January is a time of reckoning for a lot of people — myself included — who may have over-extended themselves financially during the holiday season.
If you can’t face your credit card bills this month, it might not seem prudent to even get out of bed, let alone leave the house for some entertainment.
But leave the house you must. Even when it’s FRIGID outside! (That’s what your new cozy hat and gloves are for.)
Staying home and dwelling on your problems (and your empty wallet) isn’t going to lift your spirits, but a night of singing Karaoke might do the trick.
To get you moving, we offer some free entertainment options:
* Several area taverns host weekly open jam/open mic nights, which are free to attend (it’s also free to join in the jam).
Here are some local options: Tuesdays at Sazzy B, 5323 Sixth Ave., Kai Andersen hosts the open mic. Mark Paffrath’s open mic is Wednesday night at tg’s Sports Bar, 4120 Seventh Ave. On the first and third Thursday of each month, musician/beertender Bobby McDermott hosts the All Original Open Mic at Public Craft Brewing Co., 716 58th St. At Public Craft, it’s not just music — authors and comedians are welcome, too.
In Racine County, a bluegrass jam takes place the first Thursday each month at Route 20 Outhouse, on Highway 20, just west of I-94.
Matt Meyer — a longtime favorite of the local music scene — plays every Thursday starting at 9 p.m. at Captain Mike’s, 5118 Sixth Ave. An open jam — hosted by Jason Kent — is Sunday nights at Captain Mike’s. For listings of local music every week, check out our entertainment listings in the back of the Get Out section each Friday and go to the GOKenosha section of our Kenosha News website, www.kenoshanews.com/gokenosha/#/.
* Looking for some “cocktail music” for your night out? The Dave Braun Trio plays each Friday night in the lounge at the Hob Nob, 277 Sheridan Road. At Sazzy B in downtown Kenosha, Ed Doody “tickles the ivories” Wednesday nights starting at 7 p.m. Also at Sazzy B, Monday nights feature live jazz music with the “Sazzy Jazzy House Band” starting at 6 p.m. (and martinis are half-price — but not free!) and each Thursday night, Stu “The Piano Guy” starts playing at 8:30 p.m.
Looking for jazz? Head to the Kenosha Yacht Club’s Breakwater Grill for live jazz music Wednesday nights, 5130 Fourth Ave.
* Fusion, 5014 Seventh Ave. in downtown Kenosha, hosts plenty of free events. Southport Sound — playing big band swing and “the music of today” — performs the second Wednesday of each month; open mic comedy nights are the first Thursday of each month — plus there’s a special “second helping” comedy open mic this month on Jan. 18. Be Exposed to the Arts programs are on Fridays, including Jan. 20 and Feb. 17. Go to www.kenoshafusion.com to check for free upcoming events.
If you know the capital of Ecuador or the date of the first moon landing, you might do well at one of the several area locales offering free weekly trivia contests, with prizes that include gift certificates, beer and cash.
Local trivia nights include: Tuesdays at tg’s Sports Bar (8:30 p.m.); Wednesdays at the Swedish American Club, 7002 30th Ave.; Thursdays at the Boathouse, 4917 Seventh Ave., and Guttormsen Recreation Center, 5411 Green Bay Road; Fridays at Rustic Road Brewing Co., 510 56th St.; and Sundays at Champions, 719 50th St. Look for listings of area trivia games in the back of our Get Out entertainment section each week and the GOKenosha section of our Kenosha News website, www.kenoshanews.com/gokenosha/#/.
Karaoke nights are Fridays at Champions; Wednesdays at Coins Sports Bar, 1714 52nd St., and Grandview Inn, 6929 39th Ave.; and Sundays at Pavle’s, 1724 52nd St., and the Sky Box Bar and Grill, 2901 60th St.
The downtown Kenosha Public Museum and Dinosaur Discovery Museum offer free admission and a slew of free programs, too. At the Dinosaur Discovery Museum, you’ll find life-size replica casts of your favorite prehistoric reptiles, interactive exhibits, bones and fossils, and an on-site Carthage College paleontology lab.
A fun, free event at the dinosaur museum are Dino Digs, 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in January. Kids can practice their paleontology skills by excavating a dinosaur fossil.
Current exhibits at the Kenosha Public Museum include “Center Stage — A Century of Guitars” (through Feb. 26) and “Monsters, Mutants & madmen!” on dislay through Feb. 19.
The Public Museum also offers popular “Museum Munchkins” programs Wednesday mornings. (They’re aimed at preschoolers, but adults will no doubt enjoy the original songs performed by Nick Wiersum, the museum’s curator of education. We can’t wait to see how he works the Jan. 11 theme — deinichthys, an extinct giant marine animal — into a song.)
Free stuff coming up at the Public Museum includes: Monster Movie Marathon from noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 21. Museum visitors can watch such drive-in monster movie classics as “The Giant Gila Monster!” Free open mics at the museum are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 14 and Feb. 11. The Public Museum, 5500 First Ave., is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. The Dinosaur Discovery Museum, 5608 10th Ave., is open noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. 262-653-4140 or www.KenoshaPublicMuseum.org.
There is an admission fee to view the “Fiery Trial” exhibit at the Civil War Museum, 5400 First Ave., but the museum does host lots of free programs. Check www.TheCivilWarMuseum.org for more information.
* The Kenosha History Center features exhibits on local businesses and automobiles in its Rambler Legacy Gallery. The “Cars of the Decades” exhibit features automobiles and other vehicles made in Kenosha from the 1900s through the 1970s, including a 1902 Jeffery Rambler Model C, a 1940 Nash Opera Coupe and a 1965 AMC Rambler American.
Also at the History Center is “Brass Treasures,” a collection of brass items from Kenosha County Historical Society member and volunteer Patricia Luttrell. The History Center is located at 220 51st Place and is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free; donations are accepted. www.kenoshahistorycenter.org.
* Racine’s “other” museum — not the fancy downtown Racine Art Museum (which charges admission but is free the first Friday of each month) — is the free Wustum Museum of Fine Art, 2419 Northwestern Ave.
The museum is showcasing one of its most popular shows, “Watercolor Wisconsin,” through April 22. The exhibit showcases more than 100 pieces, chosen from 300-plus pieces submitted by artists from throughout the state. Several Kenosha County artists have works in this juried show. The Wustum Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. 262-636-9177 or www.ramart.org.
Kenosha has several places where you can check out a variety of artworks. Even better is catching an opening reception (they serve snacks).
* The Anderson Arts Center is located in a historic mansion on Lake Michigan and showcases artists throughout the year. Shows opening on Jan. 29 include “Ice Tapestries & Quilts” by Kay Koeper Sorensen and “Birds: Imagined, Natural, Symbolic” by Women’s Journeys in Fiber. The arts center is located at 6603 Third Ave. and is open 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. 262-653-0481. www.andersonartscenter.com.
* The Lemon Street Gallery on Sheridan Road near downtown is a nonprofit facility that opened in the fall of 1999 with a handful of artists and now has more than 70 members who display a variety of artworks, including drawings, paintings, prints, textiles and photography. The current exhibit is its annual January Warehouse Sale. Through this month, members artists are offering discounts on pieces. The gallery, 4601 Sheridan Road, is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. www.lemonstreetgallery.org.
* Near Lemon Street is the new Re:Vision Gallery, 4625 Sheridan Road, is hosting a free opening reception 6 p.m. Jan. 14 — during Kenosha’s Second Saturday event — for an exhibit of photography by Jim Sincock. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. 262-764-6603. www.facebook.com/revisiongallery.
* ArtWorks Gallery and Frame Shop has moved and is now open at 4513 Sheridan Road — near Lemon Street and Re:Vision galleries. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Call 262-515-5593 or visit www.artworkskenosha.com.
* The downtown Pollard Gallery displays a portion of the George and Nan Pollard collection, as well as the works of guest artists. And there are always — you guessed it! — free snacks on the Second Saturday of each month. 514 56th St. Gallery hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. 262-657-7529.
* Also downtown is the Kenosha Art Association’s KAAleidoscope Gallery. 5615 Seventh Ave. 262-654-0065.
* Carthage College’s H.F. Johnson Gallery of Art, 2001 Alford Park Drive, is hosting a free opening reception 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 for its Kenosha and Racine invitational show. The exhibit features works created in a variety of media by about 30 local artists, many of whom will meet with visitors at the reception. (The show runs Jan. 9 through Feb. 25.) The free gallery is open noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (with additional Thursday hours from 6 to 8 p.m.) and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays. www.carthage.edu/art-gallery.
* At the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, there are three galleries on the west side of the campus in the new Picken Center. Call 262-595-2342 for more information.
* In Racine, check out the exhibits at the downtown Artists Gallery, 401 Main St. Admission is always free, and the gallery hosts opening receptions — free snacks! — on the first Friday of the month during downtown Racine’s First Friday events. The gallery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. Note: Racine’s First Friday events start again in April.
The indoor train tours at the Jelly Belly Center are free — and include candy samples. How sweet is that? Actually, most people take the tour for those free paper hats. Located at 10100 Jelly Belly Lane (at the corner of Highway 165 and Green Bay Road off I-94) in Pleasant Prairie. 262-947-3800 or www.jellybelly.com. Tours run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Kenosha’s public libraries host free programs, both for children and adults. This might be a great time to rediscover the joys of reading for pleasure. In addition to its book collections, the library system also has DVDs, books on tape, ebooks, magazines, newspapers and music CDs that it lends to the public. For free. How cool is that?
Upcoming programs include the Mystery Lovers Book Club (for adults), which meets 2 p.m. Monday (Jan. 9) at the Northside Library, and the Award Season Film Series (also for adults) showing films from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Thursdays at the Southwest Library. The next film (on Jan. 12) is “Sully” starring Tom Hanks in the true story of the pilot who landed a plane on the Hudson River
Kids’ stuff at the library include several storytimes each week, plus special activities. On Jan. 14, the Southwest Library celebrates our wonderfully frigid weather with “Ice Age Fun” from 1 to 2:30 p.m. — including crafts, popcorn and the “Ice Age” animated movies — and a “Frozen” sing-along party from 3 to 4 p.m. For a list of events, check out the website at www.mykpl.info/.
Winter is a great time to visit the Milwaukee County Zoo, which has free admission on Jan. 7, Feb. 4 and March 4. (Note: Parking is still $12.) www.milwaukeezoo.org.
* The Brookfield Zoo near Chicago offers free general admission on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 28. (Parking is still $12.) Also, the zoo offers free admission every day to all active, reservist and retired members of the military. For more information about the zoo and special events, visit www.czs.org or call 708-688-8000.
We know, we know. It’s cold and dark out there. Still, the sun pops out occasionally. Grab that chance for a brisk walk or some cross-country skiing and even sledding if you can find enough snow still on the ground. Don’t fret; it’s still early in the season — we’ll get more snow.
Some of the best cross-country skiing trails in this area can be found at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, across from Petrifying Springs County Park, just east of Green Bay Road (Highway 31) and north off of Highway E.
Sledding hills in the Kenosha include Washington Park, 1821 Washington Road; a wide, sloping hill just north of St. Peter Catholic Church, off of 30th Avenue at 21st Street; Lincoln Park, 7010 22nd Ave. (for those who like their sledding on the slow, gentle side); Alford Park, 2901 Alford Drive; and Fox River Park, at the intersection of highways F and W in Silver Lake. Fox River Park features a hard-packed, banked sledding “chute” that makes for a fast ride down the hill. Snowboarders like this hill, too. There are also cross-country skiing trails in the park.
Probably the most popular sledding hill is in Petrifying Springs Park, 4909 Seventh St. in Somers.
* The Pringle Nature Center — located inside Bristol Woods County Park, 9800 160th Ave. in Bristol — is another great place for outdoor fun. The park has hiking and cross-country skiing trails, and Pringle offers programs, many of which are free. For more information, go to www.pringlenc.org or call 262-857-8008.
Upcoming free programs at Pringle include nature storytime hikes on Jan. 7 and 19 and a “Leave No Child Inside: Snow Day,” 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 21. Visitors will learn about different ways to enjoy the winter weather, with different activities are scheduled throughout the day.
* Another place to enjoy some free outdoor fun is the River Bend Nature Center in Racine County (3600 N. Green Bay Road), which offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, plus indoor programs.
The nature center’s 78 acres are open from sunrise to sunset every day, free of chrage. The buildings are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available. Go to www.riverbendnaturecenterracine.org or call 262-639-1515 for more details.