20 Cool Things to do in Northern Wisconsin
A Guide to Northern Wisconsin with the best beaches, romantic parks, and unique places in Northern Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a great destination with various things to see and do, and the Northern part of Wisconsin is definitely worth a visit! You might wonder why.
The north is a thinly populated region of forests and lakes, where you can paddle and fish in summer.
It’s also home to some of the best lakes in Wisconsin. In winter, ski, ice skating, and snowmobile fun are awaiting you.
Northern Wisconsin, USA is the perfect place to connect with nature, relieve the stress, and explore.
It offers you the opportunities to get into the great outdoors. From countless lakes and rivers to miles of hiking and ATV trails, you can do a lot here. It’s thus a great place to vacation in Wisconsin.
Families, couples, and solo travelers alike will have great fun exploring this region since there are many different options for indoor and outdoor memory making.
Here are 20 cool things to do in Northern Wisconsin, in my humble opinion. Do you have any further suggestions or places you love? I can’t wait to hear about them in the comment form!
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Useful Travel Information for Wisconsin
1. Visit Big Bay State Park
Address: 2402 Hagen Rd – La Pointe, WI 54850-1500
Big Bay State Park is located on Madeline Island’s far edge, the largest of 22 Apostle Islands, with a pretty beach and hiking trails.
This 2,350-acre park sports fantastic sandstone bluffs and caves with dramatic views of Lake Superior. It contains a State Natural Area that is open for use by the public.
Once you come here, you’ll find some enclosed unique habitats such as old-growth hemlock, sphagnum bogs, barrier beach, boreal forest, 4 miles of Lake Superior shoreline, and 1.5 miles of sandy beach… considered one of the best beaches in Wisconsin.
Big Bay State Park was established in 1963 and has designated picnic areas with grills, tables, drinking water, toilets, and a great place for camping and RV sites. The park remains open year-round. During winters, you’ll see cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and hunters.
Some of the main attractions of Big Bay State Park are hiking, camping, swimming, boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Come enjoy the outdoors with great picnic spots and fishing in the park’s lagoon.
Where to stay: Hauser’s Bayfield Cabin
Address: 94495 Raspberry Shore Dr, Bayfield, WI 54814
Hauser’s Bayfield Cabin is the ideal pick for resorts in Northern Wisconsin. All the rooms are spacious and have a fully equipped kitchen with a coffee machine and a microwave. Free parking is available. – Check rates & reviews here
2. Visit Wisconsin Concrete Park, Phillips
Address: N8236 State Highway 13, Phillips, WI 54555, United States
Fred Smith’s Wisconsin Concrete Park is an outdoor museum located south of Phillips on Highway 13. This park delights visitors with 230 figures of mythical and real characters and bas relief slabs, set among shady trees and well-mown grass.
Son of German immigrants, Fred Smith was born in 1886 and spent his life working as a Northwoodsman.
At age 65, the self-taught artist and musician began filling his front yard with statues of Paul Bunyan, Kit Carson, Abe Lincoln, Sacajawea, the Statue of Liberty, Ben Hur, and many more.
He built his sculptures by wrapping wooden skeletons in wire, layering them with concrete, and embellishing them with glass insulators and Rhinelander beer bottles from his bar. The statues are now displayed in a park-like setting.
Along with the sculptures, this park also offers a ½ mile-long hiking trail. There’s a large parking area that can accommodate tour buses and RVs.
Explore the park and get awestruck by the different types of sculptures. Click photos with them and have a good time.
Where to stay: Timber Inn Motel **
Address: 606 North Lake Avenue, Phillips, WI 54555
If you’re looking for lodging options in Northern Wisconsin close to Wisconsin Concrete Park, try booking a room in Timber Inn Motel. This hotel is only 3.3 km away from Concrete Park.
Each room has a TV with cable channels. You’ll receive free Wi-Fi throughout your stay in the hotel. The Inn motel also has a hairdryer in every room along with a microwave. – Check rates & reviews here
3. Enjoy the great outdoors on Madeline Island
Address: 20 Washington Avenue, Bayfield, WI 54850 (ferry landing on the mainland)
If you’re looking for a unique and Wisconsin vacation idea, Madeline Island has it all!
From water sports like fishing, sailing, swimming, kayaking to hiking, camping, or just sitting on the beach, this quiet island in Lake Superior will give you the peace and quiet you have been looking for.
Just a 20-minute ferry ride away from Bayfield, Madeline Island delivers you into a laid-back world of friendly faces and spectacular, secluded scenery.
You’ll feel the stress slipping away as you make the two-mile trip across the lake to the island.
Madeline Island is only 42 square miles with the state park, ancient rock formations, and wildlife viewing areas. It is a great place to show your kids nature and wildlife as it was intended to be.
Visit the history museum, take a tour of different pubs and restaurants, take a car ride of this mesmerizing island, and try out activities, such as swimming, hiking, and golfing.
Madeline Island is particularly a great idea when looking for things to do in Wisconsin in winter since the landscape is gorgeous during this time of the year.
Where to stay: Old Rittenhouse In ***
Address: 301 Rittenhouse Avenue, Bayfield, WI 54814, United States
If you want to enjoy one of the best hotels in Northern Wisconsin, book your stay in Old Rittenhouse Inn. The Inn has 20 distinctive guest rooms and on-site dining at the restaurant.
The facilities provided are free Wi-Fi, a beautiful garden, a good restaurant, and a terrace.
The Old Rittenhouse Inn also has designated smoking areas, air conditioning, heating facility, family rooms, and a gift shop to buy souvenirs. – Check rates & reviews here
4. Relax in a Northern Wisconsin Resort
Some people like to relax while they are on their expedition trips. If you’re one of them, what can be better than relaxing in one of Northern Wisconsin’s resorts?
Pine scents hang in the fresh air, the woods beckon and diamond light dances across clear, and deep lakes plenty of fish; this is what you get to experience in Northern Wisconsin resorts.
You’ll find an array of options when it comes to cabins in Northern Wisconsin; lakeside resorts, vacation rentals, bed and breakfasts, and lodges.
Come, kick back, relax, and enjoy the peace and tranquility of beautiful northern Wisconsin lodging. Here some of my favorites:
Located on a quaint island in Chetek, at Rainbow’s End Resort Camp, you’ll get to enjoy a private grassy beach area.
Each cabin includes an outdoor barbecue area and a kitchen with a microwave, a sink, an oven, and a refrigerator. Enjoy the lake view and the garden view from all the rooms.
It’s also a great place to stay when looking for fall activities in Wisconsin.
You’ll also get to enjoy swimming, campfires, fishing, hiking, and snorkeling. – Check rates & reviews here
Another good cabin for rent in Northern Wisconsin is Westwood Shores Waterfront Resort. Located in Sturgeon Bay, this resort has indoor and outdoor pools, a spa bath, private bathrooms, and a fitness center.
Other facilities include a shared lounge and a games room. You can also enjoy various activities on-site or in surroundings like cycling and fishing.
From here, it’s just a short drive to Cave Point County boasting numerous hiking trails, underwater caves, and a scenic shore inviting for long swims in Lake Michigan. – Check rates & reviews here
This is a luxury resort that offers free Wi-Fi and an indoor hot pool and a hot tub that provides you with a fantastic view of Lake Superior
Hugging the Lakewalk in Duluth, this self-catering accommodation features a kitchen on Lake Superior, a seating area, a refrigerator, and a flat-screen cable TV. Some rooms include a spa bath, a balcony, and a fireplace. You can enjoy cycling, hiking, and canoeing nearby. – Check rates & reviews here
This lovely property located in the Sawtooth Mountains in Lutsen offers an indoor and seasonal outdoor pool. All rooms are spacious featuring a flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, a microwave,a refrigerator, and a coffee machine.
Select rooms feature mountain views and a fireplace. The resort also has tennis courts and 2 saunas. A variety of activities can be enjoyed nearby like skiing, cycling, and hiking. – Check rates & reviews here
Buffalo County Resort is located in Waumandee and offers facilities like a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, a shared lounge, a bar, a hot tub/jacuzzi, a snack bar, and a restaurant.
You can enjoy activities in and around the resort-like hiking, cycling, and fishing. Buffalo County Resort is a perfect destination for bikers, campers, hikers, photographers, anglers, or anyone looking for relaxation and comfort or adventure. – Check rates & reviews here
5. Do an RV road trip in Northern Wisconsin
Does the spirit of camping appeal, but the reality of roughing it rubs you the wrong way? RV camping might be the answer.
You can explore the great outdoors, commune with nature to your heart’s content, and then retreat for a bit of homely comfort. – Check RV rentals in Wisconsin here
Hitting the road in an RV also lets you discover new sides of Northern Wisconsin. From wooded serenity at State Parks in Wisconsin to pools and activities at private campgrounds, the opportunities for RV adventures are limitless.
The US-2 road across Wisconsin navigates wisely, as it takes in the lovely Lake Superior cap of Wisconsin’s northern region and includes a majestic 140-mile detour along the rough and tumble Lake Superior shoreline.
Start your Northern Wisconsin RV road trip at the north-western corner of the state in the town of Superior. Here the stops of the perfect Northern Wisconsin road trip:
- Follow the shoreline and detour off US-2 onto Hwy-13, a 100-mile loop that takes you to Cornucopia, Wisconsin’s northernmost community.
- Along the Hwy-13, you’ll also come across the laid-back resort village, Bayfield and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Here, you can explore 60 miles of hiking trails. – Read more about things to do in Apostle Islands, WI
- Midway between Minnesota and Michigan sits Ashland. The main street here is worth visiting as it has many well-preserved old buildings.
- Just south of the town is the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, a spacious building with interpretive exhibits of local history and industry.
- Head east towards Michigan to the Bad River Band Reservation in order to get a glimpse of one of Wisconsin’s six Ojibwa communities.
6. Go Waterfall Chasing in Pattison State Park
Address: 6294 S. State Road 35, Superior, WI 54880
Escape from the drudgery of everyday life when you visit Pattison State Park, a breathtaking area that spans more than 1,400 acres. Home to 2 waterfalls in Northern Wisconsin, including the Big and Little Manitou Falls, water is the main attraction here.
Big Manitou Falls is a majestic waterfall, dropping a spectacular 165 feet! It’s the tallest fall in Wisconsin and the fourth tallest waterfall east of the Rockies.
The waterfall is across the highway from the main park and accessible by a tunnel. Embark on the Big Manitou Falls River Trail to reach the waterfalls. This trail offers spectacular views of the landscapes and natural beauty.
The fun doesn’t stop here! Cross back to the main part of the park and hike up the Beaver Trail to get to the 31 foot Little Manitou Falls. The two-mile Beaver Trail promises plenty of natural beauty, from forested areas to local wildlife.
The breathtaking view of the falls here is awe-inspiring and enough to inspire anyone to come back to it, again and again! No wonder that the area was a film location for some of the best movies set in Wisconsin.
Typical things to do here are adventure sports, mountain biking, hiking, and water activities. It’s the perfect place to bring your favorite vegan hiking boots too!
Where to stay: Lakefront Superior Cottage w/Deck & Boat Dock
Address: Superior, 54880, United States
Lakefront Superior Cottage w/Deck & Boat Dock is around 8.5 km away from the Big Manitou Waterfall. The property features accommodation with a patio and free Wi-Fi.
This holiday home has 5 bedrooms in total. The location is simply fabulous and the interior design is stunning! – Check rates & reviews here
7. Go Hiking near Tomahawk
If you’re still thinking about all the things to do in Northern Wisconsin, you might want to consider hiking near Tomahawk.
Tomahawk is home to a variety of hiking trails and walking paths that are open to anyone who feels like exploring. You’ll find trails that extend more than 1,000 miles to trails that meander to a beach.
Imagine walking along the trails that are covered in rail. Once the site was constructed to export white pine logs back and forth from Northern Wisconsin forests that have now become a popular hiking destination.
It’s now used as a recreational corridor, and the surface is covered with granite, which makes it easier for people to walk or cycle.
Some of the wonderful Wisconsin hiking trails in Tomahawk are Bearskin State Trail, Hiawatha Trail, Escanaba Trails, Wolf Mountain Trail, Lake Gogebic State Park, and Timm’s Hill Trail.
Some of them go along the scenic shore of the Wisconsin River which is a particularly quaint setting for hikes in Northern Wisconsin.
Where to stay: Super 8 by Wyndham Tomahawk **
Address: 108 West Mohawk Drive, Tomahawk, WI 54487, United States
After you’re done hiking near Tomahawk, come to Super 8 by Wyndham Tomahawk to relax. This property offers a hot tub and an indoor heated pool.
Enjoy the free-Wi-Fi and the continental breakfast. Other facilities offered by this property are free WiFi, a bar, free parking, shops on site, and family rooms. It’s particularly cozy. – Check rates & reviews here
8. Do a Cabin Getaway on Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Address: 415, Washington Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814
Along windswept beaches and sandstone cliffs, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a place where water meets land and sky, and past meets present.
The 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland coast host a unique blend of cultural and natural resources and feature a combination of raw natural beauty and rich cultural history.
The things you can do on Apostle Islands National Lakeshore include hiking, sailing, or cruising. The clear water, underwater rock formations, and fascinating shipwrecks combine to provide outstanding scuba diving opportunities as well.
Camping is also available on 19 of the lakeshore’s 21 islands and one campsite on the mainland, making it the best spot for camping in northern Wisconsin.
If you’re planning for a weekend getaway, you might consider booking a cabin on Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The cottages are quaint and cozy. – Check rates & reviews here
Some of the cabins that you can rent include Fin McCool, Hippophile farm Get-a-way Garden Apartment, Madeline Island Beach Cottage, Wilderness Retreat, and Hermitage Cabin.
9. Outdoor Activities in Marinette County
Marinette County provides restful, scenic surroundings to spend leisure time and various outdoor adventures. The endless trails here provide recreation for adventurers who desire to ATV, snowmobile, hike, bike and cross country ski.
The 230,000 acres of forest land are available for hunting and exploring wildlife. One can also canoe, kayak, and go fishing in the exceptional inland lakes and trout streams.
With its extensive recreational facilities and vacation advantages, Marinette County is truly an outdoor paradise! This area is also perfect for family outdoor camping and one of the best things to do in Northern Wisconsin!
Where to stay: Marinette Inn **
Address: 1450 Marinette Avenue, Marinette, WI 54143, United States
Marinette Inn is just 1.6 km away from the Menominee River. This property offers a beautiful picnic area, barbeque grills, free Wi-Fi, and free access to the local health club. – Check rates & reviews here
10. Get active in Minocqua
Take out a bicycle or plan to walk to explore Minocqua’s breathtaking and extensive scenic trails. Families, please come back to Minocqua as you can’t do it all in one visit.
Here, you can try different water activities, such as water skiing, fishing, wakeboarding, tubing, and raking a relaxing sunset pontoon ride. During winters, cruise the lake on a snowmobile or trek through the winter wonderland.
Where to stay: Northwoods Inn & Suites **
Address: 8730 Highway 51 North, Minocqua, WI 54548, United States
This location is hardly 2 km away from the central area. The property offers a continental breakfast, and Wi-Fi is for free.
Each room has a large LCD TV with cable channels. Coffee and tea are available 24/7 and if you want, you can also purchase drinks. – Check rates & reviews here
11. Rent a Lake Cabin in Northern Wisconsin
If you really want to enjoy your stay, you must rent a lake cabin in Northern Wisconsin. Leave your work behind this weekend and bring your family along.
Some of the cabins have free kayaks, canoes, and playrooms. You’ll easily find tons of gorgeous and some of the most romantic cabins in Wisconsin.
Most of the cabins are located near the public beaches, offering you the best ever cabin life! The cabins are trendy and quirky. – Check the best Northern Wisconsin cabins here
12. Go Lake Hopping in Northern Wisconsin
After you find the perfect lake cabin, try freshwater fishing as well! As beautiful northern Wisconsin offers over 3,200 lakes, streams, and rivers, you might wonder where to begin!
Some of the lakes which are known for providing the best freshwater fishing experiences are Big Green lake, Eagle River Chain, Minocqua Chain, Shawano Lake, and Pewaukee Lake.
Read: Best Lakes in Wisconsin
13. Do the Escanaba Hiking Trail
The Escanaba Hiking Trail is a wonderful blend of fun, challenging terrain, and gorgeous scenery. This is one of the most scenic groomed-classic ski trails in northern Wisconsin.
This hilly, rolling and very scenic trail winds around several lakes and through a variety of timber types and has a shelter and fire ring provided.
The Escanaba Hiking Trail is an intermediate level cross-country ski trail. A Wisconsin State Trail Pass is required. Make sure to bring your Wisconsin hiking guide.
14. Visit Breweries in La Crosse, WI
While figuring out some of the best places to visit Wisconsin, take a Breweries tour in La Crosse.
Experience the Coulee Region crafted in every sip as you discover the individual styles expressed at 13 of the area’s best breweries, wineries, and distilleries located in La Crosse.
Some of the most popular ones that you must not skip are Turtle Stack, Pearl St, and 608 Brewing Company.
Where to stay: Gundersen Hotel & Suites ****
Address: 1520 Clinic Court, La Crosse, WI 54601, United States
If you want to stay close to the main center of La Crosse, book a suite at Gundersen Hotel and suites.
This luxurious property offers a garden, free Wi-Fi, free parking, a swimming pool, a fitness center, and a 24-hours front desk. – Check rates & reviews here
15. Race at State Park Speedway in Wausau
The country setting of State Park Speedway in Wausau is impressive! This area is known for providing some of the best racing experience here in Central Wisconsin! This place should be in your list of best places to go in Wisconsin!
Apart from speed racing, this site offers a bar and great food, and you’ll enjoy your time watching local drivers racing. It’s the place to be for people interested in speed racing shows!
Where to stay: Stewart Inn ****
Address: 521 Grant Street, Wausau, WI 54403, United States
When it comes to staying in a luxurious inn, pick Stewart Inn in Grant Street.
The facilities offered by this property are a picnic area, a garden, a terrace, live music performance, temporary art galleries, food and drinks, a wellness facilityy, and a 24-hours front desk. – Check rates & reviews here
16. Backpacking in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is made up of two forests. Separated by about 150 miles of farms, houses, and urban areas, it’s all managed as one national forest.
Come backpacking here in the late spring through the first snowfall is wonderful! Hikes through groves of maple and oaks and get a chance to see white-tailed deer, foxes, and countless bird species.
Hike through North Country Trail to get the best views in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
If you love backpacking, have a look at these fabulous backpacks made from recycled materials.
Where to stay: Stewart Inn ****
Address: 521 Grant Street, Wausau, WI 54403, United States
Stewart Inn is one of the most trusted places to stay close to Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
This property offers a picnic area, a terrace, a garden, ski storage, live music performance, happy hours, cycling, hiking, a library, food and drinks, and a spa lounge. – Check rates & reviews here
17. Visit Downtown Farmers Market in Eau Claire
Address: 300 Riverfront Terrace, Eau Claire, WI 54703, United States
Come to Downtown Farmers Market in Eau Claire on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
This is the best place to find local and fresh veggies and fruits. You’ll also find baked goods and beverages. Once you’re done shopping, try some of the food at local food vendors. They’re delicious!
Where to stay: The Lismore Hotel Eau Claire – a DoubleTree by Hilton ***
Address: 333 Gibson Street, Eau Claire, WI 54701, United States
Those who want to stay close to Downtown Farmers Market in Eau Claire, book at The Lismore Hotel Eau Claire – a DoubleTree by Hilton ***. It is only 2.1 km away from the central area.
The property provides an on-site coffee house, a bar, restaurants, a fitness center, and free Wi-Fi. The interior design of the rooms is a great example of urban chic. – Check rates & reviews here
18. Watch a football game in Green Bay, Door County
Do you want to know more about the things to do in Green Bay, Wisconsin? Why not watch a football game in Green Bay? Go to Lambeau Field to watch an on-going match.
Come here in August to watch the team practicing live. The Green Bay team is simply legendary and famous across Wisconsin state! – Check game tickets here
Once done, head towards the Green Bay Packers Pro shop to collect some souvenirs.
If you’re an outdoor buff, you should also consider driving up north to Door County. It’s only 44 miles away and it’s a paradise for hikers, fishermen and those who love lakeshore beaches. – Check activities in Green Bay here
Where to stay: Hampton Inn Green Bay ***
Address: 2840 Ramada Way, Green Bay, WI 54304, United States
All the rooms of the Hampton Inn have a coffee maker, a flat-screen TV, and an attached bathroom. Rooms are nicely decorated with warm colors and modern interiors.
Facilities available here are free Wi-Fi, free parking, and a wellness facility. Pets are allowed. – Check rates & reviews here
19. Go Camping in Northern Highland American Legion State Forest
Northern Highland American Legion State Forest was established in 1925. This place is a perfect getaway for people wanting to camp.
Located right in the heart of northern Wisconsin, there are 18 family campgrounds and 900 lakes. Some campgrounds to visit are Firefly, Crystal, Clear, and Musky.
Where to stay: Eagle River Inn & Resort ***
Address: 5260 Highway 70 West, Eagle River, WI 54521, United States
The property offers cozy rooms and is 3.5 km away from Northern Highland American Legion State Forest.
You’ll also get BBQ facilities, free Wi-Fi, water sports, cycling and fishing facilities, a mini-golf, a bar, and a restaurant with kid’s meals. The location is simply stunning! – Check rates & reviews here
20. Rent a Kayak in Northern Wisconsin
If you’re adventurous or it’s your first time to rent a kayak in Northern Wisconsin, you should try out Madeline Island Sea caves, Fox River-Governor Bend. Neenah Creek, Montello Rover, and Mecan River.
These are the top Northern Wisconsin attractions that you must visit! Book a flight and reach one of the airports in Northern Wisconsin. Bon, voyage!
Map of Northern Wisconsin Attractions
Short FAQ about Things to do in Northern Wisconsin
Some of the best things to do in Northern Wisconsin during winter are skiing, ice skating and snowmobile.
Northern Wisconsin is the perfect place to connect with nature, relieve stress, and explore. It offers you the opportunities to get into the great outdoors, from countless lakes and rivers to miles of hiking and ATV trails.
You can enjoy family outdoor camping and a relaxing vacation at the lakeside in Northern Wisconsin.