The Best Wisconsin Weekends
- Where to Go
- The Best of Milwaukee and Madison
- The Best Wisconsin Weekends
- A Perfect Week in Door County
- Wisconsin for Recreationists
- Rustic Road Tripping
- Made in Milwaukee
- Madison Weekend
- Sports: The Packers and Beyond
- Out on the Town in Milwaukee
- Say Cheese!
- Four Days in the Mad City
- A Wisconsin Family Road Trip
- Wisconsin’s Best Brews
One must, of course, balance the ideal with the realistic and remember that caveat about how everyone travels at different speeds. That said, this road warrior has done ’em all!
And a note: Door County and the Wisconsin Dells are the most famous weekend getaways there are. The Great River Road is also perfectly laid out for two days (overnight in La Crosse); I dunno why more folks don’t do it.
The Beer City and Beyond
All right, let’s save this one for a long weekend! Assuming driving in from the Chicago area, choose Kenosha, Racine, or a boat tour of Lake Geneva along the way. As you roll, a drive through the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit is a primer on glacial history right near a walk-through people’s history at Old World Wisconsin.
Arrive and relax, planning for day two. The Milwaukee lakefront is a must. Tour Miller Brewing or the Harley-Davidson Museum and bop into the unduplicated Milwaukee Public Museum and with time, strike northward for perfect Cedarburg. You’ll be eminently happy if you can coincide your visit to the Beer City with Summerfest.
A Capital Trip
One day is easy: Architectural gems are where to start—Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace and, a few steps away, the magnificent State Capitol. Stroll the pedestrian-friendly State Street area to the University of Wisconsin campus for the lakeside Union Terrace. The University of Wisconsin Arboretum has the best urban trails anywhere and follow that natural-world beauty with a visit to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
On day two, choose a longish drive northeast to the extraordinary Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area; a historical tour southeast to the Hoard Historical Museum and Dairy Shrine and Old World Wisconsin; or a combination circus/sweat duo in Baraboo/Devil’s Lake State Park.
Snoop out the sublime natural world, some grand food, lodging, and shopping (and the Packers on the way up/back). Spend night one in Sturgeon Bay, overnight the next night anywhere along the road; I use Fish Creek as a central base and explore from there! Must-sees are Potawatomi, Peninsula, Whitefish Dunes, Rock Island, and Newport State Parks; Ridges Sanctuary; and the nation’s densest county concentration of lighthouses.
Pick a mega-resort and let the water slide fun commence! Then, on the second day, after you’re all tuckered out, see the real Dells of the Wisconsin River on the obligatory Second World War–era “duck” boat tour. Then again, if you’ve had your fill of water, Devil’s Lake State Park down the road offers superb hiking and, next door, fetching Baraboo is small-town quaint and has a grand circus museum, replete with outdoor shows.
The Northern Cap:
Islands and Falls
Here’s my many-times route: Drive like a madman to get to Bayfield Friday and eat whitefish. Early Saturday morning either kayak the sea caves, bike the rolling hills filled with apple orchards, or take a shuttle to an island and hike. Sunday is spent driving the extraordinary WI 13 along Lake Superior to Superior for big-boy lakers (freight ships) and waterfalls. There’s no better trip for me in the state.
Great North Woods
Get a cabin/cottage/resort room in Hayward, the Minocqua area, Eagle River, or Boulder Junction (for me it’s the latter)—pick one. Whichever you choose, one day should be spent with a rowboat (often comes with the cabin) or canoe on your lake fishing or, more likely, napping to the sound of lapping water. With Hayward as a base one day has to be spent at the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and a lumberjack show. In Minocqua, you must visit Waswagoning or the Turtle-Flambeau Flowage. In Eagle River, well, it’s all about snowmobiles!
Crooked Rivers and Buggies
This author’s better half’s favorite weekend is the following: camping at Wildcat Mountain State Park or, more likely, getting a cozy B&B room; either canoe the extraordinary Kickapoo River or bike the Elroy-Sparta Trail (or any county road) one day; and on the second, drive very slowly around the region, the Coulee Range, to wave at horse-drawn buggies of the Amish and visit one of their amazing bakeries for great sustenance.
© Thomas Huhti from Moon Wisconsin, 5th Edition