Stunning nature? Amazing food? Interesting culture? You name it, Northern Wisconsin’s got it. Here are my picks for some of the top destinations north of Highway 29 for fun and relaxation:
- For the free-spirited family: Marinette County
If your family lives for fun and loves to head off the beaten path, I suggest beautiful Marinette County. Proclaimed “The Real North!,” Marinette County boasts plenty for the family to see and do. After all, it is the “Waterfall Capital of Wisconsin” and the county provides maps for self-guided tours. Stay with the water theme and head to the Peshtigo River for one of the longest continuous stretches of whitewater rapids in the region. Slow things down a little with 623 miles of trout streams at Governor Thompson State Park or one of eleven other county parks.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Island Resort (Pembine), Popps Resort (Crivitz), Best Western Riverfront Inn(Marinette)
- For the foodie: Ashland County
Do you have an appreciation for a quality fish fry, fresh produce, amazing steaks and a slice of heavenly pie? Then I have the place for you – Ashland County. Stop by the Sixth Street Market, where you’ll uncover a huge variety of local flavors, such as 32 - count ‘em - 32 different kinds of brats! My next stop is Glidden, home of The Green Lantern Restaurant. A hidden gem in every sense of the term, this former speakeasy embraces eclectic décor, a folksy vibe and of course, terrific food (Psst…try the sweet potato fries!). Next, head up Highway 13 and hop on the ferry for an island getaway at Madeline Island where you’ll find miles of sandy beaches, crystal clear water and of course, fine dining. I love the Pub Restaurant & Wine Bar’s food. For cocktails, you’ll definitely want to experience Tom’s Burned Down Cafe. I think it’s safe to say that Tom’s is truly one-of-a-kind.
Where to stay: Hotel Chequamegon (Ashland), The Inn on Madeline Island (Madeline Island)
- For the explorer: Vilas County
Home to the world's largest chain of freshwater lakes, Vilas County is like a giant playground for outdoor enthusiasts. From crappie to muskies, it’s an angler’s dream in what many consider to be the heart of Northwood’s fishing. Not a water lover? Bring your bike and head out on miles of trails from off-road to paved – connecting virtually every community in the county. Set up camp along Plum Lake in Sayner-Star Lake, witness a stunning sunset at Chanticleer Inn in Eagle River or head to the 55th Annual Colorama Craft Fair in St. Germain (September 20).
Where to stay: Hintz’s North Star Lodge (Star Lake), Whitetail Lodge (St. Germain), Wild Eagle Lodge (Eagle River)
- For the culturalist: Marathon County
Wausau’s Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum boasts “ever-changing exhibitions and always-free admission.” The museum is best known for its internationally-acclaimed Birds in Art exhibit each fall. There are also a plethora of unique events hosted in Marathon County throughout the year such as the Badger State Winter Games, Wisconsin Valley Fair, Big Bull Falls Blues Festival and various antique and home shows.
Where to stay: Grand Lodge Waterpark Resort (Wausau), Rosenberry Inn (Wausau), Stoney Creek Hotel (Rothschild)
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Chad Diedrick is the managing producer for the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. In his 13+ years of discovering Wisconsin, Chad has seen virtually every corner of the state. Between filming breaks, you’re likely to catch Chad trying his hand at a round of disc golf at a local course. (His goal is to hit every disc golf course in Wisconsin!)