By Lauren Strait
When you’re planning your vacation, are you more of a “luxurious-spa” type or “get-outdoors-and-rough-it-out” type? While both options are great, getting outdoors offers unique benefits for you and your entire family! Here are some unique outdoor activities to unplug and create memories in Wisconsin.
The Northwoods of Wisconsin is one of the Midwest’s premier fishing destinations. You’ll find thousands of lakes and dozens of rivers, providing visitors with endless fishing and boating opportunities. Did you know that Boulder Junction, Wisconsin, is the musky capital of the world? You can also try your luck at catching pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye and panfish, which are also common throughout the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
Tip: If you plan to fish during your vacation, I recommend contacting a local fishing guide and book your fishing charter in advance. Guides are very knowledgeable about the waters and banks in the many lakes of the Northwoods. My local guide told me that he often gets frantic calls in the middle of the week because vacationers have had no luck at fishing. Most guides are booked toward the end of the week, so he recommends you book early and early in the week for a good chance at hooking your favorite fish.
Farm visits uncover a child’s unintentional ignorance about where their food comes from. After all, cranberries don’t magically juice themselves jump into plastic bottles. What better place to learn about cranberry farming than visiting the largest distributor of cranberries in the world? Wisconsin begins harvesting cranberries in the fall, where you can witness firsthand how cranberry beds are flooded, loosened from the vine and float to the top of the water to then be sucked up and into the cranberry truck. Vilas Co. Cranberry Farm in Manitowish Waters began in 1946 and has been carried on from generation to generation. One of the neatest things I learned is that they keep the vines growing year round. So the cranberries we consume in our Ocean Spray cranberry juice are growing from a vine that is more than 70 years old.
Tip: Be sure you call and schedule a tour. Tours are offered from July through September. It’s so worth the time to meet the farmers who own the bogs and learn the history and the process involved in cranberry farming. While I was there, I happened to purchase the cranberry and jalapeño jelly and the Three Lakes cranberry rhubarb wine, which were both divine! And yes, my experience WAS just like the Ocean Spray commercial!
Soaring over the autumn treetops of Wisconsin’s Northwoods is a sight that will literally take your breath away. There is nothing quite like gliding through a canopy of distinctly decorated leaves in shades of gold, copper and crimson. The Northwoods Zip Line Canopy Tour is out of this world. It is the biggest and best tour in all of Wisconsin. It’s so much more than just one line through the trees. We actually hiked up a series of trails and wove our way through multiple zip lines, in between tree lines and over creeks, and finished with the grand finale where the line took us over right over a beautiful lake.
Tip: I highly recommend you wear comfortable yet sturdy pants for zip lining. The harnesses are very tight, and it’s important to have a tough barrier. If you have a Go Pro or camera you can wear on your helmet or chest, the photos and videos you take will blow your mind! If you don’t have one, get one!
You don’t have to cook your food on the campfire just because you planned an outdoor vacation. Between the fish, the famous Wisconsin cheese curds and all the locally brewed beer, you really can’t go wrong anywhere you dine.
Tip: My favorite restaurants included the Blue Bayou Inn where I enjoyed the steak dianne, Clearwater Superclub who made the best poutine (French Fries with cheese curds and brown gravy), The Little Bohemia where the Dillinger Gang hung out and enjoyed the famous duck, and the Boat House where you can find the best homemade soup and ice cream.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding.
If you love wildlife, a fun way to explore is to do it in a kayak or on a paddleboard. Rohr’s Wilderness Tours, which run south from the Lac Vieux Desert approximately 40 miles to connect with the Eagle River Chain of Lakes. Cruise the river with a naturalist on the winding waters that flow through a scenic forest for a stunning view. Keep an eye out for beavers, hawks, eagles, ducks, deer and otters.
Tip: Just remember when you have the kids with you, start small. Find a small creek with low currents to practice on. This will keep stress levels down and rule out surprises. Rohr’s Wilderness Tours are great with kids and do a wonderful job of explaining the safety measures before you head out on the water.
Disconnecting can be challenging for most of us these days. However, you don’t want to squander life’s most precious moments because you just couldn’t let go and unplug for a while. You’ll never regret taking the time to be fully present with your family and allowing your body and your mind to disconnect from time to time. You’ll return refreshed and inspired in ways you perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise been.
For more information of to help plan your trip to Wisconsin, visit www.travelwisconsin.com.