If the name of this town located about an hour’s drive north of Milwaukee sounds familiar, it’s because it may be the birthplace of your toilet, bathtub, or sink. Kohler started out as a company town incorporated in 1912, housing workers from the massive plumbing-fixture factory, but don’t let that put you off. The garden community was carefully laid out by the noted landscape architecture firm of the Olmsted Brothers, which included Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City. Today, their work—along with the village’s signature Kohler Tudor–style residential and commercial buildings—remains in pristine condition, thanks to a partnership between the Kohler Company and Kohler Village.
A visit to the town isn’t complete without at least driving through the Kohler Company complex. Grab a bite to eat at the Horse & Plough, once the taproom for employees and now serving up elevated pub grub, like beer-battered cheese curds. After you’re fortified with curds, take the two-minute walk down the main road to the Kohler Design Center. The massive showroom/museum is free and open to the public, and it has all the usual COVID protections in place. You could probably spend hours weaving your way through the Instagram-ready bathroom displays, but the most interesting part of the center is its basement, which tells the history of the company and plumbing in general through the decades, including some of the best (giant clawfoot bathtubs!) and the worst (any part of a bathroom that is carpeted) trends through time.
If an afternoon of relaxation is more your speed, head to the Kohler Waters Spa, which offers the latest hydrotherapy treatments, like Lavender Rain and the Cascading Waterfall Massage. Looking to venture out of state but not sure where to go? Peruse the best fall activities in each state and then make a plan!