Manitowish Waters Boathouse Tour


Boathouses are some of the most iconic landmarks on the Manitowish Waters Chain of Lakes. Built between the 1890s and the 1970’s, “wet” boathouses are used as a garage to park boats and store equipment for fishing, water skiing, and other gear for lake-minded folks. Some just have a single slip, while others even include a second floor for living quarters. They come in all shapes + sizes, and most importantly, each boathouse has an unique story to tell.

Over 30 years ago, the State of Wisconsin created regulation that restricts the construction of new wet boathouses to protect the lakeshore. With strict regulations in place for repairs + restoration, owners are limited in how they can maintain their structure. As a result, wet boathouses have become significant in summer traditions, used as a point of reference on the water, and a great to place to cannonball into the lake on a hot day. Each time you take a cruise on the Manitowish Waters Chain of Lakes, it seems that you find a new boathouse treasure to love. We want to share a couple of our favorites that we always stop to enjoy.

Northerly tip: For great close-up photos of the most iconic boathouses in the Northwoods, pick up a copy of “Boathouses” by Tom Freeman – a local photographer – at The Lake House in Manitowish Waters.



Boathouse on “The Narrows”

Spider Lake

Standing out on a point in the central part of Spider lake is a two story, brown and white boathouse that looks like it fits in both in the Northwoods or in Nantucket. Look for the teal Adirondack chairs to help you identify this incredible boathouse.


The Bergen Boathouse

Stone Lake

Built into the side of a hill, with beautiful stonework, and a great sundeck, this boathouse is on the eastern shore of Stone Lake and is one of our favorites. As you cruise by, you can see all of the way through the boathouse, making it appear that it connects two bodies of land.


“Wistucky” Boathouse

Rest Lake Channel

Between Rest Lake and Stone Lake is the “Wistucky” Boathouse, built by a family that spends half of their time in Kentucky and half of their time in Wisconsin. It was landmark for Elizabeth when she was growing up because it always signaled that they were close to the end of the long channel before entering Stone Lake.


Scotch Point “On the Rocks” Boathouse

Island Lake Channel

Aptly named for the huge rocks in the channel right in front of it (there are buoys to guide you safely around them), Scotch Point “On the Rocks” juts out over the water with two boat slips, amazing living quarters, and a wrap around porch. Recently renovated by a new owner, it has a fresh paint job and a new sign so you can’t miss it.


The Dollhouse Boathouse

Alder Lake Channel

Just as the Channel opens up into Alder Lake, there is a boathouse with one slip and small living quarters above. One look and you know why we call it the dollhouse – it is just too cute!


Port Royal Boathouse

Alder Lake

Built with big cedar trees as supports, the Port Royal Boathouse is a great mix of rustic and contemporary on the southern side of Alder Lake. If you are feeling adventurous, stop by the rope swing just down the shore from Port Royal. Use at your own risk.


The Island

Island Lake

One of the most well known boathouses on the chain, The Island on Island Lake is an unforgettable landmark. All of the Scandinavian themed buildings on the island match one another, with each more unique than the next!


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