If you live in Milwaukee like I do, northwestern Wisconsin can seem impossibly far away. In fact, after 24 years of actively exploring my home state, I’d still never set foot in either Burnett County or Polk County until last weekend!
Wherever you live, if northwestern Wisconsin is on your bucket list or your destination for a winter event, you won’t have to scramble to find things to do with this handy guide. Included is a recap of my recent trip to the area, as well as other highlights you might want to make time for.
Pack your bags - it's time for a road trip!
As mentioned earlier, my decision to stay at the Best Western Northwoods Lodge was sparked by my recent selection as one of Best Western’s “Travel Your Passion” contributors. I had the flexibility to search nationwide for a location to visit, but was hoping to find a cabin-style hotel that aligned with my #PursuitOfCoziness movement. Imagine my excitement upon finding one right here in Wisconsin!
The lodge is cozy and well-maintained in general, but it’s the lobby that truly sets this place apart. It is a cabin-lover’s paradise and has every cozy touch you could imagine. They also offer complimentary breakfast! I truly felt like I was relaxing at my own northwoods retreat and not in a chain hotel. Best Western went out of their way to make this location unique and represent its locale. I would absolutely visit again!
Even this water skier likes to hit the slopes every once in a while! Trollhaugen is the perfect place to enjoy a downhill ride on skis, a snowboard, or tube. Their runs vary in distance and difficulty, making it great for even the longest days at the hill. Warm up with a cup of homemade hot chocolate in the chalet when you need a break!
The first of its kind in the country, Interstate Park is a coordinated effort between Wisconsin and Minnesota to preserve the ecosystem around a breathtaking waterway. Bring winter boots or snowshoes to enjoy a brisk hike!
Clubs throughout Wisconsin work hard each year to maintain an extensive array of snowmobile trails. You can monitor their condition with the Travel Wisconsin Snow Report; note that some counties do not open their trails until all hunting seasons are over.
The coziest, comfiest place I’ve ever watched a movie on the big screen, hands down. Prices are amazing and the facility is well maintained. Note that they only accept cash!
I honestly have no previous memories from this part of the state and was truly impressed with my first visit. Siren is the perfect blend of homey and touristy; I love that I visited in the winter for more of a “homey” off-season experience. The northwoods lodge we stayed at was exactly what I dreamed it would be and more. I felt a little concerned when bringing my dad along for a hotel collaboration that it wouldn’t live up to the expectations I had for it, but it totally did. Literally from the minute I stepped through the front door.
I didn’t have a notable experience at any of the restaurants we dined at, so I didn’t include a dining section in this itinerary. I will say that there are so many restaurants in the area that sounded awesome though and I wish I’d had time to visit them all! You can read reviews of places I have visited by visiting my Yelp profile. If you opt to stay at Best Western, they do offer an awesome complimentary breakfast, which we enjoyed both days. If you spend a day at Trollhaugen, you won’t be disappointed by the options at their Kaffe Stuga, either!
Lastly, I want to talk about the importance of spending time with your family members and friends. I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with my dad during this trip, even more so after our visit to the movie theater. We saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which recreates the life of Mister (Fred) Rogers and tells the heartwarming story of his friendship with an acclaimed journalist. Without giving away any details, it’s a helpful reminder that we should never be above working through the relationship issues we may have with the most important people in our lives. I highly recommend this film!
I’d love for you to comment a fun travel memory you have with a family member or friend. We could all use a little uplifting story to make these winter days brighter! Planning a winter adventure in northeastern Wisconsin? This snowmobiling guide has you covered!