By Maureen Post Special to Published Jun 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Summerfest can be a love it or hate it experience. It's cherished by some as 11 days of world class acts, great food and hours of enticing people watching. But, for others, it's characterized by chaotic parking, a somewhat pricey entrance fee and at times, suffocating crowds.

So, for those looking to get out of Milwaukee this weekend without planning a full vacation, head to one of many communities just west for a great day of shopping, eating and lakeside relaxation. Intricately bound by a maze of interconnected lakes, you'll find time does indeed slow down as you mingle friendly locals, wander sprawling county and state parks and greet plenty of time honored traditions.

Check out these Lake Country stops for fresh foods, outdoor adventure and a true taste of summer.

Golosi Gelato Café
162 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc, (262) 527-0950
You can't spend a summer day wandering parks, shops and markets without several scoops of an ice cold dessert. Adding international authenticity to rich, creamy custard, Golosi Gelato Café scoops traditional Italian gelato made in-house with imported ingredients including Dutch cocoa powder, Piemont hazelnuts and Sicilian pistachios. Honoring traditional flavors like Croccantino Rum, Venice cream, Yellow cream, Bourbon Vanilla and Malaga, Golosi follows cold desserts with piping hot cups of Italian espresso and cappuccino. Despite sticking to bona fide gelato production methods, Golosi has not forgotten American favorites like Apple Pie, Oreo, Bubble Gum and M&M.

Lapham Peak Unit
W329 N846 Co. C, Delafield
A portion of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak gives its hidden gem away in the name. Climb a 45-foot observation tower to perch the tallest point in Waukesha County with a view ranging from Milwaukee to Madison. Over 21 miles in trails allow plenty of room for hiking, running and exploring.

Milwaukee Street Traders
523 Milwaukee St., Delafield, (262) 646-9289
Grab a customary hot cup of java or opt for something iced to quell the heat at this downtown Delafield coffeehouse. Located in a restored warehouse, stop in for a caffeine boost plus a lunch of sandwiches, salads or soup.

29 S. Main St., Oconomowoc, (262) 560-4255
You can trade the shopping trip to New York, Chicago or Paris and drop into Mint where you'll find art, jewelry and clothing handpicked from the newest designers around the world. Located in a beautifully renovated lower level, refurbished brick walls and pressed tin ceiling panels fashion the perfect backdrop for remarkable regional photography, stylish silver jewelry and hard to find eco-friendly gifts.

Moonlit Movies and Concerts in the Park
Located just outside downtown Oconomowoc
If you're looking for a weeknight change of pace, Oconomowoc amplifies both music and film outdoors. Each running four times throughout the summer, choose from family friendly movies at Fowler Park or live blues, rock and jazz in the town band shell.

Monches Mill House Tea Room
W301N9430 Highway E, Hartland, (262) 966-7546
The ambiance may very take you to the past but you'll find the food to be some of the best in the present. Recalling in an early American experience, make a reservation in advance for a set menu lunch at this gourmet café. You won't find the same menu any two days but examples include offerings of Serbian cheese with ajvar, chilled tomato and cucumber soup, quiche Lorraine and Victorian chocolate mousse. Oh, and of course full traditional tea service.

Nashotah Park
Located just north of Hwy. 16 on County Road C

This Waukesha County Park boasts eight distinct land types with a rolling terrain carved out by glaciers over 10,000 years ago. You can picnic in the summer, cross-country ski in the winter and enjoy the trails year round.

Revere's Well Street Tavern
505 Wells St., Delafield, (262) 646-4070
The theme and historical building might pay homage to a gone by era but Revere's operates for this generation with three happy hour times, taco Tuesday specials and a sought after Friday night fish fry. Located just west of downtown Delafield's main strip, Revere's is aptly furnished with colonial era dark wood beams and plenty of wood table seating indoors and out.

Sweetie Pies
145 E. Wisconsin Ave., Oconomowoc, (262) 567-7550
Sitting in this cozy bakery/café feels like sipping coffee in grandma's kitchen. Two bakery cases line the far wall packed with bars, cookies and six inch thick cake.  Serving sandwiches, desserts and coffee, Sweetie Pie 1950s era diner tables are topped with blooming flowers and jaw dropping pieces of fresh pie and layered cake.


Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.