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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Wisconsin’s hidden gem: The Northwoods

Wisconsin. The “Dairy State.” Acres upon acres of nothing but boring farmland. This common misconception is frequently made by people who are unaware of all that Wisconsin has to offer. 

In other words: people who have not visited the Northwoods. 

Natural, sparkling lakes; luscious, aromatic pines; precious wildlife; cozy cabins; and the thickest Wisconsin accents you’ve ever heard make the Northwoods my favorite place on Earth. There’s rarely a piece of litter in sight, rarely a wintery road without a snowmobile on it and rarely a lake without a fishing boat. 

Its abundance of activities, paired with a breathtaking landscape and outdoorsy, beer-drinking, fish fry-eating culture make the Northwoods well worth the trip. 

I’ve grown up spending my summers in the Wisconsin Northwoods — specifically Boulder Junction, Wis. — with my big family, chasing tadpoles, playing games in the lodge and loading up on the best cotton candy ice cream with my cousins. It’s a sentimental place for me, and here are some of the things I’ve grown to love most about the Northwoods that you should plan to see for yourself:

The northern lakes are unparalleled, with clear water and enough of a chill leftover from the winter to be immensely refreshing in the summertime. These lakes are all-natural, surrounded by stunning flora and fauna, and typically without residential clutter. They foster amazing fishing (I love to catch bass), boat activities and kayaking, paddleboarding and more. 

Wildlife is found all over the Northwoods, including deer, moose, bears, loons, bald eagles and so much more. My personal favorites are the loons, whose beautiful sounds I listen for every night before I go to sleep. You are sure to see many fun critters while walking or driving around — just be careful driving at night, when you will have to play a game of “try not to hit the deer.”

Scattered throughout the Northwoods are adorable cabin-style restaurants serving the best renditions of traditional Wisconsin foods like cheese curds, brats and fish fries. These woody, intimate establishments, filled with taxidermy and tons of bar signs, are fun spots to grab a drink or a bite to eat after a busy day of activities.

My favorite thing about the Northwoods is that, as a result of the extraordinary exposure to nature and plethora of activities that it offers, it fosters the most unforgettable memories between friends and family. The childhood memories I made with my family in the Northwoods over the years are the ones that I cherish most. 

It’s the type of place where stresses and fears get temporarily put on the back burner, and everyone lives in the moment to soak in the immense beauty and serenity. 

A trip up to the Northwoods to connect with nature and experience the fun — whether you’re a college student, a professional or neither — will be worth every second of your time and leave you feeling grateful for a hidden heaven only a short drive away.

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