Vacation to 1,000 Lakes: Paddle, Swim and Fish in Washburn County

Ready to enjoy the best of summer in the Northwoods? A gem of northern Wisconsin and home to nearly 1,000 freshwater lakes, Washburn County has drawn generations of families to fish the state bluegill and walleye capitals, canoe the pristine Namekagon River and create those special memories that keep them coming back year after year.

Bring the family to Washburn County for a summer vacation made of moments they won’t forget.

Go Fishing in Washburn County

Father and Daughter Fishing at Memorial Park on Shell Lake in Washburn County

Whether you’re looking to reel in the big one or show your little ones the ropes, the fishing in Washburn County can’t be beat. 

If you’re casting for walleye, head to Long Lake – known as the Walleye Capital of Wisconsin. This lake is favored by visitors for its wild, partially undeveloped shoreline, easy access to boat rentals and, of course, spectacular fishing. Make a day of it by renting a pontoon, swimming and fishing on the water, and stopping to dock and dine at The Pioneer on Long Lake, one of the Long Lake’s waterfront restaurants.

The Birchwood area, with the Birch Lake Chain, offers unmatched bluegill fishing and the peace and quiet of true Northwoods seclusion. Quality time comes easy when it’s just you, the calm of the water and the company of those who matter most, and this quaint village is the ideal place to disconnect from the daily grind and soak up that natural serenity. Spot the 14-foot roadside bluegill and know you’ve come to the right place (be sure to stop for a photo op!)

Paddle, Tube and Camp Along the Namekagon River 

Brother and Sister splashing each other with water using their kayak paddles

If you dream of fresh air, flowing water and phone-free family time, you’ve come to the right place. The Namekagon River, known as Wisconsin’s “Moving National Park,” is part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. It’s designated a Wild and Scenic River, meaning no matter where you wander, natural beauty abounds with plenty of chances to see wildlife like turtles, blue herons and eagles. Some of the most dynamic ways to experience the Namekagon are by canoeing, kayaking and tubing. Plus, the variety of put-ins and rental options along the waterway allow for a fully customizable trip. 

For help planning your paddle, the Namekagon District Visitor Center, located in Trego, offers guides, maps and friendly staff to get you out on the water in no time. Enjoy a tubing trip with shuttle service, a quiet afternoon paddle spotting local wildlife or a multi-day kayak adventure complete with waterside camping. 

Wet weather keeping you off the water? No problem – check out the Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner for an in-depth exploration of canoeing in North America and exhibits featuring full-size boats.

Head to the Beach 

When the temperatures top out and the waves sparkle just right, it’s hard to resist jumping in for a dip...and you don’t have to! Washburn County’s family-friendly beaches are perfect for a day of swimming and sun. 

For beach fun just steps from your door, book a stay at the Heartwood Resort. Heartwood’s cozy lodges encircle Hoinville Lake, where you’ll find a sandy swimming area, private dock and paddling launch sites. Heartwood also provides free canoe, kayak and rowboat rentals for guests looking to get out on the water just pop on a swimsuit and you’re ready to go!

Shell Lake Beach is a family favorite. Spread out on the sand, let your youngest swimmers flip their fins under the watch of a lifeguard and end the day with live music at the pavilion. Add a scoop of Blue Moon from Matt’s Ice Cream Stand, and you’ve got summer at its sweetest.

So, what are you waiting for? There’s memories to be made in Washburn County – and no time like summer to make them. Plan your trip to Washburn County:

This article was written in partnership with Washburn County.

This entry was posted in Water Activities