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Happy Campers

Cooking, canoeing and more at Camp Wandawega

In a perfect world, we'd spend summer mornings paddling on the water, afternoons peddling a vintage cruiser, twilight reading in a hammock, and evenings tending the grill.

That perfect world has a name: Camp Wandawega.

The former summer camp, located 90 miles from Chicago, is stylishly revamped and long on retro charm. Owner Tereasa Surratt's knack for collecting extends to the kitchen: Vintage meat grinders, cast-iron pans and a trove of antique plates and colorful Fiesta dinnerware make cooking and serving a joy. (A tip: Bring your own knives.)

Outdoor cooking is especially fun, with charcoal and gas grills, fire pits and a log-fueled smoker--built into a hill, no less--on hand.

Nearby shops provide everything needed for a feast. Stock up on mushrooms, local produce, sauces, spreads and dips at the well-stocked farm store at River Valley Ranch, a mushroom farm.

Lake Geneva Country Meats packs its cases with locally raised fodder for the smoker and the grill, like beef, pork, lamb and a dozen varieties of house-made sausages.

Elegant Farmer has gained accolades for its pies, but we found them too sweet. Go instead for local honey, cheese, bread and produce, like the giant, dirt-cheap bag of just-picked asparagus we scored on a recent visit.

Camp Wandawega's online reservations launch via airbnb.com on 6/15; until then, email campwandawega@gmail.com. Cottage rates range from $200 to $300 per night.

Camp Wandawega W5453 Lake View Dr. Elkhorn WI 53121

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