Destination: Marinette County

By Mary Bergin

Only a slim body of water – Green Bay – separates Door and Marinette counties, but in some ways these sisters are worlds apart.

Door County, our “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” is one of Wisconsin’s strongest tourist magnets. Within the 75-mile-long peninsula is an abundance of boutiques, gourmet dining and stylish lodging. Across the bay lies its untamed and earthy relative. Marinette County’s beauty is more rugged than manicured, and this is the foundation for pleasant surprises.

More trout streams than hiking trails (but at least 600 miles of each) weave through the county. These are routes less traveled, more serene, and as charming as those in Wisconsin’s most-frequented parks.

The county contains a dozen, plus Pier’s Gorge and Carney Rapids, all marked by blue roadside signs. It’s too much to do in one day, especially when hiking adjacent trails.

So make this trek a leisurely exploration that also encompasses Governor Thompson State Park (great for trout fishing) and Peshtigo River State Forest (Wisconsin’s newest designated forest).

No other Wisconsin river, based on length, has more or bigger rapids than the Peshtigo. Visit in early spring for a Class IV rafting challenge. It’s a milder ride in summer.

Lunch won’t break the budget at Mickey-Lu’s Bar-B-Q, where the countertop jukeboxes play three songs for a quarter and burgers have been flipped since 1942. The tiny sandwich joint turns into a swirl of neon at night, and a flame-kissed burger costs a whopping $1.70.

For multiple courses, head to another U.S. 41 business, Rail House Restaurant & Brewpub, which produces 11 microbrews. The top seller is Silver Cream, a light/crisp beer with slight sweetness. On the menu are pizzas, pastas and panini.

Campgrounds and woodsy cabins are plentiful, but lodging need not be rustic. Four Seasons Island Resort – amid patches of pine trees, cedar swampland and twists of the Miscauno Creek – is an exercise in remote elegance.

At the all-suite hotel on 100-acre Miscauno Island has a nine-hole golf course that butts up to the Menominee River; an indoor pool; spa services; tennis courts; and nearby whitewater rafting. Snack at the old-fashioned soda fountain and dine on Italian fare at the bistro.

How to feel like you’re a local
Learn about the 1871 Great Peshtigo Fire, when up to 2,400 perished. The event got little publicity compared to the Great Chicago Fire, which killed 250 on the same day. You can learn more at the Peshtigo Fire Museum, Peshtigo.


Mickey-Lu’s Bar-B-Q:Marinette.

Rail House Restaurant & Brewpub, Marinette.

Simply Charming, Marinette. (715) 732-9300.

Seguin’s House of Cheese, Marinette.

Woodsong Gallery, Pembine. (715) 324-6482.

Four Seasons Island Resort, Pembine

Lauerman House Inn, Marinette.

Shaffer Park Resort, Crivitz.

Marinette County Historical Society Logging Museum, Stephenson Island.

Peshtigo Harbor Wildlife Area,

Theatre on the Bay, University of Wisconsin-Marinette campus.

More Info:

Marinette Menominee Area Chamber of Commerce.

Marinette County Tourism Department,

Peshtigo River State Forest and Governor Thompson State Park, Crivitz.

Mary Bergin is a freelance writer based in Madison. Content produced in cooperation with Wisconsin Trails,  For a complimentary copy of Wisconsin Trails magazine, please e-mail

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