Last Updated on September 21, 2021 by Jody Halsted
This month on the podcast we are getting ready to view the brilliant fall colors – and highlighting a few places to visit to make the most of prime ‘leaf peeping'.
Today we are traveling to an area known as the Driftless Region southwest Wisconsin where a group of unique cabins offer an incredible escape and a chance to ‘unplug and unwind' while enjoying the brilliant fall colors.
Norbert and Susan Calnin are the owners of Anaway Place near Richland Center, Wisconsin.
The History of Anaway Place
The Calnins built Anaway Place, formerly called Candlewood Cabins, 26 years ago after not being able to find places they really connected with when searching out short-term rentals for themselves. So they decided to build their own romantic cabins in Wisconsin.
They have learned that a greater connection to nature around you would be a very rewarding experience, so rather than just put up four walls in a cabin, they have become more creative in how they can bring nature inside.
“What if we built four walls of glass?” the Calnins asked. And that's the idea they've been sticking with as they have built more cabins — a glass cabin in the woods. They try to incorporate as much glass as they can into their designs. “So that you can be snug as a bug in a rug inside a place, but then enjoy the nature outside, whether that be a perfect sunny day or a rainstorm or a snowstorm or whatever,” say the Calnins. “So we found that that's something our guests are really connecting with now.”
About the Cabins at Anaway Place
Currently, Anaway Place has six cabins for rent, plus a barn that's been renovated for larger groups. The six cabins sleep up to four people, and the barn sleeps up to 12.
Each cabin has a different design, but they all have a fireplace feature to them. “We enjoy burning wood,” says Susan. “We love the smell of wood and we think our guests do the same. It's quite an experience watching a fire burn. It's such a unique human experience. I mean, when you connect with fire, it's a wonderful feeling, beautiful feeling.”
The most popular designs tend to be the cabins that are at least 50 percent glass — the Meadow House, Woodland House and original Glass House — but people enjoy coming back and trying all of them out to experience the different designs and amenities.
“The original Glass House is what we call our ‘glamping experience,' ” says Norbert, “because there's no full kitchen in that one. So you have to grill. It really is a step up from camping.” The Woodland House, though, is a completely different experience. “With this one, we thought, ‘Let's do the opposite,' ” says Norbert. “Let's put a glass house on steroids and put in a full kitchen, the fireplace, and everything. That's how we wanted to create different experiences for our guests.”
Things to Do at Anaway Place
When you visit Anaway Place, the stay is incredibly comfortable (no roughing it here!) — but beyond that you are really “in nature” on 80 acres of wilderness.
Walk the quarter-mile Ridge Road to the top of the ridge to the open field for a picnic. Picnic tables and chairs are waiting, or it's the perfect spot to just watch the sunset. In the winter, you can even rent snowshoes to make the hike at the on-site store. Anaway Place Store, a new addition to the property, offers local foods, wine and home goods. Find some ingredients to take back to your cabin or gifts or souvenirs to take back home with you.
Within an hour's drive you'll find several parks worth visiting to extend your immersion into nature. The Calnins recommend Ash Creek County Park, just down the road, which features great trails. There are also state parks with their own trails and views not far either.
The Driftless Region in Wisconsin
Anaway Place resides in the The Driftless Region of southwest Wisconsin, which is the under-glaciated area of the state. “When the glacier moved down and just cut its path and flattened all the land, it stopped somewhere a little bit north and west of us,” say the Calnins. “So the southwest part of Wisconsin is so different from the rest of the state. You do have that valleys and the hills, and it just keeps going. Many people aren't even aware that this part of the state exists. So we get people from the east side of the state and they come and they say, oh, we never even knew this.”
Central Wisconsin in Autumn
The Driftless Region is known for its apple orchards. Visit one and purchase apples, apple pies — and anything apple-related.
The state parks are also perfect for exploring in the autumn. “There is such a variety of trees and open areas and waterfalls,” say the Calnins. “The landscape in itself in the fall just illuminates the leaves and the colors because of the way the sun hits between the valleys and, you almost want to call them the mountaintops, you know, they're high. That adds to the experience, and sort of being a flat land, it's gorgeous with the fall colors.”
Booking a Cabin at Anaway Place
The best way to book a cabin is to visit their website at anawayplace.com. They are currently booking out 24 months in advance due to high demand. This is especially true for a peak season like fall. “Every month, the first day of the month, we open up that month, two years out, just that month, for all the cabins,” say the Calnins. But, they say, keep checking back to see if there are any cancellations. They don't have a waiting list, but reservations will occasionally open up since life often changes in a two-year span, and people have to cancel their bookings for one reason or another.