From a thrilling ride on your mountain bike to cruising the lake after a delicious cajun meal, Wisconsin's Northwoods has something for everyone. Use the Northerly Collective Adventure Guide to create a new "up north" experience in northern Wisconsin. Just as the seasons change, our Adventure Guide also frequently changes. Check back often for new adventures and local favorites.
Adventure By Water:
With over 1,300 lakes + rivers to explore, when the land ends fun is just beginning.
Swim in every lake on the Manitowish Chain of 10 Lakes to complete The Manitowish Waters Challenge, an annual celebration of summer in northern Wisconsin. Go at your own speed and on your own time just be sure to complete this bucket list item in ONE day.
Surf’s up in the Northwoods! Learn to hang ten in the wake of a ski boat with Surf Sconsin, a Minocqua based wakesurfing company.
Join a boat party on Little Star Lake at Little Star Beach. Bring a beverage of choice (no glass please!), snacks, and a drinking game that can be played in the shallow water. This is the most fun in the sun you’ve had up north.
Slow cruise the Manitowish Chain to appreciate the variety of iconic cabins + boathouses on the chain; some are long-standing family summer traditions, while others give a glimpse into the original settlers of the area.
Rent a ski boat from Greer's Pier Marina and go for a slalom run!
Explore the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest by way of water. Paddle a portion of the Manitowish River, winding through Boulder Junction + Manitowish Waters. Kayak rentals available with Coontail; canoe rental + transportation available through Hawk’s Nest Canoe Outfitters; or plan your own adventure using these paddling routes.
Visit the famous floating boatique on the Manitowish Waters Chain of Lakes - Dock ‘N Shop. Captained by two adorable twins, find on-trend resort wear + island-inspired accessories. Follow them on social media to find out where they're anchoring next.
Enjoy a day to yourself by paddling a quiet lake in the Northwoods - try Crab Lake, Papoose Lake, Jag Lake, or Star Lake.
Adventure by LAND
Hit the trail and discover the woodsman (or woman) in all of us.
Make sunset an adventure. Hike to the top of Wolf Mountain, located near Marenisco, Michigan. After climbing a short + steep, rustic trail to the top of a rock outcropping, enjoy a panoramic westward view of the forest canopy and Lake Superior.
Take in the rolling hills of the Anvil Lake Trail system, just east of Eagle River. Bring birdseed to stop + feed the chickadees by their small shelter - they eat right from your hand!
Soak up the rainbows of changing foliage across the Northwoods during the fall. Use our guide, the Northern Wisconsin Fall Color Trail to discover a new overlook in the Northwoods.
Take a leisurely morning stroll in nature, we suggest the North Trout Nature Trail, Star Lake Nature Trail, Powell Marsh Trail, or Big River Trail at the North Lakeland Discovery Center. Download the Vilas County Trails App to plan your next adventure on the trails.
Pack a picnic dinner and drive to Sandy Beach Lake Campground to savor the company of family + friends as the sun sinks across the quiet, calm water. Follow the signs for “day use” for the best sunset spot, friendly dogs are welcome.
Join the world’s largest treasure hunt and discover geocaches hidden around Manitowish Waters + the greater Northwoods area.
Gather around a campfire at Cathedral Point with 120 feet white pines towering above. Located at the narrows where the north + south portions of Trout Lake join together. Note: the parking area is a short walk + a few stairs from the campfire.
Lace up your shoes to explore the mixed coniferous + deciduous forest surrounding 50-acre Fallison Lake. The 2.5-mile trail loops through a hemlock glade with views of the calm water. A perfect hike for the fall, first snow, or any crisp morning.
Wander the expansive Powell Marsh Wildlife Area with binoculars in hand. In the summer months, stop to pick wildflowers and eat a few ripe berries. At night, forgo a headlamp and explore by the full moon.
Hit the links of Plum Lake Golf Club, a 9-hole course, with views of nearby Plum Lake. After enjoy lunch + a cocktail on the wrap around porch. Looking for an 18-hole game? Trout Lake Golf Course is the oldest course in the Northwoods.
Watch the magical colors of the northern lights dance across the sky from the middle of the lake. Large open spaces + minimal light pollution make the Northwoods a perfect place to witness this incredible phenomenon, find the forecast here.
Spend an evening on the eastern shoreline of South Trout Lake, a sunset spot hidden in plain sight. Bring a blanket + a bottle of wine, put your toes in the sand, and watch the sun slip beneath the horizon. Parking area is located midway on Lake Shore Drive.
Walk among giants of the old growth hemlock-hardwood forest at Van Vliet Hemlocks State Natural Area. Open + beautiful in all seasons.
Take a walk in the woods and play a game of golf at the same time at Sandy Point Disc Golf. Course is suited for all skill levels with an affordable green fee ($5!).
Explore the 36,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline in the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area. Plan your trip ahead of time, a variety of activities are allowed in the preserve.
Take a day trip to the north to explore the waterfalls of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Afterward, search for agates + on a summer day, take a dip in Lake Superior.
- Nestled on the south shore of Lake Superior, the Porcupine Mountains are waiting for your next adventure. Soak up the view from the handicap accessible overlook at Lake of the Clouds or plan a daylong hike through the wilderness.
Adventure by The CYCLE
Sun on your face and wind in your hair; enjoy the freedom of
where a bicycle can take you in the Northwoods.
Keep your blood flowing + meet a few new folks during spinning + yoga classes at Studio 715 in Minocqua.
Bike the belle! Bike on Michigan’s paved Iron Belle Trail, beginning on the border between Wisconsin + Michigan. Convenient parking is available near Ironwood’s Depot.
Let On the Go North take your Northwoods bike experience to the next level with their shuttle service + trip planning. Plan a one-way bike trip or check out one of their guided day trips to see the North by bike in a whole new way!
Explore the single track flow trails on your mountain bike at WinMan Trails.
Take a family-friendly cycle on the paved bike trails to Serbin Park, located on Rest Lake. Pack a picnic, bring the swimsuits, and make a day of it!
Bike through the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest to Boulder Junction for lunch on the Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail. Round trip is 32 miles, parking lots are located along the route to shorten the trip.
Load up your bike rack and pack a lunch for a day trip to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the CAMBA trail system. With seven different trail clusters in a 30-mile radius, you can ride through the tall pines all day and never hit the same trail twice.
Adventure by THE FORK
For the modern foodie, the kids menu palate, and the discerning eater.
Bring your taste buds and a seriously forgiving waistband.
Participate in a long standing Wisconsin tradition, gather your friends + family for Friday night fish fry. Use our journal post - Wisconsin’s Friday Night Fish Fry - to discover a new favorite.
Take a step back in time to satisfy your palate at Voss’s Birchwood Lodge. Begin with an old fashioned from the bar as you glance through pictures from the area’s early days as a logging mecca.
Celebrate the important milestones in your life with the warm ambiance of Blue Bayou Inn. Save room for banana foster, prepared tableside by chef Matt.
Watch the sunset over an appetizer of gator bites on Blue Bayou Inn’s patio on Manitowish Lake, part of the Manitowish Chain of 10 Lakes. Sip on one of Rita’s signature cocktails, like a Hurricane or Sazerac.
We all scream for ice scream! Enjoy Wisconsin-made, Chocolate Shoppe ice cream at What’s The Scoop Ice Cream Shoppe - our favorite flavor is This $&@! Just Got Serious. Try Wisconsin’s fruit (the cranberry) in ice cream form at Cranberry Square! Want to find more ice cream near you? Check out our journal post for the best Northwoods Ice Cream Spots.
Drive to the land of the loon and also, amazing German food - Mercer! The Pines Restaurant + Beer Garden offers live music every night all summer alongside their famous German recipes and ice cream from the counter.
Keep your dinner plans light with fresh fish tacos + a chilled glass of Rosé at Aurora Borealis Restaurant.
Adventure by THE SIP
Explore northern Wisconsin’s hops + vines path; not all
trails in the Northwoods require a backpack.
Try a new spin on a Wisconsin classic, old fashioned cocktail. Order a fireball old fashioned at Aurora Borealis Restaurant alongside a few of their delicious appetizers.
Celebrate Sunday at the Pea Patch Saloon with the largest Bloody Mary Bar in the area and in the summer months, a game of giant Jenga on their patio.
Boat to The Lower Unit Bar at Greer's Pier Marina for a summer cocktail. Stick with a signature classic - the Channel Runner and a game of hammerschlagen!
Enjoy a local brew on the deck of Minocqua Brewing Company. On Saturdays, work for your beverage of choice at Hoppy Hour Yoga, beginning at 9:30am.
With shelves filled with unique, high-end craft beers (+ gluten-free options, too!), Snow’s Family Market is a craft beer lover's' paradise.
Enjoy an old fashioned in an old fashioned tavern - visit Wittig’s Point Tavern, a 3rd generation bar + resort located on Fishtrap Lake and the Manitowish River.
Take a Hops + Grains tour of the North! Start in Minocqua with Northern Waters Distillery + Minocqua Brewing Company, followed by Rocky Reef Brewing Co in Woodruff. Swing through Boulder Junction on your way home to try the Aqualand Ale House - the best craft beer selection in the Northwoods.
Pair your cocktail with bullet holes at the historic Little Bohemia Lodge, the site of the famous 1929 shootout between the infamous gangster, John Dillinger + the FBI, and later the setting for Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp + Christian Bale. Tours are available.
Drop into the Howling Dog for local flavor + late night snacks - get the pizza fries!
- Early morning adventures call for a strong cup of coffee. For coffee with a view visit Dixie’s Coffee House; for a cozy vibe and great quiche visit Great Northern Coffee Traders; for unique coffee drinks visit Little Creek Coffee Co.; and for lunch with a friend visit Signature JMK.
- Learn from the experts as you sip and sample at Forest Lake Country Store's wine + beer tastings, located in Land O’ Lakes. Northerly tip - sign up for their newsletter for insider events!
Adventure By A Slower PacE
Shake off the obligations and enjoy the
leisurely speed of the Northwoods.
Tap into your creative side at Earth Goods in Minocqua or LOLA Center for the Arts in Land O’ Lakes. At LOLA, learn to draw, paint, carve, or sculpt in one of their scheduled classes or try it all at one of their Arty Parties.
For a night of music under the stars, stop by Aqualand Ale House in Boulder Junction. Known for their impressive craft beer selection and music nights outside by the bonfire.
Try your hand at local cribbage night at the Manitowish Waters Community Center. Every Wednesday at 7:00pm.
Hear up-and-coming authors speak at any one of the Northwoods Book Festival events. Sponsored by local libraries, events are held throughout Vilas, Oneida, + Iron County during the summer months.
Take the day to pamper yourself at The Spa at Manitowish Waters with a massage or manicure + pedicure. The calming atmosphere and special care will leave you feeling blissfully relaxed.
End your weekend on a high note, literally. Enjoy Music in the Park, a free concert series happening every Sunday from May to September. Come by land or water to hear the tunes.
Pick up some fresh cut blooms to brighten your day from Village Market Floral. In the warmer months, add some color to your yard with annuals + perennials from Lil Bits Greenhouse or Winkler’s Northern Exposure Greenhouse.
Learn about Wisconsin’s state fruit, the cranberry, on public cranberry marsh tours. Contact the Manitowish Waters Chamber of Commerce for more information.
Gather a group of friends and family for an evening around the fire in the Rest Lake Pavilion. Bring blankets and the fixins’ for s’mores.
Keep your head toasty warm as you adventure out in the freezing temps. Invest in a Stormy Kromer cap, made locally in Ironwood, Michigan, from their factory store or a local retailer, like Ross Sportswear.
For an after dinner treat, visit the historic Little Bohemia Lodge for one of their famous hand stirred ice cream drinks and live acoustic music on Friday + Saturday nights. We suggest a Grasshopper or Pink Squirrel.
Spend the day wandering through the quaint shops in Downtown Minocqua. Make sure to stop into our favorites - coffee + gifts from Ann Marie’s, Salted Caramel Pretzel Popcorn from Minocqua Popcorn Company, a cozy sweatshirt from Glick’s, and salt water taffy from Dan’s Minocqua Fudge.
Meander down some of the prettiest backroads and byways in Vilas County on the Northwoods Art Tour. Enjoy the self-guided tour experience as you see why art is the right hand of nature.
Discover a unique item or gift that reflects the upscale Northwoods lifestyle by visiting Artists Palette, To The Nines, Village Market Floral, and The Wine + Beer Barn, all located in downtown Manitowish Waters.
Find a few new vintage + antique treasures on The Northwoods Antique Trail.
Adventure By The (Fishing) Hook:
Hook, line, and sinker - fishing fun
for anglers of all ages.
Pick out a new fishing rod at St. Croix Rods, handcrafted in nearby Park Falls. Take a factory tour to uncover why they’re considered the “Best Rods on Earth”.
Whether you’re fishing for dinner with the kids or hoping to hook a trophy lunker, find a local honey hole with a fishing guide for a day to remember.
Read the local fishing report or chat with a local at Townline Sports or Northern Highland Sport Shop.
Fish in a local tournament that benefits a local charity, we suggest the World Championship Musky Classic.
- Book a day with one of the pioneers of musky fly fishing. Bill Sherer of Northern Adventures Guide Service + We Tie It Fly Shop in Boulder Junction will show you the fly fishing hot spots in the region and how to land a trophy fish - no experience required!
Adventure By THE MinivaN
See magic in your children’s eyes as they spend
days and nights immersed in nature.
- Drop the kiddos off for the day at Camp Jorn YMCA Day Camp. They will have all of the fun experiences of overnight camp - swimming, crafts, horseback riding, games, and new friendships, and come home exhausted every night!
Elementary aged children can explore the ins and outs of Northwoods flora + fauna as an Eco-Discoverer or an Eco-Explorer at the North Lakeland Discovery Center.
Bike to Trig’s Village Market to get Wisconsin-made Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream. Bring your furry friend for a treat - use the walk up window outside + sit on the picnic tables!
Let the kiddos try something new this summer! Try out for an act in the Manitowish Waters Skiing Skeeters Ski Show at Rest Lake Park.
Get down with nature in the Nature Nook at the North Lakeland Discovery Center. We love watching the bats!
Test your luck at Lions Club Bingo on Monday nights! Get there early, seats fill fast. Grab popcorn and baked goods from the Lioness concession stand.
Play a pick up match of paddleball with friends and family on the courts at the Manitowish Waters Community Playground. Equipment is provided for free.
Let the little ones marvel at wild wonders at Wildwood Wildlife Park + Nature Center in Minocqua. From the tiniest of insects to the largest of mammals, Wildwood is an experience for the entire family.
Summer at the lake is not complete without experiencing a water ski show, here are a few shows happening across the area: Min-Aqua Bats, Plum Ski-ters, Chain Skimmers, Manitowish Waters Skiing Skeeters, Aqua Devils, + Kwahamot Waterski Club.
Spend the day at the Crystal Lake Campground Nature Center. From Memorial Day through Labor Day there are displays, activities, and interpretive trails to explore with the whole family.
Join the summer fun with the Boulder Junction Summer Recreation Program for kids ages 6-13. Activities range from art to mini golf to soccer, and they change each week.
Adventure by AIR
You haven’t seen the Northwoods until
you’ve seen them from 2,000 feet.
Cranberry marshes, gin-clear lakes, and endless pine trees are just the beginning of what you see when you take a flight with Lauer Aviation. Land or sea float plane rides available. Already a pilot? Log hours in a sea float plane.
Rise to the highest, unobstructed vista in the Midwest, Copper Peak Adventure Ride, used as a ski jump in years past. Take an 810’ chairlift ride before ascending an additional 18 stories via elevator to the main observation deck. From there overlook over 2,500 square miles, 3 states, the Apostle Islands, and even Canada on a clear day.
Experience the Northwoods from the tree tops at Northwoods Zip Line as you glide through the fresh air through the pine trees and across a wilderness lake.
Take to the sky in a 1929 open cockpit BiPlane to see the Manitowish Waters area from a new perspective. Based at the Manitowish Waters Airport in the summer, follow them on Facebook for updates on when you can fly!
Adventure by the Leash
The best things in life wag their tails, explore with your favorite four-legged friend.
In any season, explore WinMan Trails with your friendly pup! In the summer months, lace up your hiking shoes or mountain bike the single track trails. When the snow flies, let your pup tag along as you cross country ski, snowshoe, or fat tire bike.
Cool off on a hot summer day, go for a swim at Rest Lake Park with your four-legged friend.
Let your pup meet a few new friends at the Lakeland Area Dog Park in Minocqua - an off-leash, fenced-in community space.
Use Northerly Collective’s Dog Friendly Guide to the North for more puppy-approved activities.
Adventure By Snow Covered Pines
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
The waterfalls of Iron County are just as beautiful in the winter as they are in the summer. Some freeze, and some keep flowing, but they all offer a snow-covered adventure. Make sure to bring snowshoes and watch your step, as it can get very slippery.
Ski, stomp, and bike through the winter’s snowflakes by participating in Forest Frenzy Winter Triathlon.
Get your heart rate up cross-country skiing the groomed trails at WinMan Trails. Tip: Catch the sun setting through the trees from the ridges.
One of Wisconsin’s best kept secrets, the Penokee Mountains, offer some of the most stunning views of Lake Superior. Located near Mellen, Wisconsin, all trails were built with cross-country skiers in mind. Hike or ski 2, 3, or 5-mile backcountry trails, including part of the North Country Trail (a 4,600-mile footpath from New York to North Dakota!)
Celebrate Christmas in Manitowish Waters - kids activities, Christmas caroling, holiday home tour, bonfire, and more. Christmas for the Town is held annually the first weekend in December.
A hidden gem near downtown Ironwood, Michigan - snowshoe Miners Memorial Heritage Park. For more fun, participate in Superior Snowshoe Walks, a weekly event in the Ironwood area. Post-ski, enjoy a cup of coffee at Contrast Coffee + baked goods from Bake Superior Bread.
Tucked away in the woods near the trailhead of North Lakeland Trails is a cozy warming hut. Linger with complimentary hot cocoa after cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Equipment rentals are available from Coontail.
A party on the ice you won’t want to miss! The largest ice fishing tournament in the North, Winter Rendezvous is hosted annually in February on Rest Lake - fishing, food, + fun.
- Participate in a winter race from snowshoes to cross-country skis, here are a few of our favorites: SISU Ski Fest, Squirrel Hill Loopy Loppet + Beat the Bunny, + YooperBeiner.
Northerly Collective is not liable for any activities, events, or locations listed on Northerly Collective’s Adventure Guide. Northerly suggests calling ahead to confirm business hours and operations. Some businesses are only open seasonally.