In Festival Guide Commentary

With all the commotion at State Fair, sometimes you need a place to just relax. Here are our favorites. (PHOTO: Bobby Tanzilo)

Our favorite stealthy spots to relax at State Fair

Rides! Animals! Food! Beer! Pig races! More food! Concerts! Slides! Impossible amounts of food! It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the commotion, excitement, illegal bleacher rendezvous and have we adequately mentioned the amount of food at the Wisconsin State Fair – and that's even before the immense crowds of people of all ages from all counties begin piling onto the fairgrounds.

After a while, you just need to sit, relax and soak in the sun, the sights and the suds, just out of the way of the craziness. We know the feeling, and to help out, we asked our writers about their favorite State Fair places in the shade.

Carolynn Buser
Editorial director

I love, love, love the Tropics at the State Fair. With thatch roofs, a fruity cocktail, palm trees and King Solomon or someone similar playing that happy music in the background, it doesn't get much more relaxing. The Tropics is out of the bustle of the walkways with brightly lit signs and cattle calls. After a brief respite there, I'm ready to get back out into the crowd – but I will always come back to the Tropics as well.

Jimmy Carlton
Sports editor

I haven't been to State Fair in a while, but I've biked the Hank Aaron trail a lot, and last year, I really enjoyed biking over the fairgrounds, stopping and looking down at the festivities from an overpass above. You have a great vantage point of the midway/carnival games area, in particular, but I was removed and thus felt very chill.

Lori Fredrich
Senior writer, food & dining

When it comes to chilling out at the State Fair, there are a ton of nifty spots to sit back and relax. But, one of my favorite places to let go and relax is on the Sky Glider. I tend to save my ride for the end of the day, when my feet are sore and I'm exhausted from a day spent in the fresh air. There's nothing quite like letting my feet dangle in the wind, allowing both my body and mind to relax while reflecting on the day's memories and taking in all the sights from above the Fair.

Matt Mueller
Pop culture editor

Hello, my name is Matt Mueller, and I'm basic: My favorite chill spot at the State Fair is the Sky Glider. Yes, it's the obvious, easy choice – but it's also the best one, hanging freely above the colorful chaos of the festival below without a care in the world, like some kind of omnipresent deity with a taste for Summer Shandy. It's one of the few places on the entire grounds – or really any festival at all – where you can people-watch, taking in the craziness under your feet, or truly have some private, quiet relaxation time. I mean, where else can you close your eyes for a minute and take a good deep breathe of the Fair air (which, considering the indulgent Sconnie food creations below, probably contains your recommended caloric intake for a day).

Jeff Sherman
Co-founder & president

The State Fair is all about traditions. Sure, it gets its modern updates each year and new stuff, but the tried and true is what it's all about. Heading to the Fair each year with the family is great, but you need a space or two to just relax, get outta the sun, eat in peace or whatever. For us, this annual tradition is right outside the Cream Puff pavilion. Our kids love the $4 car race. There's hardly ever a line, and it's out of the way enough to just enjoy watching the kids race and try to win. Winners stay if they win, so help the kids or drive yourself. Love it.

Molly Snyder
Senior writer/editorial manager

I love hanging out at Slim McGinn's East, on the rooftop patio, because it is perfect for people watching. Located on the corner of two busy fair streets, there are people strolling in all directions and from all walks of life. One year, I sat in that spot for hours and made notes about the people who walked by and complied them into this blog of observations from the deck. I think my favorite is, "Man eating corn-on-the-cob finishes the corn and starts to eat the end of the cob." Good times.

Bobby Tanzilo
Senior editor/writer

My favorite place to chill at State Fair is, alas, anything but secret. Located right next to the giant slide, Cracovia is often packed full of folks who, like me, enjoy the polka and other live music, the sausage and, most of all, some of the best potato pancakes in town. However, if you get there at the right time (and I'm never exactly sure how to predict when that will be), there's plenty of seating at the long, family-style tables that encourage chatting with strangers. But warning: On a hot day, the covered dining area is not unlike the sauna at your local gym.


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