From sunken ships to natural tree canopies, the highlight of any vacation is the chance to explore something new (no matter how long the trip). Here are three Wisconsin adventures fit for the weekend wanderer.
On any given weekend, it's a coin toss as to whether you'll find more people from Minnesota, Illinois or Wisconsin in Bayfield. The jumping-off point to explore the Apostle Islands is a major checkpoint for travel adventures.
By kayak or tour boat, get out on Lake Superior to explore the 22 islands and sea caves. Thousands of years of a temperamental Lake Superior have carved a stunning series of arches, chambers and passages. Guides and rentals are plentiful and — for a true Wisconsin bucket list moment — consider scuba diving lessons to explore shipwrecks along the shoreline.
The Birkebeiner, one of the world's most famous cross-country ski races, isn't just for winter anymore. The Birkie Trail Run and Trek in Cable this fall will encompass eight of the local trails and have races ranging from a one kilometer run to an Ultra 100-kilometer. If you prefer trailblazing on two wheels instead of two feet, Birkie trails also are open to mountain bikers.
Devil's Lake and Parfrey's Glen — Baraboo
About an hour northwest of Madison is Baraboo, the land of cliffs and rocky outcrops and a town square straight out of Thornton Wilder's imagination. The surrounding Baraboo Hills are actually made out of quartzite, a rock so hard it stopped the glaciers that flattened the rest of the state.
Hikers, head to Devil's Lake State Park, just outside Baraboo, and seek out Parfrey's Glen State Natural Area. It's a beautiful gorge dating back to when Wisconsin was covered by a shallow inland sea.
The trail loop is less than two miles between canyon walls more than a hundred feet high, and the natural tree canopy keeps the temperatures cool. Don't go too far off the trail because you could damage delicate plants.
Bring a spare pair of socks because you're likely to get your feet wet if you go all the way to the waterfall at the end. Soggy socks are worth it as one local naturalist said because you may find yourself standing in a stream and all you hear is water running over the rocks.
Fishing charters — Lake Michigan shoreline
For anglers, the beauty of having Lake Michigan along your eastern border is that there isn't just one fishing hole, but one almost anywhere you stop.
You'll find fishing charters from Kenosha to Racine and Milwaukee to Port Washington, and even more from Green Bay into Door County. Coho salmon are considered better tasting but smaller. at 2-4 pounds. Chinook salmon can run up to 15 pounds if they're mature. Trout also are popular.
Shop around for the right price. Sometimes evening fishing is cheaper than daytime. We priced half-day charters from $375-$500, depending on the number of people fishing. A full day can be around $800.
That's living large in Wisconsin. A comfy and high-tech fishing adventure on Lake Michigan that's only going to be eclipsed by the size of the fish you bring home.
What's your favorite Wisconsin weekend adventure? Share it with us in a comment below!