3 Days in Oconto County’s Winter Northwoods
Stretching from the Bay of Green Bay up to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin’s Oconto County has a lot to offer. And every winter, Northern Oconto County transforms into a winter wonderland. Use this 3-day itinerary to help plan your own adventures in the Northwoods of Oconto County this winter.
The drive into Northern Oconto County is like arriving in Narnia. You’ll cross into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest — tall pines line the road and sparkling snow covers the ground. Whether you’re coming with your family or your close friends, the drive will get your crew excited for winter adventures and hot cocoa moments!
Day 1 — Winter Thrills
The best way to start off some Northwoods adventure is with a little adrenaline. That’s what Day 1 is all about, and all skill levels are welcome!
First up, we’re spending the morning at Paul Bunyon Ski Hill.
This small, budget-friendly ski hill is perfect for families. Parents can easily watch the kids from the clubhouse bar, and affordable lessons can help anyone find their snow legs in no time. Strap on some skis or a snowboard, or opt for a snow tube, and hit the slopes!
Have lunch at the ski hill (hot cocoa is a must) or at Mulligans Bar & Grill (they’ve got a famously delicious Bloody Mary) before our next stop: a guided half-day snowmobile tour with Northwoods Powersports Adventures.
Guided snowmobile tours are rare, making this experience extra special. And if you’re not a snowmobiler, this is the perfect opportunity to try. Your guide can cater to any skill and comfort level, and they’ll take you through miles of scenic forest. Watch for wildlife and enjoy the best of winter nature.
Note: Families can easily spend a full, fun day at Paul Bunyon Ski Hill, and Northwoods Powersports Adventures offers a full-day guided snowmobile tour as well. If one just isn’t your thing, spend the day doing the other!
Enjoy a meal from the restaurant at Waubee Lodge before ending your day. The lodge’s menu has a great variety, from upscale steak and seafood to delicious pizza. The soup and salad bar is on point, too!
Day 2 — Small Town Shopping & Exploring
After yesterday’s slopes and snowmobiling, we know you might be a bit sore. Relax — today is all about some laidback exploring through charming, small-town treasures in Lakewood. We’ve got a nice list of stops here, but no need to feel like you have to hit them all!
The best way to start the day? Coffee. What’s even better? Coffee + gift shop. Savor a brew at Northern Perks Coffee Shop while you peruse their large selection of Northwoods-themed gifts, clothes and home decor. Here, you’ll easily check some souvenir gifts off your to-do list.
Next stop, Yvonne’s Classy Closet. Take your time inside this chic, local boutique. Yvonne gets to know her customers well, and she can easily help you find anything you might be looking for. You’ll love the atmosphere inside: reclaimed wood and lake life vibes.
Sweet Memories Candy Shoppe is a must-visit in Lakewood. Once a single store, the shop has grown into an entire complex of connected buildings, all filled with sweets that make us smile. And since winter is the off-season, you’ll be able to explore without any crowds.
Spend some time here — there’s a lot to discover. Choose from 50+ flavors of jelly beans, 60+ flavors of salt water taffy, 35+ flavors of homemade fudge and many nostalgic sweets you can't find anywhere else. With the bright colors and candy-themed songs playing over the speakers, it’s almost like walking through Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Just up the road, you’ll see a country church that’s been refurbished as Joan White’s Nicolet Art Studio and Gallery. Inside, you’ll be amazed.
Joan’s specialty is painting beautiful nature scenes of the Northwoods onto cured crosscuts of discarded wood logs. She first sees hidden images in the wood’s natural grain, and then she brings them to life with her brushes and imagination. During your visit, take in the paintings lining the gallery walls, watch Joan work on her current painting project and purchase a print to take home. She sells Wisconsin-made jigsaw puzzles of her paintings, too!
Note: Be sure to call ahead and let Joan know you’re planning to visit, as her studio hours may vary during the winter off season.
Last stop before dinner, Woodland Trail Winery. Why quickly pick up a bottle when you and your friends can (1) stop into a local winery, (2) sip your way through a guided tasting and (3) leave with a new favorite wine?
Woodland Trail has over 50 kinds of wine on the shelf to choose from, rotating through 90+ unique recipes. Ranging from their super sweet Blue Ice to their dry, oak-aged American Syrah — there’s always wine for anyone’s tastes.
For dinner, enjoy the 100% Wisconsin experience at a local supper club, Weatherwood Supper Club in Mountain. The ribs with cheesy hashbrowns and the chicken cordon bleu are both local favorites.
Day 3 – Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing
For Day 3, we’re back outside, this time with snowshoes and cross-country skis. It’s our last day in the Northwoods, so we’re soaking up every last bit of winter wonderland.
Start off with picking up snowshoe and/or ski rentals from Lakewood Ski & Sport. The staff are super friendly, and they can help you get the perfect sizes and make sure you’re comfortable getting the gear off and on. Ask them about local trail conditions that day — they’re sure to have some insider knowledge on what to expect. The Wisconsin Snow Report is another great resource!
Gear, check. Spirit of adventure, check. Trail condition info, check. You’re all set to explore. Here are a couple of spots worth checking out on your last day in Oconto County.
The Lakewood Cross-Country Ski Trails are top-tier quality. The 25+ kilometers of trails are frequently groomed, and they’re clearly marked, ranging from beginner to expert. There are routes for both classic- and skate-style skiing, and skiers even use these trails to train for the Birkie in Hayward!
Cathedral Pines is a favorite place to explore, especially with snowshoes in the winter. It’s one of few remaining old-growth forests in Wisconsin, and the 100-foot-tall pine trees make for some breathtaking scenery.
For a well-deserved burger and beer rounding off your winter adventures in the Northwoods, head to the Little Tipsy Bar & Grill in Townsend.
Where to Stay
Here are a couple ideas on where to set up home base during your 3-day trip in Northern Oconto County.
The Waubee Lodge has suite-style rooms and full cabins available for bookings. Depending on your group size, one of their cabins on frozen Waubee Lake might be perfect.
The log cabins at Spur of the Moment Ranch each have an indoor gas fireplace, perfect winding down each day. Picture enjoying that bottle of wine from Woodland Trail over card games by the fireplace — those are some peak winter memories in the making.
We wouldn’t blame you for staying an extra day or two. After all, we packed a lot in, and there’s more to explore. For more inspiration, check out these 5 outdoor winter adventures in the Lakewood area of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, or explore other winter activities in Wisconsin.