In the early 1800s, miners from Cornwall in southern England founded the town, which seems as old as the surrounding hills. Through the years, it's become a mecca for artists, crafters and history buffs. Vintage limestone and brick buildings lend the community a feeling of times gone by. Costumed guides lead tours of the Pendarvis State Historic Site, where stone cottages, a row house and Cornish pub date to those early days.
Victorian mansions that 19th-century mining magnates and wealthy merchants built line Ridge Street and grace surrounding residential areas. You can take a guided tour of Orchard Lawn, one of the early homes. Guests also can stay in several historic buildings, including the Brewery Creek Inn. Restaurants such as the casual Red Rooster Cafe serve Cornish specialties, from pasties (hearty meat, potato and vegetable turnovers) to figgyhobbin (a raisin-studded dessert).
On the east edge of town, you'll discover the Cheese Country Trail, a hiking and biking route that roughly parallels the Pecatonica River for 47 miles southeast to Monroe.
And of course, galleries, artists' workshops and specialty shops fill downtown storefronts, most more than a century old. The buildings crowd High Street, the town's main thoroughfare, as well as the surrounding steep, winding streets. The Johnston Gallery alone showcases works of more than 100 artists. Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce (888/764-6894).
Mineral Point