6 Reasons to Explore Ashland with Your Family


A huge thank you to Katie Nohl for sharing the magic of Ashland with us. The Nohl family has owned + operated Mission Springs Resort since the early 1930’s. The cottages were first used as places to stay for traveling rail workers and loggers before evolving to host hundreds of families each year. Their slice of land on the shore of Lake Superior has been loved by their family for many years and they look forward to sharing it with you. Here's why Ashland, Wisconsin is a great destination for your next family road trip. 

Photo Credit - Jenna Leroy Photography

One - the journey

No matter the direction you are traveling from, the drive to Ashland is beautiful. Many times, a vacation means a long car ride and late night arrival at your destination. Arriving at the shore of Lake Superior at an odd hour is more than welcomed, especially when we are blessed with the northern lights dancing above the water, a once in a lifetime experience to wake the kids up to see. Make the trip during the day and you are able to explore miles of beautiful forests and breathtaking farmlands from the car window. Deer in the fields, falcons soaring overhead, and cows - the perfect drive for a game of I Spy.

Northerly tip: Plan ahead - Print Up North Bingo!  


two - the lake

Every time I query the locals on the best things to do and see in the Ashland area - every single answer has something to do with Lake Superior. We love our beautiful lake so much that the city slogan is “find yourself next to the water.” Ashland is located on the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes at 31,700 square miles. Chequamegon Bay helps keep the water temperature a little warmer than at the beaches in other parts the “Big Lake”. There are hiking and biking trails for miles around the lake, very nice beaches, restaurants with lake views, shall I go on? I think you get the idea. 


three - the resort

Traveling with kids is hard enough - staying at a hotel? No thank you. The Ashland area has many historical resorts and our family's, Mission Springs Resort, happens to be one of them. Our family has owned + operated Mission Springs since the 1930's. We offer cabins of a variety of sizes to fit your family. Send the kids down to the beach with dad for an evening swim. After a long day of exploring the area, put your little ones to bed and enjoy a moment of silence in front of the campfire. Lay on the couch and read that book that has been on your list for years. Have a relaxing evening, inside or outside of your cute little cottage or cabin, and you will realize why vacation rentals so worth it.


four - the food

Just a few miles outside of Ashland is Tetzner's Dairy, a family farm that makes amazing ice cream! Their farm has a little store that is operated on the “honor” system - go inside, pick out what you want, and put the money in a little metal box on the wall. Simple as that! They have cheese curds, string cheese, and milk too, but please, take my advice and try the peppermint ice cream! Ice cream sandwiches for the little ones. A pint for the drivers (bring your own spoon) and some cheese curds to take home for later.

Northerly tip: If the employees are around, ask for a tour! 

The next item(s) on the list is smoked sausage - in the form of brats, pepperoni sticks, jerky - perfect for the cabin or the car! Trinkos is a family run business in Ashland and is famous for their pepperoni sticks. Honestly, plan your trip around their hours of operation. Yes, we eat a whole stick of pepperoni as a “snack”. Yes, we drive 5 miles off the highway to get it. Yes, we have pepperoni shipped to our family for Christmas gifts. Don’t judge. 

Northerly tip: A few other favorite restaurants in the local area: Good Thyme Restaurant, Cafe Coco, Black Cat Coffeehouse, and of course, Ashland Baking Company (their chocolate croissants are to die for!). 

five - the adventures

Family activities that everyone is happy participating in? Yes, please! Let's start with fishing. Not everyone is head over heels for an entire day of fishing, but fishing mixed in with a tour of the Apostle Islands? Most folks love that! After reeling in some monster lake trout the captain of Beyond The Catch Guide Service will detour to a few of the islands in the Apostle Island National Lakeshore (21 islands in total). If time and location permit, you are able to get out and tour a lighthouse or two. Pack a picnic lunch and (extra) sunscreen because it’s going to be an amazing day on the water.

There are plenty of places to hike in the Ashland area, but a family favorite is Houghton Falls. The trailhead is just a quick 10-minute drive from downtown Ashland. The hike to Houghton Falls is very short but offers a breathtaking sandstone gorge on Lake Superior with amazing views. The skill level is great for the entire family - from 3 to 13 years old. Our kids absolutely loved the adventure, especially the freedom to explore the hidden paths among the flora.

Kayaking. It needs to be part of your Ashland vacation. Go out for a morning paddle to watch the sun come up. On a calm day, let your older kids learn confidence paddling on the big lake, while you supervise the littles building sand castles on shore. Make kayaking more adventurous - sign up for a Sea Cave Excursion or meet up with other kayakers for an evening ride. Whatever it is you want to do on the water, you can make it happen. Even if it's just listening to the waves hit the beach at night while you are falling asleep with my window open, that counts too!

Northerly tip: Rent kayaks from Solstice Outdoors and have them delivered to Mission Springs so you can use them anytime you want!


six - the memories

Let’s face it, your kids want YOU more than anything. So put away the excuses and plan a little getaway.  They will remember how ice cold the water was when they went for a dip in the lake after a hot day exploring. They will remember watching you trip over a misplaced piece of firewood and laugh (with you) for days. They will remember the cool, quiet evenings sitting around a campfire listening to stories about when you were their age.  And they will always remember the time spent with you in Ashland, Wisconsin.

Getting there