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Discover Wisconsin: Expect the unexpected - 15 things to do in Beloit
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With the Rock River at its heart, the city of Beloit is a lively, community-oriented city that simultaneously radiates country charm and urban flair. While downtown Beloit is modern, hip and home to some amazing shops and restaurants, just outside the city visitors can explore wild, beautiful pockets of nature. You may think you know Beloit, but it's time to go see for yourself - and expect the unexpected! Here are just a few of our favorite ways to enjoy the area:

1. The Beloit Farmers' Market

Second only to Madison in size, the Beloit Farmers' Market comes alive on Saturday mornings. Thousands of people flock to downtown Beloit to meet local vendors selling fresh produce, flowers, baked goods and more. We recommend starting your weekend getaway in Beloit right here.

2. Bushel and Peck's

This farmers' market vendor and downtown staple is a market, meets cafe, meets preservation kitchen, meets farm. Bushel and Peck's is probably best known for its homemade jams, hot sauces, pickles and relishes, but it also serves up a wide variety of other foods; all locally sourced, clean and delicious.

3. Lucy's #7 Burger Bar

Beloit has no shortage of unique and tasty dining options, and one of those is Lucy's #7, famous for their Juicy Lucy's (burgers stuffed with cheese). With its retro decor and open kitchen, you'll feel like you're in downtown Chicago.

4. The Beckman Mill

Nature and history come together on the picturesque grounds of Beckman Mill County Park, where a working 19th century gristmill gives visitors a glimpse into Beloit's rural history. Take a tour, watch a corn grinding demonstration, or simply go for a walk, taking in the blue skies, trees, the ever-present sound of the water rushing over the dam.

5. Pacesetter Alpacas

This stunning 80-acre alpaca farm invites visitors to interact with its alpacas and explore its farm store, which specializes in all things alpaca fiber (i.e., SUPER soft). Whether you're looking for something different to do with the family, or just interested in learning more about these animals and their byproducts, Pacesetter Alpacas is a must-stop.

6. The Apple Hut

Family owned and operated, The Apple Hut is the perfect place to come for a fun day in the country. Visitors can pick their own apples, or shop the gift shop, which is loaded with homemade apple treats and other Wisconsin-made products. It is well worth a trip just to try their famous cider doughnuts!

7. Double B Farm

Double B Farm is a one-of-a-kind, farm-to-table dining experience, where you can enjoy the charm of a family farm and have delicious food, made from scratch. They serve breakfast and lunch, and almost all of their food is raised right there on the farm. They're best known for their duck butt muffins; made with duck eggs and bourbon.

8. Northwoods Premium Confections

This quaint little candy and ice cream shop in downtown Beloit has everything you could possibly want when it comes to candy varieties: sweet, sour, sticky, gummy, chocolaty, quirky and melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Best to try a little bit of everything just to be safe!

9. Beloit Snappers

No trip to Beloit is complete without cheering on the Beloit Snappers baseball team at Pohlman Field. It's affordable, fun for the family and a great way to soak in Beloit's community spirit.

10. Paddling Turtle Creek

In addition to the Rock River, Turtle Creek offers some spectacular paddling opportunities to visitors wanting to get out into nature. Though you can't always see it, the creek winds its way through Beloit for nine to ten miles through woods and prairie. If you want a break from the city, definitely check out this hidden treasure.

11. Nature at the Confluence

The area where the Rock River meets Turtle creek is known as Nature at the Confluence. It's a stunning urban ecology center that has brought an area back to life after it was neglected for decades. Through programs, demonstrations and initiatives the center encourages people to be outside, all seasons to explore and enjoy this corner of nature, carved out of an urban area.

12. Big Hill Park

Located on the Rock River, Big Hill Park is 190 acres of forests, bluffs and prairies, with plenty of trails, and picnic and recreation areas. In 1936 there was a ski jump in the park that drew in competitors from all over the world. Today, a scenic lookout to commemorate the jump offers an unparalleled view of the river.

13. Music at Harry's Place

Held at Riverside Park on Friday nights during the summer, Music at Harry's Place is a free event that brings midwestern bands to the riverfront for live music, food, beautiful sunsets and lots of dancing. We can't think of a better way to spend a summer night in Beloit!

14. Art Walk

The Art Walk is a handmade market held every year in May that transforms downtown businesses into art galleries. Handcrafted vendors and artists are invited to showcase their work throughout downtown, and it's a great chance to go out, enjoy live music, and take in the artsy side of Beloit!

15. Clara Bo and Gatsby Wine Bar

This ambiance of this restaurant and wine bar will take you back in time to a turn-of-the-century speakeasy with its classic decor and period jazz playing in the background. In addition to fantastic food, wine and champagne, they even have the Great Gatsby movie playing on a loop in the bar (the DiCaprio version).

What are your favorite things to do in Beloit? Share with us on social media using #discoverwisconsin.

- Jessica Murphy is a producer for the nation's longest-running tourism TV show, "Discover Wisconsin." The column is published Tuesday on the Life page in the Times.