Alpine Valley Music Theatre

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Because it's located in the middle of nowhere, there are trees and a countrified atmosphere at this 35,000-seat (including both pavilion and lawn) outdoor venue. In other words, it lacks the antiseptic, Great America quality of the old Poplar Creek Music Theatre. The gently sloping hill outside the pavilion provides for just-right lawn seats, and the overall sound quality is excellent. The theater is adjacent to the Alpine Valley Resort in case you don't want to make the 60-mile drive back to Chicago after the show; there's a golf course there, too. A number of capital improvements by the Nederlander Corp., which took over the venue in 1993, have made Alpine Valley even prettier. There's also less of the drunken, heavy metal atmosphere that was prevalent in the early 1980s; that's partly due to the booking of a broader range of talent. Regulars to the theater will be pleased to know that they can now purchase beer and take it to their seats instead of having to consume it in the beer garden. Arrive early for the best lawn seats, and bring a blanket to sit on. Umbrellas, coolers, etc. may not be brought into the theater. To get to Alpine Valley from Chicago: Take Interstate 94 north to Wisconsin Highway 20 near Racine, Wis. Go west on Highway 20. Then go west again on Highway D. Alpine Valley is the second entrance on left-hand side.