The dining room, where George the raccoon holds court.
Summer is finally here, and there’s no better time to plan an escape—and few regional destinations are more stylish than Camp Wandawega, renowned for its postcard-perfect outdoor complex in Elkhorn, Wis. This season, there’s even more to enjoy thanks to the newly opened Dining Hall. “We’ve had camp for 17 years, and I’ve always dreamed of doing this,” says Tereasa Surratt, the camp’s dynamic co-owner along with husband David Hernandez. The new space, which originally served as the dining hall in 1925 when the grounds were known as Wandawega Hotel, melds old accents with new. Think original stoneware plates that the owners found after purchasing the grounds in 2004 and tables with “Wandawega” painted at the bottom. “We have custom-printed place mats that tell the story of the dining hall at Wandawega that go on every table,” Surratt says, adding that they’ve even designed the menus around original stock from the 1950s. But the opening of the dining hall is much more than just the decor. Available to camp guest groups by reservation only, a full-fledged sensory experience awaits, including a full schedule of relaxing on the beach; welcome drinks in the Rathskeller, a secret bar that you enter through a trapdoor; dinner in the Dining Hall; a trip to the Sundries Case that’s stocked with favorites from the ’50s like Turkish taffy, Butter-Nut candy bars, cigars and more; a bit of downtime in the lounge; and a campfire by which to watch the sunset. When it comes to the dining experience, executive chef Tyler Salisbury of The Black Sheep and The Little Lamb curates tantalizing plates like crispy beer-battered cod, juicy prime rib, relish trays featuring local veggies and more. “We’ll rotate through different visiting chefs,” Surratt adds, mentioning noteworthy names like Mindy Segal, Maxwell Robbins and Joe Flamm. “Imagine a supper club essentially designed to the 1920s to 1950s,” Surratt concludes, “but (almost) everything in it is vintage and original.” W5453 Lake View, Elkhorn, Wis., wandawega.com
Craft cocktails are especially enjoyed in the speakeasy-esque Rathskeller bar.