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The city of Portage marks an ancient overland portage that was a strategic link between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. In 1828, Fort Winnebago was built to protect the site. Thirty years later, a two mile canal was hand dug joining the two rivers. Today, visitors can tour a restored section of the canal. Tours of the Surgeon’s Quarters and the Indian Agency House, all that’s left of old Fort Winnebago, is also offered. The local museum honors the city’s most famous daughter, Pulitzer prize-winning author Zona Gale.
Explore your adventurous side
Portage offers wonderful opportunities for the silent sport seekers. Bring your canoe and spend the afternoon gently drifting along the Fox River while basking in nature’s quiet elegance. Or get your hiking shoes and walk the natural terrain of the National Ice Age Trail, a path with a history of 10,000 years. For a quick jaunt, head to the Wisconsin River Levee, a smooth, elevated 2.5-mile paved path overlooking the famous Wisconsin River. When the seasons change, Cascade Mountain is the place for excellent skiing or snowboarding.
Top photo opportunity is...
Stand at the top of the Levee along the Wisconsin River and capture a breathtaking sunset. Unwind as you sip a cool refreshing drink under a "sunbrella" on the deck overlooking picturesque Swan Lake at the Portage Country Club.
You'll know you're here when...
You arrive at the stout red granite marker denoting the spot where famous explorers Marquette and Joliet entered the Wisconsin River after portaging from the Fox River. The marker sits at the corner of Wisconsin Street and Wauona Trail, the actual route of the famous portage. Retrace the explorer’s steps by walking along Wauona Trail, now a quiet residential street.
Only have one day to play here?
Head to the Fort Winnebago Surgeons Quarters or the Historic Indian Agency House for guided hour-long tours of both living museums. Make your way downtown and have lunch at one of our cafes, then tour another of our museums. End your day peaking at a local artist’s display at the Drury Arts Gallery inside Portage Center for the Arts.
Don't leave without tasting...
Grab a cold draft beer on the deck of Corner Pocket in the heart of downtown or order the ‘The Dumby’ specialty gourmet sandwich at Murph's Chop Shop. Try a plate of mouthwatering Prime Rib at the B & B Hitching Post or a juicy homemade burger at the Tamarack. Of course, it wouldn’t be Wisconsin without a brandy old fashioned and a Friday night fish fry at Suzy's Steak and Seafood House.
Dining: Near Portage