Growing up in Wisconsin, we often hear people say they’re going “Up North” for the weekend. Some have a cabin in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, some visit others’ cabins, and some are even lucky enough to live permanently in a few of Wisconsin’s most quaint and peaceful towns.
With wooded areas for camping, crystal-clear lakes for boating and fishing, shops and restaurants for discovering, these are just some of the uncharted towns in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
Self-proclaimed to be one of the best-kept secrets around, Phelps provides a restful and relaxing getaway or an active and adventurous trip for its guests. Its picturesque location in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest allows visitors vast opportunities for camping and hiking, while the abundance of lakes are perfect for boating, fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
Head into town for the Phelps 4th of July celebration – the best small-town Independence Day celebration in the Northwoods! Catch the parade downtown on the shore of North Twin Lake, followed by live music, kids activities, refreshments and fireworks.
2. Park Falls
Park Falls is known for bridging nature with industry, satisfying outdoor enthusiasts and shoppers alike. Its abundance of public forests and lakes, as well as the North Fork of the Flambeau River dividing the city, make Park Falls the perfect destination for hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, canoeing and whitewater rafting.
Make your way downtown for a little shopping, and fuel up at the end of the day at the historic Moose Jaw Resort, known for its great deals on nightly dinner specials.
Marinette, the Waterfall Capital of Wisconsin, is nestled on the south bank of the Menominee River and on Green Bay’s shoreline. With Stephenson Island just to the north, thousands of acres of forests and lakes, hundreds of miles of trout streams and world-famous waterfalls, Marinette recognizes itself as "Nature’s Waterpark."
Check out the waterfalls tour through the Marinette County Parks system or try whitewater rafting, jet skiing and water skiing on the Peshtigo River. Visit Marinette in July for its annual Logging and Heritage Festival, which features local and regional crafters and vendors, children’s activities, a family movie on the island, live music, a parade, a car and bike show, fireworks and much more. Be amazed by “Your City on the Bay!”
Merrill, known as the “City of Parks,” is a friendly community situated on the Wisconsin and Prairie rivers. With dozens of local parks, including Council Grounds State Park, there’s no question where Merrill gets its nickname. Council Grounds, a 508-acre park near the site of Native American encampments, is a popular destination for water enthusiasts and offers 55 campsites, swimming, boating, hiking, fishing and biking.
Tomahawk sits at an elbow of the Wisconsin River and in a region that is home to more than 15 lakes and flowages, offering residents and visitors great opportunities for fishing, swimming and boating.
Timm’s Hill, just 24 miles west of Tomahawk, is the highest point in Wisconsin and offers hiking trails and a picnic area, while Hiawatha State Trail follows the abandoned Milwaukee Road railroad bed and provides a great path for bikers. Stop in mid-biking or boating trip to The Windmill Ice Cream Shoppe, a beloved lakeside stand selling Wisconsin-made ice cream.
Two peaceful communities located in the town of Plum Lake, Sayner and Star Lake offer everything from an artsy and eclectic shopping experience in the downtown area to an abundance of outdoor activities on the many local trails. Razorback Ridges is a favorite trail system among mountain bikers and cross-country skiers, while Trampers Trails are perfect for bird watchers and hikers. Check out Plum Lake Bike Trail, part of the 27-mile Heart of Vilas County Hike and Bike Trail.
Finish your day dining with one of the most beautiful views in Wisconsin’s Northwoods at Hintz’s North Star Lodge, a historic restaurant overlooking Star Lake.
Share your favorite uncharted Wisconsin towns on social media using the #discoverwisconsin hashtag!
Kristen Finstad is a member of the Discover Wisconsin crew. Growing up in River Falls, attending UW-Stevens Point and now living in Madison, she’s a Wisconsin girl through and through. She enjoys nothing more than catching a Packers, Brewers or Badgers game, indulging in a cheese curd or 12, and traveling from corner to corner of this great state. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)