ in Gaelic. The green coffee house not only reflects a strong Irish legacy it also speaks to their commitment to protecting our environment. In fact, bike riders receive a 10% discount. The earth appreciates your contribution to clean air and so does Glas!

The loose leaf teas and breakfast burritos on this menu are my favorite!

Enjoy 2-stories of light and airy breathable space overlooking the Sheboygan river.

Not only is there an indoor fireplace to warm up to there is an outdoor fire pit to boot! Perfect for our long, long, long, long, long Wisconsin winters.



4. Z spot

Last but not least!

Z spot gives you a warm-moody, Mexican-industrial feel with eclectic touches and neon lights! I don’t even know if all of that can be in the same sentence?

They house a wide selection of coffee drinks, sandwiches and homemade soups. They even feature bottled beer and wines, with monthly wine tasting, AND they have a drive thru! How great is that?! Now to be fair I don’t think you can get your beer and wine through the drive thru, but if that changes in the near future… come back and give credit where credit is due. Just sayin’.

Z spot offers a forever changing display of art work from local artists as well. A win win! An art gallery topped off with a little espresso or wine depending on the time of day of course. Oh, who am I trying to fool?! Hey-no judgement here.

There you have it folks.  Sheboygan’s Top 4 Coffee Shops.


roots & wings.


Have you been?  Which is your favorite?


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elroy to sparta bike trail

every year my sweet friend “b” and i choose one thing that pushes us physically. in 2015, we completed the warrior dash. in 2016, we ran a 1/2 marathon.  in 2017, we choose to pedal the 32.5 mile route from elroy, wi to sparta, wi and back again. check out what’s in store for this year here.

preparing for this endeavor. practice pedals.

okay this is where I have to be honest.  just weeks, literally, prior to our trip…i didn’t own my own bike. of note, you do need a bike to pedal the trail. 😉 i don’t recommend this, however know that it can be done.

we did get together on multiple occasions to do practice “runs” but, because b and i live in neighboring communities it wasn’t always easy to get together.  we would often encourage each other via a phone call or text. find someone who pushes you to be stronger. being the competitive person that i am, those phone calls often made me pedal one more mile than her, just to prove i could. b, i’m not sure whether to say sorry or thank you. bahahaha!

old plank trail is an asphalt trail beginning in the city of sheboygan and stretches west roughly 17 miles to  greenbush, wi.  the trail terrain varies from flat to rolling with a few seemingly larger descents or climbs depending on the direction you are headed (and the miles you have already put in!) we took old plank trail from the entrance of the sheboygan falls trailhead to marshall’s express in plymouth and back to kohler. returning to the trailhead to round up our trip for the day, putting in a little more than 20 miles in no time.

adventure two began when we loaded up the bikes and headed 30 minutes north to jump on another trail for a few more “practice miles.” the start of this was very exciting as we were checking the air pressure in the tire and my tire tube broke… so we took a quick detour to get this fixed prior to even heading out.

rawley point trail is about 6 miles in length and connects to the mariners trail for an additional 6 miles.  absolutely stunning views in every direction. the trail surface is crushed stone, with an occasional plank bridge and dirt path. the trail end points include: sandy ridge dr. and sandy bay rd./county road o (two rivers) and point beach state park. be sure to stop at the pavilion at point beach state park and enjoy a refreshing ice cream cone and scenic views of lake michigan!

packing for an overnight bike trip.

the key here is not to over pack! whether you have a carrying rack on the back of you bike or you choose to wear a back pack, the lighter the better!

we ate breakfast both days prior to hitting the trail. so we only had to carry a few snacks for along the way to refuel. protein bars, beef jerky, energy gels & chews, trail mix, starburst, gum, & of course water were the main ingredients packed to get us from point a to b. additionally, you pass through 3 towns along the way so if necessary you can reload, but try to be as self sufficient as possible. once arriving in sparta there were plenty of options to eat for a sit down meal.

one of the most unique things about this trail was that we were able to refill our water bottle at a hand pump well & we ate freshly harvested raspberries from a food stand that was paid by the honor system. so bring a little cash along the way as well, you never know what little deliciousness you will find along the way.

clothing may vary some dependent on the weather report. we were blessed with warm rays both days, but keep in mind it does get a bit cool in the tunnels and along fully shaded areas.


cycling shorts, tank top, sports bra, tank top, t-shirt, long sleeved base layer/or light jacket, socks, gloves (optional), ball cap, helmet (optional), underwear (not optional), flip flops or sandals, rain gear/poncho.

bike gear:

multi tool, replacement inner tube, air pump, air gauge, grease or chain lube, handlebar bag or frame bag, bike lock, & mirror.


flashlights are a must as those tunnels are DARK! be sure your bike also has reflectors/lights as well so you are visible to other bicyclists. pedometer/bike computer, phone, camera. one thing we didn’t bring that i seen others had was a speaker. perfect for a little jam session on the trail!

that’s it…well okay, one more thing…hairspray & mascara.

the elroy-sparta trail is part of the first rails to trails project in america. it runs along the abandoned chicago & north western railroad. it is regarded as one of the most popular biking trails in the country and when we see the beauty you will quickly understand why!

the trail has three rock tunnels and five small towns along it’s 32.5 mile route.  traveling between sparta & elroy, the trail stretches through the communities of norwalk, wilton and kendall on a crushed limestone path.

the trail may be entered at many locations along the way. depending on which direction you are coming from, jump on at the elroy commons in elroy, at the trail headquarters in kendall, the sparta chamber of commerce in sparta, or enter at wilton or norwalk on hwy 71. we accessed the trail at the elroy commons location.

trail passes are required for bikers 16 years of age and older. a daily trail pass is $5 and an annual pass is $25. these are good on any wisconsin state trail and we picked ours up here.

woodsy and scenic views throughout captivate your visual senses. the entrances to the tunnels were by far the most eye catching. trickling water gave way to the organic deep green moss climbing to the top of small rock walls as you entered the tunnels.

the kendall and wilton tunnels are 1/4 mile long and the norwalk tunnel is just over 3/4 mile long. upon entering the longest tunnel there is no daylight to be seen on the other end.  they are dark and cool, and feel initially refreshing as the springs above drip on you. nearing the end it can get a little colder even in mid-july (which may be the only truly hot month in wisconsin!)

bikers should walk bikes through the tunnels. yup. there are postings. nope, we initially did not follow those rules (surprised?). however, after the first tunnel we did understand the reasoning. the pathways are slick from the water and the smooth rock surfaces that you passing through on. additionally, there are people in front of, behind, and to the sides of you and in a very dark setting, it could become dangerous on bike. it is important to use good trail etiquette.

the trail provided endless accounts of wild life, deep wooded paths followed by bright clearings of curved landscape with brilliant blue skies. occasionally, there was a tree down providing an obstacle to maneuver around.  the path was quiet at times. conversations with friends being the only sound besides our bike tires combing through the crushed limestone beneath us. at the entrances of the tunnels and at the small city stops along the way there were friendly people in every direction. small conversation and encouragements were provided followed by high fives and a quick share of what’s ahead for our new found trail friends. some people were novice riders like us, others fully equipped for what seemed like a month of travel and overnight back packing adventures.

upon arriving to sparta my butt hurt!

we stayed at super 8 hotel which was about 1 mile off the trail. they housed our bikes in a shed out back, which was super convenient not to have to bring them into a shared hotel room.  we locked them up, grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant, close enough to walk to, because getting back on the bike to find dinner was the last thing any of us wanted to do.

on the ride home the next day i believe i was officially bruised in places no one should ever be bruised. it took at least two miles before i could even stay seated on the bike. and that’s when it hit me… i’m an amateur for sure!

…but great news! this trail is for both novice and experienced riders alike.

although i have not visited the trail in the winter, there is no charge for snowmobiling or hiking. i would imagine that this would be an incredible destination for snow shoeing as well.

have you visited the elroy-sparta trail?


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