By Mel Grau
Nothing paints Wisconsin’s towns red like the millions of cranberries harvested each September and October. As the world’s largest producer of cranberries, Wisconsin celebrates its state fruit with grand fall festivals, bog tours and seasonal fare. Where should you stay to get the most out of Wisconsin’s cranberry season?
Stay local in one of the many area cabins. No matter what kind of traveler you are—from adventurous to luxurious, from simple to family-friendly—there’s a cabin waiting for you to enjoy in Cranberry Country.
For the hands-on learner
You can’t get closer to harvest action than a cranberry marsh, so why not sleep where the berries sleep? The Stone Cottage at Glacial Lake Cranberries in Wisconsin Rapids overlooks the western grounds of Glacial Lake’s 140-year-old cranberry bog. Quaint and snug, the cottage evokes the charm of the English countryside—but the allure is purely Wisconsin.
For the lavish wine aficionado
Though most cranberry wetlands are in central Wisconsin around Tomah, Black River Falls and Wisconsin Rapids, there’s a pocket of production up north. Perfect for large gatherings looking to relax, the Cranberry Castle in Eagle River offers lake access, luxurious amenities and a theater room. To experience the Northwoods’ cranberry culture, take your group to the nearby Three Lakes Winery. The original cranberry winery boasts free tastings of cranberry wine varietals, as well as free winery tours.
Tip: Time your getaway with the Cranberry Fest Eagle River—the fest provides shuttles to the winery, plus marsh tours and a cranberry fitness weekend.
For the family-fun coordinator
For the family, there’s no better cranberry event than the Warrens Cranberry Festival. It’s the largest and oldest cranberry festival in the world, attracting more than 120,000 attendees each year with marsh tours, contests, markets and of course, endless cranberry-themed food. The pancake breakfast with cranberry syrup is legendary! To partake in the festival merriment—but retreat at the end of the day—stay at cabins along Petenwell Lake.
The Cottage Keepers have three great options: Sunrise Cove, Shoreline Timbers and Camera de Vista. All three will house large families in comfort and style.
For the nature lover
Staying in Warrens, the Cranberry Capital of Wisconsin, gives you easy access to almost all Wisconsin cranberry festivals and marshes. A great option is the Arpin Cranberry Cabin. Though less extravagant than the Petenwell cabins, it mimics the beautiful simplicity of the surrounding forest. An ideal time to stay at Arpin is during the Wetherby Harvest Day in Warrens. Don some waders and dip into the Wetherby Cranberry Company’s bog for a marsh tour unlike any other. Another worthy stop near the cabin is the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center.
For the no-frills family
Want to explore Cranberry Country with an old-fashioned road trip? The Cranberry Highway is a perfect activity for your small group. A 50-mile loop between Wisconsin Rapids and Warrens, the Cranberry Highway offers some of the most breathtaking views of Wisconsin’s autumnal harvest. Make leisurely stops along the way and retire in Nekoosa at the Deer Trail Park Campground in one of their rental cabins. Small and assuredly simple, these cabins will gratify without breaking the bank.